The first official IMBA Canada Trail Care Crew school was with the St. Lawrence Islands National Park. Attendees consisted of twenty-nine diverse individuals representing national parks, volunteer stewards, hikers, cyclists, equestrians, skiers and snowshoers. We even had a paddler present. Our “conference room” at Craiger’s Resort came equipped with a full wet bar and a disco ball though we were unable to incorporate these into the presentation.

Our first lecture went smoothly and everyone was excited to proceed outdoors for some practical experience. We split into two groups so that those who were only able to attend the first day could practice some building techniques. The task chosen was a small bench cut demonstration on existing trail.

On the second day rain threatened to cancel the proceedings. Eight hardy workers arrived and we collectively decided that everyone wanted to carry on as planned. The tree canopy actually protected us very well and the lower temperature was welcomed after days of exhausting heat. A few hours were spent on an armouring demonstration where high water flow on a steep section of trail created a threat of erosion. A small trail reroute was planned to avoid even steeper slopes and to provide hikers with better views of trees and water. Being a national park, there will be some steps that need to be taken before the new route can be established and the old one closed. The overall benefit to the users will be well worth it and we desperately hope it gets approved.

Our week at St. Lawrence Islands was a success. Staff that we worked with from Parks Canada embraced our way of thinking about trail design and the volunteers have a new respect for the work required to produce quality trail.

Paul Bruneau from Parks Canada and his wife Shannon were our hosts in Kemptville and we couldn’t get enough of their hospitality. We owe them so much.