CEO and Chair Messages 2018-2019

Continuing Canada’s trail building legacy

Neil Yeates on the Cowichan Valley Trail, Vancouver Island, BC © Chris Istace

Trail building has always been an important part of Canada’s heritage. Our national identity has been profoundly influenced by the efforts of generations of trail builders – from Indigenous communities, pioneers and explorers to dedicated agencies and trail associations.

Building on this rich history, Trans Canada Trail is committed to providing people with opportunities to connect with one another as well as with the Canadian landscape.

As I look back on the past fiscal year, I am delighted to see more and more Canadians are becoming aware of The Great Trail. In November 2018, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society chose to bestow their prestigious Gold Medal to the Trail in recognition of our efforts over the past 27 years. Our achievements are thanks to countless donors, volunteers, Trail groups and all levels of government.

I am also grateful for the contributions of the members of the Trans Canada Trail Board. The expertise and leadership of my fellow board directors is invaluable to the continued progress of the Trail, and I greatly appreciate their volunteer efforts. I would also like to extend my gratitude to Jim Bishop, one of TCT’s longest-serving board directors, who retired this year.

With such a wide range of experiences and scenery, The Great Trail offers something for people with a variety of interests, abilities and preferences. Nevertheless, we are committed to making the Trail even better, and we continue to raise awareness of the Trail and funds for its enhancement.

As part of our ongoing strategic plan, we are focused on developing new Trail sections that showcase the beauty of our Canadian landscapes, converting interim roadways to greenways and assisting in the repair of damage caused by natural disasters. We are also working to increase accessibility and to strengthen our bonds with Indigenous communities, Trail groups and partners at all levels.

Encouraging people to discover and use the Trail is another of our strategic aims, and we have worked tirelessly to promote The Great Trail among outdoor enthusiasts. Our work in 2018/19 included establishing, a new microsite featuring stories, itineraries and podcasts that shine a spotlight on selected Trail sections across Canada.

As we continue to work with tourism associations across the country, we are excited to welcome even more people to Canada’s national Trail.

Stretching over 24,000 kilometres from coast to coast to coast, The Great Trail is an iconic part of our nation’s history and geography. And, with 80% of Canadians living within 30 minutes of a Trail section, this wonderful legacy is a lot closer than we might think. Personally, I was thrilled to find myself on a section while I was on a backcountry trip near Elk Lakes in British Columbia.

As we look forward to all we can achieve together in the next fiscal year, I invite you to keep Canada’s trail building legacyalive with your support for The Great Trail.

Deepening our connections to Canada’s national Trail

Deborah Apps on the Trail in Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary, AB © Andrew Penner

In a world where technology allows us to communicate in ways we never thought possible, we continue to strive for a deeper connection. The Great Trail of Canada offers just that.

Canada’s national Trail gives us the opportunity to connect meaningfully with our majestic landscapes, our history and our sense of belonging.

With the assistance of our generous donors and diligent Trail partners, we were thrilled to support numerous improvement projects across our network in the past fiscal year. These crucial projects included converting roadways to greenways, making the Trail more accessible, installing new wayfinding signage, developing new Trail sections and helping to repair existing ones after natural disasters.

This year, we also hosted one of the biggest and most popular events on the Trail to date. In the summer of 2018, we launched the first-ever Great Trail Treasure Hunt in partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. We were delighted to see so many nature enthusiasts and young families get outdoors and discover their local Trail section as part of this national contest. I believe this incredible event is just one example of how the Trail can connect us from coast to coast to coast.

We are proud of our shared achievements and I’d like to thank our donors, partners, volunteers and all levels of government for their ongoing support. In particular, I am grateful to the Government of Canada for their $30 million investment in this national legacy project. We look forward to continuing to build on our successful relationship with Parks Canada in the coming years. This important investment will sustain this cross-Canada network for generations to come.

In many ways, the Trail’s journey is just beginning and our efforts to make the Trail even greater continue. The Great Trail is more than just a line on a map – it is the essence of who we are and the many journeys that have brought us to this point. And, as Canadians, we all have an opportunity to deepen our connection by using it, enjoying it and supporting it financially and through volunteerism.

In my experience as an immigrant, my connection to The Great Trail has truly enriched my life. The Trail connects me to a country that has afforded me so many opportunities, and this magnificent project has allowed me to give back, if only in a small way. Over the past 14 years of my involvement in Trans Canada Trail, I have not only had the good fortune to represent our national Trail, but also to work with enthusiastic Canadians, from all walks of life, who share our vision of connecting our country and its many communities.

I encourage you to explore and experience The Great Trail – to discover something that promotes connection and exploration of our magnificent country. The Great Trail is our shared legacy, a connection to our past and present, and to one another.