- Book reviewer David Rodgers
TRAIL TO THE BRUCE by David Tyson
David Rodgers grew up on the Bruce Peninsula and first walked the Bruce Trail on a school trip in grade four. In high school he hiked larger sections of the Trail with his Outdoor Education class. After several decades away, he returned to his roots and now lives on the Bruce as a full-time resident and enjoys the Trail with family and friends.
TRAIL TO THE BRUCE - The Story of the Building of the Bruce Trail by David Tyson.
David Tyson traces the history of the Bruce Trail from it's beginnings as an idea, through implementation and then into the era of politics with the Niagara Escarpment Commission as the backdrop for tumultuous years when it's very existence is in peril.
The book is roughly divided into three sections. The first years of the nascent organization are covered in section one and you will come to know the main players as they deal with landowners, politicians and government bureaucrats. Philip Gosling sets the pace as the first Trail Director.
Outstanding physical feats are accomplished by volunteers as they survey potential routes and blaze trails, many across private properties with "the handshake agreement".
The use of photos, maps, illustrations and other artifacts throughout the book assists with telling the story.
The book's middle section details the evolution of the BTA and covers multiple years per chapter. Salient events are extracted from the the archives to provide the reader with a view into the internal operations of the BTA and insights into changing political sentiment over the years.
By the 40th year, the Bruce Trail Association has become the Bruce Trail Conservancy and is now more than just a hiking organization - it also purchases land for the purpose of conservation and preserving the trail corridor. This was a major change from the original intention and the author explores the events which led to such a change in policy.
The final chapters of the book are devoted to the individual stories of the nine Bruce Trail Clubs and covers their startup successes and woes, continuing into ongoing operations the following decades.
For anyone curious about Bruce Trail origins, organization and historical events, this book elucidates. The tenacity and vision of the founders is impressive and the passion of volunteers is demonstrated throughout. It takes a lot of determination to haul heavy parts for a metal staircase into remote areas, assemble and fasten them to rock faces.
The 50th celebration of The Bruce Trail at Tobermory in 2017 was a big deal. Some of the founders attended, hitting home that this is fairly recent history.
I was just learning to walk when the spark for the idea of the Bruce Trail was ignited by Ray Lowes. A few years later I started using the Trail while on school camping trips and then returned annually with friends and family to hike various sections. Without the efforts of the people as documented in this book none of that would have happened.