The 100 Mile House area has become a destination for retirees from the Coast looking to enjoy small-town life with few exemplifying that more than Rick Kyllo, the current president of the 100 Mile House Snowmobile Club.
Kyllo retired to the area in 2015 after working for the City of Vancouver for 38 years. Working in the department of Parks and Recreation, he started by pushing a lawnmower and ended as a superintendent managing around 40 people. While it was a good career and he really enjoyed his time there, Kyllo always knew he wanted to retire to the Cariboo.
This was because Kyllo worked in 108 Mile House back in 1970 when his father, Grant Kyllo, was managing the construction of many parts of 108 Mile Ranch for Block Brothers Real Estate as vice president. These include the golf course, airstrip, roads, hotel and the 108 Building Supply which he said was a real experience to watch being built in 18 months. Kyllo is proud of what his late father did and while the community has evolved in ways he didn’t foresee, he thinks his dad was 50 years ahead of his time in his vision.
“I was exposed to the Cariboo when I was about 17/18 years old and I always said I’d retire here when I finished my career down in the city,” Kyllo recalled. “I don’t like the rain and I was born and bred in Vancouver but it changed so much to me. It was a beautiful city but it lost its character and personality so I kind of said I don’t want to live in a big city, I want to live in the country.”
Currently, Kyllo said that he lives on Block Drive with a “beautiful view” of Watson Lake. So far one of the things he’s enjoyed most about the area is the seasons and the constant changes they bring from the lakes freezing and thawing to the different birds that migrate through the area. Kyllo remarked with a laugh he also loved the deer initially but has been getting rather fed up with them lately and prefers seeing moose and black bears.
“Another thing I like is the vibe of the small town and I’ve never had so many people wave to me that I don’t know,” Kyllo said, adding that downtown one winter he was offered a ride by a concerned citizen which he said you’d never see in Vancouver.
Another part of the reason he moved to the Cariboo was the fact he’s not afraid of snow or the winter which is what led him to join the 100 Mile Mile House Snowmobile Club. He said he’s learned a lot riding with the club and that he enjoys riding with a large group of people after now snowmobiling much for the four decades beforehand.
Kyllo became president after the fellow who held the position before him, Allan Reichardt, wanted to take a little break from running the club due to the demanding nature of the job. While new to the area, Kyllo promised to maintain the club and considers himself more caretaker than president. He’s currently caring for the clubhouse and working to keep membership up which he’s had some success with as the club has around 21 paid members last year, up from 11 previously.
“We’re ending in the right direction and it’s an older group but we have some gals in the club now to which is really nice. (We) went for maybe eight really good rides over this past winter, it’s a nice way to see the countryside around here,” Kyllo said.
Kyllo said that the club recently got a grant to reroof their clubhouse at the 99 Mile and that last year they received one to purchase a new snow groomer for the purposes of grooming trails from 100 Mile down to 70 Mile. Overall, he said the club gives him something to look forward to during the winter when the days are only eight hours long.
As always, Kyllo said the club is looking for new members for the winter of 2020/2021 and the nice thing about snowmobiling, he observed, is that it’s easy to do while social distancing.
“That’s the beauty of a snowmobile you can wear your helmet and can’t get within six feet of each other unless you’re in trouble,” Kyllo chuckled. “It’s a good sport, an outdoor sport and good for social distancing, it’s great camaraderie.”