By Tina Crossfield, Muskoka Zone Patroller (

Photo provided by Tina Crossfield

The 40th anniversary of Nordic patrolling in Canada is approaching and will coincide with this year’s leadership conference at Big White in Kelowna, B.C. Piecing together an early historical narrative to commemorate the occasion has been somewhat challenging, however, I stumbled upon a few items listed in the 1988 Nordic Instructor Guide, and the 1995 Nordic Resource Kit.

We know the origins of the CSP founded by Dr. Doug Firth in 1941. In those days, people would head out on trails, often from a railway drop-off point. On reaching their hill, they would climb it if there wasn’t a rope tow. At day’s end, it was a long ski out to the pick-up point. The first ski patrollers enjoyed this “do-it-yourself-sport.” By the 1950s alpine skiing took off in popularity while Nordic skiing continued, but numbers dwindled.

In 1972-1973, Ross Penton began the process of re-establishing Nordic patrolling in the CSP. Nordic skiing made a comeback with better equipment and popular ski-marathons. In 1974 he attended a national Nordic ski and toboggan clinic and workshop in Vermont, and brought back specific training techniques, much like Doug Firth had done in the 1940s. The first Canadian Nordic Ski Manual, circa 1978, was based on the expertise of our American partners.

In 1974, Nordic patrolling took hold in the CSP. Becky Dufour (Mauricie Zone) led the first pilot project to promote Nordic patrolling, recommending specific training for Nordic patrolling and that at least one Nordic patroller serve on her home zone executive committee. In 1975 Ross Penton became the first national Nordic training officer. Clearly, Nordic patrolling was poised to increase its membership by 1976, 40 years ago.

In 1976-1978, Nordic skiing was included in the sixth edition of the CSPS First Aid Manual. It outlined Nordic pack contents, created an insignia, recommended clothing, and included a short piece on ski operations. By 1978, Nordic patrollers had their own distinct manual, and the first Nordic jacket was issued. There is also mention of a new Nordic mesh toboggan that was demonstrated at the annual general meeting, or AGM (now known as the CSP Leadership Conference) in 1978. Patrols sprung up in Atlantic East and Saskatchewan divisions; Ontario invited Nordic patrollers to compete in its first aid competition.

That the same year FIPS (Federation International des Patrouilles de Ski) was formed under a Canadian charter along with 15 other nations, and had a Nordic committee chaired by Marty Heubner, a powerhouse in the National Ski Patrol (NSP) and co-publisher of the 1985 Edition One National Ski Patrol Manual.

Our history from 1982 onwards is easier to track, and I will write more about this in the next issue. Some patrols have written their own histories, and it would be nice to include some information from those publications in a future article.

If you have any vintage items, especially from 1976, I would be pleased to display them at the 40th anniversary booth at the 2017 CSP Leadership Conference. Photos of patrollers and items are also welcome. It would be great if someone had saved the original Canadian Nordic Ski Patrol Manual from 1976-1978.

Please contact me at if you have any information.

Tracking history – 40th anniversary of Nordic patrolling