Orillia Club 11th line to 10th Line Oro-Medonte reopens

In the fall of 2019, we were notified by the private landowner of property closure for foresting between Lines 11 and 10. We temporarily re-routed south on Line 11 to Old Barrie Road, and west along Old Barrie Road. We have been notified of completion of the forest maintenance work, and Bob Wilson has taken the re-route signs down and re-blazed along the trail from Line 11 to Line 10. So this part of the trail is again open. Bob has also blazed the reroute from Line 10, south to Old Barrie Road, west along Old Barrie Road, and north along Line 9, making that the official trail following the unfortunate loss of private land between Lines 10 and 9. Thanks, Bob.

Peter Verbeek and His Wilderness Crossings

Peter was instrumental in laying down the initial route of the Wilderness section through the QEII Wildlands, and coached many hikers across it. He completed the entire Ganaraska Hiking Trail 5 or 6 times. He also served as Trail Director, Membership Director and Secretary for the Ganraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. Peter passed away in 2019. There is a memorial plaque for Peter in the Wilderness section of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail.

Frieda Baldwin

The Ganaraska Trail – Peter’s End-to-End

Some want to see rivers, some want to see fish.

Lakes, hillsides or forests are what others wish.

Whatever the wonderful pleasures you seek,

Follow the trail of Peter Verbeek.

In theory we start the Trail at Port Hope.

In practice we walked to the town down the slope.

Whatever direction it’s twentyfive k.

By anyone’s measure that’s quite a long way.

We stop along the way to rest.

Peter always has a jest.

Of bears that like pepper, bears that like bells.

This is the favourite whopper he tells.

In Lindsay we saw a fish get hooked.

Dad held it up while all his kids looked.

In Fenelon Falls the firemen play.

The hikers have to dodge the spray!

Beyond Burnt River the bugs do swarm

And wearing a bugnet can get rather warm.

But even though the bugs are biting,

Following a bear can be quite exciting.

The Wilderness part is the hardest by far.

For this is somewhere that you can’t go by car.

It’s tough but it’s lovely and well worth the pain.

You’d miss most of it if you went by float plane.

Of course, there is always much more I could say,

Of railtrails and forests and towns on the way.

But “Zoom, Zoom” I’m going, no more time I will take.

Unless we stop for a trivia break.

There’s a last stream to cross without getting wet.

Some think tree trunks, or bare feet, may be the best bet,

But Peter, our leader, has “water wings” brought

And we’re walking on water, with never a thought.

Our trail is completed at Wasaga Beach.

We all are delighted this target to reach.

A very fine welcome the Wasaga Club make,

With speeches and photos and even a cake.

Some want to see rivers, some want to see fish.

Lakes, hillsides or forests are what others wish.

Whatever the wonderful pleasures you seek,

Follow the trail of Peter Verbeek.

Poem by Wilf and Mary Bradnock from Ottawa

The GHTA Early History Story by Stan Muldoon

This history will focus particularly on the vision of the founders of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc., Patricia Lawson and Jack Goering, as well as those who followed in their hiking steps to develop and maintain the Ganaraska Trail.

Credit for the idea of a hiking trail to head north from Lake Ontario at Port Hope is given to Harry Gadd, President of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists (WBFN) in the early 1960’s. The group was looking for access to unspoiled countryside in Northumberland County for naturalists to bird watch and explore the natural environment. Group member Jack Goering took up this project after Harry became ill. Jack began to study maps of possible routes for the trail. Harry had proposed one which ended at Rice Lake, about 50 kilometres north of Port Hope, but Jack had bigger ideas. Another trail in southwestern Ontario provided inspiration.

Beginning in 1959 Ray Lowes and Robert Bateman of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now Ontario Nature) had the vision of a public footpath to span the entire Niagara Escarpment. Eventually this resulted in the establishment of the Bruce Trail in 1967. In March of that year, with the Bruce Trail in its infancy, Secretary Ray Lowes was invited to address the monthly meeting of Willow Beach Field Naturalists. Pat Lawson was President with Jack Goering as a member of the Executive. Following Mr. Lowes presentation there was hesitancy from some members when asked to consider the development of a trail in this part of Ontario. After all, the group was small with less than 20 active members and the task was large. Pat’s powers of persuasion led to a decision to start a 15 to 20 km trail from Port Hope to Campbellcroft where, she enthused, “others will take it from there”. Jack suggested a plan to follow the abandoned Midland Railway line which had operated from 1858 to 1893. It cut through a very scenic and historic section of the Ganaraska River watershed. It iss worth noting that Pat also asked at that meeting that members help to save the wolf population in Southern Ontario. Her interests in the natural environment went beyond hiking.

These early developments speak to both Pat and Jack’s strengths and why they were a good team. Jack had a background in engineering, loved to hike and was very good with technical issues such as mapping and route planning. Pat was a born organizer and passionate advocate for the environment. It has been said that it was just about impossible to say “No” to Pat.

The Willow Beach Field Naturalists decided to take up the development of the trail as a 1967 Centennial Project.

