Trailside Highlights

On the eastside of Canada, The Great Trail presents opportunities for a range of activities. Outdoor enthusiasts have relatively easy access to four unique provinces and their distinct sections of the Trail. While these Maritime provinces are among the smallest of our provinces, don’t call any of them ‘bite-sized’ — the landscapes you’ll find here are as grandiose as they are diverse.

Newfoundland & Labrador: It All Starts Here

Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site, NL. Photo by Shutterstock/Chyacat

The Great Trail in Newfoundland & Labrador is notable for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that Kilometre Zero East of The Great Trail is in Cape Spear, the easternmost point of North America. The East Coast Trail Association (ECTA) has done amazing work. With the addition of the East Coast Trail, 265 km have been added to The Great Trail network. A warm ‘thank you’ to the countless volunteers, donors and governments who continue to support this treasure known as the East Coast Trail.

Nova Scotia: The Final Push to Connection!

In Nova Scotia, we have been honoured to partner with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR) to select safe and picturesque road routes to connect the stunning greenways and waterways across the province. Notably, TIR is also developing a provincial cycling network called the Blue Route. Once fully developed, the Blue Route will include 3,000 km of bike-friendly trails connecting one end of Nova Scotia to the other. Finally, in collaboration with Nova Scotia Trails Federation, we added 55 kilometres of pathway to The Great Trail. In the coming months, Nova Scotia will be fully connected!

Prince Edward Island: A Little Something for Everyone

The Confederation Trail is Prince Edward Island’s section of our Canada-wide trail system, and it offers a little something for everyone. With picturesque rolling hills, quaint villages and spacious seascapes, an outing on the Confederation Trail makes the perfect week-long cycling trip. For geocaching aficionados, the 443-kilometre path is a hotspot that offers over 1,600 geocache sites. In Charlottetown, evening strollers can now enjoy The Great Trail using an 11-kilometre refurbished route, which includes an innovative ‘dark-sky compliant’ lighting system. Unveiled in December 2016, the lighting system consumes 50% less energy, and limits light pollution caused by artificial lighting. Now that’s what we call enlightening!

New Brunswick: Celebrating Connection and Looking Forward

Her Honour the Honourable Jocelyne Roy Vienneau and his Honour Ronald Vienneau with TCT representatives and guests. Photo by Mullins photography

Spanning over 900 km from the northwest corner near Edmundston to the Confederation Bridge in the south, The Great Trail in New Brunswick passes through picturesque landscapes, historic communities and magnificent marshes. A notable milestone was achieved in October: New Brunswick’s section of The Great Trail was connected, province-wide, making it Canada’s fifth province or territory to reach this milestone. The accomplishment was celebrated at the residence of New Brunswick’s Lieutenant-Governor — Her Honour the Honourable Jocelyne Roy Vienneau — and an impressive Great Trail-themed cake was served. (If you’re imagining rivers, hills, cyclists and runners made out of edible fondant you’re on the right track.) The Government of Canada, Scotiabank, The McCain Foundation and the Echo Foundation played an integral role in connecting this section of The Great Trail. To these friends and to everyone else who has helped connect the Trail in New Brunswick, we offer a crackling round of applause!

The provinces of Quebec and Ontario are large, both in geographic size and population. We’re especially proud of the individuals and organizations who have stepped forward to help make progress on our national Trail across this vast region.

Linking Trails Through Teamwork

Image of Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix, credit Laval Poulin

Sentier des Caps in Charlevoix, QC. Photo by Laval Poulin

In Quebec, vision and hard work are crucial to bridging gaps. Our partners in the Captiale Nationale region have connected the Mestachibo and Caps de Charlevoix trails. This past year, the two trails were linked thanks to the construction of a pedestrian bridge perched 50 metres above the Sainte-Anne River, and the addition of a trail section to connect the town of Saint-Tite-des-Caps. We’re also inspired by the partnership between the Conseil québécois du sentier Transcanadien, the Corporation des sentiers récréotouristiques de la Côte de Beaupré and the Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area for their collaboration. Incredible teamwork!

Strengthening Ties with the Land

Mississauga First Nation Chief Reginald Niguanobe at the West End Trail opening.

In Ontario, five exciting new tourism programs are springing to life as a result of an ecotourism program called Grants for Aboriginal Trail Tourism (GATT). The GATT program enables the development of tourism initiatives by Aboriginal communities and/or Aboriginal entrepreneurs in the geographic area that extends from North Bay, Ontario, to the Manitoba border. The GATT Steering Committee assessed applications based on criteria that included creativity, sustainability and how well the proposal would serve trail users. For their innovative ideas that range from teepee sleepovers to hiking among dunes, we congratulate Biigtigong (formerly Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation), Garden River First Nation, North Superior Charters, Serpent River First Nation and Mississauga First Nation. We are also very grateful to TD Bank for generously supporting this important initiative.

From prairie plains to rugged peaks to expansive ocean, Western Canada presents the most geographically diverse areas for exploration along The Great Trail. Our esteemed partners in the four western provinces continue to work diligently to connect sections of the Trail, while countless volunteers dedicate thousands of hours to the same goal. Here are a few highlights of what’s happening out west.

