As the Kicksled Revolution rings in its fifth birthday, owner and founder Anne Middler sat with me over coffee in her downtown Whitehorse shop to reflect on the past five years and on what she hopes will come.
While Kicksled Revolution officially opened its doors in the fall of 2016, Middler’s introduction to (and infatuation with) kicksleds happened long before, in 2009.
“I immediately fell in love with it, like really loved it so much,” she said. “It reminded me of skateboarding, but it was safe and stable and I just thought it was such a fun way to move my body in the wintertime.”
Middler began to collect kicksleds and took it up as transportation and recreation with her young daughter, Juniper.
At the time, Middler was also working in the environmental movement. Like many, she had a growing concern around the need to green our transportation. She saw kicksledding as a fun and easy way to make this necessary shift.
“So, I coined the term Kicksled Revolution,” said Middler. “Because I really felt that kicksleds were going to change the way we get around. And it was going to help us individually reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in the wintertime.”
With that, the philosophy behind the Kicksled Revolution was born.
As she shared her philosophy more widely, others grew excited too. But the question remained—how would they make it happen? And that’s when Middler knew she needed to start the business in order to bring kicksledding to the North.
In 2016, with a 20-foot shipping container full of kicksleds coming from across the world, Middler took a chance and opened the doors of her business. What followed has been five years of excitement and joy as more than 1,500 Yukoners, young and old, have joined her as she glides on frozen lakes, forest trails and snow-covered city roads.
For those new to kicksledding, they could be seen as the ultimate winter vehicle, which is apparent as Middler shared her favourite places to use them and how she used one every day last year except two from October to April.
“My daughter kicksleds to school every day, we kicksled to fiddle practice, we kicksled to the grocery store,” said Middler. “I kicksled with my dog several times a day instead of just walking him. But mostly it’s a tool of pure joy and I see it as a mental health promotion … you can go destination kicksledding—put it in your car and go to a frozen lake or trail system. Most of them have a seat so you can pack gear or your bag to enjoy a cup of tea.”
And in March and April when the lakes harden, they can even be used for multi-day kick-xpeditions—some of Middler’s favourite holidays.
Looking back at the past five years, Middler has too many favourite moments to count—many of which have taken place in her store.
“I love the kicksled shop,” said Middler. “I love being in here. And every single interaction in this store is uplifting and positive for me. There’s been so many beautiful connections with people, taking people kicksledding for the first time and launching a fleet in the schools in the communities.”
Feedback from her many happy customers about how their kicksled has changed their relationship with winter also brings Middler – a self-professed winter lover – joy.
As a low-barrier activity, kicksledding is great for all ages – including kids – and fitness levels. Visit Middler at the cozy Kicksled Revolution Headquarters, located downtown Whitehorse on 5th Ave between Wood and Jarvis. Look for the friendly giant kicksled cargo van parked out front. The shop is open Wednesday to Friday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and by appointment.