Reflections from Valerie Pringle, co-chair of the Trans Canada Trail Foundation
I always say that the Trans Canada Trail tells the story of Canada. Pathways created and carved by First Nations people, voyageurs, explorers, immigrants and the romantic ribbons of steel that opened our country. The 500 community trails that comprise the magnificent and iconic Trans Canada Trail are traces they have left behind for all of us to follow.
A perfect example of this is the Laura Secord Legacy Trail, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail.
On June 22, 2013, at the crack of dawn, 1,000 people walked through the doors of the quaint Laura Secord Homestead in scenic Queenston, on the Niagara River in southern Ontario. We were all walking into history with Laura on the 200th anniversary of her famous and fateful trek to warn British soldiers of an impending attack by the Americans during the War of 1812.
The Laura Secord Legacy Trail was the inspiration of Laura’s great-great-great-granddaughter, Caroline McCormick, who spent years researching her journey from Queenston to DeCew House in Thorold where the British were garrisoned.
What a thrill to walk in this Canadian heroine’s footsteps 200 years to the day after her brave solo trek. The women of the Trans Canada Trail wanted to honour Laura and to be part of it.
Our Honorary Campaign Chair, Laureen Harper, and a group of her hiking friends from across the country joined me, some of my adventuresome friends, TCT president and CEO Deborah Apps and VP development Simone Hicken for the 32-kilometre (20-mile) walk through the beautiful countryside of the Niagara Peninsula and up the escarpment.
The local MP, Rob Nicholson, who is the Minister of National Defence, also completed the journey along with dozens of Laura’s descendants from around the world and hundreds of other people.
It took about seven hours, and all of us gained a vastly heightened appreciation for Laura Secord, who did this alone, in enemy territory, with no directions, water stations, bridges, running shoes or Lycra.
It have us a change to reflect, as only a walk can do, on her bravery and what Canada might look like if she had not decided to risk her life to pass on the crucial information. It was wonderful to meditate on this beautiful part of the world on a hot summer day.
There is a profound connection between walking and thinking.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, “I can only meditate when I am walking. My mind only works with my legs.” Soren Kierkegaard ventured that the mind functions best at a pace of three miles an hour. Nietzsche said, “Only those thoughts which come from walking have any value.” These very smart men captured one of the great benefits of the Trans the great benefits of the Trans Canada Trail: Our bodies and our brains need to go for a walk! Laura Secord’s path is a significant part of the Canadian Journey and, because of this Trail, we can all walk in her shoes.
As co-chair of the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, my goal is to engage Canadians and raise the money to connect all these storied paths into the national icon of the Trans Canada Trail for Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.
I can’t think of a better gift to Canadians than a Trail that allows us all to walk freely, to learn, to think and to dream.
The Trans Canada Trail Foundation
Incorporated as a non-profit corporation in October 2010, the Trans Canada Trail Foundation (TCTF) is responsible for raising funds to support the advancement of the Trans Canada Trail. Among its activities, the TCTF has undertaken an ambitious national campaign to raise the $75-million needed to help connect the Trail by 2017. To find out more about the TCT, visit our website, tctrail.ca
- Valerie Pringle, Co-Chair, Ontario
- Hartley T. Richardson, Co-Chair, Manitoba
- David Aisenstat, Director, British Columbia
- David Cottingham, Director, Ontario
- Anthony Graham, Director, Ontario
- David Hoffman, Director, Nova Scotia
- Pierre Lassonde, Director, Ontario
- Bruce Simpson, Director, Ontario
- Wendy Southall, Director, Ontario
- Paul LaBarge, Chair, TCT, ex officio
- Ken Killin, Treasurer, Ontario