15 May, 2024

Why Laureen Harper Spends Time on the Trans Canada Trail Every Day

Laureen Harper

“A Walk Never Made Anything Worse”

A serene wooden bench nestled among trees in a peaceful forest setting. | Un banc en bois serein niché parmi les arbres dans un cadre forestier paisible.

Growing up on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, Laureen Harper spent many hours as a child exploring the mountains and trails with her family. Now based in Bragg Creek, Alberta, Laureen describes her favourite section of the Trans Canada Trail as “whatever part of the Trail I happen to be on at the time.” She adds, “I have to admit that the Trail outside my house is the one I am on daily, so by default it makes it the best for me.”

“I always liked hiking, and I’d watched some of the Trans Canada Trail campaigns. I decided I’d like to get involved,” Laureen recounts. “I met the crew, and we hit it off. Thus began our adventure in fundraising and some lovely Trail-centric hikes and trips.” Laureen has been an avid supporter of the Trans Canada Trail in several meaningful ways: she joined walks and hikes on the Trans Canada Trail across the country, from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia, raising awareness about the country’s natural wonders. From 2011 to 2015, she served as Honorary Campaign Chair, and she put her passion to work supporting Trans Canada Trail’s fundraising efforts when she served on the Trans Canada Trail Foundation Board from 2017 to 2022. Laureen worked closely with former Foundation chair Valerie Pringle and Trans Canada Trail staff. She cites overseeing infrastructure improvements and trail maintenance at the national level as a critical element of the organization’s mandate.

Contributing to infrastructure projects across Canada

A group of people, including Laureen Harper, standing in front of a church with a plaque nearby. | Un groupe de personnes, dont Laureen Harper, debout devant une église avec une plaque à proximité.

Through Laureen’s work on the Trans Canada Trail Foundation Board, what she is most proud of is playing a part in fundraising activities that made it possible for Trans Canada Trail to complete projects from coast to coast to coast. “When people think of bridges, trailhead infrastructure, and things of that nature, they may seem boring, but they make a world of difference,” she says. She describes infrastructure improvements in her community as an example: “I volunteer at my local trailhead. The parking lot used to be small, and the congestion made for a nonoptimal experience. Now, there is lots of parking, bathrooms and places to get ready for your hike. Even on the busiest days, everything works.”

“I love taking someone out hiking for the first time”

Laureen Harper and her team, posing for a photo on a picturesque hillside. | Laureen Harper et son équipe, posant pour une photo sur une colline pittoresque.

Seeing people experience the outdoors along the Trail – and the benefits that nature brings, both physical and mental – is a major motivation for Laureen to remain engaged and involved in the trail sector. “I love taking someone out hiking for the first time,” she says. “Seeing their faces when they climb a mountain or walk a section of trail they didn’t think they could complete” is extremely rewarding. She continues, “I love to photograph my adventures, running ahead and capturing a person’s expression as they crest a ridge and see a once-in-a-lifetime view of something amazing. You are tired, and your legs are weak, but the view takes your breath away. Nothing beats that feeling.” She’s thrilled to see how popular hiking and trail walking has become since her initial involvement with the Trans Canada Trail Foundation.

Ensuring the Trail’s longevity by encouraging people to get outside and walk

A plaque on a bench, honoring Laureen Harper | Une plaque sur un banc honorant Laureen Harper

As far as her hopes for Trans Canada Trail in both the near future and long term, Laureen says, “I hope Trans Canada Trail continues doing what they have been doing in the past: funding individual projects and encouraging people to get outside and walk. You only have to get people hiking once. If their experience is a good one, they will hike for the rest of their lives.”

When asked what she’d tell people about Trans Canada Trail, or trails in general, she says, “I’ll borrow some words from others who have said it best. If you are tired, go for a walk. If you are mad or upset, go for a walk. A walk never made anything worse, and I believe a walk makes everything better.”

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