JOHNSTOWN: With Canada’s 150th birthday only weeks away, this Richmond County community has joined the Bras d’Or Lake portion of the country’s first nationwide trail system.

A Saturday morning ceremony saw the official debut of Johnstown Landing, which provides a stopping and launching point for canoe and kayak users, as well as a small boat launch. The project officially connects Johnstown to the Bras d’Or Lake water route of The Great Trail, a key component of Cape Breton’s stake in the national Trans-Canada Trail (TCT) initiative.

Photo by Adam Cooke
Norma MacLeod, a representative of the Trans-Canada Trail and its provincial partner, the Nova Scotia Trails Federation, was among those who addressed the crowd in attendance for Saturday morning’s launch of Johnstown Landing, a project that will connect the Richmond County community to the national trail system known as “The Great Trail.”

Joining such communities as Marble Mountain, Whycocomagh and Iona as TCT entry points, the Johnstown Landing initiative received a federal funding investment of $7,200 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) Innovative Communities Fund, with another $2,200 provided for site improvement and signage by the TCT itself. The ceremony held this past weekend came 10 months after ACOA confirmed a combined $77,750 in investments for four of the five communities involved in the TCT’s water route along the Bras d’Or Lake shoreline.

As she welcomed various local residents, community representatives, trails backers and provincial officials, the chair of the Johnstown Community Development Co-operative (JCDC), Rita Campbell, congratulated the organization’s treasurer, Harold MacIntyre, for his efforts in making Johnstown Landing a reality.

Photo by Adam Cooke
Several residents from Johnstown and the surrounding areas, as well as representatives from various levels of government and trail development groups, gathered on the shores of the Bras d’Or Lake Saturday morning to officially launch the Johnstown Landing project. With funding provided by the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency and the Trans-Canada Trail, the project will includes a stopping and launching point for canoes and kayakers, as well as a small boat launch.

“If it wasn’t for Howard, we wouldn’t be part of this project,” Campbell declared.

“He has been very faithful in attending meetings and writing [applications for] grants and, last year, helping to put up the [interpretive] sign [on the site].”

For his part, MacIntyre saluted officials with the Municipality of the County of Richmond, particularly those involved with the county’s Economic Development and Tourism office, for getting the JCDC involved in a project that has transformed the land that housed the community’s former school building prior to its 2009 demolition.

Photo by Adam Cooke
Howard MacIntyre, treasurer of the Johnstown Community Development Cooperative, took some time during Saturday morning’s launch of the Johnstown Landing initiative to trace the series of events that led to the Richmond County community’s official connection to the Trans-Canada Trail system.

“When it came time for us to finally have our concept here approved, Richmond County wrote us a solid recommendation letter and continued supporting us all the way along,” MacIntyre enthused.

“I’m extremely happy to see that we’ve actually gotten to this point. Instead of just a gate at the driveway, those of us ‘in the know’ know that we’re here – we’re on the [TCT] Web site, and we have a place and a name and a purpose. So we can just maintain it going forward.”

MacIntyre added that the JCDC did not wish to proceed with such developments as a campground or a recreation vehicle (RV) park on the Johnstown Landing site, in order to preserve its natural beauty and make it a welcoming launch site for those who enjoy being on the water.

“We’re just trying to make it a good place to launch a canoe, a kayak or a small boat,” MacIntyre explained. “We want to keep the character of this neighbourhood close to what it is today.”

Also in attendance Saturday morning were Nova Scotia Trails Federation representative Norma MacLeod and Cape Breton-Richmond MLA-elect Alana Paon. Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner was originally scheduled to appear at the event but was unavailable to attend due to travel and scheduling conflicts.

Photo by Adam Cooke
(From the left): Johnstown Community Development Cooperative (JCDC) chair Rita Campbell, Nova Scotia Trails Federation and Trans-Canada Trail representative Norma MacLeod, JCDC treasurer Howard MacIntyre and Cape Breton-Richmond MLA-elect Alana Paon were on hand at Saturday morning’s official grand opening ceremonies for the Johnstown Landing project. The initiative includes the official connection of the Johnstown Landing marine launch site to the national trail system also known as “The Great Trail.”