Terry and Diane – Snowmobilers Extraordinaire!

There is a special Ottawa Valley couple who have enjoyed and continue to enjoy a wonderful life filled with family, faith, hard work and lots of fun filled activities.  Snowmobiling is an activity that Osceola’s Terry and Diane Coulas got “hooked on” in the early years of their marriage and continue to enjoy more than 50 years later.

The Early Years
Despite never having driven a snowmobile, Terry was very interested in buying one in the 1960s. He had a job at a snowmobile dealership and asked his dairy farming dad to go 50/50 on a 1964 Boa Ski. Not being familiar with snowmobiles, his dad turned him down. Terry met and married Diane in 1970 and began snowmobiling with her after purchasing a 1970 Nordic Wide Track made by Bombardier. Diane had never snowmobiled before, but young love saw them riding double over the fences and up the side roads to visit their parents, other family members and friends. Those were the days of bush trails and an abundance of snow.

Snowmobile Fever
Terry and Diane’s first snowmobile experiences gave them both “snowmobile fever”. They purchased a 1976 Polaris Electra and continued to ride double until they needed more room as their three boys arrived. Terry, now a dairy farmer, bought a 1979 Polaris Apollo and Diane, working as a registered nurse, purchased a 1980 Apollo. As the years went on and snowmobiles got more dependable, this young couple began logging thousands of miles per year. This included many trips in Renfrew County as well as to Northern Ontario and Quebec. As a result, they began taking turns buying a new sled each year or two and became very loyal to the Polaris brand.

Diane’s List of Snowmobiles
Terry and Diane have owned many snowmobiles over the years. When asked about numbers, Diane is able to list her Polaris sleds along with the colours: 1980 Appollo – blue, 1987 Indy Sport – blue, 1991 400 – red, 1993 XCR 400 – red, 1996 XLT blue/black, 1997 XLT – green, 1998 Classic – burgundy, 2002 Classic – blue, 2004 Frontier Classic – blue, 2007 Indy – white, 2010 Rush – black, 2011 Rush – grey, 2016 Rush – red, 2020 Rush – blue, 2021 Rush Matrix – grey/blue and finally a 2024 Polaris Star S4 Four Stroke. Yikes, that’s 16 sleds in all!

A Family Affair
As soon as the Coulas boys were old enough to drive, they were gifted their own machines for family adventures. But Terry and Diane did not stop there. In time they purchased a used 1998 Kitty Cat for their grandkids. Once they had outgrown this small machine, a Polaris Star arrived. Three generations of the Coulas family now enjoy snowmobiling together. A brand new fourth generation baby has arrived, and I am sure that this great grandchild will soon have her first snowmobile adventure!

Most Memorable Snowmobile Trips
A late 1980s trip to Devil’s Mountain, Quebec from home with their boys is marked as a favourite adventure. Two of the boys drove on a 1978 Polaris Colt. Terry hired someone to milk and over 4 or 5 days, they took an ice trail marked by trees over the Ottawa River and traveled up to the top of Devil’s Mountain. This was a lifelong dream fulfilled for the Coulas family.
Another time, Terry and Diane entered three area poker runs between morning and evening milking all in one day.

Other memorable trips include a – 40 degree trip from Kirkland Lake to Cochrane, snowmobiling in Lac Saint-Jean and the Gaspe Peninsula, running the Abitibi Canyon loop, seeing the goose in Wawa by sled, snowmobiling from their home all the way to Cochrane and actually snowmobiling in Northern Alberta during a visit with one of their sons.

Funny Stories
Both Terry and Diane enjoy a good laugh and love to tease. When asked about funny experiences on their sleds, they talked about the time that they had matching snowmobiles and kept a clothes pin on Diane’s windshield to tell them apart. On one adventure, Terry had to pull a heavy machine out of the bush and knew that he had likely blown his motor. When he got back to their lodging, he quietly moved the clothespin to his sled. The next morning, Diane jumped on what she thought was her machine and was horrified when she started it up and attempted to drive away.

Another time was just a few years ago when Terry had devised an old snowmobile and groomer for their own bush trails and a ski hill that they had developed for the grandkids on their farm. The snowmobile had run out of gas, and they were called on to get it back home. Terry broke the rope twice while attempting to tow it, so decided to run back to the house to get some gas. The plan was that Diane, who is very tiny, would drive the groomer sled back to the house so she jumped on the back of Terry’s sled with a container of gas in a backpack. Terry took off and the weight of the gas made Diane, now in her 70s, fall right off the back of the sled into the snow. The two of them got to laughing so hard in the dark that they had great difficulty getting Diane up out of the snow and back on the sled.

One final funny story is that one day this snowmobile loving couple decided to take a run up to Deep River for coffee. While they were there, they heard that the RAP (Round Algonquin Park) trail was open and decided there and then to go. This three-day trip saw them being stopped by the OPP who didn’t believe that they were on the RAP because they had no luggage. Terry told the officer, when they asked about clothes, that he simply turned his underwear inside out when they got dirty.

Volunteer Work
Many years before snowmobile clubs were in existence, Terry and his brother-in-law started grooming their local, family trails with homemade groomers made with springs out of a mattress. Then they made a drag by welding skis under the bumper of 51 Pontiac. They took it down the road on the skis and flipped it over to smooth the trail.

Terry was one of ten members who started our local White Water Sno-Goers Club. He went to the first meeting and each person in attendance threw in $50 to start the club. Terry and a friend built a more sophisticated groomer and took turns pulling it. Terry has served as director, groomer operator and trail warden through the years. He was awarded with Volunteer of the Year in 2008. Terry is still signing trails each Fall. Diane is always at Terry’s side helping in any way she can and often plays her fiddle at the club’s annual Landowner’s and Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.

Where To Next?
Terry and Diane have purchased both Ontario and Quebec trail passes again for the 2024 year. They hope to enjoy many adventures now that the snow is on its way. One planned trip is to the Christmas Mountains in New Brunswick in February. One thing that we can be sure of is that this Ottawa Valley couple, who are great role models in enjoying life, will be smiling as they enjoy yet another year on the Ontario and Quebec snowmobile trails.

Story and Photos Provide By: Mary B.


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