When a National Historic Site of Canada is in your region, you certainly want to find a way to elevate and connect to it. With this in mind, Kawarthas Northumberland (a region in Eastern Ontario) developed Canada’s first Trail Town program along the 386-kilometer Trent-Severn Waterway. Cycle Forward was involved from concept to launch.
Client: Kawarthas Northumberland (returning client)
Location: Kawarthas Northumberland region of Ontario (90 minutes East of Toronto)
Outdoor Assets: Trent-Severn Waterway
Project Type: Plan Development/Program Design, Workshop Facilitation
A National Historic Site of Canada, the Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW) connects Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay, Lake Huron via a series of lakes and rivers. The Waterway is part of the 6,000-mile Great Loop, making it a popular cruising location for boaters. Realizing the waterway’s significance, Kawarthas Northumberland named the Trent-Severn its primary visitor attraction and set out to create a Trail Town program to celebrate and elevate the TSW.
Kawarthas Northumberland is an organization that does its homework! While the Trent-Severn Trail Town Program launched in 2019, they initiated a trail town dialogue years earlier in 2016. At that time, Cycle Forward was invited to Ontario to introduce the Trail Town concept with a regional workshop (co-hosted with Harvey Sawler of iImagine). A year later, additional workshops were held in Bobcaygeon, Campbellford, and Lakefield. Throughout 2018, Cycle Forward worked with Kawarthas Northumberland to develop a trail town strategy and returned to the area to host another workshop. In 2018 and 2019, Kawarthas Northumberland brought area stakeholders to the U.S. to participate in trail Best Practice Mission trips hosted by Cycle Forward. Each of these steps contributed to making an informed decision in terms of designing a program appropriate to the TSW. The program launched in August 2019 with nine designated communities on board.
- Five regional and community-specific workshops
- Two best practice missions to the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath
- Trail Town Strategy development
- Following the launch, a video series to provide support and activation ideas for participating communities
Kawarthas Northumberland successfully launched Canada’s first trail town program in August 2019. The organization made good on a commitment to design a program that celebrates and elevates the TSW. The launch event brought together nine newly designated communities from across the system and celebrated with a regional delight – the butter tart – each named for a different town, “Trail Town” cobb salads, and remarks offered by regional dignitaries. A few of the far western communities even arrived together on a motor coach! The program has since added a trail-friendly certification for local businesses and continues to provide marketing and support for participating communities.