It was a day nearly 25 years in the making as the Trans Canada Trail celebrated “100 per cent connection” in British Columbia, making it the longest network of recreational trails throughout the world.
Local First Nations elders joined hometown boy David Foster, Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, Valerie Pringle and others at the Inn at Laurel Point on Thursday to unveil a plaque marking the connection of the B.C. section of the trail. In Victoria the TCT Trail includes David Foster Way along the Inner Harbour.
“You’re really doing a big honour of the land. When you respect land and the trees, it’s going to look after you,” Elder Mary Ann Thomas of the Esquimalt Nation told attendees before joining Elder Elmer George of the Songhees Nation in leading a prayer.
“Anybody that goes through that trail, they’re going to be blessed,” she added.
Linking all 13 provinces and territories, the 24,000-kilometre trail weaves through Canada’s breathtaking landscapes. Through urban and rural areas, to wilderness and open waters, 74 per cent of the trail is on land – accessible by foot, bicycle, cross-country ski, or snowmobile – and 26 per cent is on water. It’s accessible year-round and it’s free to use.
The vision for the trail came after Canada 125 celebrations. Bill Pratt, president of the organizing committee for the 1988 Olympics, and Pierre Camu, a geographer and transport executive, looked at each other and asked, “what if we joined all the trails together in the country and made the longest recreational trail in the world?”
They formed the Trans Canada Trail Foundation and Canadians everywhere donated in numbers both big and small to make the vision possible.
Pringle, co-chair of the TCT Foundation, said the completion of the trail is nothing short of a miracle, the result of a lot of hard work from countless supporters over the years including Guichon, Sen. Nancy Greene Raine and the David Foster Foundation among others. Most recently, the federal government pledged $30 million over the next five years to continue to build and grow the trail.
“We recognize that connecting the trail is only the end of one phase and it’s really the beginning of the next,” said John Hawkings, director of Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. He referred to efforts to build a local trail connecting to former regional and provincial trails, and ultimately the Great Trail.