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May. 25, 2022 | Wednesday
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Donations and hard work helping restore heritage trail
Town councillors, members of the heritage trail commitee and members of the NOTL Horticultural Society pose at the entrance of the Upper Canada Heritage Trail on the corner of John and King streets. (Dariya Baiguzhiyeva/Niagara Now)

The goal of restoring a historic trail in Niagara-on-the-Lake is coming to fruition thanks to a generous donation from the Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society.

The society has donated $3,600 to the town’s heritage trail committee, which is responsible for rehabilitating and raising awareness about the Upper Canada Heritage Trail.

“We like to give back to the community in any way we can,” said Suzanne Rate, the society’s treasurer.

Several town councillors and staff joined some members of the town’s heritage trail committee at the trail’s entrance on John Street on Monday afternoon to thank the society for its donation.

The heritage trail committee, in collaboration with the town, has used the money to plant about 60 trees and shrubs at the trail’s three northern entrances: John Street, Paffard Street and Charlotte Street. The municipality was responsible for the design and planting in all three gardens.

The town used native plant materials, which were more suitable for the trail, said Dave Voogt, a cemetery co-ordinator for the town. Some trees were also donated from the cemetery. With four crew members, it took a couple of days to do the planting, Voogt told The Lake Report.

The idea of preserving the trail started in 2017 with the Canada 150 committee. After the committee realized that the improvements needed for the trail would take years, the legacy subcommitee was formed, which later became the heritage trail committee.

“To see something that we’ve been working on for so long coming to fruition is the first little step towards many improvements we have,” said Dick Coyne, one of the committee’s members.

The 10-kilometre trail follows the historic Erie and Ontario Railroad along Concession 1. One of the first railroads in the province, it was in use until the 1950s. The trail also connects NOTL with St. Davids, going all the way up to York Road.

“This is an excellent start. We hope at some future date to be able to have the trail actually delineated, have a hard surface and make it more user-friendly,” said Rick Meloen, chair of the heritage trail committee.

When the committee finalizes the restoration plans and figures out how much the trail’s reconstruction will cost, it will start a major fundraising, said Meloen.

A number of residents who use the trail for hiking, biking or walking with their dogs said they supported the trail’s rehabilitation. Julie Clark, who lives along the trail on Paffard Street, said she has been using the trail for 30 years and it was important to restore it partly because of its historic significance.