We learned recently that Canada is home to the world’s longest trail network – the Trans Canada Trail.
This cross-Canada connected system of greenways, waterways and roadways extends over 28,000 kilometres, stretching east-west from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and north to the Arctic Ocean. Apparently, according to the TCT non-profit group that fund-raises to continue development of the trail, most Canadians live within a 30-minutes’ drive to access of the trail. After hearing this observation by TCT President and CEO Eleanor McMahon while being interviewed by Steve Paikin on The Agenda, Catherine decided to test if this was indeed the case for her. Sure enough she learned that in Toronto she can access the Waterfront Trail via “The Toronto – Sir Casimir Gzowski Park Pavilion is located within the park at the foot of Windermere Avenue, along the Waterfront Trail, just east of the QEW Monument and the Humber Bay Bike Bridge.”
From the Pavilion panels (text available virtually), we learned a bit more about the history of the Trans Canada Trails’ launch in 1992 –
“The Great Trail in Ontario: This marks the connection of Ontario’s section of The Great Trail of Canada in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. From where you are standing, you can embark upon one of the most magnificent and diverse journeys in the world. Whether heading east, west, north or south, The Great Trail—created by Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and its partners— offers all the natural beauty, rich history and enduring spirit of our land and its peoples. “Launched in 1992, just after Canada’s 125th anniversary of Confederation The Great Trail was conceived by a group of visionary and patriotic individuals as a means to connect Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Given Canada’s vastness, varied terrain and sparse population, it was a bold—almost impossible—undertaking. Today, the Trail stretches nearly 24,000 kilometres, giving Canadians, now and for generations to come, a way to honour our shared history by retracing many of the routes that charted our nation’s development. Paddlers can explore the rivers and lakes first traversed by Indigenous peoples and voyageurs; hikers and horseback riders can meander the paths travelled by our first settlers; and cyclists can pedal the former railways that powered early industry. With hundreds of sections, The Great Trail is a trail of trails, running through urban, rural and wilderness areas, including all provincial and territorial capitals and many of our country’s provincial, territorial and national parks. The Great Trail provides Canadians and visitors alike with free, accessible recreational infrastructure promoting healthy living, active transportation and an appreciation for Canada’s natural heritage.”
The trail connects over 15,000 communities and is created and maintained as a labour of love by thousands of Canadian volunteers, for the benefit and enjoyment of all Canadians. Fun fact: The Trans Canada Trail also is home to the world’s longest free ferry ride (about 30 minutes), from Balfour to Kootenay Bay, British Columbia.
The TCT vision for the future – “Building on the achievement of connection, the Trans Canada Trail will continue to inspire everyone to embrace the outdoors, to discover the diversity of our land and people, to enhance their health and well-being, and to share their stories along this globally significant and iconic trail network.”
Youtube video of The Agenda interview with TCT President and CEO, Eleanor Mc Mahon –
Join the Great Canadian Hike
There is still time, until October 31, to be part of the second annual Great Canadian Hike if you are inspired to experience the trail for yourself while also contributing toward the goal of logging 28,000 hours on Canada’s 28,000 kilometre Trail.
From the Press Release launching the Great Canadian Hike —
“This year, TCT invites Canadians in all 13 provinces and territories to DISCONNECT from screens and RECONNECT with nature and to one another, by collectively spending 28,000 hours on Canada’s 28,000 km national trail. Whether they choose to hike, walk, run, skip, paddle, roll, stroll or bike, the Great Canadian Hike is the perfect antidote to the social isolation brought on by COVID-19. In fact, 95% of Canadians said their enhanced trail use was prompted by a desire to enhance their mental health since the onset of the pandemic.”
“In last year’s inaugural edition of the Hike, over 10,000 Canadians took up the challenge to collectively hike the length of the Trans Canada Trail, and amassed a combined distance of 108,000 km equivalent to almost three times the earth’s circumference!”
“New this year, participants are eligible to win great prizes when they refer friends and family members to join in the Great Canadian Hike. All participants must abide by local public health guidelines and recreate on the Trail safely and responsibly.”
“Visit the site at GreatCanadianHike.ca (to register for free) and watch the video here.”
“Find your local trail: Explore our map to find a Trail section close to you and decide where you’d like to hike. Check out our Featured Hikes for some inspiration!” (GreatCanadianHike.ca)
Virtual Visits with Parks Canada
Need more information and inspiration? Readers may want to check out virtual visits to the Trail, put together by Parks Canada using Google Street View technology, at: https://tctrail.ca/parks-canada-virtual/
Virtual Park Tours are available for:
Banff National Park, Alberta
Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador
Pingo Canadian Landmark, Northwest Territories
Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, Ontario
Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario
National Historic Sites
Virtual tours of national historic sites include, among others:
Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Alberta
Fort Langley National Historic Site, British Columbia
Riel House National Historic Site, Manitoba
Monument-Lefebrve National Historic Site, New Brunswick
Signal Hill National Historic Site, Newfoundland and Labrador
Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, Nova Scotia
Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site, Ontario
Chamblay Canal National Historic Site, Quebec
Batoche National Historic Site, Saskatchewan
S.S. Keno National Historic Site, Yukon
(Go to: https://tctrail.ca/explore-the-map/)
500 Days in the Wild
Meet and celebrate a (literal) Canadian TCT “trail-blazer” – Dianne Whelan.
On August 1, 2021, filmmaker Dianne Whelan, walked the last few feet of her epic six-year solo journey across Canada on the Trans Canada Trail, emerging at Clover Point, Vancouver Island, to become the first person to complete the continuous trail on land and water routes. She is producing a documentary, “500 Days in the Wild,” to detail her six-year experience and motivation for embarking on this journey.
This one-minute CBC newsclip introduces Dianne –
She begins to unpack her story, in this piece by Elaine Glusac in the New York Times, “Learning to Love Solitude (and Hate Oatmeal) on a 15,534-Mile Canadian Trek”
One of her learnings resonated in particular with us at Friends4Trees4Life – “…I’ve been able to do these things because of human kindness. It was just meeting people, sharing the story, and people were like, ‘Hey, Uncle Joe is driving that way, he can take your canoe.’ It was very grassroots. I learned this beautiful story from an elder in the Mi’kmaq Indigenous community, Danny Paul, who said we’re kind of like trees. On the surface, every tree looks like it stands alone. Beneath the surface all the trees in a forest are connected…”
We agree – we are all connected across this beautiful country, Canada, on this incredible blue planet we gratefully share with all living things as our home.