© Mary MacKay
Olivia Ford, program coordinator for go!PEI, is on Great George Street in Charlottetown, which is one of the many historic sites, trails and tours included in the Heritage Trail Passport program for 2014.
Heritage is go!PEI’s passport to increased fitness and better health in the coming year.
As part of a go!PEI Club 2014 signature event, the Heritage Trail Passport program encourages people of all ages and fitness levels to explore the heritage trails, sites and roads and the living history of Prince Edward Island, whether it be on foot, snowshoe, ski or bike.
The Heritage Trail Passport, which is being presented in conjunction with the 150th celebration of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference, includes an online interactive fitness-tracking component along with an extensive Island-wide trail directory.
“For the Heritage Trail Passport we have over 40 trails identified across the Island and six different activities that you can do as a family: municipal, provincial, and national parks, beaches, heritage site or road, woodlots and the Confederation Trail,” says Olivia Ford, program coordinator for go!PEI.
“We wanted to make it available for every Islander - no matter their income or location.”
With go!PEI’s new interactive webpage (www.gopei.ca) people can track their activity minutes, as well as accept challenges, such as the Heritage Trail Passport.
“The great thing about the new (club) web page that we have is you can make teams and work together to reach goals.” says Ford.
“It encourages accountability and I think being able to see your minutes and seeing them go up is an encouragement, knowing that you’ve set those goals and you’re reaching them.”
To plan your passport itinerary first register as a user and login then, click on the Start Your Passport banner on the Heritage Trail Passport section of go!PEI’s webpage to choose a trail near you or pick one to which you’d like to travel and specially explore.
Each of the trails listed in this online directory includes a map, GPS coordinates and a brief synopsis of its historical significance in P.E.I.’s past and a description of its natural features.
For example, for the 6.5-km Breadalbane Nature Trail, the content reads: “Settlers came to the community of Breadalbane from Scotland’s Isle of Skye in 1858 and flourished in the area. This nature trail follows a quite diverse terrain, combining access via steep ravines, rim walks, and meanders through the flood plain of the main and a smaller branch of the Dunk River.”
“Each of the trails that we did pick, with the exception of the seven extra activities, was picked because of the heritage on the trail. So that heritage may not have been 150 years ago, but along the way,” Ford says.
“Our goal was to have locations everywhere so all Islanders can take advantage of it.”
Trails that are accessible are listed as such so people with mobility challenges or with children in strollers can have an easy go of it.
“And of course it’s walking or hiking your own pace at your own distance. You don’t have to walk the whole trail. We strongly support (the mindset of) out and back. So you just go out until you are comfortable and then you come back. You don’t have to go the whole (trail),” Ford says.
“Great George Street (in Charlottetown) is listed, so it’s not just trails. There are also sites and parks and gardens and different locations. Our goal is to see more people walking. Walking is a great thing to start with; it’s super healthy for you. It’s easy on your joints and your muscles.”
Any Islander or visitor who completes at least 10 of the activities on their passport can submit their completed passport for a go! 2014 commemorative item.
There will also be weekly draws for a $50 gift certificate from local businesses, such as Paderno, Co-op Foods, Old MacKenzie Farm’s Veggie Box program, Source for Sports, Golf P.E.I. and a P.E.I. National Park season pass.
Ford encourages workplaces to use the Heritage Trail Passport as a wellness challenge. Over 10 weeks, plan a location and time to meet, perhaps over lunch, and walk the site or trail together as a team.
“We want people to get active and it’s great to learn things while you’re doing it,” she adds.
“It’s really interesting to learn more about each of these locations are and how things came to be on P.E.I.”