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.