Cheryl Duke - Head Office Volunteer talks about her volunteer role
Don McIlraith - President of the Peninsula Bruce Trail Club talks about volunteering as a Land Steward.
Beaver Valley BTC - Jack Morgan
by Ross McLean
Ever since the Bruce Trail was founded, the dream had been to extend the footpath into the Upper Beaver Valley. Twice efforts were made to gain the necessary agreements but each failed. Then in the past few years a concerted effort under the direction of Jack Morgan was successful. Although a team effort, the credit must go primarily to Jack for all his talents in bringing about this achievement.
In 1970 Jack and his wife had moved to Meaford. A career in education left little time to become active with the Bruce Trail but he promised that when he retired he would become involved. Bruce Calvert has to be given credit; he remembered Jack's promise and shortly after he retired, the call was made and Jack joined the Beaver Valley team.
In 1999 Jack was the Beaver Valley BTA rep and also the BTA vice-president. During that tenure he worked on the Strategic Plan and helped to put together the Land Securement concept, then marketed as the "Realize The Dream" program. The goal was a secured Trail by 2015.
After a stint as Beaver Valley club president, Jack assumed the role of Land Securement and Trail Development Director. No other club has such an executive position, but under Jack's leadership it led to a remarkable number of property acquisitions and trail reroutes. With the ongoing dream of what was then called "The Upper Beaver Valley Extension", as Jack said, "it made sense to create the position."
The first step was to contact landowners. Although there were some additional land acquisitions along the proposed route, the real success was in obtaining handshake agreements. In a day when only a minority of clubs has success in pursuing new agreements, Jack was able to achieve a remarkable 15 new handshakes. This success was a testimonial to the credibility which the Club had built within its community and especially to Jack's remarkable people skills: he is "a tough man to whom to say no!"
Next came the physical work of building the Trail. Roberta Avery has written that as you walk the route, "you get a sense of all the work that went into developing the trail." Jack tells the stories of those work parties: "Having acquired the access to the optimum route, the real work began.... Hundreds of volunteers picked up chainsaws, branch loppers and shovels and headed out into the woods to create a trail." Again it was Jack's organizational skills that put these teams together.
At the 2009 BTC AGM, Jack accepted on behalf of the Beaver Valley BTC the Tom East Award for the year's most significant contribution to the achievement of the optimum route. At 31 km in length, it was a major addition. Roberta Avery proclaims, "What an extraordinary gift the members of the Beaver Valley chapter of the Bruce Trail Conservancy have given outdoor enthusiasts like myself by building this trail."
The Beaver Valley Club is one that I have always admired. It has tremendous support within its community; founder Keith Solomon is still fondly remembered. People such as Bruce Calvert have done so much to strengthen that bond. Their esprit de corps is contagious and their volunteer support exemplary. But it is the leadership of people like Jack which is so essential to this success.
Jack's plans for the Club have not finished. Although the funds for more acquisitions are at this time somewhat limited, he continues to look at options and is already thinking of possible side trails in 2010.
But it is the achievement of the Falling Water Trail for which Jack will be most remembered. As Roberta Avery says, "Thanks to the efforts of local volunteers who have made access to this wonderful trail possible ....All that hard work and years of planning and scheming have resulted in what must be one of the best hikes in Ontario." Without Jack's leadership, that dream would never have become a reality.