BY GARY MAY
Living in one of Ontario’s waterfront communities is all about enjoying the out-of-doors. And that’s just what Peter Delanty was doing last year when he hopped on his bicycle and pedalled 720 kilometres along the Waterfront Trail that hugs the shoreline of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
Delanty, who is also the mayor of Cobourg, wishes time allowed him to do it all over again this year. He’d love to join the 250 cyclists when they take off from Fort George at Niagara-on-the-Lake on July 3 in the third annual Great Waterfront Trail Adventure. The eight-day 2010 event ends on July 10 in Rivière Beaudette, just over the Ontario-Quebec border in La Belle Province.
The Great Adventure is a project of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, which promotes regeneration and the healthy, environmentally friendly use of the waterfront along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence.
Delanty was 70 when he took to the trail with his daughter, Sheilagh Goguen, for the bike ride. “It was wonderful to have a few days to just talk about everything,” he tells MyNewWaterfrontHome.com. “It was a good bonding relationship.”
The riders average 90 kilometres a day over eight days. “It was strenuous the first day, but it got better after that,” says Delanty.
Many of the riders would have their end-of-day shower, then head out to a nice restaurant for dinner. Some camped overnight, while others preferred the comfort of a bed in a nice bed-and-breakfast or hotel.
The mayor admits he learned quite a bit about Ontario’s waterfront communities from the experience.
“You travel the 401, but you never see these places. We rode beside the St. Lawrence River for three days and it made me realize what an immense and powerful river it was, so majestic. I visited communities I’d never actually seen before, places like Gananoque, Brockville and Cornwall.”
Four other riders Delanty encountered were from the Toronto area and were using the bike ride to scout out waterfront communities for their retirement.
Discover sand dunes, coastal wetlands and white pine forests
The trail runs through 41 waterfront communities and includes 182 parks and natural areas, 152 arts and culture heritage attractions, 37 major annual waterfront festivals and 170 marinas and yacht clubs.
The trail is a work in progress. So far, there are more than 700 kilometres of trail, 70 per cent of which is on residential streets and the shoulder of major roads. The other 30 per cent is off-road dedicated pathway, suitable for pedestrians and in-line skaters as well as cyclists.
A trek along the trail highlights some of the best of what Ontario’s waterfront communities have to offer. You’ll roll past sand dunes, coastal wetlands and white pine forests. You’ll encounter steep bluffs, harbours, steel mills, apple orchards, vineyards, meadows and passing freight ships. You’ll cycle through historic towns and past harbours. You’ll be treated to the sound of the lake, train whistles and birds.
While the full adventure is limited to 250 participants, you can also sign up for a special Family Day Ride set for July 4. It’s a family-friendly escorted ride from Burlington to Toronto. For others who don’t want to commit to the entire journey, this year there are two- and three-day segments, and you can always drop in to join the celebrations in each of the participating communities.
While Delanty couldn’t commit to the whole trip this year, he plans to meet up with the cyclists as they cross the Durham Region boundary into Northumberland County, and join them all the way into Cobourg. That night, the town will host the riders at Victoria Park, a beautiful facility on the shores of Lake Ontario.
The aim of the Great Adventure is to promote cycling, tourism and active living, and it’s designed for cyclists of all fitness levels. Celebrations are planned for participants in waterfront communities along the route.
The cyclists will visit vibrant communities and beautiful parks, including 12 new or improved portions of the trail that are opening this year. They’ll get a taste of local food, entertainment and history, and visit coastal wetlands, forests and beaches, as well as shops and unique local businesses.
Camp inside historic Fort George
This year at the Niagara-on-the-Lake start of the tour, cyclists will camp inside the walls of Fort George, or stay inside the fort’s barracks. One of the first-day highlights will be a tour of Grimsby’s unusual and vibrantly painted Victorian cottages.
Later in the tour, participants will see a flotilla of Tall Ships leave Toronto Harbour, admire what Cobourg has done to transform a former industrial waterfront into a picturesque people place, stand at the side of a mysterious lake perched atop a mountain near Glenora and take a Prince Edward County winery tour.
There will also be kayaking on the St. Lawrence and a visit to Prescott, which this year celebrates its 200th anniversary. At Cornwall, they’ll stop off at the Lift Off festival to watch hot-air balloonists.
Most sections of the trail are paved, while some are gravel or packed limestone.
Delanty believes the tour will encourage public support for more and better cycling facilities. “People come to understand that trails are more than a luxury,” he says.
You can register for the Great Adventure, or obtain more information, by calling 416-942-8080. You can check out prices, details and route information at the Waterfront Trail
The Waterfront Trail program is part of a broader strategy to regenerate and promote Ontario’s waterfront as a way of achieving a healthy environment and lifestyle. The first section opened in 1995, and it’s now connected to Quebec’s Route Verte cycle trail system.
MyNewWaterfrontHome.com — June 2010