Shane Gunn looked around the garage and knew he had to have it all – the sleds, the suits, everything.
After all, the 1979 TNT Everest 440 and two 1980 Everest 500s, and vintage yellow, orange, red and black Ski-Doo gear to go with them, are more than just a cool novelty for the 100 Mile House resident. There’s a long history here; one Gunn recalls fondly.
Growing up in 108 Mile Ranch, a 10-year-old Gunn would spend hours ripping around his home, burning fuel on his John Deere 300.
He recalls meeting neighbours Ted and Odette Spaetgens in the early 1980s. The Spaetgens were from Vancouver and would visit the South Cariboo for a week or two at a time in the winter.
Ted was the original owner of the snowmobiles, which he purchased new at 100 Mile Recreational Sales & Service, opened by Jack and Donna Barnett. Now it’s Performance All Terrain & Rentals, one of the oldest Ski-Doo dealerships in western Canada.
Gunn, an avid mountain rider today on his 2014 Summit XM 800, says his seasonal neighbour really inspired him a long time ago to get into snowmobiling. Seeing that Gunn knew the trails and lakes in the area, Ted would invite him to go riding and show him around.
“I would go out and ride in the yard and made sure they saw me,” Gunn recalls.
“We’d go all the way down Walker Valley – down to 111 Mile. We’d go to Lac la Hache. We’d go all over.
“More often than not, it was me, Ted and Odette. It was pretty cool.”
Ted eventually offered Gunn the 440 to ride. The 300 was always lagging behind and compared to the John Deere, these were high-performance machines.
“I remember just looking at those sleds and saying, ‘Man, I so want to ride those things.’”
Then Gunn started getting editions of Snowgoer Magazine in the mail. Ted bought him a subscription.
Odette passed away some years ago, Gunn explains, and Ted, 92, who worked as a professional engineer, currently lives in Vancouver. He’s selling the place in 108 Mile Ranch where the sleds were kept.
The snowmobiles were meticulously maintained even if Ted hadn’t ridden them in years. (According to a caretaker, Ted’s last ride was in the mid-1990s.)
When Gunn heard they were for sale around New Year’s, he arranged to meet Ted’s son, Bill, to have a look. When Bill heard about Gunn and his father’s relationship, it was agreed this deal was for the best.
“They were his babies,” Gunn says. “The plan is to keep them all pristine.”
He shared this story on an online Ski-Doo forum in early January. He uploaded photos he took with his family on a “retro” ride. People thought it was great, and so did Ted.
“We sent him a ton of pictures. “He’s super happy they’ve gone to a good home.”
Gunn doesn’t get very sentimental about riding the old machines these days and wearing the throw-back gear. It’s a cool thing and it’s fun, he says.
He likes being outside and spending time with his family. He insists it’s about making “new” memories with them.
Still, in every ride are shades of the past – vintage Ski-Doo orange, black, red and yellow.
“We just go bombing around like the old days.”