Two decades ago, avid horseback riders and trail builders Dr. Sherman Olson and Bill Archibald were not only on hand for the opening of the new Trans Canada Trail, but integral in its creation.
And, although neither of them are in the saddle any longer, the two long-time Maple Ridge horsemen were on hand Sunday for an anniversary celebration and bridge dedication along part of that same trail.
In 1992, Olson and Archibald presented Canada with a gift that has kept giving for Canadians and visitors alike. They created the Ride for Canada, which spawned the Trans Canada Trail.
They dubbed the event the "Unity Ride," drawing in all provinces and territories in a coast-to-coast-to-coast celebration of community connections by trail.
This event, and subsequently the trails, were chosen to receive legacy money left over from Canada's 125th birthday celebrations. The path that was followed on that ride became known as the Trans Canada Trail (TCT).
TCT linked a series of new and existing paths, trails, and roadways together, much of it still used locally today.
Twenty years later, large sections of that trail system elsewhere in B.C. and the rest of the country have been forgotten or taken over by motorized trail users, Archibald said. But much to his pleasure, locally the TCT is still an integral part of this community's walking, cycling, and horseback riding trails.
In fact, during Sunday's twoandahalfhour, 26-kilometre-long trail ride - that went from the dikes in Maple Ridge to the Minnekhada Farm in Coquitlam - the 20 participating riders encountered countless dog walkers and cyclists on the trail, but not once did they met up with ATVers or motorbikers.
Archibald is pleased the trails have remained relatively pristine, and had some of the riders relaying information back to him via cellphone during the ride, including the spotting of blue heron and even a bear.
"I would have loved to have been there," he said, recounting the stunning scenery along the route. But that was the next best thing for the 83-year-old who was recognized last week for 49 years of volunteer service - primarily in the equestrian realm - in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Archibald, accompanied by long-time friend and equine enthusiast Olson, may not have ridden Sunday but gladly cut the ribbon during a bridge dedication.
A $140,000 "rust in place" (no painting required) bridge was installed by the municipality along the 136th Avenue road allowance at 216th Street, and the elderly equine enthusiasts were there to celebrate the bridge and to recount how the first one came to be built 30 years earlier by Chris Muller and Syd Vernon, and maintained by Fred Kvaas through the years.
That original bridge was condemned a year ago, Archibald said.
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