The Matagami Snowmobile Club was incorporated in 1969 by Mr. Paul-Henri Laroche, founder and first president. He was helped by a few other enthousiasts. This initiative was apparently a response to the Town of Matagami's concerns over the growing number of snow machines circulating in the streets.
The first location of the cottage would have been on the edge of Lake Matagami, roughly 2000 feet west of it's current location. Although this is a short distance, the Snowmobile Club's address changed many times over the last 30 years, due mostly to vandalism and lack of basic services like water and electricity. At one time, the Club members even used an old prospector camp at Dunlop Bay. In 1974 it was set up in a building loaned by Blais & Langlois (a local construction and transportation company), awaiting the construction of a new place. The loaned building was in Matagami's industrial park.
In those days, the Club didn't maintain a network of trails. It's mandate was to organize activities and events for snowmobilers.
The 1974-75 season was a turning point. Firstly, an impressive mobilization of the membership was orchestrated in order to prepare a new site and install a new cottage. Two said "James Bay" mobile homes or units were joined together and were set up in a sand pit near highway 109, not far from the old Orchan Mine.
Another important accomplishment in the 74-75 season was the accreditation of the Matagami Club with the Federation of Quebec Snowmobile Clubs. This brought on a network of groomed trails for which the Club had purchased an "Alpine" sled and plow. Over 60 kilometers of local trails were maintained at the time. Some of you might remember the "jungle" circuit which apparently offered quite a panorama.
The groomed trails briefly became a source of conflicts. Sledders using trails that had become under Club jurisdiction didn't appreciate having to buy a pass to continue using them. None-the-less, with perseverance and the conviction that a federated network of trails would provide safer and more enjoyable snowmobiling, the Club grew steadily.
During the 1975-76 season, the Club, now having running water and electricity, became very populour. Some say it became a feirce competitor of town establishments because evenings were lively. Bands were improvized and spirits were always festive.
In fall of 1984, the Club moved to a new cottage. The twin mobile units were traded for another larger building which was installed near the "L'Anse" rapids at the mouth of the Bell River. The location was better, but the Club had to sacrifice running water and electricity.
Finally, the building was moved closer to the shore of Matagami Lake in 1996 and major improvements were made such as a water well, sceptic installations, an industrial generator, and some landscaping. The exterior of the building was also renovated.
Today, the cottage offers a beautiful vue of the "l'Anse" rapids and the mouthe of the Bell River.
After having ridden many of the 250 kilometers of the rather isolated trails of the Matagami Snowmobile Club, a warm and well deserved meal awaits you. Let us show you a good time and a small yet amazing part of Northern Quebec's best kept secret. Matagami.
(We'd like to thank Mr. Michel Jolicoeur and Mr. Paul-Henri Laroche for sharing their memories)