At the recent AGM, the winners of the GHTA Inc. Volunteer of the Year Award were announced – and this year this award is shared by two Orillia Club members – Isobel Thorup and Carol Strickland. Pictured here are the two holding the plaque after it was presented at a recent Orillia hike.
The following article appeared in OrilliaMatters.com shortly after the 50th Anniversary event.
Wilderness Section: Devil’s Lake Side Trail now marked with blue blazes
On October 13, 2018, the Ganaraska Trail, Wilderness Club along with Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park staff changed the colour of the blazes on the Devil’s Lake Side Trail from the access point to Petticoat Junction from white to blue today. Also, the occasional blue reflective blazes were installed – great for those needing to make it out after the sun has set (head lamp or flashlight needed). Thanks to all the volunteers who gave a little back to help maintain the trail we all love.
Today is the long-awaited 50th anniversary of the Ganaraska Trail, which was founded in 1968. I would like to welcome you all to celebrate this special day with us. I know some of you have come from far away, as far as Ottawa, Perth, London, Newcastle, Goderich and anything in between. I also welcome our Ganaraska members from our own 9 clubs: Pine Ridge, Kawartha, Wilderness, Orillia, Oro Medonte, Barrie, Mad River, Wasaga Beach, Tiny and Midland!
Our membership currently stands at 594 and our volunteers maintain close to 600 kms of trail, including through the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands (to the north east of Orillia), which is an extremely remote but very unique area, as it is entirely on the rugged Canadian shield.
To start our celebrations, I would like to acknowledge the privilege we have to be gathered here today on the traditional land of the Anishinaabeg, the Indigenous peoples of this region. We also acknowledge the history that many nations hold in this area and look forward to doing our part in forming respectful relations with First Nations, Metis, and Inuit.
In a few hours, we will conduct an indigenous Water Ceremony, with waters from Lake Ontario and from Georgian Bay, which were in the past few months carried by hikers along the entire Ganaraska Trail. These water bottles will arrive from the eastern and western parts of the Ganaraska Trail through Scout Valley and will arrive at Lakehead University later this morning. Please join us for the last part of this Water Relay hike.
This 50th anniversary celebration year has so far been a year of many achievements. The hiking season started with our own clubs having an official Season Opener on April 21. The weather, however, caught us off guard, with a serious snow dump just prior to the event, which caused our hike leaders to decide whether to snowshoe or hike. Luckily, the sun came out for the day, and blue skies made sure all had a wonderful time.
Shortly after, the water relay started. Bottles were dipped in Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay, and carried by hikers along the entire Ganaraska Trail. Since most of our clubs also have a cycling program, the water bottles were also transported by cyclists along some of the road sections. And as mentioned the water is arriving here today.
I would like to congratulate all those who in the past, and especially this year, hiked the entire trail. E2E records have been kept since 1992. Only 179 hikers have completed the GHT since then. Of interest, a few did it multiple times, such as Peter Verbeek hiked it 8 times by 2003, Rose Millett 3, Ron Wallace 2, Michelle Vibert 2, and Tom Hall 2.
Special recognition are due to hikers Margaret O’Dell, Wendy Manning and Tyler Gibson for completing the Ganaraska Trail from End to End within the 50th Anniversary year. Margaret and Wendy started their challenge on March 3 and finished on September 9, 2018 with a bottle of champagne at the Western Terminus cairn, in Glen Huron, where the Ganaraska Trail meets the Bruce Trail. Tyler started his walk on July 3rd in Port Hope, and completed the trail, as well as all side trails and loops, 56 days later on August 28, in Glen Huron. Well done everyone…
Another ex exceptional event that took place along the Ganaraska Trail this summer is the Fastest Known Time even. A Toronto relay team of 11 young women, called the Wild Bruce Chasers, picked July 1, probably the hottest day of the summer, to hike the entire Ganaraska Trail in an impressive 69 hours. What an achievement, especially since the Ganaraska Trail Standards are “minimal impact to the environment”, and as such the ladies faced brambles, poison ivy, persisted deer flies, etc., but if you can believe it, they actually enjoyed their gruelling challenge. Well done Wild Bruce Chasers!
If you wish to experience our Ganaraska Hiking Trail yourselves, I hope you will join us tomorrow in the beautiful Copeland Forest, where we have organized a number of hikes.
