Thursday, September 28, 2006

Trail walk through history
Our city and region has a large network of walking and biking trails which are very well maintained. Many are built along hydro right-of-ways, while others follow unused railway lines through country and city landscapes. My favourite is the Walter Bean Trail, which will extend 78 kilometers along the Grand River when finally completed. I have canoed the waters of the Grand River, and walk its banks every week where the trail passes below the hospital grounds.
Last week, The Becka and I walked the section of trail that is near the original homestead of my husband’s family. The family cemetery is close to the river and has a monument commemorating our ancestors who travelled to this region in 1800 by covered wagon, all the way from Buck’s County, Pennsylvania. These Mennonite families settled on the river and gradually cleared the surrounding land as they began farming. The Pioneer Tower is a monument that has been built to commemorate these settlers. I am dismayed to see the suburban sprawl that has limited access by road to this historic tower, but from the opposite side of the river, the city is not visible at all. I imagine that people stood on these bluffs and used to watch for visitors, perhaps a mail or supply boat, or just for a magnificent view of the surrounding area.
These photos were taken in the early evening, as the sunlight is gone by a little after 7:00 PM now. The changing tree colours were illuminated by the low light and the river reflected their beauty.
I think of this river, 206 years ago, and imagine what life would have been like, starting a new community with a river and wagon trail for access and heavy bush all around.

What will it be like 206 years from now? Perhaps I would rather not imagine that. It will take action and imagination to preserve our heritage. (Click above photos for enlarged view)


  1. Back in the early 80's myself and a friend canoed the entire length of the Grand River. We did it in segments, week after week, and I remember enjoying the beauty of the region. Walking it would be a pleasure next time I am back in Canada to visit you.

  2. Nice pics mom. I really like the one with the dead branch over the water.

    ...and WOW...I need a haircut...

  3. Beautiful pictures! Sad about the encroachment of the city though, we have so much space in this country - why do we feel the need to do things like that?

    We have, or should I say had, these ancient trees here on the South Hill along the road in one of the old residential neighbourhoods. The road is old and brick. The city recently passed an ordanence to protect the reminaing greenery in Spokane (we were so proud of them! Emphasis on the were.) They cut them all down recently, every single one of them, saying they needed to so they could pave the road. People were so angry (so was I) even some of the pavers refused to do the job. What next? Ripping down the historic houses to build condos? They are trying to do that.

    Yes, we do need to do more to save our history.

  4. SLD...anytime you come to visit I will gladly walk the trail with you.
    Jaspenelle...people will talk about saving the environment, but in the end, the decision bringing the most immediate financial reward wins.


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