For a recent get-together with six university friends, Mary Pat Armstrong planned an outing along The Great Trail. She knew from experience that walking together provides an opportunity to share old memories, as well as make new ones, and they thoroughly enjoyed the adventure.
“And, we finished in Palgrave with a wonderful ice cream cone,” Mary Pat recalls.
Mary Pat and her husband Bob value the Trail near their home in Caledon as a safe (and hill-free) place for walking, cycling and cross-country skiing. They have been active supporters of Trans Canada Trail for over two decades, since attending the opening of the pavilion on the local section in 1997.
The Armstrongs became governor program donors in 2012, and later stepped up their support in the push to fully connect the Trail in 2016 and 2017. “We believe it’s a wonderful idea to have a national Trail, and we loved seeing the Trail connected with the support of so many passionate people,” says Bob, who was also thrilled to spot a sign marking the beginning of a Trail section on a recent visit to Nova Scotia.
“The concept of stretching from sea to sea to sea is very compelling,” says Mary Pat. “But our continuing desire to support the Trail comes from our close and personal connection to the local section. We really use it regularly.”
The Armstrongs enjoy sharing their fond memories of The Great Trail. They talk of seeing horses along the stretch that passes the local equestrian centre, where the Pan American Games were held in 2015, and being reminded of the time when milk and vegetables were delivered to their childhood homes by horse-drawn carriages, or of having a treasured personal discussion on a walk with their then-15-year-old grandson.
“We live in a fast-paced world, but when you are on the Trail, you slow down,” says Bob, adding that it allows you to connect with nature, as well as with the people you encounter. “On an hour-long walk, we may meet 30 people, and there is a tendency to stop and chat with people we otherwise wouldn’t connect with. It brings the community together.
“The Trail ties us together and reminds us of how lucky we are to be Canadians.”