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Celebration of Millennium Trail honours its vital contributor and all volunteers

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
At almost 50 kilometres in length and with 30 entry points, the rehabilitation of Prince Edward County’s Millennium Trail – to transform it from a rough, abandoned railbed to multi-use recreational – took vision, perseverance and hard work, as well as partners and a whole lot of dedicated volunteers.

But there is one person synonymous with the trail, someone who stands above the crowd and he was recognized Thursday for his huge role in making the Millennium Trail what it is today.

“We have several volunteers in our organization to thank for the trail’s completion. First and foremost, the late Barry Davidson was instrumental in its completion,” said Rob Legge, PEC Trails committee board member (and County famous world cycling champion). “Barry’s partner, Liz Brown, told us the trail was Barry’s favourite project – he had many. One of the things that I thought was really neat, was he drove a large roller and navigated the entire trail in restoration,” added Legge.

The  event was received by a small gathering of trail users, volunteers, donors, ambassadors and supporters in what was described as a ‘long overdue’ celebration acknowledging the revitalization of the Millennium Trail so many residents and visitors enjoy year-round.

Shared was some history and facts about the trail, progress made to date, and a little on what’s yet to come.

While the mood at the Wellington and District Community Centre was a celebratory one, aimed at acknowledging achievements and volunteer effort by so many over several years, it was also a bittersweet knowing the trail’s quiet, yet giant contributor wasn’t there to enjoy the moment, at least not physically, as Barry Davidson died April 4, at age 85.

Hosted by the PEC Trails committee, the afternoon began with an optional short walk or cycle along the trail from the nearby Belleville Street intersection, as a few participants headed eastward, either walking or riding, before things inside got underway.

Barry Davidson leading volunteers in how to prune trees. (Millennium Trail photo)

“I remember riding the trail in the early 2000s on my mountain bike from Bloomfield to Wellington, and the rocks were just huge: today, unbelievable, I can ride my thin-tire road bike on the trail and it’s just great,” said Legge. “Today, everyone enjoys the trail, from walkers to cyclists, ATVers, dog walkers, and in the wintertime, snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, fat-tire bike riders, and others.”

Legge acknowledged gratitude to all those individuals who helped with the trail’s restoration.

“To the many donors, your contribution made it happen, to the current trail ambassadors and volunteers, thank you for being on and supporting the trail,” said Legge. “I also really wanted to thank the County for their support and they have certainly been instrumental in keeping it well-maintained and we look forward in the future to good things on the trail.”

Volunteers at the official start of the upgrades in 2018.


The afternoon was also about all the volunteers and the donors, helping make the trail the way it is today, added Gregor Stuart, chair of PEC Trails. He also thanked the ATV and snowmobile club, indicating how they were part of the original group that got the trail launched, and “I believe they were actually using it before it was called the Millennium Trail”.

“Everyone here has contributed and I have a very simple message: I thank the volunteers and the ambassadors who have made the trail what it is today, including the clearing and the maintenance; thank you, thank you for your time, thank you for your donations, thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to the future.”

He said donors help pay for some of the enhancements for the trail, such as the new kiosks at Salem Road in Consecon, and at White Chapel Road, where public dedications for both are expected in the coming months.

Millennium Trail launch are to be modelled after the facility in Wellington. (Millennium Trail photo)

He said three kiosks have been built at rest areas, which are a great asset to the trail, all built by volunteers with money donated going toward buying materials, although sometimes materials are donated. Groups such as the County Garden Club and the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists have further enhanced the rest areas with native plantings.

“We do this as a partnership. We can’t do this alone,” he added.

Salem Road pollinator garden beside the Millennium Trail.

There is also space along the trail for additional kiosks, he said, adding that the committee will be mounting signage to connect the trail to make it safer, especially where the road crossings are.

Speaking to the signage installed along the trail, Stuart said mileage markers were put up (sponsored by community members) as well as interpretive signs, something they hope to enhance going forward.

“Then potentially, there are other trails that we can create and connect to, so that is the focus of the PEC Trails committee and volunteers. We look forward to moving into the future, but keeping the focus on that as we move through the short-term.”

He said as the trail was completed, they switched from building to maintaining and “everybody thinks that it is easy to maintain, but it can actually be more time consuming.”

Stuart explained how the PEC Trails committee acts as a conduit between the physical trail and the volunteers and ambassadors and council.

“We are always walking a fine line between the day-to-day stuff, pot holes, motorcycles on the trail, but also looking forward,” he said. “Even though we’ve completed the trail, we need more opportunities to expand it and that’s why it’s called the PEC Trails committee, and not the Millennium Trails committee, and that was all part and parcel of Barry’s longer term vision that we didn’t limit it to just the Millennium Trail.”

Stuart described Davidson as “the father of the trail”.

“It’s sad of his passing, but he has left quite a legacy. I think he has also shown us as a group, as volunteers, as sponsors and donors, what we can accomplish.”

He said the trail was just a grassy mound that went through the County when Davidson first starting working on the trail.

“It’s now 46 kilometres of nice gravelled surface, you can ride your bikes on it and you don’t have to worry about big rocks, it’s flat, it’s well-maintained and that was Barry’s vision,” Stuart said. “But it was not done by one person, it was done by all the volunteers, and there is always things to do with the trail and every year we want to make it better, so we will continue to rely on volunteers and donors and the County for that.”

County Mayor Steve Ferguson spoke to the work of the project volunteers, as well as the many who have championed over the years, calling it an “extraordinary achievement”.

“The Millennium Trail is absolutely a joy, and everybody in this room should be extremely proud of everything that has gone into its rehabilitation,” Ferguson said.

He noted how the project was a collaboration between the trails committee, the municipality and grant funding that raised just shy of $600,000 to rehabilitate it, where work began in 2017.

“The mandate at the time was to make it accessible and useable and that is certainly the case, and it is one of the jewels of Prince Edward County and one of our greatest amenities.”

Barry Davidson

PEC Trails volunteer and snowmobiler Ron Waslenko, also spoke to Davidson’s tireless efforts of always showing up for shift after shift as he worked alongside him in the last two years under his instruction.

“That trail should bear ‘Barry Davidson Millennium Trail’. He deserves it, he earned it,” said Waslenko… That trail is a labour that he put his life blood into.”

Pat Maloney, past president with PEC Trails also spoke to Davidson, saying he was “probably the heart and soul of the trail” and he always woke up with a new project on his mind.

“He had the magical ability to attract other people to bring his ideas to life, and Barry always saw things through. He saw what needed to be done, and he did it. He was quiet, humble, and not afraid to work for the betterment of the community.”

Stuart noted how the trail is going to be going through some changes in Wellington, and the trails committee is already working with the County to ensure a smooth transition as work continues for water infrastructure in Wellington.

“We want to make sure that the integrity of the trail is brought back once all this work is done,” Stuart said. “It is important, and we will work with the County and they assure us that is the intent, so you can count on us to stay on top of it.”

Attendees at the event received a raffle ticket for draws on many donated prizes, on a first-come, first-choose basis, and there were so many prizes that almost no one went home empty handed.

Among the prize selections donated by County businesses were gift certificates for books, a coffee shop, a bakery, winery tastings, even a writing consultation, along with a bicycle. Three lucky winners got to take home a cycling jacket donated by Davidson.

For anyone interested in volunteering to help with PEC Trails’ work (they are always in need of volunteers), visit


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  1. Rob Legge says:

    Hi Sharon and Countylive:

    Thanks for writing a great article on the event.

    I hope everyone takes advantage of the Millennium Trail, however you can!


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