Manitoba: Creating Connections

Trails Manitoba, our valued partner, moved forward in leaps and bounds by making wonderful headway on Trail development. Family-friendly Crocus Trail, measuring 136 kilometres from Russell to the Saskatchewan border, now boasts a full connection. Meanwhile other Trail development projects continue to progress such as the Border to Beaches section. As its name suggests, this picturesque part of the Trail will connect the Ontario border to several of Manitoba’s beautiful beaches including those at Gull Lake and Otter Falls.

Saskatchewan: Collaboration Builds Bridges

TCT President & CEO Deborah Apps, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Davies, Commanding Officier of 38 CER, 38 CBG, TCT Foundation Co-Chair Valerie Pringle and Canadian Army Reservists from 38 Combat Engineer Regiment (38 CER) and 38 Canadian Brigade Group (38 CBG. Photo by Wandering Whimzy

Spanning nearly 1,700 kilometres, Saskatchewan’s stretch of The Great Trail now boasts province-wide connection! From prairie to pine and waterway to greenway, outdoor enthusiasts can anticipate ample environments to enjoy. This prairie province provides endless opportunities to walk, cycle, paddle and ski through a diverse range of settings: urban municipalities, provincial parks and, of course, stunning plains.

We’re proud of you, Saskatchewan, for becoming Canada’s fourth province or territory to achieve connection, after Newfoundland, P.E.I. and Yukon. Marking this milestone, a Moose Jaw-based ceremony included the historic unveiling of the Trans Canada Trail Pedestrian Bridge, a collaborative project with the Canadian Armed Forces. (We tip our hats to the reservists from 38 Combat Engineer Regiment, 38 Canadian Brigade Group.) TCT donations provided the construction supplies for the bridge, creating a perfect example of how Canadians continue to work together to build The Great Trail. Accolades are in order for the Saskatchewan Vision 2017 Trail Committee, dedicated volunteers and generous donors. We thank each and every one of you for your ongoing efforts!

Alberta: Spectacular Alpine Views

Our partnership with Alberta TrailNet gives us the power to move mountains in Alberta, where work is underway on the High Rockies Trail. This trail will connect the Banff Park boundary at Goat Creek to Elk Pass in the south. Once completed, this rugged pathway will serve as the westernmost section of The Great Trail in Alberta, offering hikers some of the most spectacular alpine views in Canada. In other parts of the province, such as Clear Hills County and Northern Sunrise County, new roadway sections take us one step closer to province-wide connection.

British Columbia: All Aboard? Yes, Canada’s Great Trail Includes Boats

BC Ferries’ Queen of Westminster Vessel. Photo by BC Ferries

Beautiful British Columbia is blowing it out of the water through a ground-breaking new partnership with BC Ferries. We are delighted to include three BC Ferries routes to connect Trail users to the extensive land-based paths of The Great Trail. Trail users can look forward to using these blueways to traverse the magnificent coastal waters between Vancouver Island and the mainland. British Columbia’s progress extends to other parts of the province where a number of greenway projects reached completion this year. These completed sections include a spectacular mountain bike trail called Morning Mountain in Central Kooteney and the must-see Kinsol Trestle View Platform on the Cowichan Trail on Vancouver Island.

If any region of Canada is full of potential for adventure, it’s the vast northern territories. The Great Trail offers an ideal entry point for outdoor enthusiasts to embark on escapades unique to northern Canada. From hiking to dogsledding to canoeing, the trails and waterways of the north are unspoiled and ready for discovery.

Nunavut: Spectacular Tundra Landscapes

David Akeegok, Deputy Minister, Environment; The Hon. Monica Ell-Kanayuk Deputy Premier; The Hon. Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism, TCT Board Member Graham Green.

The spirit of the North is alive and well in Nunavut, where The Great Trail seems to transform with the seasons. In the brisk winter air, snowmobilers and dogsledders frequent the Trail, while in the bright days (and nights!) of summer, hikers emerge to explore the area.

As a point of pride, Nunavut recently became Canada’s sixth province or territory to celebrate its connection to the countrywide network through the incomparable Itijjagiaq Trail, which stretches 177 kilometres along the southern coast of Baffin Island. In November 2016, TCT partners, volunteers and government supporters gathered at Iqaluit’s Frobisher Inn for a celebratory luncheon to mark the milestone. The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Government House Leader and Minister of Small Business and Tourism, shared in the festivities as a speaker at the event.

Over the past year, we further enhanced the Itijjagiaq Trail by posting navigation signage on warming huts along the route. We extend our thanks to the Government of Nunavut for their ongoing supportive partnership.

Northwest Territories: Wildlife and Expansive Vistas

We salute our partners in the Northwest Territories who completed the construction needed to fully connect the 8.35-kilometre Hay River Trail. While the majority of this trail features natural surface such as dirt or gravel, several
paved sections provide an excellent surface for running, roller blading or meandering with strollers, with ample opportunities to spot wildlife along the Hay River Trail.

Yukon: One-of-a-Kind Experiences

From mountain biking and mushing to snowshoeing and snowmobiling, The Great Trail across Yukon provides a one-of-a-kind experience. Now fully connected, TCT’s route in Yukon spans just over 1,600 kilometres, including sections such as the Klondike Highway, Pine Lake Trail and the Ridge Road Heritage Trail. We owe a debt of gratitude to our many TCT partners, donors and volunteers for their sustaining support and tireless work to enhance this portion of the Trail. Mush!