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Pete Ames grooms the trails at St. Lawrence University's golf course every winter. Photo: David Sommerstein.
Pete Ames grooms the trails at St. Lawrence University's golf course every winter. Photo: David Sommerstein.

Heard Up North: The man to thank for Canton's groomed trails

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If you're one of the many cross-country skiers who enjoys the perfectly groomed trails on St. Lawrence University's golf course in Canton, here's the guy you want to thank.

Pete Ames is the chief engineer at the Best Western hotel. He volunteers every winter to lay 13 miles of trail with a snowmobile. David Sommerstein came across him while on a ski recently and has this Heard Up North.

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David Sommerstein
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"My name is Pete Ames, I'm chief engineer at the Best Western, and I do the trails on the course every year. Duck, the guy who used to do it, was getting pretty old, and wanted somebody to try it. So I said 'sure, I'll give it a try', and I've been doing it ever since."

People flag me down, and say 'thanks, you're doing a great job!' It's pleasing to do that, you know?
Pete says sometimes he gets calls from people who are coming on a specific weekend or day, asking him to "freshen up" certain trails. "I usually try to do it for 'em. It gets me outside, away from the building, I see all kinds of things, deer out on the course.

"One year I think back into 2003…real heavy snow that year and the deer were using the trail to walk on. Well, when I came down the trail the deer stood off to the side of the trail, within three feet of the snowmobile. I actually reached out and grabbed some hair off one of the deer. I did, God's honest truth. Yes, I did. It was the most amazing thing because they stood right there and didn't move.

"For all the local townspeople and guests at the motel, college students, everybody, it's a great winter sport, everybody likes it. I see 'em out here all the time, I get comments, people flag me down, and say 'thanks, you're doing a great job!' It's pleasing to do that, you know?"

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