When a reroute of the main Bruce Trail was completed this spring in the area of McKay Harbour, it was proposed that the McKay Harbour Side Trail could be renamed as part of the trail reconfiguration.
A Bruce Trail club has the right to name side trails (with the blue signs and blazes) for distinctive physical features, historical names, or for club volunteers who have made an important impact in various ways over a significant period of time. It took little time for the board of the Peninsula Bruce Trail Club to think of Donna Baker, who we all lost late last year.
Donna grew up in rural Saskatchewan. She met and later married John Baker in Regina and they soon moved to Elmira, where John was a mathematics professor in Waterloo. She was a volunteer for many groups there. Together they hiked in many parts of the world and that is what initially introduced them to the Bruce Peninsula.
While attending the Club’s AGM in 1996, Donna came away as both the secretary and treasurer. Two years later she agreed to become president, and during that time the Baker’s found their ideal home on Moore Street in Lion’s Head (on the Bruce Trail, of course) and moved here in 1999. As president, Donna decided it was time to move board meetings back to the Peninsula after decades when there was not enough local membership. She continued the board’s efforts to round up new members and drew many (with her friendly charm) into the revitalized executive. The board meetings have remained here for the past 20 years and club membership now surpasses 600.
Donna also led the Club to host the AGM for the Bruce Trail Association, took part in opening of the Snake Boardwalk at Cape Croker, and helped design a Club brochure to place on car windshields, display unit and Day Hike Map, all while continuing as a trail worker.
After retiring as president, Donna continued to serve the Club in publicity, landowner relations, and also as archivist. In 2011 she retired from the club’s board but still found time to hike, build, and maintain trails.
Finally, in 2015, the Baker’s donated a piece of their land where the Trail crossed, to the B.T. Conservancy.
So it is most appropriate that a piece of trail, not far from where Donna lived, be named in her honour, to remind us of her tireless ambition and leadership, but perhaps most of all, because we miss her smiling face and always cheerful disposition.