Atikokan Snowarama: Once and always, The Million Dollar Ride

Atikokan Snowarama: Once and always, The Million Dollar Ride

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PHOTO: Snowarama 40 Ambassador Atikokan’s fortieth Snowarama has an ambassador: Thomas Desaulniers, five-year-old son of Sandra and Jim, and big brother to Grace. Thomas has not ridden a snowmachine before (neither has Grace), so both expressed some trepidation when invited to try out Kim Cross’ Arctic Cat, but we finally got a big smile from Thomas. SnoHo, Kiwanis, and the Legion are pulling out all the stops for the fortieth running of the Easter Seals fund-raiser, as they aim for a record $40,000 in donations to charity of choice for families of children with disabilities.  Who are you pledging?


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In 1979, one of the tag lines for the Whipper Watson Snowarama in the aid of Crippled Children was: The Million Dollar Ride.

That was the first year Atikokan held an event, and 112 riders fired up their machines. Anthony Duhamel was Atikokan’s ‘Timmy’, Cyril Tate was the president of the SnoHo Club, and Lorene Cross made a snowmobile cake to mark the occasion.

The riders collected $8,500 in pledges – which doesn’t seem like much these days, when anything less than $20,000 from a Snowarama is a big disappointment. But you have to remember this is 1979 – bacon was $1.39 a pound, 8-track tapes were five bucks, and glass belted radial snow tires were $37 each. A dollar went a little further then.

So that got me to thinking. What if you translated all the money raised over the years by the Atikokan Snowarama into 2017 dollars? It’s not all that hard. The Bank of Canada has an inflation calculator; enter that $8,500 in 1979 dollars, hit calculate, and voilà – you learn that $8,500 has the buying power of $27,316 in today’s dollars.

So I repeated that for every Snowarama since 1979, added them all up, and wouldn’t you know it: Atikokan’s Snowarama really is The Million Dollar Ride. The $780,000 raised by Snowarama here over the years, when translated into 2017 dollars, comes to $1,100,935.

Number forty

SnoHo and Kiwanis have formed a small committee to boost the profile of the event this winter, which will be the fortieth running of the Atikokan Snowarama for Easter Seals.

“We’re hoping to get at least one hundred riders, and to raise $40,000,” said Kim Cross. Fellow SnoHo Club members Twyla Smitsnuk and Shirley Thompson, and Kiwanian Val Ekstrom round out the committee.

Cross said it’s been several years since a hundred riders set out on the last Sunday in January to benefit Easter Seals. In 1992, there were close to three hundred riders. The committee hopes getting people to think about it now will lead to more riders later.

“It’s a family ride, ad we would love to see more families out on the trail, whether going all the way to the Castle or not,” said Cross. (The SnoHo Club has purchased a snow coach so small children can ride along – watch for it in the parade.)

The deal for riders is the same: for a minimum of $100 in pledges, they get an event pass for the trails, lunch on the trail at Browns’ Clearwater West Lodge, dinner at the Legion, and admission to the dance.

“The more riders we have, the more pledgers. And we are hoping everyone pledges someone this year…”

The committee is planning a Finnish pancake supper (Friday, January 12 at Riverview United), and is encouraging any kind of similar fund-raising efforts that can contribute to the cause.

“We’re starting a FaceBook page to get the challenge out there, and help build the excitement,” she said.

Atikoklan Snowarama number forty will be held on Saturday, January 27.

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