Where we’ve been

“A Short History of the National Trail” – the first 25 years (1971 – 1996)
A firsthand account of the origin and development of Canada’s national hiking trail movement by founder and past president Douglas Campbell

“Age matures a trail”
– Founder, the National Trail of Canada

1971 The National Trail movement was born on 29 April at a meeting of leading national outdoor and youth organizations convened in Toronto to consider a cross-Canada trail.
1977 The National Trail Association of Canada was registered as a national society under Letters Patent dated 23 August.
1980 National coverage was given to plans in a full feature article appearing in Outdoor Canada.
1984 First national meeting funded by Fitness Canada was held in Ottawa, resulting in creation of a national executive with regional representation: Atlantic Provinces, Quebec, Ontario, Prairie Provinces, and British Columbia.
1986 Premiere of the NTAC’s audio visual Challenge of a Lifetime was shown at the International Congress on Trails and Waterways Recreation in Vancouver.
1987 First National Hiking Trail marker was posted on Parliament Hill at an inaugural ceremony involving international environmentalist Maurice Strong and Speaker of the House John Fraser. A message from Prime Minister Brian Mulroney reads “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I am delighted to extend my warmest greetings and sincere best wishes to the members of the National Trail Association of Canada on the occasion of the launching of the trans-Canada recreational trail corridor.
1989 Hike Ontario endorsed the National Trail route and recommended completion of marker posting on the existing system in Ontario.
1990 Sentier national au Quebec (La Federation quebecoise de la marche) inaugurated the first 42 kilometre section of the National Trail in Quebec.
An 18 kilometre section of the City of Medicine Hat’s trail system was declared part of the National Hiking Trail, the first in Alberta.
1991 National Trail marker was posted at Banff’s Cave and Basin, heart of the national park system, in a ceremony dedicating the 70 kilometres “Gateway to the Rockies” section.
The exceptional walk of Susan Oleskevich from Ontario’s Devil’s Glen to Tobermory and back, posting Sentier National Trail  markers on the Bruce Trail section of the National Trail.
1992 The 55 kilometre section of the National Trail in Quebec’s Gatineau Park was dedicated and marked, linking at the Ottawa River with Ontario’s Rideau Trail.
National television coverage was provided on CBC’s Midday programme in a segment devoted to the National Trail.
1993 In the Cypress Hills, a 40 kilometre section spanning the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary was opened at a ceremony at Fort Walsh, a joint project involving park authorities from both provinces as well as Parks Canada.
1996 Posting of National Hiking Trail markers was completed on the entire 58 kilometres of the Dobson Trail in New Brunswick.
1997 Quebec opened three new sections, bringing the total to 150 kilometres in that province.
National Trail marker was redesigned with a hiking motif, then distributed and posted where necessary on existing route.
The Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC at its AGM in June accepts the challenge to build the BC section of the National Hiking Trail.
1998 Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC at its AGM in June approves a northern route through central BC as the best possible route through BC.
2000 The Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC meets in April and gains approval and cooperation from local hiking clubs and organizations to route the trail from Crescent Spur to Bella Coola using five historic trails: the Historic Goat River Trail, the Historic 1861 Gold Pack Trail, the Blackriver Trail, the Telegraph Trail, and the Nuxalk-Carrier Grease Trail (Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail). Opening ceremony for the Crescent Spur to Bowron Park section of the National Hiking Trail. Thirty kilometres of this portion includes the historic Goat River Trail.
The National Trail Association designed and set up a display booth at the National Trails Conference at Owen Sound and directors participated in conference sessions.
Multiple trail openings in Quebec finalized 650 kilometres of the province’s planned 1000 km.
2001 The Federation of Mountain Clubs of BC met in Nanaimo, BC to finish planning the Port Hardy to Victoria route. The seven island clubs of the Federation were able to agree on a route. Well over half of the trail is now outlined on existing trails.
2002 In September directors from all regions of Canada met in Ontario to build momentum to finish this hiking trail.
Trailmarker posted on the East Coast Trail at Cape Speare, Canada’s most easterly point.
In the Spring, members of Hike BC met to discuss plans for trail development in Dunster and Quesnel. About 40 people were in attendance.
2003 In October, directors from most regions of Canada attended the AGM in Moncton. The delegates finalized the name of the trail as the Sentier Pedestré National/National Hiking Trail. The Hike Canada En Marche logo was also finalized.
Hike BC delegates met in Quesnel and Dunster to do the planning for the upcoming summer. About 40 people were in attendance.
Delegates put in about 30 kilometres of rough trail up the East Twin Creek area towards Jasper. The last 48 kilometres to Jasper still needs to be developed.
2004 In October 2004, our Third Annual General Meeting was held in Canmore. Several important issues were covered including revamping our constitution and a production of an annual report which is bilingual (French and English).
2005 Banff and Jasper National Parks approved for undefined passage of trail, a corridor in excess of 350 km.
Québec hosted the AGM in rural Chertsey.
2006 Following the AGM of Winnipeg, discussions were initiated with Saskatchewan Trails Association.
Québec opened two sections totalling 44 km.
2007 Hike Nova Scotia Society founded at provincial meeting, representing interest at hiking community.
With additional trail openings of 28 km, Québec route now extends a total of 854 km.
2008 At Calgary meeting, representative of 16 hiking groups initiated formation of Hike Alberta Society.
2009 Financial setbacks to a major golfing development in Alberta’s Bow Valley led to subsequent insolvency and further delay to the 18-year wait for closing the gap in this scenic section of route.
2012 Negotiations between Alberta government and forestry industry opens up the prospect of route continuity between Barrier Lake and the Bragg Creek area, completely traversing Kananaski Country to the prairie region.
2013 BC Provincial Govermment “fully supports Hike BC and the National Hiking Trail, and the guidance provided in the Trails Strategy for BC will serve to help pave the way for this important trail initiative.”
2014 Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation provides reassurance that trails approved for NHT use in 1991 within Kananaskis and Cypress Hills are fully recognized and remain intact.
At the Hike Ontario 40th AGM in Guelph in November, Certificates of Recognition were awarded to Bruce, Ganaraska, Oakridges, Rideau and Voyageur trail systems for their contribution over the last 40 years, inclusive of 15 clubs that actually maintain the NHT route. The entire section of existing route is around 1800 kilometres.
2015 The HCEM AGM was held on June 14 via internet in a coast-to-coast conference with 14 participants participating in the 2-hour video face-to-face session, with discussion on broad agenda covering many topics including consistent trail-signage and internet mapping. Patrick Harrison was returned as President.
On December 16, Hike Nova Scotia met with the provincial Minister of Natural Resources to work together towards recognition and support for the National Hiking Trail and its linkage to the Appalachian trail system.
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