A Ride Through Time

Wolfville mayor bikes 110-km trail; de­scribes cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance, eco­nomic po­ten­tial

The Queens County Advance - - ACROSS THE PROVINCE - BY LAWRENCE POW­ELL THE SPEC­TA­TOR

Jeff Cantwell drove 110 kilo­me­tres through his­tory Wed­nes­day.

The Wolfville mayor didn’t take the road. He biked from Annapolis Royal to Grand Pré along the Har­vest Moon Trail­way that he says con­nects not only two na­tional his­toric sites, but the past to the present.

Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill Mac­don­ald was at the trail­head by 9 a.m. -- near the old train sta­tion -- to wel­come Cantwell and eight other riders and send them off on their day-long cul­tural jour­ney. A few hun­dred me­tres away was Fort Anne and all around them were some of the old­est Euro­pean-set­tled com­mu­ni­ties and agri­cul­ture land in North Amer­ica.

Cantwell said that cul­tur­ally, and from a tourism and eco­nomic devel­op­ment per­spec­tive, the trail is im­por­tant.

“I see this trail, es­pe­cially for Mayor Mac­don­ald’s area from Annapolis Royal where the French ar­rived, to Grand Pré, the other Na­tional His­toric Site where they were in­terred and de­ported, is cul­tur­ally sig­nif­i­cant,” Cantwell said. “We’ve kind of in­for­mally been re­fer­ring to this as the Aca­dian Camino de San­ti­ago.”

The ref­er­ence to the Span­ish net­work of pil­grims’ ways has been made sev­eral times be­fore in re­gards to Har­vest Moon. And Cantwell can see the walk or ride through the his­toric Annapolis Val­ley as a re­flec­tive and med­i­ta­tive jour­ney.

Link­ing Com­mu­ni­ties

“I’m very ex­cited to be here this morn­ing as sort of a send off of Mayor Cantwell and all the cy­clists with him,” said Mac­don­ald Nov. 1. “As he said, this trail is re­ally im­por­tant link­ing Grand Pré and Annapolis Royal. The cit­i­zens of Wolfville and the Cit­i­zens of Annapolis Royal are great friends, but this is just an­other way to kind of link our two com­mu­ni­ties to­gether, in fact link all the com­mu­ni­ties in the Val­ley be­tween Annapolis and Grand Pré to­gether. So part of what we’re do­ing here, this morn­ing, is reen­forc­ing just how im­por­tant this de­par­ture is.”

Cantwell said that at the open­ing of the east­ern leg of the trail re­cently there was talk of mak­ing the 110-kilo­me­tre ride.

“We de­cided we were go­ing to do that ride from Annapolis Royal to Grand Pré, from one Na­tional His­toric Site to the other – and make that ride be­fore the year ended, so we chose to­day,” Cantwell said be­fore start­ing the ride Nov. 1. “Mayor Mac­don­ald caught on to that and sent me an email ‘I hear you’re com­ing down, I’d like to meet you and send you off.’ Any­way, we’re here with a crowd of us – eight of us -- to do that ride.”

It turned out there were nine, in­clud­ing Wolville’s Deputy Mayor Carl Old­ham, and Ber­wick Coun­cil­lor Mike Tri­n­acty who in his for­mer life as a pro­vin­cial em­ployee helped de­velop the trail.

In Awe

Jeff Red­den of Wind­sor rode with Cantwell in the seven-hour trip. He was in awe of the trail and de­scribed parts of it, es­pe­cially along the Annapolis River, as “ab­so­lutely stun­ning.”

He said the tran­si­tion of ter­rain from the river in Annapolis County to the pines in the Kingston area, and up through the farm lands in Kings County was im­pres­sive, the new bridges were beau­ti­ful, and for the most part it was easy pas­sage.

“The weather was won­der­ful,” he said, “a sunny day and it showed the trail re­ally, re­ally well.”

