Kevin Gavin, Rebecca Watts and Ryan Regehr prepare to set out on the Grand Portage, a Hudson’s Bay Company initiative and cross-country fundraiser trip benefitting the Trans Canada Trail system. Tim Collins/Victoria News

Trans-Canada Trail system getting a boost from Grand Portage initiative

HBC fundraising venture shoves off from Victoria Inner Harbour

Tim Collins/Victoria News

Three intrepid travelers have begun a journey that will, for the next 66 days, see them raise funds to connect the remaining 2,200 kilometres of the Great Trail, more commonly known as the Trans Canada Trail.

Ryan Regehr, Kevin Gavin, and Rebecca Watts responded to an on-line invitation to undertake the Grand Portage and, having been chosen by organizers, set off from Victoria’s Inner Harbour amidst the cheers of well wishers and an honour guard flotilla of local canoes and dragon boats.

“This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for; to send our adventurers off in exploration of our vast, beautiful country along the Great Trail. It’s a terrific cause,” said Alison Coville, president of Hudson’s Bay Company, during the official kickoff last week.

The Grand Portage is an HBC initiative, in partnership with the non-profit Trans Canada Trail Foundation and supported by Cadillac Fairview shopping centres across the country. Hudson’s Bay wants to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial by raising more than $1 million to help complete the final connections of the trail, a concept 25 years in the making.

In Greater Victoria, the TCT begins at Clover Point and travels along Dallas Road to the Galloping Goose Trail. A regional gap exists in the trail between Langford and a point near the south end of Shawnigan Lake.

The wayfarers headed to Vancouver upon leaving Victoria and will hit eight other large urban centres, stopping at flagship Hudson’s Bay locations along the way. Their journey will end in Ottawa on Aug. 26.

Regehr was barely able to contain his excitement as the threesome set off from Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

“I’m really thrilled to be a part of this adventure. It gives us a chance to paddle, and hike, and drive across the country, showcasing Canada and all the great things about our country along the way,” he said. “And this 16-foot HBC canoe is the most beautiful canoe I’ve ever seen,” he added with a beaming smile.

The immersive experience at each of the group’s stops will include a Great Trail scavenger hunt, a social media booth featuring a Hudson’s Bay iconic striped canoe, a fundraising wishing well and a screening lounge, which will highlight sections of The Great Trail. At the centre of each stop along the way will be a rustic, wooden cabin that will serve as a pop-up retail space selling HBC’s Grand Portage collection.

More information on the initiative and how to donate can be found at thegreattrail.ca.

editor@vicnews.com