BIDWELL— A crack trail maintenance crew from Wikwemikong stepped up to assist the Manitoulin Tourism Association (MTA) to maintain and refurbish the Cup and Saucer Trail, helping to tidy up Mother Nature’s winter sojourn and improve safety and aesthetics along the trail.
“We had a meeting with Shelba (Millette, manager of the MTA) and learned of their need for assistance with trail maintenance,” said Wikwemikong Tourism Manager Luke Wassegijig. “As an avid hiker myself I have visited the Cup and Saucer and seen first hand some of the things that needed addressing.”
“I am more than grateful to have Wikwemikong Tourism step in and help the MTA with the maintenance of the existing Cup and Saucer Trail,” said Ms. Millette in a press release. “We are very lucky to have the offer of such highly qualified development and assessment ‘trail building’ professionals take on this ambitious task in order to bring the trail up to the basic standards that are expected of such an internationally sought after natural environment asset.”
Mr. Wassegijig explained that the Wikwemikong team is comprised of six highly experienced hands. “All six of our guys have a lot of trail experience,” he said. “Some have five years working on not only our own trail system in Wikwemikong and Pointe Grondine, but have also worked with a number of other First Nations across the province to develop their trails.”
Mr. Wassegijig said that Wikwemikong recognizes the importance of the Cup and Saucer Trail system to all of the Island communities. “They work with volunteers and we are fortunate to have a crew that can help provide assistance,” said Mr. Wassegijig. “We are not going to change the world overnight, but there is a need that needs to be addressed.”
“The Island is extremely fortunate to have three private land owners allow for us to ‘freely’ use their land so we can have access to the Cup and Saucer Trail,” said Ms. Millette in the release. “For many years now, the Cup and Saucer Trail, as a natural wonder, has put Manitoulin on the ‘Canadian Destination Map.’ The truth being, this trail is a significant proportion of Manitoulin’s natural tourism assets and it is a vital drawing card that we must respectfully take care of. The selfless generosity shown by these private landowners is in itself reflective of our Island culture as a whole; the idea that we live on an island where neighbours still work with and help one another just because they can, sets us apart from many other world-wide ‘cultural tourism destinations.’ Tourists often comment on how friendly and genuinely kind hearted Island people are. They say they love it here for both the Island’s ‘untouched’ natural beauty as well as for the solace they find in being part of our everyday ‘times gone by or, communal’ and soothing way of life. There’s no doubt, Manitoulin Island is extraordinary and when we come together to help one another maintain trails, host community events, hold a church bake sale, or whatever it may be, we simply solidify to the rest of the world who we are as Islanders whereby, naturally attracting tourists who appreciate all we have to offer—collectively.”
“Wikwemikong tourism understands the importance of having a quality product for our visitors to enjoy, our trail team is pleased to assist the MTA with the maintenance of this important natural asset,” Mr. Wassegijig is quoted in the MTA release. “Wikwemikong Tourism has developed several quality user experience hiking trails including the Bebabmikawe Memorial Trail as well as several other development projects with Sheshegwaning and First Nations across the province. Our most recent initiative, the Point Grondine Park, will be opening this July with over 21 km of hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Please visit www.grondinepark.com for more information.”
“Just as the hiking trail land owners do, Luke too understands how the whole Island benefits from having the use of the Cup and Saucer Trail and the need to respect it,” said Ms. Millette. “I look forward to partnering with Wikwemikong Tourism on many more and larger scale tourism projects that will benefit everyone, residents and tourists alike; economically, socially and politically.”
Mr. Wassegijig agreed that Wikwemikong Tourism is willing to look into “long term” partnerships to assist with risk management on the trail, including assessing grades and how the trail can be made safer for tourists.
“We are happy to help out,” he said.
“Thank you, miigwetch to Wikwemikong for reaching out and helping the MTA when we really needed a friendly hand up,” concluded Ms. Millette. “When you hike the Cup and Saucer Trail this summer, remember who of their own volition offered and fixed it up for all of us to enjoy.”