History of the VTA
On March 26, 1973 the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the City of Sault Ste. Marie, Harold A. Brain, convened a meeting at the Community Services Boards Offices, then located in the Sault Memorial Gardens for "persons interested in establishing a hiking trail along the precipice of the Cambrian Shield" from Gros Cap on Lake Superior to Hiawatha Park, just north of Sault Ste. Marie. One of those in attendance, Dr. Paul D. Syme, a Sault Ste. Maire research scientist and member of the Bruce Trail Association, immediately saw the possibility of extending this concept eastward towards Southern Ontario's Bruce Trail.
Over the summer of 1973, members busied themselves learning the skills needed to build trails and on October 24, 1973, the name "Voyageur Trail Association" was chosen and the decision was taken to follow the Bruce Trail model of dividing the trail into sections and assigning responsibility for trail building, maintenance, public hikes, etc. to local Voyageur Trail Clubs.
Donald T. Myren and committee were recruited to draft a Constitution and by the next meeting, November 15, 1973 in the library of the Great Lakes Forestry Centre, Don Myren and Dieter Ropke had a draft Constitution to present. On this basis, an interim Executive was installed (President, Paul Syme; Vice-President, Ralph Yanni; Treasurer, Ralph Wood). Ian Morrison acted as secretary at this meeting and was elected Secretary shortly thereafter.
On July 3, 1974, the Association was formally chartered as a Corporation Without Share Capital.
The design used by the Association for its trail markers goes back to 1974, when, at a meeting on May 6, resolutions were passed defining the form "being an arrow pointed upwards surrounded by the words Voyageur Trail" and colour (blue on yellow) of trail markers.
The now almost extinct, Rainbow Section near Espanola, was the first hikable Voyageur Trail Section in 1973 (and even before!). In 1974, George Morrison (a teacher in Espanola) invited guests to hike the trail which became the first organized outing on the Voyageur Trail.
The Saulteaux was the first Voyageur Trail Club established in 1974. The Saulteaux Section opened on September 21, 1975 and the Desbarats Section opened next on November 6, 1976. Thessalon Section opened in 1978 followed by the Echo Ridges Section in 1980.
The Voyageur Trail News (newsletter) was first published on January 15, 1975.
The Thunderbird logo (at top of this page) was designed in 1975 by Janet Clark of Wawa at the request of Paul Syme, who asked her to incorporate the thunderbird and a V and T. The thunderbird is an adaptation of one of the Pictographs on Agawa Rock in Lake Superior Provincial Park.
The Voyageur Trail Association remains today as a trail building and maintenance organization to a trail building-and-hiking organization with several public outings held throughout the year in various clubs. We will always remember our founding fathers and thank them for their pioneering efforts. If we continue to exhibit the same dedication of these first few, we can expand the Voyageur Trail Association and hopefully someday achieve the dream of a continuous trail from Thunder Bay to Sudbury to join with trails in the south part of the province!