Canada’s latest phenomenon: Trekkies. Not the Starship Enterprise kind, but the pedometer wearing, water bottle-toting, eco-conscious types. And they are revolutionizing the way we come to appreciate the phrase power walking.
A little more than half the size of Russia, or just over two-thirds the size of the Arctic Ocean or Antarctica, narrowly surpassing the US and China in surface area, Canada is the next fashionable challenge for active globetrotters. Local, national and philanthropic plans to fund and create a viable walking, biking, and hiking route across all provinces and northern territories are finally close to fruition with corporate sponsorship, Canadian celebrities, and individual donors offering support ($50 supports a metre of trail and gets your name inscribed in one of the 86 pavilions).
The Canadian Military Engineers have toiled for free on trestles. Where there are wetlands, there are now floating walkways thanks to local organisers. Some trail trekkers have biked the 10-province portion already in 90 days of summer, or a few million pedals, while others have opted to brave the Canadian winters and walk the earth, following what is primarily, in some areas, old railway track donated to the government and converted for this ‘rails-to-trails’ initiative.
Canadiana-themed pavilions dot the trails along the way. 10,000 km of trail has been built, rehabilitated and gussied up by local communities working with the not-for-profit Trans Canada Trail that connects existing trails and coordinates development and fundraising, while publishing stories of openings and other interest, and providing maps and a pavilion locator online (www.tctrail.ca/tlocator).
8,000 km remain to be developed. Highlights include the many bridges - steel structures and some wood. Speaking of wood (since this is Canada), there are many monstrous trestles that can be crossed, although some have no guardrails (Canadian death wish?), walkways through national parks, and tunnels through the Rockies.
The master trail begins at Mile Zero in St. John’s, Newfoundland, stretching all the way across, through major cities Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver, coast-to-coast…to coast. Once out west, the trails take a sharp right where they stretch north to Yukon and the Northwest Territories (you’ll have a option to continue by land or by water route). The panoramas are breathtaking and the thousand or so communities connected are all welcoming weekend walkers, workday commuters, and all cross-country travelers with open arms.