Barb Trainor describes herself as an outdoors person. In her home province of Prince Edward Island, the 70-year-old grandma loves to cycle, hike and ski. The local section of The Great Trail – known as the Confederation Trail – is a part of her daily life. She is both a volunteer and a Trail user.
“When I’m on the Trail, I get lost in nature. Sometimes I have to look up and figure out where I am,” says Barb, who is the former president for Island Trails (an organization devoted to promoting, developing and maintaining trails in PEI) and the current PEI representative on the Trail Partner Advisory Council for The Great Trail.
Prince Edward Island was the first province to fully connect its section of The Great Trail, inaugurating the Confederation Trail nearly 20 years ago. These days, in a region historically renowned for Anne of Green Gables and potatoes, the local Trail section has become one of the province’s hottest tourism products. And, local stakeholders are charged to not only maintain the Trail, but to extend and improve it.
Hoping to inspire the next generation, Barb likes to spend time with Tom, her 10-year-old grandson, on the Trail. This is what they talked about as they walked along the Confederation Trail this summer:
Tom: Nana, why did they start doing the Confederation Trail?
Barb: The idea for the Confederation Trail came in 1989 when rail lines were abandoned in Prince Edward Island. There was a man named Donald Deacon who had the idea that we could build trails on these rail beds.
Tom: How long did it take to build the Confederation Trail?
Barb: We’re still building. However, it did actually open in 2000. They began construction in 1994, so it took about six years to develop the Trail from tip to tip. But we’re still building. We still have pieces that we’re connecting, and we’re adding new pieces all the time.
Tom: Why is your favourite part from Kensington Park to Charlottetown?
Barb: Because of the colours; they’re magnificent. And why do you think people should visit the Confederation Trail?
Tom: People should go to the Confederation Trail because maybe it’s a place where you’ve never been. And because you want to go over the island without using your car. You can bike everywhere. The Trail is 273 kilometres from Tignish to Elmira.
Barb: [looks impressed]
Tom: While you’re there, you can check out some cool stores. A kilometre down the road, there’s a convenience store where you can get some water, have lunch and then get right back out on the Trail. Also, there are nice spots where you can have a picnic.