The Grand Watershed Trails Network has a new website: http://www.grandtrails.ca. Visit the GWTN’s new website to see interactive maps of the proposed Grand Trail and lots of information about places to stay; restaurants, pubs and breweries; and the many things you can do along the river.
There is a rich vein of Black history running through the history of Ontario, including the Grand River Watershed. The earliest Black people documented in Canada were slaves, trafficked from Africa and brought to New France in the 18th century. After slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834, many American slaves came north along the underground railroad along with free American Black people and settled in Ontario.
One such settlement was Queen’s Bush, a large tract of land between Wellesley Township (in the Grand River Watershed) and Lake Huron. In the early 1800s, as many as 1500 Black settlers cleared the land and established villages with schools and churches. Unfortunately, when the land was surveyed in the 1840s, they could not afford to buy the land and were expelled, despite petitioning the government. There is a historical plaque to the Queens Bush Settlers in Glen Allen Park, on side road 6, beside the Conestogo River.
If you are interested in combining a cycling trip with lessons in Black history, explore the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. It starts in Alabama and ends at the northerly terminus of the Underground Railroad in Owen Sound, where a thriving Black community settled, descendants of whom remain today. The route crosses into Ontario at Fort Erie and travels up the Niagara River, crossing the Grand River in Dundalk. The Black History Cairn in Harrison Park, in Owen Sound, memorializes these early settlers.
Attend a free virtual screening of the documentary “Nature’s Invitation”, at the Waterloo Migration Film Festival, on December 15 at 12:30 pm.
The film follows new immigrants as they explore Canada’s national and provincial parks, as part of new outdoor wilderness programs developed by Parks Canada and Alberta Parks. It also shows new Canadians as they get involved in nature programs in the Albertan cities of Edmonton and Calgary. The goal of these initiatives is to help newcomers become educated about the wilderness available to them in Canada by taking away barriers that stop them from exploring. These barriers include the cost of transportation, accommodation, park fees, fear and lack of knowledge. Another aim of these programs is to encourage new immigrants to think about getting jobs with Canada’s national and provincial parks and to create future stewards of the land. For more information and to watch the trailer, visit https://brandyyanchyk.com/natures-invitation .