Peninsula Bruce Trail Club Celebrates 60 Years On The Peninsula

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Photo courtesy of Bruce County Museum & Cultural Centre, A2014.003.K-63-14-05, photographer Bruce Arthur Krug. Photo L-R: Marking Bruce Trail just North of town line – Ken Johnstone, (J.P.’ s son), J.P. Johnstone, Howard Krug, Jim Siegrist, Peter Street (holding the hacksaw) and his father, Sydney Street. Photo taken November 24, 1963.
Submitted by Brenda Stewart, PBTC Archivist 

It was 60 years ago, in September 1964, that the first Peninsula Bruce Trail Club was formed. In a series of articles in honour of National Volunteer Week, we would like to celebrate the club’s long history on the Peninsula and highlight some of the early pioneer volunteers with the club. 

Although the official opening of the Bruce Trail occurred in 1967, a lot of work and planning took place in the years leading up to this date. Originally the work of creating the Bruce Trail in what is now known as the Peninsula section (from Wiarton to Tobermory) was covered by 3 clubs, the Upper Bruce (or as it was commonly known, the Peninsula Bruce Trail club), the Lion’s Head club and the Lower Bruce Trail club. They were amalgamated in 1980.

“The first formal meeting to discuss the trail project in the former St. Edmunds Township was held in the Tobermory Fire Hall on Friday, May 17, 1963. In attendance were Alfus (Alf) Adams, J.C. (Baise) Munn, A.J. Watson, J.P. Johnstone and Lloyd Smith. At that time J.P. (only his family called him Jack) and Shirley Johnstone were the proprietors of Hidden Valley Lodge and also operated a beef cattle farm and lumber business. J.P. was active in local politics and was Reeve of St. Edmunds Township. He was approached by Philip Gosling and he quickly saw the potential for tourism from the development of the Trail. Hidden Valley Lodge would become a home away from home for many Bruce Trail workers and the location for several B.T.A. Board meetings”. (Excerpt from PBTC website, “The Trail that Jack Built” written by Dave Tyson)

Photo: Bruce Trail Guide Book.

In a letter from the PBTC archives, Shirley Johnstone wrote to Ray Lowes, (Sec.-Treasurer of the Bruce Trail Association) to inform him that at a meeting held on September 27, 1964, in Tobermory, a new Bruce Trail club was formed in the area. Alf Adams was Chairman, Shirley Johnstone was Secretary-Treasurer, and J.P. Johnstone and Baise Munn were board members. Also at this meeting, Howard and Bruce Krug from Chesley submitted their membership dues for the club. Membership dues at that time were $2.00! (PBTC Archives-Letter by Shirley Johnstone to Ray Lowes, Sept. 27, 1964)

The new club assumed responsibility for the trail from Dyer’s Bay to Tobermory. At the Bruce Trail Club Association’s Annual Meeting in October 1964, the club reported that 40 km had been completed. J.P. Johnstone and his family were given credit for this achievement, along with Tom Adams, Howard and Bruce Krug and a handful of other local volunteers. 

“With compass in hand, the trail was walked and flagged all the way from Dyer’s Bay to Tobermory by J.P. Johnstone and road superintendent Baise Munn. Tom Adams helped as well and was available to drop them off and pick them up. The Upper Peninsula was very hard to access as there were very few roads that went to the Georgian Bay shoreline. Over a year, Howard and Bruce Krug, Tom Adams, Tom East, Eldon Yundt and others did the major saw cutting and brushing as the trail continued through the bush. The Johnstone family all participated with sons Ken and Don and daughters Carol and Linda cutting and brushing the smaller growth. 

The early trail went along the shore and escarpment edge from Tobermory to Dyer’s Bay. At least once a year the Bruce Trail members in the Peninsula would have a group hike and dinner. The dinners were held along the shore at Jack Whitsitt’s (and his brother’s) cottage in the Wingfield Basin/Cabot Head area. Harry Hopkins, the lighthouse keeper at Cabot Head, was well known in the area for his whitefish dinners and would cook a hearty meal for the members. 

It is through the dedication and perseverance of the J.P. Johnstone family that the Peninsula section became a reality. We applaud their efforts and thank all those involved who made this great scenic trail possible.” (PBTC webpage -2017 Article written by former PBTC Club president Grace Telfer.)

For more information on this story and others about PBTC volunteers, check out the Peninsula Bruce Trail website https://www.pbtc.ca/single-post/2017/04/21/the-trail-that-jack-built and https://www.pbtc.ca/bonusmaterial