Kevin Sweetland lived to snowmobile.
“It was very much part of his life,” his wife, Ruth Young, said recently from her home in Stephenville as she talked about her husband who died in March 2016.
From the first snowfall, she said he was there right away.
“If there was snow and it was good enough to put the snowmobile on … he’d be the first one there.
“Whenever he could go, he would go.”
That often meant that when spring came he’d still be on the trails to the last day possible. And summers were spent getting his snowmobile ready for the next season.
“He snowmobiled everywhere,” she said, laughing at being asked if their vacations were spent in colder climates.
She said he snowmobiled in Vancouver and in Colorado.
“If there was snow and it was good enough to put the snowmobile on … he’d be the first one there." - Ruth Young
Until an illness prevented her from going, Young would often be on the trail with him, especially during trips to their cabin at Bonne Bay Pond.
They’d snowmobile from Stephenville to the cabin and from there would be trips to Western Brook. She’d often fill a thermos with coffee before they’d head out and they’d stop along the trail.
It was about spending time together, enjoying the scenery and talking with the people they met on the trail.
“He loved snowmobiling.”
He not only loved to snowmobile, he also believed it was important to promote and help advance snowmobiling in this province.
Now two groups he was involved with — the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowmobile Federation (NLSF) and the Bay St. George Snowmobile Association (BSGSA) — have recognized him by erecting the Kevin Sweetland Memorial Map on the groomed snowmobile trail at one of the turnoffs to the Lewis Hills.
Sweetland served as a director and president of the Bay St. George group and as director and chair of the provincial federation. He was also president of the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations held executive roles on the International Snowmobile Council and the International Snowmobile Council Congress.
“He was heavily involved in everything to do with snowmobiling,” Tony Sheppard, NLSF general manager said of Sweetland. “He has done a huge amount to further snowmobiling for Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Paul Hoskins, vice-president of the Bay St. George Snowmobile Association, knew Sweetland for about eight years.
“Kevin was probably one of the best people you’d ever meet.”
Hoskins feels having the map on the trails that meant so much to Sweetland is fitting.
“To honour him that way is the best way to do it.”
The map, which was erected around the middle of September, is located about 34 kilometres in on Loggers School Road. It’s about eight kilometres west of the Shiver Shack and about six kilometres east of the Sweet Shack, warmup shelters on the trails near Corner Brook and Stephenville.
Sheppard said there had already been a map in the area for about 15 years.
“Anybody that was snowmobiling in the area always knew it as The Map. It was a reference point everybody used.
“This map was getting really, really raggedy and you couldn’t really see the map. It was faded.”
So, the groups decided to replace it and had a local mapping company do up a map of the Lewis Hills with the common trails that people take in the area.
The map sign is about four feet high by six feet wide with the map taking up about two thirds of the space and on right side is a picture of Sweetland and some information about his involvement in snowmobiling.
A canvas print of the image was also presented to Young, a gesture she described as “so beautiful.”
She said her husband would be a bit embarrassed by the honour.
“But he would be OK with it. He would love the fact that Stephenville is recognized, and Corner Brook is recognized and everybody is recognized.”
As soon as there’s enough snow on the ground the two groups plan to hold an official dedication of the map on the trail.