Wednesday, December 23, 2020


We got the following email from the VTA.   We are all members so many may want to take part in the upcoming event.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our members in this strange year. We will be hosting the 2019-2020 AGM virtually via zoom on January 10th, 2021. If you are interested in attending the meeting please let us know at and we will send you the link. I have attached the tentative agenda and the annual report for your review prior to the meeting.

Carole Blaquiere

Voyageur Trail Association Annual Report 

March 2019 to March 2020

It seems like the year from March 2019 to March of 2020 ended much longer ago than 8 months ago. We had not heard of COVID19 much before February and March. Social distancing, mask wearing and the word pandemic were not in our daily lives. The annual report this year is going to be a little like a snippet of history.

In March of 2019 we had just gone through revamping the website and developing new trailhead signs. Over the summer and fall most of the trailhead signs were installed and we started adding the blue reflective signs on the trail. Organized hikes were led by all clubs and membership was steady.

Coureurs de Bois Trailhead sign in Elliot Lake

A couple of projects were completed by students for the VTA. Nathan Earle, a student in the GIS program, completed a project updating and cleaning up the trail database, and Courtney Dukes completed a marketing plan for the VTA during the summer of 2019. 

At the AGM in October of 2019, Tricia Kelly stepped down as secretary and Carole Blaquiere tried to step down as president. Unfortunately, an incorporated organization like the VTA is not legally allowed to not have a president. She has stayed on, albeit in a diminished capacity and Mark Crofts and Matt Borutski stepped up as Vice President Central and Vice President West. They have also stepped up to chair the coordinating council meetings. This has allowed Carole the opportunity to step back. 

Some of the clubs were extra active fundraising and all clubs worked hard on maintaining the trails. The clubs sent in their reports of items they wanted added to the annual report. This has been summarized below. 

From the trail near end of Granary Lake looking north west towards Fire Tower mountain. Andy Penikett


The Group of Seven Lake Superior Trail (affectionately called the G7 Trail) cleared roughly 25kms of trail that required maintenance due to wind storms, improved wet spots along the route with puncheons, installed signage, organized guided hikes, and led another photoshoot with Take Your Seat. They held a fundraising Gala, hosted two co-op placements and completed countless other tasks including becoming incorporated.

A contest was held to pick a name for a local lookout from which Lawren Harris painted Peninsula Harbour and the Islands of Hawkins and Blondin. “Painter’s Peak” was chosen as submitted by Wendy Bell. Plans for the lookout include interpretive information and the picnic table will remain in place. Picnic Hill 

Renaming Contest Post

Casque Iles

As part of the Casque Isles ongoing wayfinding strategy, they identified the need for new Trailhead information along the trail. The Casque Iles club used $1000 from the VTA to leverage over $16000 which includes funding from Trans Canada Trail, the Townships of Schreiber and Terrace Bay, Destination Northern Ontario, and Parks Canada. All of the signage in Schreiber and the Rossport have been installed and 18 new trailhead installations were planned for by end of September 2020.

Lake Superior magazine featured the trails within the NMCA’s catchment area with a 6-page center spread. The VTA partnered in this project to have trails within the NMCA acknowledged as VTA trails in the magazine with $500 which helped leverage further funds from Superior Country, local communities and Parks Canada. 

Over the winter of 2019-2020 the Casque Isles was approached by Superior Country to create and market a series of promotional videos geared towards the Casque Isles. Using $250 of their fundraising dollars, they were able to leverage over $7000 of funds from Superior Country, Superior North CFDC, all three communities along the trail and Parks Canada.

The 3-minute video is available at

and at

Campsite development has begun on the Casque Isles, 2 sites along Lake Superior have already been developed and 6 more are in the plans for this summer. All campsites will have a bear box for food storage, a fire ring, a picnic table and a privy (Thunderbox) installed at each location. All funding for material for this project was obtained through an environmental grant which was applied for by the Casque Iles club.

Thanks to support from the VTA Executive the Casque Isles was able to secure a Raffle Licence with the AGCO in Ontario. In the summer of 2019, they had a 50/50 that raised $1450 for the Club. In January of 2020 they entered into a partnership with the local Figure Skating Club to have a Chase the Ace draw, which raised another $1700 for the Club. These funds have enabled them to have funds to leverage partnerships that were not available before. After the COVID crisis is over they plan to have another Chase the Ace partnership and other draws in the future.

Firepit on the Casque Iles Trail


Participation in weekend outings were steady, but down from the 1990’s. Participation in other less formal hiking groups seems to be growing. These groups use the Voyageur Trail infrastructure on a more spontaneous/flexible basis (weekdays). The shortage of certified hike leaders has made it difficult to generate a robust event schedule but at least one outing was planned every month. These outing included diverse activities including snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, kayaking, voyageur canoeing and hiking.

The annual dinner in April showcased a travelogue by Kim and Connor Mihell "Canoeing Ungava"  had 80 members and friends attend. This is by far the most attended event hosted by the Saulteaux club.

The Saulteaux Hiking Club and the Voyageur Trail had a booth at the 2nd annual Hiawatha Trails Festival where several hundred people attended the event about all things trails in Sault Ste. Marie.

The new VTA website has been revamped, now includes Saulteaux news on a “blog” at

Trail rehabilitation continues in the Robertson Cliffs area in partnership with the Algoma Highlands Conservancy. Some old trails have been closed/rehabilitated, new way finding signs installed, and new trail opened on routes less prone to erosion.

Around the holidays last year, the trees immediately north of Sault Ste. Marie suffered from freezing rain, unseasonably warm temperatures and a substantial load of snow, followed by some high winds making hiking on the trails in the area a safety concern. Trail crews worked hard at making the trails safe to hike again over the next month as this is in a high use area.

Outing up Griffon Peak Sept 2019

Coureurs de Bois

In March 2019 the Coureurs de Bois again volunteered for the local Winterfest event in Elliot Lake. There were 75 participants who snowshoed out to Horne Island for hot chocolate and hot dogs. Participation was up from 2018. Hikes continued to be led 4 days a week over the summer, fall and winter. 

In the summer a few club members were involved in marking a local Interpretive trail. It is a short 15 -20-minute hike from the Firetower, a prominent lookout in city. Two students helped out. The hike highlights various flora and points of interest along the way. 

As usual various trails have been cleared and maintained. Many thanks to the volunteers for their time and energy. In November a new executive was elected who started in January of 2019.

They were able to help out at the annual Winterfest in March of 2020 again with even more participants and they had a visit from the special Olympic team that raced out and back and embarrassed the "pros" leading the way.

There were still groups of 10 - 20 hikers, 4 days a week... till Covid hit..

And that, my friends, says it all. COVID19 has changed many things since March but hiking the trails has increased with people trying to do something that is considered safe. Organized hikes are still happening, but with fewer participants and more social distancing. There is hope that things will begin to return to normal soon but it may take some time. 

Be safe, stay healthy, enjoy the trails with respect for all the users out there.

Coureur De Bois Hike March 2020