An intersection of national priorities

A conversation with Parks Canada’s director of visitor experience Kara Sherrard 


In January of 2014, the Trans Canada Trail was delighted to announce that the federal government, via Parks Canada, will provide matching funding for the TCT, a contribution worth up to $25-million over four years. Why is Parks Canada pleased to support the Trans Canada Trail?

Parks Canada has a long and proud history of trails – they can be discovered in all of our locations. From Canada’s first national park in Banff, to the creation of the Rouge, Canada’s newest and first national urban park, these special places all have trail activities that visitors can enjoy, no matter what level of skill or ability.

The Trans Canada Trail believes as strongly in trails as Parks Canada does, so it is a natural fit to support the efforts of this great organization.

Trail experiences play an important role in facilitating both connections to nature and to Canadians’ most cherished national treasures – National Parks, National Historic Sites and National Marine Conservation Areas.

What better way to take part in Canada’s 150th Celebration of Confederation and the 25th anniversary of the Trans Canada Trail than to experience Parks Canada’s special places on a trail?

Given that 75 per cent of Canadians live in cities, and that 70 per cent of the TCT goes through urban or municipal areas, how do national parks – and our national Trail – help to connect Canadians to nature, and with their country?

Connecting all Canadians to nature, whether in urban or rural areas, is of utmost importance to Parks Canada. We offer a number of opportunities designed to assist Canadians living in urban areas to discover nature, be active in the outdoors, learn camping and nature-related skills, and connect with their natural heritage.

Programs such as the Parks Canada My Parks Pass, the Learn to Camp and Xplorers, as well as our commitment to trails and trail systems, are all valuable ways that national parks can provide Canadians with opportunities to experience nature and become more comfortable within it.

According to the Canadian Parks Council report, “Connecting Canadians with Nature: An Investment in the Well-Being of our Citizens,” urban trails are the number one “gateway to nature” for Canadians. Trails have always been used as an opportunity to connect people to nature in a way that caters to each individual’s ability.

Many urban trail systems incorporate “gateway” trails, which encourage children and families to get outside in places closer to home, somewhere more familiar to them. It is a logical connection that these children and families will gain a larger appreciation of the outdoors and want to explore trails farther from home, perhaps at one of Canada’s National Parks.

Why is a connection with nature important, in your opinion?
We are fortunate to have such unlimited access to unparalleled natural beauty in our country.

I believe there is a balance that comes with taking time to connect with our surroundings in day-to-day life, but sadly, many of us have forgotten this or cannot find the time to enjoy our natural surroundings.

The good news is that it is easy to reverse this – seek out a trail and go for a walk, run, bike or horseback ride. Connect with nature close to home, or visit a national park and take advantage of the special places that have been set aside for all Canadians to enjoy. 

The Coastal Trail in Fundy National Park, NB

The Coastal Trail in Fundy National Park, NB

Banff Legacy Trail in Banff National Park, AB

Banff Legacy Trail in Banff National Park, AB

Parks Canada and the Trans Canada Trail intersect in two beautiful locations: the Coastal Trail in Fundy National Park and the Banff Legacy Trail in Banff National Park.