Margaret Northfield has been named Volunteer of the Year by the Niagara Bruce Trail Club, but her passion for the trail and her efforts to support the club date back much further.
“Margaret’s contributions go above and beyond, and not only in the last year,” according to club president Lisa Etienne. “She just does everything. It’s amazing what she gets done.”
The list is as impressive as it is long.
As media relations director, Northfield takes care of the club website and social media platforms, she initiated and runs training for new hike leaders and she created “Hiking 101” orientation for new members.
Then there are special events around the annual Bruce Trail Day and promotional presence at area fairs and festivals to promote the club. Northfield is also active as a hike leader herself. And the list can't really capture everything she does.
“She is the face of our club and she is so welcoming to new members,” said Etienne, adding, “Margaret is the most amazing promoter of our club.”
Membership has increased significantly under Northfield’s guidance, with 1,200 members today.
Northfield’s hiking journey started 14 years ago when she was visiting her sister in Owen Sound and hiked an event with some friends. She says something clicked with her and she knew this was something she had to do.
“I had always enjoyed walking, but hiking made me feel at home, like part of me that had been missing was restored. I felt at peace with myself on the trail, I felt happier,” she explains.
Back home in Niagara, Northfield joined the club here and gradually completed her first end-to-end of the trail, which stretches almost 900 kilometres from Niagara to Tobermory.
She didn’t plan to do it again, “but people had been really good to me when I did it the first time, so I started doing it for other people, to help them. I’ve done it three times, and now I’m working on my fourth and fifth.”
Northfield doesn’t limit her hikes to the Bruce Trail.
“Hiking opened up my world. I heard about hiking holidays and fell in love with mountain hiking.”
So far, Northfield has hiked the famed Camino trail, which is 800 kilometres across Spain; The Tour de Mont Blanc, 200 kilometres through mountains in France, Italy and Switzerland; and the Wainwright Trail through villages in England.
A planned trip to hike the French and Swiss Alps in 2020 was postponed due to COVID and it’s uncertain when it can be safely rescheduled.
But wherever she’s hiking, Northfield loves the benefits of it. “It relieves stress, it’s physically refreshing and it keeps me balanced. It’s meditative.”
The hiking program for all ages and levels has been paused since the lockdown that started in December, but it will resume when restrictions allow. The trail itself remains open.
For more information on the Niagara Bruce Trail Club, visit the website at niagarabrucetrail.club/wp/
OTHERS HONOURED: Trudy Senesi is recipient of the club's Lifetime Achievement award for her many years of dedication and contribution to the organization. Lou and Judy Gaudier received the Unsung Hero award for their many years of promoting and supporting the club. Read more at niagarabrucetrail.club/wp/volunteer-awards/