As Pat had suggested, others did step forward to help. She and Jack spearheaded talking to landowners along the proposed route and marking trail with the assistance of other naturalists. 40 kms of trail had been blazed by May 1967. A decision was made to form the Ganaraska Trail Association (GTA and later renamed the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.) and to sell annual memberships for $2.

In December 1967, the first meeting of the GTA was held at the Lawson home in Port Hope. 17 members were present including representatives from Lindsay, Peterborough, Millbrook, Port Hope and Cobourg. A motion was passed to extend the trail to Lindsay. Various groups assumed responsibility to blaze and maintain trail sections, a practice which continues to the present.

The official opening of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail was held April 21, 1968. There was a variety of hikes that day of 8, 16 and 25 kms, all ending on a railway bridge on the 10th Line in Port Hope (Ward 2) where the opening ceremony took place. Ray Lowes cut the ribbon with President Jack Goering looking on. 300 people attended including 75 hikers from the Bruce Trail Association (now the Bruce Trail Conservancy). Following the ceremony, they hiked an additional 6 kms to the Kennedy Farm for a pancake festival. Writer Scott Young, who lived in the area, lamented in the Globe newspaper that the only thing that restrained him from joining the opening walk was that it never went anywhere near a pub.

Jack Goering left notes describing later developments. In 1969 a decision was taken to extend the trail to meet the Bruce Trail at Glen Huron, south of Collingwood. Following a 1970 meeting with people from Barrie, Orillia, Midland, Wasaga Beach and Port Hope, these 5 Clubs were established. Midland was referred to as the Mission section. It is worth noting that in 1973 Jack wrote a proposal on behalf of the Association to stop the city of Toronto from landfilling 6 million tons of municipal waste in our region. The plan was eventually defeated due to resistance by many groups. Once again, the concerns of the Ganaraska Trail Association and its founders extended beyond hiking.

Along the way there were significant challenges faced by the Association. In the late 70’s and early 80’s the Ganaraska Trail was incomplete and divided into two large unconnected areas. An immense amount of work was needed and it was unclear if the human and financial resources were available. At the Association 1983 AGM a motion was presented to dissolve the organization and donate all funds to the Bruce Trail Association. The motion was defeated and a new group of enthusiastic volunteers was elected to the Board.

There remained a large unexplored section, roughly between Bobcageon and Orillia. Newly elected President Paul McCreath proposed the use of snowmobiles to develop the trail. Canoeing, hiking and camping were also used to map the trail in the Wilderness section which is now part of the QEWII Wildlands Provincial Park. In later developments the Wilderness section was hiked end-to-end for the first time in 1990 and in 1992 the first organized series of end-to-end hikes of the entire Ganaraska Trail took place.

Over the years the Ganaraska Hiking Trail has seen continual growth and change as members strive to make improvements such as moving it off roads whenever possible. The 500 km plus trail is quite an accomplishment by hundreds of volunteers giving thousands of hours to their local Club and to the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association.

Founders Patricia Lawson and Jack Goering both passed away in June 2016. Pat was 87; Jack was 92. Their lives exemplified vision and dedication, fun and a great work ethic. It is doubtful that they knew how their 1967 dream would be accomplished. However, they were always confident that good things happen when people come together.

Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. New Appointments

 It is our great pleasure, to announce that we have been able to fill some of the key positions in the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. following the passing of our Membership Director Lois Kowal, as well as some positions left vacant in recent months.  

Please note that we have split the former Membership Director’s job into two positions:

– badges ordering and dispensing  will be done by the newly created Badge Officer

– maintenance of membership lists/choice of Newsletter format, processing new members, etc. will be done by the Membership Director. 

Our organization is completely managed by volunteers, and it is so rewarding for us at the Executive Level to see members come forward to volunteer their time and skills to help grow the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. and ensure the sustainability and maintenance of our 500 km long hiking trail. 

We are very pleased to announce the appointments of the following:

Name                             Club                        New position

Sharon Striegl                Mad River              Vice President 

Christine Cornu              Oro Medonte         Membership Director

Jacquie Van Dyke          Wilderness             Badge Officer

Heather Briant                Pine Ridge             Newsletter Editor 

Lorraine Van Vlymen      Wasaga Beach      Hike Ontario Representative 

Their contact information is now posted on the GHTA Inc. Website! 

However, we still have an opening for a Publicity Director, and we would love to find someone who can help us with our internet presence (website, social media).  Please contact me, if you can help.

Frieda Baldwin President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.

Ph 705-245-1005

Membership & End to End badge processing delayed

Due to the sudden passing of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association volunteer membership director, Lois Kowal, we ask for your patience as we make alternate arrangements for the processing of new and renewing memberships, End to End and section badges, name badges, etc. 
In the interim, should you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 
Thank you for your understanding.
Frieda Baldwin President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. 

Sad news from the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.

