Bodi Delgrosse would choose a forest over a desk any day so it was a definite yes when his college classmate, Adrian Vaillancourt, asked him, in the spring of 2018, if he wanted a summer job working on the Wakefield trails.
“I first got connected working in Wakefield Trails at a school in Aylmer, a welding school. I met a man named Adrian. He asked me if I wanted a job this summer and I said ‘Ya, sure!’. It was good. I worked with him all summer there…we did a lot of hard work.”
This summer, Bodi’s back at it, but working solo without his friend and workmate to keep him company. In October 2018, on a beautiful fall afternoon, Adrian was headed home, riding the old highway from Gatineau back to Wakefield on his motorcycle and looking forward to the upcoming weekend when he was suddenly and tragically killed in a collision involving two other cars. As Bodi continues as a Wakefield Trail Employee, he reflects on the work he and Adrian did together.
“There’s lots of places…that me and Adrian worked on at the same time…it brings back lots of memories. I can see his work and my work too…sometimes it’d be like ‘I wish I had Adrian here to help me with this’ or something but, you know, he’s not…it just makes it a little harder….”
[Ed Note - I think we all say that]
Despite the sadness that occasionally tinges his time on the trails, Bodi is certainly an individual who fully embraces the great outdoors:
“I’m from the country so I can understand it’s important to keep a good mind about nature…if you live in the city…it’s easy to forget that you live on a green planet…if you’re constantly surrounded by cement all the time and streets and malls…it’s easy to forget what type of planet you’re on…it’s important to get back to it.”
You can hear the podcast version of our interview with Bodi by clicking the button below.
Ken Bouchard heard the call of the wild at the age of 5. His mother would rent a small chalet in the Gatineau Hills every winter and together they would explore the trails on skis. Some 70 years later, trails are still a big part of Ken’s life.
“When I was in high school I became a member of a group affiliated with the Ottawa Ski Club called the Trail Riders, maintaining the trails, building new bridges…being together with other high school kids, the friendships and the working together was what really got me interested, really more working on trails then hiking on trails. I then became quite involved with the Canadian Ski Marathon… I got right on, hand building trails….”
Although his involvement with trails goes back to his high school days, Ken’s adventures into trail building really took off after his retirement – first as co-owner of the Carmen Trail Hostel and then as a new resident of Wakefield. Known for the trail system he developed at Carmen, he was approached by Wakefield residents who were in need of creating a local trail system to stop a parcel of land in the village from being sold to a developer. That was almost 10 years ago.
“We cleaned out this park when the Hendrick family gave it to us and I saw that stream - we’ve got to build some stone stair cases here. I’d never done it. I went to New Hampshire for a course on trail building with the Appalachian Mountain Club. I took a 3-day weekend stone stair-building course and came back here and then we built those [stone stairs]. And all with volunteers.”
Find out what motivates this crazy trail guru on the newest episode of the ‘Our Trails, Our Stories’ podcast, “Ken Bouchard, Old Fart Trail Champion”:
Of note: in 2015 Ken was awarded the Order of Canada Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers for his work on a new section of the Trans Canada Trail in the Wakefield area – certainly a very fitting honour.
If you live in Wakefield, there’s a good chance you know Joan Garnett or at least, you’ve probably heard her name. Joan and her partner Norma, who passed away in 2011, moved to the area in 1967. Back then, trails were what you made when you walked thru the woods with your dog, following the call of the birds. Joan has witnessed the evolution of a community that co-exists with nature and she completely understands the importance of the preservation of that space.
“I’ve lived in Wakefield for over fifty years…You can never keep places the way that they are…It’s going to change, there’s no doubt about it…it absolutely needs the trail building and the emphasis on nature. It can’t be emphasized enough…The trails are a vital part of the whole situation. It’s simply wonderful how they’ve tried to restore and keep what nature there is around here….Wakefield has given me my life. It’s just been an amazing place for me.”
Hear the heart filled interview with Joan on the “Our Trails, Our Stories” podcast:
Is there anything better than sharing in the enthusiasm of a child as they discover the world around them? 6 year-old Julien Loiselle takes us on a Wakefield trail tour and talks about the importance of getting out into nature and the thrill of spotting a ground hog. Or maybe it was an otter? Or muskrat? Does it matter?
“Hello, I’m Julien Loiselle and I live in Wakefield, and we’re just going to show you a little tour around. We’re walking along the trail of Wakefield. I don’t know how the trails got here...I’m seeing ants, rocks. You know, I’m really into rocks…There’s more stairs coming up...We’re walking up stairs. These stairs continue for a LONG time! …I JUST SAW A GROUNDHOG!! I don’t know what it is but it might be a groundhog or something. Yup, I saw it. A beaver, or a groundhog, or otter or a muskrat….”
Do we ever find out what it is that young Julien spotted? Listen to the full, youthful podcast here:
Phoebe Miles took up running in 2010 and she just kept going . The Wakefield Trails are a big party of that story. Here are some excerpts from our conversation with her.
“I am a runner. I started when my son wanted to run that first Wakefield covered bridge run in 2010, and I had never run a race before. That was the year I turned 40 so there was definitely something about running with him and hitting a pretty big milestone….. So I went from 2010 running 5k to running 80k 8 years later. It’s become a huge part of my life…. I call it a dynamic meditation….Doing those long runs in the woods gives an opportunity for taking it slow and getting into your head and out of your head at the same time. Having a structured trail network for people to use, so that we’re not impacting tons of the forest but we have a place to go and a way to get there thru the woods is really important...It feels connected, both in body and with the things around me…connecting to something that’s bigger than me. Running on the trails, you can actually feel the earth…One of the things I do love is seeing community on the trails. It’s not like at the coffee shop or the grocery store – there’s another kind of interaction there…Having this network of community trails in Wakefield is a way for people to still go to the store and not walk on the sidewalk. Having that network in this community is pretty phenomenal.”
Listen to the full, incredibly inspiring podcast here (you might have your runners on before its over):
June 1st is InterNational Trails Day! Sentiers Wakefield Trails is celebrating by kicking off its June Fundraising Campaign. Our goal is to raise $10,000 before the end of month. Via social media and our soon to air podcast, the ‘Our Trails, Our Stories’ campaign will be sharing stories we’re busy collecting from people who have a connection to the Wakefield Trails and trails in general. Make sure to follow us on Twitter, facebook, Instagram, on our website and the podcast!
Forest trails are such an important piece of a community’s landscape and this is certainly very true in Wakefield. For the past 8 years, Sentiers Wakefield Trails, a volunteer group of outdoor enthusiasts, has worked tirelessly to create and maintain the 10 km trail system that runs in and around the village and provides easy access to the extensive Gatineau Park Trail system. Part of this trail is also a part of the Trans Canada Trail, also known as The Great Trail.
We receive partial funding from the municipality but we greatly depend on donations from the public. Funds raised go towards:
Every donation gets a charitable tax receipt which will come in handy when you’re filing your taxes. And this year, we also have some great give-aways, provided by some wonderful local businesses – if you donate, you’re entered in the raffle! More info to come!
Happy InterNational Trails Day!!