Annual Winter Dinner

Brian presenting to Dave

Last week the club held it’s annual dinner at the Bistro. There were thirty people including guests.We had a room to ourselves and five tables were occupied. This did make getting to talk to everyone a bit problematic.Everyone enjoyed ordering what they would like off the menu.

Jim, Linda, Roseann, Tom, Joan and Patty.
Jackie, Joan, Ric, Charlotte, Lawrie and Dan.

After the dinner Brian Wilsdon wanted to recognize Patty Galliger for her contribution to the Spirit Walk by dressing up as the Grinch. He honoured her by giving her a personal copy of the Grinch.
Brian also recognized Dave Allen for his performance as Santa at the Spirit Walk and his efforts raising funds for Diabetes Canada in August with his Blues and Cruise event in Port Bruce to celebrate the life of his bass playing wife Elva.

Lynn, Rick, Mel, Evelyn, Patti and Mel’s daughter.
Mike, Ida, Michelle and Jim.
Charlie, Frankie’s girlfriend, Frankie, Dave, Brian, Ruth and Don.

Thanks to everyone who attended and made this annual dinner memorable.

Penny Byway Remembered

L-R Janet Medlyn, Deb Bagshaw, Dawn Docker and Brian Wilsdon

There were over 25 people at the Sunset Cafe on Wednesday morning to remember Penny Lynn Byway who passed away on Thursday, Dec 7th, 2023 at the St Thomas-Elgin General Hospital. Penny was a fashionista and in her younger years would sew her own clothes, her wardrobe was always changing. Penny was a long time member of the club. Brian Wilsdon and Sandi Pyper, both long time friends of Penny organized the event and her sister Linda Dowdall and friends Dawn Docker, Deb Bagshaw and Janet Medlyn were in attendance. Brian, Sandi and Dawn shared fond memories of Penny.There will be a celebration of her life this June 15th at Pinafore Park.

Sister of Penny, Linda Dowdall in orange

Remembrance organizers Sandi Pyper and Brian Wilsdon

Elva Allen passed away

It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Elva Allen on Monday March 6th, 2023. She and Dave retired in Copenhagen a few years ago after living in Northern Ontario for most of their married lives.

Elva enjoyed being closer to their children Karen and Mike who both live in St. Thomas. They enjoyed many vacations in Mexico  over the years. They have numerous friends in northern Ontario and Mexico.

Elva  who played bass guitar in a band enjoyed the Beatles music and the Blues.
She loved her two grand daughters and her cat Darryl. Two years ago she started up a Facebook Group for the Elgin Hiking Trail Club which now has 339 followers.

Our condolences to Dave and his family and rest assured that you have loads of friends in the club to lean on in the future.

Above graciously supplied by Brian Wilsdon, the clubs Path Finder Newsletter editor for an eternity.

Link to Elva obituary.

Link to live stream of the funeral.

Saturday Hike on Trans Canada Trail

Start of the hike

It was a mild winter morning when 14 people as far away as Port Glasgow and Aylmer gathered for
one of Marg Hulls quarterly hikes for the EHTC. Their was a new bench to rest and view the valley below.

Brian and Marg having fun on new bench

The hike was approximately 7.7 km with horses and ponies on the way.

Hikers admiring the horses and ponies

Not many birds were seen, yet a Cedar Waxwing did make an appearance near the end of the hike. Our resident happy guy really bonded with the horse, even though he did not have an apple.

Tom and horse on Homestead Rd

Everyone enjoyed the hike and the weather. Thanks to Marg for organizing.

Spirit Walk at Springwater


After a long covid induced hiatus we are pleased to announce the 2022 Spirit Walk is a go. With our partner Catfish Creek Conservation Authority and many volunteers the event will start at 6 p.m. and the last tour through the woods and school house leaves at 7:50 p.m. There will be the usual Christmas music and recently added story by the Grinch and the magician “Hoppy”. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served and the children will get to visit Santa in this quaint forest setting.

A special thanks to this years organizing committee members Michelle Innes, Eileen Harrison, Dave Allen and of course Brian Wilsdon whose vision led to the Spirit Walk for over 20 years.

For more info please contact Brian at 519-633-3064.

Elevated Park

End2end Day 3 – 4 km

Elevated Park

Due to the skies looking threatening, it was decided to venture onto the next leg of the journey. Construction is taking place on Sunset and the usual parking lot under the bridge is closed. Parking at the new lot on Centre St at the east side of the Elevated Park we ventured onto the Park which is over 30 metres above Kettle Creek. The bridge was built in 1929 during the times when rail was the best way to move large quantities of goods long distances.

The St Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre has installed some creative art on the approach to the bridge and further down the trail at Deer Ridge Farm and at Lyle Rd.

The New England Aster was in bloom and their seeds are a good source of food for the birds in winter.

At the west end of the bridge we venture north and follow a fence around the top of the trail near the Osage Orange tree, their are several in the area. This connects to the trail and we venture down the hill under the bridge to Fingal Line. Fifty metres up the road we venture into the woods and follow the top of the ravine. There are several up and downs until we come out on Sunset Drive. This
is the end of the wooded journey. Right on Sunset Drive takes us to a left turn onto Chester Street, turning right onto Henry’s St and walked the roadway on the north side of St Thomas Cemetery and exiting at the entrance onto West Ave. Turning right onto Ada St to Wilson Ave, following it a short distance to Elm St, turning right again take Elm St to traffic light and cross Sunset Dr. Two hundred metres south we are at our destination for today, Sunset Cafe.

Weather held off and had a great hike getting to see the Elevated Park.

Thanks to Jim for leading this hike.

Al Sharpe

End-2-end Day 2

Parsons Rd to Lyle Rd – 6.25 km

Start of hike as fog lifts.

