1960: A Major Milestone for the Development of a Record-Setting Trail in Canada

September 23, 1960

A small but pivotal meeting was held for the development of a hiking trail in the Canadian province of Ontario. The idea for such a public footpath originated with Ray Lowes, who had become increasingly concerned about the preservation of the section of the Niagara Escarpment — a long and steep slope of natural landscapes — in that part of Canada.

At a meeting of the Federation of Ontario Federalists in 1959, Lowes and his friend Robert Bateman discussed these plans for a trail that would be created along the edge of Ontario’s share of the Niagara Escarpment. Their conversation helped set the momentum for developing such a trail to protect those landscapes and in the process bring people closer to nature. Since a large portion of this proposed trail would course through Bruce County in southwestern Ontario, it was agreed that the footpath should be named after that administrative division.

The plans for this route gained further momentum with the first meeting of the Bruce Trail Committee on September 23, 1960. Those who attended this meeting were Lowes, Philip Gosling, Norman Pearson, and Robert McLaren. All of them subsequently played important roles in the al in the actual creation of the Bruce Trail. As trail director, for example, Gosling led a group of volunteers who went door-to-door in many of the communities along the proposed route to promote the project and enlist active support for it.

Between 1962 and 1966, a large number of Bruce Trail clubs were established in that region of Ontario to help with a wide range of efforts that included acquiring rights-of-way for the trail and assisting with the construction and maintenance of this route. In March 1963, the Bruce Trail Association was incorporated under the laws of Ontario. (This organization was the Bruce Trail Conservancy in 2007.) The Bruce Trail was officially opened to the public on June 10, 1967.

The Bruce Trail holds the record as both the oldest and longest marked trail in Canada. The main stretch of this trail is more than 550 miles (890 kilometers) in length, with associated side trails collectively encompassing at least another 250 miles (400 kilometers). The southern terminus of the Bruce Trail is the community of Queenston, which is 3.1 miles (five kilometers) north of Niagara Falls. The trail’s northern terminus is the Bruce County community of Tobermory, which is at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula.

(The above photo depicts a planked segment of the Bruce Trail that is located near Cape Croker on the Bruce Peninsula.)

Photo Credit: Elisachang (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)

For more information on the history of the Bruce Trail, please check out https://brucetrail.org/explore-the-trail/

Additional information on trails in Canada is available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_trails_in_Canada

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