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Volunteers wanted to help improve and highlight historic Loyalist Parkway

The elegant eastern gates of the Loyalist Parkway were opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1984 near Amherstview with a large crowd in attendance. Later Western gate was built near Trenton. Donald McClure photo

As many Loyalist Parkway Association members reach their 80s, the group is seeking younger, more energetic volunteers to help improve and highlight the historic highway.

The association works to keep the highway – extending from Trenton to Amherstview – focused on maintaining its historic integrity and promoting the natural environment.

“LPA has provided a special asset for tourism in the Quinte region,” said Ted Davie, association chairman. “Now there is an urgency to attract more energetic people to maintain the Loyalist Parkway as major force in protecting the splendour and beauty of our surroundings. We also want to encourage homeowners and business leaders to utilize more native vegetation in keeping with our historic environment, protect significant trees and bring uniformity to highway signage.”

Travellers along the Loyalist Parkway (also known as Hwy 33) marvel at the beauty of the Lake Ontario shoreline, wonder about some of the historic features, pass through interesting communities, and note the entrance gates at Trenton, and the Queen Elizabeth dedicated limestone gates in Amherstview.

The association hopes to find people who have ideas on how the stretch can be improved, or features highlighted.

The Loyalist Parkway Association (LPA) is a volunteer group working with the MTO and providing advice to municipal governments, while trying to make improvements. Currently the members meet twice a year in various communities along the parkway but remains active between meetings.

In 1984, the Province of Ontario implemented the Master Plan for the parkway, named to honour the determined people who gave up their established lives in the US to find freedom along the shores of Lake Ontario following the American Revolution in 1776.

Davie explained it created the Loyalist Parkway Group of Advisors, supported by the Ontario government, which put in motion a system to advise municipal governments on the best way to meet both current needs and protect the principles that established the parkway.

The approved Loyalist Parkway residential signs are black and white and made of aluminum. Signs with gold and blue are reserved for official ministry use.

“In 1999, the group was reformed as the Loyalist Parkway Association with provincial support cut. That left the parkway unfunded so a proposal was submitted requesting the involvement and modest financial support from the four municipalities: Loyalist Township, Greater Napanee, Prince Edward County and Quinte West through which the Parkway runs. That MOU among the municipalities and some interested and dedicated citizens is the Loyalist Parkway Association.”

Its mandate is to prevent the parkway from becoming just another highway by co-ordinating long-term planning to attract travellers to the parkway benefitting the entire region and preserving and enhancing nationally significant heritage and the scenic qualities of the region.

“Looking back, it is easy to imagine how impressed Loyalist settlers must have been to see the rich potential of the fertile lands which today form the Loyalist Highway running along the perimeter of Lake Ontario from Kingston to Trenton,” said Davie. “The evidence of their trust and hard work remains in the historic buildings, abundant fields, and native trees which remain as a tribute to their fortitude. Driving along this beautiful highway today we can be impressed by the legacy of modern industry and cultural growth amid the historical evidence which remains from its earlier beginnings.”

Between the east and west gates there are more than three dozen commemorative plaques detailing everything from Sir John A. MacDonald’s family home (at Glenora by the ferry docks) to the British corvette Royal George which was attacked by seven American ships during the War of 1812 and escaped to find safety in Kingston Harbour.

Among the many attractions available to the traveller today are parks and parkettes in the communities of Carrying Place, Ameliasburgh, Hillier, Wellington, Picton, Glenora, Adolphustown, Lennox Power Station and Bath, including roadside parks along the Lakeshore and at the Eastern Gates at the Fairfield-White House.

One of the popular highlights for many people is the ferry ride between Glenora to Adolphustown with its splendid views, free of charge.

To the west is the unique shopping experiences of Picton, Bloomfield (founded in1799) and Wellington with access to atmosphere provided by the outstanding display of 19th century buildings. All are located only a few kilometres from Sandbanks Provincial Park with its world-class sand dunes and sparkling beaches. To the east are all the treasures in historic Bath. The burgeoning wine industry along the Parkway has created new opportunities for tourism.

“A main conduit for progress and change in our region is the Loyalist Parkway with its access to all these opportunities,” said Davie. “And perhaps the association’s most popular function is the production of an annual Heritage Guide Map which details the most important attractions along the route between Trenton to Kingston. Included in the guide of historic sights are photographs and descriptions of homes, public buildings and cultural features which makes this drive an outstanding insight into Canada’s early beginnings.”

Another dedicated program under way by the association is to preserve the trees along the parkway.

“The LPA offers to plant a native tree on property along the parkway either as a replacement for lost trees or to improve the appearance of the setting. People who have seldom seen a native oak or sugar maple in autumn colour will be in for an eye-catching treat.”

Recently the association took a direct interest in improving landscaping at the roundabout between Picton and Bloomfield, the planting of trees along the Parkway, the placement of plaques along the Sir John A. MacDonald Trail, looking after the landscaping at both the eastern and western gates plus supporting a garden in Bath on the parkway.

“We also have tried to encourage the use of regulated signage along the parkway, as stipulated in the original parkway mandate, and promoting residential Loyalist address signs at an economical cost.”

The Association supports Canada Day festivities in Bath, and was involved in the opening of the new parkette near the Lennox Hydro station. Last year it was a participant in the first Two Days About Yesterday Show held in Wellington. In recent months the association has advised on The Sir John A. MacDonald project, the Lennox Park creation, the Napanee Generating Station plant, eastern gate and western gate maintenance and many other issues.

“More can be done to explore bicycling and hiking opportunities, business improvement opportunities and other exciting issues along the parkway,” said Davie.

Davie and others have worked diligently meeting with planners, developers and local governments to give the association a meaningful voice in keeping its aims front and centre in the proceedings.

Former chairman, Court Noxon designed the Loyalist Parkway emblem and the western gate near Trenton and was prominent in sign control, highway wildflower displays and many other issues.

John Ellis, of Royal Military College, a long-time Loyalist Parkway Association member, left the group a grant in his name to benefit the association. Honey King donated funds from her successful Adventure shows to the work of the Association.

“The success of the Loyalist Parkway Association in fulfilling its mandate can be linked directly to the interest and dedication of the volunteers,” said Davie. “However, almost all the LPA volunteers are approaching 80 and new, younger volunteers are required to keep this very worthwhile organization active.”

Anyone interested in joining should send their names to Ted Davie (teddavie@xplornet.ca) along with a brief note on background and experience and why the idea of becoming a participant appeals to you.

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