A Trail for all ages

The Great Trail offers something for everyone.


Thirteen-year-old Amelie Sarauer (front) loves to paddle the Trail near Saskatoon. SUPPLIED

Thirteen-year-old Amelie Sarauer (front) loves to paddle the Trail near Saskatoon. SUPPLIED

Exploring the great trail by water

For 13-year-old Amelie Sarauer, travelling The Great Trail near her home of Saskatoon is always an adventure. But Sarauer and her family don’t make these journeys of rediscovery by foot or on bikes; their passion involves exploring the Trail by water.

Sarauer, her 10-year-old sister Lauren and her parents, Bryan and Karrie, frequently travel by canoe or kayak along the Chief Whitecap Waterway (CWW). The CWW is the only water-based section of the Trail in Saskatchewan; however, water trails make up 26 per cent of the national trail network.

Part of the historic South Saskatchewan River, the CWW runs for 108 kilometres from the Gardiner Dam to Saskatoon and was officially designated part of the Trans Canada Trail – The Great Trail – in June 2015.

Whether it’s a short paddling trip or a multi-day family journey, Sarauer is always excited to get on the scenic waterway.

“It’s great to see a much different part of Saskatchewan compared to staying in Saskatoon,” she says. “The scenery is so pretty and it’s calm and relaxing to paddle on the water. And you’ll see different plants and animals – we’ve seen fish, beavers, pelicans and moose.”

95-year-old Nina McLachlan shares her passion through art.

95-year-old Nina McLachlan shares her passion through art.

National Champion, Nina McLachlan

Nina McLachlan’s passion for the Trans Canada Trail was ignited 24 years ago when it was launched as a legacy project for Canada’s 125th anniversary – and her enthusiasm has not wavered.

At the age of 95, she continues to find new ways to be a champion for The Great Trail and to share her enthusiasm for its immense value to Canada – especially with the younger generation.

As a lifelong naturalist and lover of the outdoors, McLachlan was excited when she heard in 1992 about the national project to build one of the world’s longest networks of multi-use recreational trails across Canada.

“I immediately thought how wonderful it would be to take your time exploring and learning about all the places of interest and the diversity of the provinces as you went along this new Canadian trail,” she recalls. “I became more interested than ever when I heard the Trail was coming through Summerland, B.C., where I lived. I was thrilled.”

McLachlan showed her enthusiasm by sponsoring sections of the Trail in her name and those of her children, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. “My stipulation was that they had to travel our section of the Trail whenever they came to Summerland.”

Now living in White Rock, B.C., Mrs. McLachlan has used her artistic talents to show her support for the Trail. With sketches, acrylic paints and papier mâché, she spent about 120 hours creating a large three-dimensional wall map of the Trail, which includes landscape details and each province and territory’s flower and animal.

The map was on display at the White Rock Library, where she gave talks about the Trail to groups of children. The art honouring the Trail will have permanent placement in the new Summerland Art Gallery.

“I wanted the map to depict the flora, fauna and topography of the Trail, to stimulate appreciation of the cohabitation of wildlife and man,” she says. “And I want young people to understand that with so many species of wildlife at risk, it is absolutely necessary that each of us accepts the responsibility to protect our precious environment.”

International hockey students take time away from training to enjoy The Great Trail.

International hockey students take time away from training to enjoy The Great Trail.

Students take a break from academics and elite hockey to explore Gatineau Park

Young people from across Canada and from other nations come to Rockland, in Eastern Ontario, to take advantage of a unique education at the Canadian International Hockey (CIH) Academy. These students and athletes spend long hours attending classes, studying and training to play competitive hockey.

A group of them recently had the opportunity for another kind of education with a hike on a nearby section of the The Great Trail.

As many of the CIH Academy attendees are international students, the school often recommends weekend activities that are distinctly Canadian, and in this case, about 15 students spent a few hours exploring sections of the Trail in Gatineau Park in western Quebec, just north of Ottawa. About 45 kilometres of the cross-Canada trail pass through the park.

Martina Maskova, 18, from the Czech Republic, is spending her first year in Canada. She says she immediately felt an affinity with the natural environment around her: “I felt like I was at home. The landscape, the trees and the small lakes all reminded me of my country. At the same time, it was unique because it’s amazing to picture that the full trail goes coast to coast in this country.”

“This was my first experience of this kind in Canada and I liked how peaceful and clean it was, and how natural – not overly groomed but carved out of the wild,” says 18-year-old Alexis Kalm from North Carolina. “What a wonderful place to decompress from your day and get exercise.”

The trail also left an impression on Canadian Gregory Rogers, 18, from Newfoundland. “We also got information on the ecosystems in various lakes and saw different birds and other wildlife. And it was great to see people using the trails in different ways, such as hiking and mountain biking,” he says.