He loved how the old rail bed wound through the towns and along the farms, peat bogs, cranberry bogs, and blue­ber­ries. “It’s a Annapolis Royal Mayor Bill Mac­don­ald was at the Har­vest Moon Trail­way to greet his friend Wolfville Mayor Jeff Cantwell. The two talked about con­nect­ing com­mu­ni­ties and the sig­nif­i­cance of the trail be­fore Cantwell and eight other riders started their seven hour bike ride to Grand Pré.

beau­ti­ful show­case of the Val­ley.”

They met walk­ers, Atvers, peo­ple on horse­back. They stopped in Bridgetown. Some stopped at the Green Ele­phant in Kingston, and the riders pulled off the trail for lunch at Mike and Brenda Tri­n­acty’s home in Ber­wick.

Red­den likes the con­cept of con­nect­ing a re­gion from one end to an­other, not just recre­ation­ally, but from an eco­nomic per­spec­tive.

“It’s go­ing to at­tract peo­ple from all over the world,” he said. “This trail is giv­ing back to the Val­ley what the (High­way) 101 took away.”

He said there’s the Avon­port miss­ing link, but when that bridge is re­placed it will ex­tend the trail to Wind­sor, con­nect­ing even more com­mu­ni­ties.

Re­flec­tion

Cantwell bikes a fair bit, and when he does, he thinks about things.

“You do a lot of that when you’re on your bike for a long ride,” he said. “You tend to do a lot of re­flec­tion and think­ing about what you’re do­ing. I think it’s go­ing to help draw both of our com­mu­ni­ties (Annapolis Royal and Wolfville) more tightly to­gether and al­low peo­ple to ex­pe­ri­ence the cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance of the en­tire Val­ley area.”

He ad­mits that while he might think of snow clear­ing, traf­fic lights, and recre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties while he rides, he thinks more broadly too.

“Most of my think­ing is how can we help de­velop this area,” he said, “and when I talk about that I usu­ally talk about Wolfville in the greater scheme of things – cer­tainly Kings County if not West Hants to Annapolis.”

He be­lieves the trail’s po­ten­tial is big and agrees with Red­den that it will give back what the high­way took away. He be­lieves it can bring back new life to the Annapolis Val­ley. He said it’s im­por­tant to get peo­ple lo­cally to rec­og­nize what they have, and wel­come peo­ple to their com­mu­ni­ties.

He talked about wine tours al­ready hap­pen­ing on the trail in the bur­geon­ing wine coun­try, food fes­ti­vals such as De­vour, and all the things linked by the trail.

“We’re go­ing to ex­plode,” he said. “We go­ing to bring more peo­ple to area.”

And he de­scribed that growth as or­ganic and last­ing – like the land and its peo­ple.

The Next Day

“What a fan­tas­tic day,” Cant-

well said from his of­fice in Wolfville the next day. “To be truth­ful, it ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions.”

He de­scribed it as a no brainer for devel­op­ment, es­pe­cially trail side, with bike shops, B&BS, and other busi­nesses that could cater to the trail walk­ers and riders.

Next year he’s go­ing to do the trip again, but this time as a tourist, from Grand Pré to Annapolis

Royal but stay­ing at an inn or B&B half way. Then the next day bike the rest of the way and stay overnight in Annapolis Royal to catch the tiny town’s fa­mous Farmer’s and Trader’s Mar­ket in the morn­ing be­fore putting the bikes on the bike rack and driv­ing home.

“I bet I know two dozen peo­ple who are go­ing to do that next

year,” Cantwell said. “It’s go­ing to be huge. This thing is go­ing to help lift us up, one of those pieces in the in­fra­struc­ture, a cog, that’s go­ing to make this area just take off.”

Mayor Mac­don­ald likes that, and in the mean­time, ex­pect Annapolis Royal to de­velop its trail­head area to bet­ter ac­com­mo­date all those vis­i­tors.

LAWRENCE POW­ELL

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