It was a foggy morning when 12 intrepid hikers gathered. First 3.6 km was all
road work. At the Red Barn on Hwy 3 we headed into the woods owned by Province of Ontario. The woods wind along the south side of Dodd Creek. When we get to a evergreen forest the roots of the trees make sure you keep looking down.

There are a few steep hills and would be quite slippery if recently rained.
We were very fortunate as everything was dry. Along the way we saw Azure Asters and Jewelweed also known as Spotted Touch-me-not, this plant likes damp soil and shade to really bloom. Ruby Throated Hummingbirds really
enjoy the Jewelweed.

The hike ended at Lyle Rd and on the way back to get car five American Kestrel were sitting on the wire, gathering for the fall migration.

Thanks Jim for another great hike;

Al Sharpe

Start of End-to-end – 7.5 km

14 started the end-to-end

Today we tried our first car pool since the beginning of Covid.
We began at the north end of our trail which links up with the Thames Valley Trail which goes to St. Mary’s, known as the stone town. The journey begins with a southward hike through McCaig’ bush. This part of the trail in the spring can be best described as a swamp. In this late summer morning it was quite enjoyable. Our intrepid hike leader Jim was leading and acting as a shield against all the cobwebs. Charlie suggested we tag him #spiderweb. Time will tell if the name sticks.

Upon leaving the bush we head along a farmers field of soybeans. We walk on the east end of the field account the other side of fence row is so overgrown. Exiting the field at the entrance for the tractor on Third Line heading west. Half way along this road we stop for a sugar fix supplied by Roseann.

Turning left onto Mill Rd allows us to safely pass over Hwy 401. Along this road are several seemingly healthy apple trees.

Turning left again onto Fourth Line for 3.6 km. This road really shows off the agricultural roots of Elgin. The hedgerow on this road is largely as it should be.

There are Choke Cherry trees, Gray and Stiff-leaved Goldenrod and Sweet Pea. There are an abundant supply of Monarch Butterflies and even Monarch Caterpillar visible.

This generation of caterpillar will be tasked with making the journey all the way to the mountains in Central Mexico. The Monarch population is down 26% last winter. The problems are illegal logging, drought, pine beetle infestation, lack of milkweed population in all three countries. They inhabited only 2.1 hectares in Mexico. Six hectares is the amount recommended to avoid extinction.

All in all another great hike.

Al Sharpe

Hwy 45 to Mellor Rd and return – 3 km – 2 hrs

Hikers resting before return trip.

This lovely morning saw 10 of us out for a hike. The rain last night made the hills a bit slippery. The entrance off Hwy 45 will need to be reworked to bring people in just east of the guard rail.
Tom and Joan joined us after several week vacation in the East Coast. The canopy overhead and moisture in the ground seems to be conducive to Puff Balls. Not really large but growing.

Bridge needing several boards replaced.

There was one bridge on trail which needs at least 4 planks replaced.

The hike is basically due south and up a hill to farmers roadway. This roadway will take us all the way to Mellor Rd. We then had a rest under the huge evergreens. There were many birds flying around, did manage to recognize Red-headed Woodpecker and Blue Jay. Need binoculars to see the birds that were way up high in the trees.

On the way back we spotted Pokeweed. This is a plant which is poisonous to humans, dogs and livestock. On the other hand, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Cardinal, Brown Thrasher, Mourning Dove and Cedar waxwings will eat the berries when they reach blackish purple. The berries start out green, turning white and then blackish purple.

Another great hike on the Elgin Hiking Trail.

Al Sharpe

Wednesday Morning in August

Curving Kettle Creek

Southdale Line to Sunset Cafe 2 hour round trip

Today we had eight people out for the hike in warmish weather. Our hike leader is Jim Northey and he has been leading these Wednesday morning hikes for many years, through all four seasons. They always start at Sunset Café and each day is a new adventure.

We start with a zig-zag up the Southdale hill. The zig-zag was done my Rick Atchison, he has done a lot of maintenance on this piece of the trail and we owe him our gratitude. At the top we wander toward the creek then along the top ridge, crossing at the new Tilman Bridge. Tilman Joosten was the architect of this bridge and was able to get Thames Valley Trail Club to pay for the costs. It is a good solid design and should serve the hikers of Elgin County for a very long time. Our thanks to Tilman and the Thames Valley Trail Club.

 The trail once again heads on top of the ridge towards Kettle Creek, veering north. The first lookout is mostly clay based and really suffering from erosion.

Dune erosion

The second lookout is sand based. Both give a lovely view of Kettle Creek as it turns south towards Port Stanley. The trail then continues north along the ridge with a view of the subdivision backing right up to the trail. Then you venture down a fairly steep hill with a bridge to cross the ravine half way down.

 At the bottom we circle around the west side of Shaw Valley Pond. It is teeming with life. Today, their were Belted Kingfisher, House and Carolina Wren, Purple Finch, Blue Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse and Gray Catbird.

The trail continues north along the west side of the pond, down a short hill and veers east for several hundred feet. We then head north again and come out at a field which we cross. Then a bridge and we turn west towards Kettle Creek. Follow it north and cross a group of bridges trying to stay in place battling the constant erosion, again.

Bridges washed out by constant erosion

This spot also sees the creek change direction and you can enjoy the view in both directions. The trail now goes through a damp area that is dry at this time of year. We cross over several bridges and can see how the rain waters are running following the trail. We exit at Sunset Café which is a great place to park the car and walk the trail both ways or take the road to Southdale and back via the trail. All in all, a lovely part of our Elgin Hiking Trail.

My thanks to Jim for taking the time to lead these Wednesday morning hikes.

Al Sharpe