It is with extreme sadness that I have to share the news that our membership director, Lois Kowal, passed away on February 7 of congestive heart failure. 
Lois volunteered for some 20 years as membership director of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. She was extremely dedicated to her role, which included recording renewals and new memberships, and liaising with members as needed. Her input into our new on-line registration for memberships was instrumental. She also managed the End-to-End hiker program, and was in contact with them on their journey along the Ganaraska Hiking Trail. She also was in charge of the badge inventory, including our name badges. 
Lois was a kind loving person, very professional in everything she did for our organization, and her record keeping was impeccable. 
She will be dearly missed by the members of the Wasaga Beach club to which  she belonged , and to the many of us who have interacted with her over the past 20 years. 

KOWAL, Lois Eleanor (nee Cooper)
Died suddenly on Tuesday April 7, 2020 at her home in her 78th year

Frieda Baldwin President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. 

Good news… County Forests remain open! But keep your distance.

Message from the County of Simcoe.

Further to the provincial announcement of March 30th, green spaces in parks, trails and ravines can remain open for pass-through access, but visitors must continue to practice social/physical distancing.   Simcoe County is maintaining a consistent approach as the County Forest remains open to permitted uses, however users must practice prescribed social distancing measures. Staff are in process of posting signs in high-use areas to remind the public of this requirement. Please advise if you are aware of specific areas of concern which require signage or further attention to ensure compliance.

  Thank you very much and stay well,  

Graeme Davis, R.P.F.Forester County of Simcoe, Forestry Department 1110 Highway 26, Midhurst, Ontario  L9X 1N6

Phone: 705-726-9300 Ext. 1177  Cell: 705-733-4611 Email:

Ganaraska Hiking Trail Maps Go Mobile!

If this is not exciting, I don’t know what is! After a full year of volunteer time GPS’ing and documenting our 500 km long Ganaraska Hiking Trail and working with Ondago, a Quebec based software developer, the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association trail maps can now be downloaded to your mobile device.

Using the GPS function of your device to find the Ganaraska Hiking Trail, follow the trail, and get lots of great information about the trail on your phone or tablet.

There are eight detailed club section maps and one overall map of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail in the Ondago catalog providing coverage of the entire trail from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay. Each map contains multiple points of interest highlighting where parking is available, where great sights can be found, where there are places of historic interest, etc. In addition to making the Ganaraska Hiking Trail easier to find and navigate, the Ondago app provides some very practical and interesting information at a hiker’s fingertips.

To get the mobile device version of our maps simply download the free Ondago app and search for Ganaraska or go to the ‘Hiking’ section on the app and scroll to the Ganaraska maps. Each map can be downloaded (also for free) before heading out to the trail and requires only the GPS function of the device. A data connection is not necessary to track your progress and position on the trail, but if you have data on your mobile device, you can take full advantage of the points-of-interest on the maps such as linking to websites providing information about features of the trail.

The development of this downloadable, mobile version of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail is the result of a lot of hard work by numerous members of each of the nine Ganaraska clubs and a generous grant from the Simcoe County Tourism Development Fund.

More information about Ondago can be found at
More information about the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc., its nine clubs, the trail itself, how to become a member, etc. can be found at

Please try it out and tell friends and family about this new and exciting way to get information about, and enjoy, the Ganaraska Hiking Trail, which has been described as a string of pearls, whereby the blazes take you from one scenic spot – the pearl – to another.

Happy Hiking

Frieda Baldwin
President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc.

Couchiching Conservancy Nature Reserves Closed to Public

This post shares an article from Orillia Matters, dated March 28, that would be of interest to many Ganaraska members.

“After much consideration we are sad to announce that The Couchiching Conservancy is temporarily closing its nature reserves to the public.

While we understand the vital importance of getting out for a walk in the woods to deal with the stress we are all facing, we also know that some of our reserves have become gathering places for significant crowds in recent days.

Nothing is more important than supporting our health care workers and front-line service providers during this emergency, and all levels of government as well as public health officials have made it clear that the best way to provide that support is to stay home.”

For more information, please visit

Ontario Provincial Parks Closures affecting the Ganaraska Trail

Ontario Parks has recently closed their parks to public access in response to guidance from public health officials to help battle the spread of COVID-19.

This affects the Ganaraska Trail as follows:
– Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands in the Wilderness Club trail section.
– Springwater Provincial Park in the Barrie Club section.
– Wasaga Beach Provincial Park in the Wasaga Beach Club section.

The text from their website is copied here for reference.

Park Advisories

In order to assist the province with its efforts to keep Ontarians safe during this time, all provincial parks will be closed to the public from March 19, 2020 until April 30, 2020.

This includes:

  • car camping
  • backcountry camping
  • roofed accommodations
  • day use opportunities
  • all public buildings

As #COVID19ON continues to quickly evolve, we want to ensure public safety and the well-being of our visitors and staff in Ontario’s provincial parks.

Please go the Ontario Parks website for the lastest information if you are considering hiking on Ontario Parks property in the foreseeable future. Enjoy the outdoors as much as you can, but let’s all also follow the rules we have been asked to comply with to address the COVID-19 pandemic.


John Sloan
GHTA Director – Trails and Landowner Relations