This award-winning groomer has snowmobiled across Canada

At 81 years of age, this Groomer of the Year award-winner still logs six hours every day

by Kyle Born

Herb Shaede accepts the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation award for Groomer of the Year.
Herb Shaede (on the right) is the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation award-winner for Groomer of the Year. Photo courtesy Teena Rumak

It’s been said that they don’t make ’em like that anymore. In the case of the British Columbia Snowmobile Federation Groomer of the Year award winner, Herb Shaede, it’s true. Shaede is a throwback from the silent generation—a man who lets his work do the talking. The 81-year-old has been involved with the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club since 1970 and is one of its founding members. He currently works as the club’s maintenance supervisor and has been operating their groomers for the past two decades. During snowmobile season, Shaede is responsible for maintaining about 200 kilometres of trail and grooms approximately 70 kilometres every day.

“We run two snowcats every night from six until midnight or whatever it takes to get the trails done,” Shaede said. “We have to do it every day because of the amount of traffic. We see 20,000-plus sled visits a season.”

When Shaede is grooming, there are two things that he’s watching for in front of and behind the groomer.

“We keep our eyes open for any hazards or trees that are down,” he said. “We’re looking to leave a premium product behind, like a billiard tabletop.”

Several snowcat groomers plow trails on a snowy mountain.
The Revelstoke Snowmobile Club has three groomers, a 2006 350 Bombardier BR 350, a 2014 350 Bombardier BR 350 and a 2014 Bombardier Bison. Photo courtesy Teena Rumak

Shaede owns a 2008 Bombardier Expedition wide track but doesn’t get to ride it much due to hip problems and a demanding grooming schedule. Most of the time, Shaede can be found in one of his club’s three snowcats. When considering the volume of work that Shaede has contributed to the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club, it’s clear why he won the Groomer of the Year award from BCSF. Between volunteering and paid hours, Shaede logs at least 1,000 hours on the groomer every year.

“It was a nice recognition of what I’ve accomplished over the years—a token of appreciation for what I’ve given to the sport,” said Shaede. “I must be doing a good job.”

A cool cross-country chronicle

Not many people can say they’ve ridden a snowmobile across every province in Canada, but Shaede isn’t like most people. Back in 1998, Shaede rode across Canada for 43 continuous days, travelling coast to coast in the first and only organized ride of its kind. Starting in Newfoundland, Shaede logged 10,300 kilometres on a 1998 Polaris 600 Trail Machine on his way to B.C. Shaede was one of 16 riders using assigned snowmobiles that were sponsored by the major manufacturers. 

“I was able to see all the different kinds of trails across the country and enjoy the scenery,” said Shaede. “We were in the national park in Newfoundland, we started at the northeastern tip of the national park in Newfoundland, then crossed the ferry into Nova Scotia, PEI and all the provinces. Quebec probably has the best snowmobile trails in Canada. They’re groomed to perfection and interconnected across the whole province. Ontario is a close second.”

Looking to the future

As amazing as Shaede’s snowmobiling journey has been, he can’t keep it up forever. The BCSF award-winner implored snowmobilers to take up the mantle so the sport can continue.

“I encourage everybody to join a snowmobile club so we can keep the provincial and federal organizations alive and representing us at the government level,” he said.

Herb Shaede sits in a groomer.
Herb Shaede is one of the founding members of the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club and has logged countless hours in groomers for the organization. Photo courtesy Teena Rumak

Be considerate

Grooming snowmobile trails can be a trying job. Give groomers their space and follow these tips to stay on a groomers’ good side.

  • Ride the whole trail. Don’t just make a single rut down the middle of it.
  • Be aware that the groomers can be on the trail at any time.
  • Make eye contact with the operator before you attempt to go by. 

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