Breathing New Life Into Historic Trail

The Dewdney Trail is 720 km of historic trail that served as a major thoroughfare in mid-19th century of the province. The trail was a critical factor in the development and strengthening of the newly established British Colony of British Columbia, connecting mining camps and small towns that were establishing along the route during the gold rush era prior to the colony’s joining Canadian Confederation in 1871. The route became necessary, if not downright urgent, due to the abundance of new gold finds cropping up along the US border more easily accessed from the Washington Territory than via any practicable route from the barely settled parts of the new British Colony.

Today, older than the nation itself, the long-traveled trail is in need of protection and preservation to ensure that it’s place in our history is not lost.

Preserving the Dewdney Trail and establishing it in its rightful place in Canadian prominence has long been a passion for Rossland’s Richie Mann and Graham Jones.

Halfway through its 150th year, the Dewdney Trail is due for some much-needed TLC. Mann and Jones, along with a group of concerned folk; from hikers to horsemen and historians have come together as the Dewdney Trail Heritage Society.

“We are feeling pretty good now that we sent off our forms and constitution to be registered as a society,” Mann told the Trail Times. “Things are coming together and we are feeling positive. And we are hoping to get the word province-wide, that is the goal.”

The trail has been maintained for the past several decades by the Trail Horseman’s Society and Boundary Stockhorse Association. Between their consistent travels and those of hikers and horseback riders, the route continued to be clear of brush and overgrowth until about 10 years ago. As the numbers diminished among the Society and Association, with members aging and moving on; and the growing popularity of motorized sport, a toll has been taken on the previous pristine condition of the trail. Damage has been sustained to the steeper terrain, and areas that are deeply gouged require more than simply manpower – repair will involve materials such as aggregates.

While the Ministry of Forests will listen to individual concerns, Jones says that they are far more inclined towards action if the Ministry is dealing with an organization with a concise vision and plan.

“Bringing all these people together with different backgrounds, knowledge and experience we get this collaboration of abilities and enthusiasm to get this done,” said Jones. “This is how we can have our input with support, materials, and whatever those aspects might be.”

Read more about the efforts of the Dewdney Trail Heritage Society HERE.