Despite the weather Avon Trail hikers enjoyed many club events in the early spring.

News from the Board – April 23 2018:  Thanks to the RBC employees who hiked with us on the McCully Maple Syrup Festival Family Hike in March.  The ‘Employee Designate a Charity’ event raised $1000 for the Avon Trail.  Thank you, Amy Brennan, for organizing the RBC employee participation.

We are well-launched into the Spring hike schedule.  Members can access it on the website calendar,  or download and print a PDF version of the whole hike calendar from the website Members Only section.

Saturday, May 12, 10 am to 3 pm, The Avon Trail will have a display at the Loop, the Stratford-Perth Family Resource Expo, a one day event at the Stratford Rotary Complex sharing programs, services and products that our local organizations and businesses offer to families in our community.   Volunteers welcome to take an hour manning the booth.  Contact Cindy: kimbercindy@gmail.com

We were pleased with the Stratford Rotary Complex for our March meeting and decided to continue using that venue for our September and November meetings.

Bruce Graham, Trail Monitor Captain, reports 44 Trail Monitors in place covering all sections of the trail.  Thanks to Bruce and all Monitors.

An event in June is being planned as a farewell get-together for Shirley Gotts, a long-time member who is moving to Calgary.  Further details may be found here

At the instigation of Brian Tarr, the board has applied to the ‘Adopt-a-Highway’ program to pick up litter along the route.  We hope to be assigned Hwy 7/8 from Stratford to Shakespeare.  Brian will be looking for volunteers to help with this worthy environmental project.

Congratulations, Meg Westley and Tracy Halliwell, both board members, on successfully completing the Hike Leaders Certification Course in March.

Happy Spring hiking!

Members Meeting with guest speaker Mike Bender – March 20, 2018:  Welcome to the Rouge National Urban Park, the first of its kind in Canada and North America, where demands of growing urban communities interface with agriculture and greenspace conservancy. National Parks in Canada are now more than remote pristine wilderness areas. This was the message delivered by guest speaker, Mike Bender in his address to the Avon Trail general meeting on Tuesday, March 20 at the Rotary Complex.

Bernard Goward introduced Mr. Bender, the general manager of the Rouge National Urban Park and chairperson of Trans Canada Trails Ontario. His work with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) in sustainable development and master planning makes him an ideal person to manage this national park as it transitions from TRCA and provincial responsibility to full stewardship by Parks Canada.

The Rouge River watershed area was the basis for the original Rouge Park created in 1995 by the Ontario province and local municipalities. Surrounding this watershed is one of the fastest growing urban stretches in the Greater Toronto Area, encompassing Scarborough and Pickering to the east, Markham and Stouffville to the north.

In 2011, a vision to create an urban national park to protect a large area of agricultural land, waterways and greenspace, was first considered by the province, TRCA, the municipalities and Parks Canada.  Continuous collaboration with input from these partners as well as from local land owners, Indigenous groups and  interested Canadians surveyed at parks, fair grounds and community centers were included in this national park proposal process. Federal legislation, specific to the unique properties of an urban park, was introduced. Partnership and collaboration continues today with farmers whose agricultural lands are contained within the park’s boundaries, and with First Nations connected to the park through the First Nations Advisory Circle.

As Mr. Bender outlined in his talk,  having access to a national park will enable many people in this large urban population to experience nature in their own backyard. Once fully established, Rouge National Urban Park will run from Lake Ontario in the south, to the Oak Ridge Moraine in the northern regions of Markham and Stouffville embracing close to 80 square kilometers, with waterways for canoeing and footpaths for walking and hiking.

The park, home to 17,000 species of flora and fauna, is free to the public to enjoy, explore and treasure (although the campground and some programs will incur charges). The long-term goals include working with all invested parties to enhance park ecosystems and farmland, to remove invasive plant species, increase the number and length of hiking trails and provide wildlife with road underpasses and overpasses.

Mr. Bender went on to describe The Great Trail, better known to Canadians as the Trans Canada Trail, as a 25-year project completed in 2017 which connects Canada from coast to coast to coast by means of walking, hiking, riding and canoeing routes. In Ontario, the 5,000-kilometer section of The Great Trail relies on waterways, roadways and footpaths. Waterways, which make up 36% of the trail in Ontario, follow the north shore of Lake Superior. A section of the Avon Trail near the Farmers Market in St. Jacobs is part of the Great Trail Ontario.

Carol Miller thanked Mr. Bender for his talk and presented him with a copy of the Avon Trail hiking guide. Carolyn Goward provided a summary financial report, Jane Foster reminded the audience that printed copies of the spring hiking schedule were available and the meeting was adjourned so everyone could mingle and enjoy yummy treats provided by Jane Foster and Tracy Halliwell.

Hullett Marsh – March 25, 2018: On a beautiful cloudless day, with a half moon peeking out of a bluebird sky, 20 members of the club took part in a hike to the Hullett Marsh. This provincial wildlife area, north-west of Seaforth off the Kinburn Road, is a multi-use, multi-season facility, which combines conservation and great bird watching with hunting wildfowl and wild game in season. It also contains canoe routes and horse trails, and 21 km of dikes suitable for walking on. The group started on the Bridge Road extension (a bit potholed), walked south, west, and north along the dikes for 6 km, and saw a variety of bird life. Most notable were the tundra swans, resting on their onward migration north to James Bay and their nesting areas. Other species seen included lots of Canada Geese, a few ducks, and some Sandhill Cranes, with their distinctive calls. Tea, coffee, and snacks at the Seaforth Tim’s completed the adventure. Thanks very much to Bernard Goward for leading such a successful trip.

St Marys Loop Hike – April 7, 2018: Feathered friends were the highlight of the St Marys Loop Trail. Eleven members joined in the  hike.  The day’s weather  was calm and the occasional slippery spots encountered did nothing to slow us down. The 12.5 km hike was completed in three hours.  We arrived at our lunch destination, O’Leary’s Creamery, at 12:30 pm. enjoying a wonderful meal with the entire group.  Our fast pace was a good start to Spring hiking season.  We saw two bald eagles in full flight below the rail trestle over Thames river. An osprey was seen in  its nest atop a light standard at Baseball Hall of Fame. Kudos to Jane Foster for leading the hike and thanks to photographer Donna Weitzel.

Mitchell River Hike and Architectural Tour – April 21, 2018: Regency Cottage, Ontario Cottage, Italianate, Queen Anne, were just some of the styles we explored with heritage consultant Thor Dingman as twelve  Avon Trail hikers met on a beautiful Saturday morning. Starting in front of the childhood house of Hockey Hall of Famer Howie Morenz, the Mitchell Meteor, we then walked along the Thames River where Howie first learned to skate. Following our waterside walk, we headed to town to explore a few of the town’s architectural treasures. Thanks to Bruce Graham, hike leader, for a well planned excursion. We look forward to his planned Stratford Cemetery hike in the summer.