Update: On November 1, 2017, Pam Damoff (MP Oakville North-Burlington) presented Petition e-957 in the House of Commons, calling for the adoption of a Trans Canada Trail Act that will set minimum standards for safety and quality, and ensure that the trail is a genuinely non-motorized, and world-class greenway. The Minister of the Environment, Catherine McKenna, must now table a response within 45 days.
Cycling the Trans Canada Trail with Edmund Aunger
My decision to bicycle 12,500 kilometres on the Trans Canada Trail – from Victoria, British Columbia, to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – was not inspired by an adventuresome spirit; it was imposed by a heart-breaking trauma and a guilt-ridden conscience.
On July 14, 2012, my wife, Elizabeth Ann Sovis, was struck and killed by a drunk driver while we were on a three-week Trans Canada Trail cycling holiday in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. “No roads,” she had reminded me every year for a decade as I planned our summer bicycle tours. “I won’t ride anywhere near motorised vehicles. It’s too dangerous.” She trusted me to respect this fundamental rule and to keep her safe.
During our early travels, when I naively believed the Trans Canada Trail organisation’s much publicised commitment “to provide a safe and enjoyable trail experience on high quality trail,” maybe I could have been forgiven for putting her life in danger. But, after several years of harrowing and life-threatening incidents, I no longer had any excuses.
Three days after her death, I contacted the Trans Canada Trail headquarters in Montreal and volunteered to do whatever was needed – lobbying, campaigning, fundraising – to promote the completion of a national trail that would be safe and accessible for hikers and cyclists of all ages and abilities.
And on November 21, 2012, in an Edmonton coffee shop, I met with Deborah Apps, president and CEO of the Trans Canada Trail organisation, and explained my plan to bicycle the trail from coast to coast – from the Pacific to the Atlantic – over the next five summers. She promised full support with travel logistics, media communications and public relations.
The next spring, however, after learning that Elizabeth had strongly opposed the motorisation of the Trans Canada Trail, Deborah Apps had an abrupt change of heart. There would be no collaboration. I was on my own.
Trans Canada Trail, Otter Lake, British Columbia. Photo by Richard K. Aunger.