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)