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December 10th, 2018
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Rene St Onge Tribute

The sledding community suffered a great loss yesterday, as it is being reported that Rene St Onge has tragically passed away in a snowmobiling accident. Rene has been a part of Mountain Sledder since our beginning, and it is with disbelief and sadness that we report on his passing.
Rene St Onge

Rene had an unmatched passion for sharing the backcountry with others, like friend Geoff Kyle.

 

Rene St Onge was a like a big brother to so many in the snowmobiling community. We looked up to him as a talented rider who put more days on a sled than just about anyone alive. But more than that, he carried a wealth of knowledge. Not just about the Sicamous and Revelstoke riding areas—of which he knew every nook and cranny—but also about the machines we ride, our land and the way it is used, the history of the area and mountain living in general.

Rene St Onge
Rene had an unsurpassed knowledge of the ins and outs of his local backcountry riding areas like Eagle Pass, BC.
For every group of mountain riders, there is a leader: a person who everyone looks up to as a skilled and knowledgable rider. Rene was that person for just about every group he ever rode with.

Just like a big brother, you could expect a good-natured ribbing from Rene, and that was part of his charisma. He wasn’t afraid to tease his friends in an endearing way, and that is part of what let you know that he liked you. And like a brother who you could rely on no matter what, you knew that Rene would be the first in line to help a fellow sledder. Rene would not hesitate for even a second to load up in the dead of night to go out and try to help a sledder who needed it—even one who he had never met.

Rene St Onge

Rene St Onge, Advocate for Motorized Use

But his contribution to mountain sledding wasn’t just about being a fearless leader and role model. Rene was for many years deeply involved in the discussion about land use and a strong advocate for the preservation of access to public lands for motorized use. Rene passed as the President of the Shuswap Backcountry Riders association, which fights for the rights of not just sledders but all motorized users. He had an unrivalled passion for sharing the outdoor experience and making the backcountry accessible for all.

Rene St Onge

Rene was a doer, and someone you could rely on to get things done. An example of this is the restoration of the Eagle Pass Fire Lookout, which was spearheaded by Rene and friends. They had a vision of restoring a historic lookout which had been consumed by the elements, and Rene’s efforts were integral in taking the restoration from dream to completion. We hope the lookout shelter will be cared for and remain forever a symbol of Rene’s capability and passion for the area he called home.

 

Eagle Pass Fire Lookout


Thousands of sledders have been touched in some way by Rene. Countless have stayed at his Eagle Valley Lodge in the heart of sledding in Western Canada. Others have engaged with Rene as he shared his many adventures and thoughts on sledding in online forums and on social media. So many others have had the chance to share a backcountry experience with Rene. We are all devastated by this loss.

Our most heartfelt condolences go out to Rene’s family, his friends and our community as a whole as we grieve.

RIP, brother.

 

– PG

@sleddermag