When Canada turns 150 next year our biggest present to ourselves will be the completion of greatest trail in the world. Now called The Great Trail, “this epic trail was created by thousands of dreamers, can-doers, volunteers, friends and partners sharing the same audacious goal of connecting our country,” says The Great Trail site.
Our section of the trail came about by funds raised the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, Trails B.C. and locally the regional district and Naramata Parks and Recreation. An active, amazing volunteer group called the Woodwackers formed in the late 1990s are the stewards of this magnificent remnant of the Kettle Valley Railway or KVR. The KVR opened in 1915 to service the growing mining demands in the Southern Interior of BC. The interesting history of the building of the KVR deserves some posts of it own. Just a couple of facts for now…construction was some of the costliest per track mile of any North American railroad project at almost $20 million and it took nearly 20 years to complete. The core portion of the KVR started in Hope and terminated in Midway. Fruit from the Okanagan was an important commodity carried on the trains.
The KVR tracks were removed in the Naramata – Chute Lake area in 1980 and the BC government bought the KVR right-of-way through Naramata from Canadian Pacific Railway in 1990 and the province endorsed the Trans Canada Trail initiative in 1993. Good decisions.
The Woodwackers roll into action in the late 1990s to help give us this beautifully cycle-friendly, walker, runner, cross country ski, horseback trail. In 2010 things heat up in Naramata as a move begins to make the majority of the trail non-motorized with very vocal and hostile opposition to this plan. Hard work and conflict resolution help win the day. The wise decision to keep all but a small section of the trail non-motorized have given us arguable one of the most beautiful portions of The Great Trail.
The Great Trail will link 15,000 communities including mine along 24,000 kilometres. However we choose to experience the trail, the result is a connection with the outdoors.
Would love to hear from Canadians about the part of The Great Trail you love in the comments.