In closing, I would like to thank the staff of Lakehead University, for their assistance in organizing this event. They have been extremely generous and cooperative, and in particular, I wish to thank Dr. Linda Rothenburg, for her guidance throughout the entire planning process.
As we are celebrating our 50th anniversary, we recognize and thank the many volunteers who have contributed to the creation and continued existence of the trail itself, but also of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail organization.
As such we want to particularly thank the Past Presidents, starting with Jack Goering, who together with Pat Lawson and some others started with the development of the Ganaraska Trail. Jack served 2 terms as president in the late 60’s – and up until 1975. Unfortunately both Jack and Pat passed away last year.
- Some of you may recall some of the other past presidents: Mac Macklem, Paul Van Vliet, Jim Parsons, Chris Dafferin, and Dorothy Burrus. Unfortunately, we were not able to contact these to this event, some may have deceased.
However, with us today are
Paul McCreath, president from 1983 to 1987
David Francis, president from 1997 to 2000
Mike Pidwerbecki, president from 2000 to 2011, which makes him the longest serving president of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, and
Bob Bowles, president from 2011 to 2016.
We also want to thank Bob Wilson, Ron Wallace, and David Royston, who sent their regrets.
At this time, we would also like to recognize Peter Verbeek, who was the Ganaraska’s Trail Director for a very long time, and his contributions are immense. He even was club secretary for many years. Peter was a big supporter of end-to-end hikes, motivating many to accomplish the challenge and leading several groups in their end-to-end endeavours. His method of motivation to keep his groups going, was to say we only had a few more kilometres left, but he would never say how many. He bent over backwards to help Linda from the Kawartha Club to hike the Wilderness after a very bad car accident. In particular, he loved the Wilderness section…. In fact, before the trail through the Wilderness was established, Peter tried to plot the route across the wilderness by himself and was at first unable to find a way through. As he was a couple of days late finding his way out, his wife called the OPP who set up a search for him. However, he eventually emerged at Victoria Fails, victorious in establishing the continuous trail through the wilderness. Afterwards, he spent countless hours to maintain the Ganaraska trail. A plaque in his name was erected near Loon Lake in the Wilderness section, one of his most preferred locations.
Due to health reasons, unfortunately, Peter could not be with us.
Special thanks also go to Marc Vallee, who as a young hiker, in the late 80’s joined the organization and has been the president of the Midland Ganaraska Club for the last 20 years, and as such has been the longest serving club president and board member of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association. Kudos to him, for only missing 1 or 2 board meetings in these 20 years, and for being an active participant in our board discussions.
Special thanks also go to Lois Kowal, who has been our membership director for many many years, and is also responsible for welcoming new members, and tracking the End-to-End program. Thank you Lois for your dedication and time.
As the President of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, I am extremely pleased with the executive team we put together this year, and I would like to thank Carol Stickland, our secretary and event planner extraordinaire, Stan Muldoon, our Vice President, who chaired all of the planning meetings for today’s event, Simone Latham, our treasurer, and John Sloan, our trail director, for their efforts this year, not only to make this event a success, but also to bring some of our procedures and practices up to date. My thanks also to Barb Rimmer, Irene Bell and Marion Brophy who assisted us on the Anniversary Planning Committee.
I also would like to thank Tom Friesen, as of this morning, past president of Hike Ontario, as well as David Rosenblun Bourdieu, Hike Ontario office manager, for their assistance in organizing this summit.
As far as we know, this is a first ! We are not aware of anyone else having completed the hike in consecutive days. Very well done, Tyler!
Marion Brophy, Past President of the Orillia Club, carries the relay water bottle during a Wednesday evening hike. Hikers paused in front of Lake Couchiching where the Ganaraska Trail heads east from the waterfront trail. Nearing the final destination at the 50th Anniversary celebrations at Lakehead University on Sept. 29!
We have just received confirmation that Simcoe County Forestry plans to conduct a controlled burn on Wednesday, September 19 behind the Simcoe County Museum. The Barrie trail is not affected but it runs right adjacent to the burn area so we should consider this to be a ‘no hiking zone’ for the next few days. There will be a second day of burning at a date to-be-determined. FINAL – Museum Controlled Burn Area Map