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E-Notes - January 2021

Happy New Year, everyone! We begin this year by featuring our Board of Directors. First, we have a collage, artfully created by Alina Lin, of the entire Board. Next, we invited our President, Graham Allen, and our Vice-President/Hiking Director, David Royle, to provide us with their new year's messages for members.

We also asked Martina Furrer to tell us about what's happening with the winter coach program - which, as you might guess, is not so much. Not wanting to leave you without alternatives, she provides suggestions for how to enjoy the season on your own. Her article is followed by one from Wayne, with ideas for snow-shoeing in the GTA and beyond. Also, it's time for nominations for our Volunteer Awards - find details below. 

Both Graham and David are generous in their appreciation for their Board colleagues and for TBTC volunteers. I'd like to turn the mirror back on them just for a moment, though, to acknowledge the dedication and leadership they have shown in this crazy year. Their roles are never easy, and require a lot of work in a normal year, but this year was, as we all know, unprecedented. I can only imagine the additional responsibility and difficult decisions they had to take on, something they did with absolute grace. Thank you, Graham and David. We appreciate you!!!
Happy Holidays from the TBTC Board

Message from the TBTC President

2020 has been an extraordinary year which has shown the adaptability and resilience of the TBTC community. Who would have thought nine months ago we would still be social distancing and wearing masks?

I would like to thank all the club volunteers including Trail Maintenance workers, Land Stewards, Trail Captains, Hike Leaders, E-Notes co-editors, and my fellow Board of Directors for their countless hours of dedication. 

Though our formal hiking program is paused, TBTC has initiated a  new winter hiking badge or those who complete the Toronto section between December 21, 2020 and March 19, 2021. We look forward to awarding the first winter hiking badge. We are also introducing a new Youth Hiking Badge for those under 13 who hike either a minimum of 3km or one hour of the Toronto Section.  You will see more details about that badge in a forthcoming issue of E-Notes. Congratulations to Alina Lin, Director Public Relations and Education, for this initiative. 

Of the many achievements this year I would like to highlight our new TBTC website, to be introduced in the New Year. Thank you to the website design team led by David Rowney, Director Communications. 

Thank you to all the members for your continued support. I look forward to when we can gather and connect in person once again.  

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and all the best for 2021. 
Graham Allen
Message from our Hiking Director

As 2020 draws to a close, we can’t say we’re sorry to see it go. The pandemic has presented many challenges. While health care is obviously essential, so too is our social well- being. This is where being outdoors has played a critical role. I can attest to the adaptability and creativity of our hike leaders in finding ways to bring people together and reduce our sense of social isolation. Their consummate goodness, decency and generosity is acknowledged.

There is no question that a hike can be mentally rejuvenating and provide a respite from the anxiety and uncertainty around us. I can think of no better way to end a trying year than to sing the praises of our Toronto Bruce Trail Club hike leaders who led hikes this year and helped get us through. Thank you!
David Royle
Message from the Winter Program Director

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we will have a ski and snowshoe program this winter. We were hoping we would be able to offer some late season trips, but with the province in lockdown things don’t look promising. If the situation improves and the Bruce Trail Conservancy gives us the green like, we will work hard to plan a few safe and fun winter adventures. 
Most of the Toronto parks listed in Wayne’s article (below) are also great for cross-country skiing, just don’t expect track set trails. If you’re looking for groomed trails close to home, Albion Hills Conservation Park in Caledon is worth a visit. Or, for an off the beaten track option try Mono Nordic. If you’re looking for a challenge complete the virtual Gatineau Loppet or the virtual Canadian Ski Marathon
Many of Ontario’s nordic ski resorts are open with some restrictions. Most have closed their chalets, trailside warm-up huts, and waxing huts. Be prepared to store your gear and eat lunch in your car. Washrooms remain open but masks must be worn at all times while indoors; buffs are not acceptable face coverings. Some resorts are selling trail passes online. Hardwood Ski & Bike and Highlands Nordic are not renting ski equipment for the time being. Highlands Nordic is continuing to rent snowshoes. Kawartha Nordic is renting skis and snowshoes. Unfortunately, Scenic Caves is closed until further notice. Make sure to check the resorts’ websites before you visit so you know what to expect and what to bring. 
Keep active, enjoy the snow, and search for wildlife in the city. Don’t miss the barred and northern saw-whet owls along the Don River, and Toronto’s winter visitors, the snowy owls and long-tailed ducks on the Leslie Street Spit. 
Snowshoeing in 2021

Even without a Winter Coach Program, you can still get out and enjoy the snow. I thought it would be useful to describe some of the opportunities for small groups for snowshoeing in the GTA and beyond. This isn't exhaustive by
any means. I'd be interested to hear from you about your own favourite spots.

