CEO and Chair Message 2018

Protecting the Trail for future generations

Neil Yeates in Banff National Park

Who could have imagined 25 years ago that Canada would be home to the world’s longest network of multi-use trails? Many may have thought it impossible to achieve this audacious goal. But thanks to the incredible effort and support of our partners, volunteers and donors throughout the country, we can all take pride in having created Canada’s national Trail.

Since the connection of The Great Trail coincided with my first year as Chair of the TCT Board, this time has been particularly special for me.

On that note, I would like to thank the members of the TCT Board, a group of dedicated and passionate individuals from across Canada. Their vision and determination to deliver a connected Trail for all Canadians have been inspirational. This year, we welcomed a number of new board members – James Goulden (BC), Michael Lindsay (ON), Emma Mohns (ON) and Ron Hicks (BC).

I would also like to pay tribute to board members who have retired in the past year – Cameron Clark, Mylène Forget, Eric Gionet, Ken Killin, Alan McDonald and Ruth Marr, as well as our former Chair, Paul LaBarge. I am also grateful to all TCT staff, who continue to work exceptionally hard to promote and raise funds for the Trail, as well as to oversee its further development.

There have been many unforgettable moments during the past year. On August 26, 2017, we celebrated the cross-Canada connection of The Great Trail. Crowds of Trail supporters joined us in Ottawa, while 200 other celebrations were held across the country on the same day. We also celebrated the marvellous successes of the Chapter 150 Campaign, which raised the funds needed to make this bold dream a reality.

Although we celebrate this extraordinary feat, my fellow board members and I know that the journey continues. We thought connection was ambitious, but we must now protect and encourage the development of the Trail so that future generations can discover it, use it and treasure it.

Our new strategic plan will guide us as we work to increase accessibility and nurture our relationships with Indigenous communities, Trail groups and partners at all levels.

We will preserve this living legacy by developing new Trail sections that showcase the majestic beauty of our Canadian landscapes, converting roadways to greenways where possible and assisting in the repair of damage caused by natural disasters.

I feel a great sense of gratitude for the Trail whenever I enjoy my favourite sections in the Rockies or in Gatineau Park. I invite you to use the Trail as well, and to discover your own deep connection to it.

Our connection to Canada’s national Trail runs deep

George and Deborah Apps in the Trail in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, AB

Since the beginning of this bold project, Trans Canada Trail has made incredible strides in creating a cross-Canada trail. As such, the past year will remain one of the most important in our history. Thanks to our enthusiastic supporters across the country, The Great Trail now stretches for more than 24,000 kilometres and showcases the natural beauty, rich history and enduring spirit of our lands, peoples and communities.

So what does connection mean? It means that Canadians have access to a Trail network that encourages a healthy lifestyle, as well as respect for nature and diverse cultures. The Great Trail passes through every province and territory, and links 15,000 communities in urban, rural and wilderness areas.

Given the vastness of our country’s landscape, connection at times seemed out of reach. However, after 25 years of unrelenting effort and the support of countless Canadians, The Great Trail is now within 30 minutes of 80% of us.

Connection has inspired countless communities across Canada, as they work to enhance their local Trail sections. This nationwide passion for the Trail is a testament to the importance of this iconic national project – and evidence that the Trail is valued, and that it will be enjoyed and improved on for future generations.

Connection has also created an impressive legacy already, both nationally and locally. The excitement at our national connection celebration in Ottawa on August 26 is still palpable. That same fervour was tangible when we revealed the Chapter 150 Campaign achievement of over $83 million. I’m very grateful to Valerie Pringle and Hartley Richardson, two determined and passionate individuals who served as co-chairs of the campaign, as well as to the members of the TCT Foundation Board and the Chapter 150 Campaign Cabinet.

The support of donors, partners, volunteers and all levels of government has been crucial to reaching our goal. In particular, I would like to thank the federal government. After making their matching contribution to the Chapter 150 Campaign, they then renewed their support to the Trail with a recent $30 million commitment.

Even after such a monumental year, the Trail’s journey is far from over. We look forward to deepening Canadians’ connection to the Trail by protecting and enhancing our shared legacy for generations to come. As we begin this new chapter in The Great Trail’s story, we now move forward with a new campaign to raise awareness and funds for this national treasure. This new campaign – Deeply Connected – is aptly named. It harkens back to the beginnings of this project in 1992, when Bill Pratt and Dr. Pierre Camu embraced their connection to the country by envisioning a trail that would link Canada and Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It also brings us to the present, reminding us of our personal connections to the land, one another and ourselves.

With your ongoing support, TCT will ensure that the living legacy of The Great Trail will continue to showcase the very best of Canada – now and forever.