A Nova Scotia man has been honoured by the Canadian Ski Patrol for his six decades of service with the organization. It’s an honour only four Canadians have ever received.
“I was embarrassed,” said Doug Maclean about. Now in his late 70s, Maclean says he still remembers his first time on skis. He purchased a pair at the age of 18 and hit the slopes with a friend.
“Just going out that one time sparked something,” he said.
The following year Maclean took a first aid course and ended up with Ski Patrol.
“Didn’t know anything about it but went out there adn that’s how it started, and just continued on,” said Maclean.
He continued for 60 years, something few before him have done. He’s just the fourth Canadian to receive recognition for 60 years with the organization.
At his home in Dartmouth, Maclean remains humble, and says he’s nothing special, but his friends are quick to disagree.
“It’s incredible,” says David Kells, who’s been with Ski Patrol for over four decades.
“I joined the patrol 44 years ago and Doug was one of the leaders for the system at that point in time,” said Kells. “Doug was instrumental in founding the Canadian Ski Patrol in Nova Scotia.”
Kells points out that while many skiiiers continue with the sport as they age, remaining with the ski patrol is no easy feat.
Each year ski patrollers go through a rigorous first aid course. They have to retest annually in front of their peers and complete toboggan training and ski training every three years.
When asked if Maclean ever had trouble keeping up with younger skiers, Kells laughed.
“I think the younger ones struggle to keep up with Doug,” he said. “Doug has an amazing ski style, he is smooth, he skis through everything.”
In addition to skiing, Maclean also took up snowboarding in the 90s, and has qualified to do ski patrol on both skis and snowboard. He has taught both sports.
However, now he sticks to skiing and admits that at his age he has slowed down. A knee injury has meant he’s been waiting for surgery. He has focused more on training and teaching as he’s been unable to ski as much, though he has still gone out at least a couple times.
“[He’s] skiing basically with 90 percent of weight on his good leg, very few people noticed he had an injury, his love of skiing has just never waivered,” said Kells.
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Maclean has also been recognized as a national life member of the Canadian Ski patrol. Fewer than 85 people have been recognized nationally. Maclean was the 28th. He’s participated in ski patrol from the local level, to provincial to national and has held all sorts of positions.
But through it all, Maclean stays modest, shying away from talking about his accomplishments he says what he has loved most about ski patrol is the sense of community.
“As you went along, you created a family,” said Maclean. “You might not see them all summer but then in the fall you get back together for training and skiing and so on.”
While his home base is in Nova Scotia at both Wentworth and Martock, through the years he’s had the the chance to ski and patrol at resorts right across the country, making friendships everywhere he went.
Fellow ski patrollers from Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick came to Nova Scotia on Saturday to celebrate Maclean and his 60 years of service.
“I think that’s indicative of the friendships,” said Kells.
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