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OPINION: Gordon MacQueen's legacy

MacQueen’s Bike Shop and Island Tours founder, Gordon MacQueen, has died at age 78.
MacQueen’s Bike Shop and Island Tours founder, Gordon MacQueen, has died at age 78. - Submitted

Key role in creation of Confederation Trail that connects Island in healthy, natural way

BY IAN SCOTT

GUEST OPINION

In reading of Gordon MacQueen's many pioneering roles recorded by reporter Emily Acorn (Feb. 28), I note one important legacy he left for all Islanders was not mentioned. Gordon played a key role in the creation of the Confederation Trail and was a keen walker who enjoyed many years travelling this beautiful linear park that connects the Island in a healthy, natural way.

It was during the late 1980s that Gordon and I had many conversations on the importance of saving the abandoned rail lands and making something useful that would be shared by cyclists, hikers and runners. Gordon knew Ron Hately who had biked on the Cape Cod Rail Trail would be a good speaker. I knew Don Deacon who had discovered international hiking in retirement was also keen to see P.E.I. benefit from the trend.

With these two speakers booked we called a public meeting for Aug 3, 1989 to look at rails-to-trails conversion. Gordon was always keen to seize the moment. He knew we had to leave that meeting with our next steps in place and suggested we sell memberships and elect a steering committee that night with a few people primed to step forward.

He agreed to take on the treasurer role, with myself as secretary in hopes that we could talk Don Deacon into becoming chairman. With a large crowd keen to learn what other places had done with old rail lands, there was enthusiasm from the start.

Nominations from the floor filled all spots on a steering committee and Don agreed to chair the effort. To build the organization Gordon kept the books and sold memberships to anyone that came into MacQueen's Bike Shop. Years later his vision and dedication in promoting the cause was recognized with an award from Island Trails. Growth in competitive cycling as well as touring on P.E.I. are also part of his legacy.

He took great pride in seeing his family expand operations on Upper "Mac"Queen St. and in Cuba. Gordon MacQueen was a man with a sense of vision who encouraged others to move forward and we owe him our gratitude for the recreational opportunities at our door step he helped create.

Thank you, Gordon, for making the Island a better place.

(On March 21, friends and family of Gordon MacQueen will gather in the spin cycle room of MacQueen’s Bike Shop for a memorial on what would have been his 79th birthday.)

- Ian Scott is an Island historian and author.

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