Within the city it is a question of whether there will be snow, more than where to go, but here are a few suggestions for that sweet spot between a fresh snow fall and the inevitable melt a few days later. 

Rouge Valley Urban National Park.  This is a wonderful, moderately challenging location for snowshoeing.  There is parking off Park Road, Kingston Road and just south of Twyn Rivers Drive that give ready access to the trails. There is TTC bus service, but it is a long ride from the subway. There are several loops you can do north and south of Twyn Rivers, or you can do an 11 km loop down to Kingston Road and back up to the Zoo. The most challenging part is between Twyn Rivers Drive and Kingston Road.

High Park  A great place to get a feeling for snowshoeing, with some hills and a choice of routes that feature deep woods or the more garden like sections of the park. For nice views with moderate climbs, I recommend the stretch of trail along Grenadier Pond and the nature trails on the west side of the Park leading from the pond to Bloor Street. Washrooms are open in the Chess House. High Park remains closed to motor vehicles during the pandemic.

Toronto Ravines and Parks  The trails along the Don River and its tributaries offer great opportunities for easy snowshoeing with access to transit and parking at various places. If you want to add some hills to your outing, include Crothers Woods just north of the Brickworks. If you are feeling ambitious, you can do 21 km from Old Mill Station north to Steeles Avenue via parkland running along the Humber. There are numerous places you can pick up transit on the way north if this is too much fun.

Near Toronto  I recommend a day at Halton Conservation Areas. You can do an interesting series of loops at Crawford Lake/Rattlesnake Point with great views from the top of the escarpment and the very pleasant walk around the lake itself. Just north of the 401 is the Hilton Falls Conservation Area where you can explore sections of the main Bruce Trail, the Hilton Falls Side Trail and several in-house trails that are well marked. Be sure to visit the Falls itself, the ice formations are beautiful.

At the time of writing these Conservation Areas are still maintaining limits on the number of people allowed in. Please check in advance by contacting Conservation Halton

Beyond the GTA  If you are looking for a day trip north of the city but don't feel comfortable going into the wilderness, try one of the cc ski and snowshoe resorts north and west of Barrie. Highland Nordic in the Collingwood area offers both marked in-house trails and easy access to the Bruce Trail. Horseshoe Resort near Barrie has offered three in-house trails for the last few seasons which provide everything from easy (Beaver Pond) to moderately challenging (Ridge Trail). It is also very close to the Copeland Forest trails which are accessible off Ingram Road. One of my favourites is Wasaga Nordic which offers three connected trails that range from very flat to moderately high hills. 

Please contact the resorts in question before visiting as most will be operating with special regulations during the pandemic.

As an added incentive, Snowshoe Canada, the governing body for the sport in this country, has announced an opportunity to participate in virtual races in 2021. For additional details go to Get Out There.

Have a great winter season and hopefully we'll get in some organized trips later in the year! And while you are waiting for that, and for snow in the city, check out this amazing Youtube video, Simon Beck's snowshoe art
Wayne Crockett

Nominations, please!

The TBTC invites nominations for our two annual volunteer awards, the Nina Carlisle Award and the Todd Bardes Award.

The Nina Carlisle Award is given to a longstanding volunteer (at least five years) who is actively involved in the activities of the Toronto Bruce Trail Club. Such volunteering could be in the areas of trail maintenance, hike leading, social event planning, communications, administrative tasks, fund-raising and Board service. The award is not restricted to any one volunteer specialty.

Previous Recipients of the Nina Carlisle Volunteer Award:
2008 Nina Carlisle   2009 Frances Walker   2010 Malcolm Sanderson.  2011 Stephen Kamnitzer 2012 Larry Haigh.  2013 Paul Vanhanen.  2014 Peter Leeney.   2015 Grant Leigh 2016 Teresa Karolewski.  2017 David Paape    2018 Wayne Crockett.  2019 Barbara Euler. 2020 Vlad Bosnar.

Todd Bardes Volunteer Award. In 2016 the Board established a new award to recognize significant volunteer contributions over a shorter time span (the last one or two years).  

Previous recipients of the Todd Bardes Award:
2017 Deb Brander  2018 Martina Furrer  2019 Thomas Swales.        (Not awarded in 2020)

When submitting nominations for either award please include:

  • the name of the person you are nominating
  • volunteer position(s) held
  • approximate number of years per position 
Also, most importantly:
  • reasons why this person should be nominated for the award.
Nominations may be sent to   by March 15, 2021. The awards will be given out at the Club’s Annual General Meeting on Sunday, April 17, 2021
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Toronto Bruce Trail Club E-Notes Editors, Publishers: Magdalena Vanderkooy and Wayne Crockett

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