SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2024

Click here for details

Here's a photo of the current construction between Lines 1 and 2 (July 2024)

Thanks to the generosity of the Goettler FamilyFoundation, six new interpretive signs have been created and installed along the Trail. Owen Bjorgan, noted Niagara biodiversity expert has researched and written the text. The artwork was created by Barb Gelb, professional graphic designer. Thanks also to the Town of NOTL who installed the signs at strategic locations (see map below). Enjoy and learn about the amazing natural history and environment that is Niagara!

 

Phase 2 of the Trail is now under construction! (Nov 2023)

Click to read recent article in The Local.

FOLLOW THE DRONE ALONG PHASE 2 OF THE TRAIL! Click here for video, courtesy of Rene Bertschi.
The 10 km long Upper Canada Heritage Trail in Niagara-on-the-Lake is located on an abandoned railroad right of way that goes south from the Old Town beginning near King and John Streets and runs parallel to Concession 1 Road to end at York Road, between the villages of Queenston and St Davids. Here, the Trail continues as a sub-trail of the Bruce Trail.
The Heritage Trail encompasses a variety of landscapes from urban and Carolinian forest to rural orchards and vineyards. It lies entirely within Ontario’s Greenbelt. From East and West Line it passes through specialty crop areas before climbing through the Niagara Escarpment Region to York Road. It was formerly a side trail of the Bruce Trail.

Donate to the Trail!

Phase Two of the Trail is under construction! We need your financial support.
There are 2 ways to donate:

Online with PayPal, Visa or Mastercard

OR
Make out a cheque to payee: Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake/Heritage Trail
and mail it to: Town of NOTL, 1593 Four Mile Creek Road, PO Box 100, Virgil, ON  L0S 1T0
Please include your name and address.
If you would like to donate in memory or in honour of someone, please include the name clearly with your cheque. 
ONCE YOUR PAYMENT IS PROCESSED YOU WILL RECEIVE A CHARITABLE TAX RECEIPT BY MAIL .
The first bronze plaque to recognize individuals and businesses who have donated to the Trail was unveiled in September 2021.
The plaque is at the Trail entrance at John St. and King St.. Additional plaques will be unveiled when we get to the next phase.
Click the image below to enlarge it.
The 4 Phases of the rehabilitation plan by the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake,
under the guidance of the Town's Heritage Trail Committee.
After 2 years of fundraising and trail planning, the Heritage Trail Committee is very pleased to announce the completion of Phase One of the trail. 1500 metres have been resurfaced and completely rebuilt for multi-purpose use. 
Please come and see for yourself!
The Heritage Trail Committee has installed 4 large signs on Phase One entrances, outlining the full trail and its historic background. These attractive and dominant signs have been well placed to clearly mark the importance and history of the old rail line and trail. The Committee has enhanced the entrances of the trail at John Street, Paffard and Charlotte Streets with extra plantings and armour stone. 

A fundraising effort was launched in 2019 which has successfully raised over $150,000 for the rehabilitation of the trail. Most of these donations have come from local residents and businesses who have purchased 1 metre of trail for $100. More than 100 people and families have become “Trail Blazers”.  As well the Committee has received generous contributions from local businesses and corporations - see below for details.

Improvements Needed for the Heritage Trail

The Heritage Trail is the only unimproved multi-use trail in the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Official Plan.
It dissects the epicentre of the Wine Route in NOTL, a key destination for cycling, eco-tourism and agri-tourism.
As the automobile was responsible for the decline of the railway, it seems fitting that a shift from the automobile to a renewed priority on active transportation has the potential to breathe new life back into the Heritage Trail.

The 66-foot-wide corridor is visibly broken and even unknown to many residents of Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Utilization of the trail has been compromised in the last few years by erosion and washout between Line 9 and York Road, and in other sections.

The overall integrity of the corridor is eroding due to an inability for people to use it.  Vegetation and grass are growing where people used to walk, run, cycle and ride horses.  The trail is losing its “visibility” in both a physical sense and in the overall consciousness of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The NOTL Canada Sesquicentennial Committee, created in 2017 to support and execute events to commemorate Canada’s 150 years of Confederation, chose the rehabilitation of the Heritage Trail as its Legacy project, to connect communities and to preserve a piece of Canadian history for new generations. 

A committee of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, The Heritage Trail, was initiated in 2019 and will be directed by a group of volunteers from the community.

Heritage Trail Committee Plans

  • Install new signage and trail markers to heighten awareness and usability of the Trail.
  • Clean-up and removal of vegetation overgrowth.
  • Repair and sustained maintenance of eroded and impassable areas.
  • Community engagement.
  • Sponsorship opportunities - adopt a section of the Trail! 
Interested in getting involved? Click here to send us an email.
Click to view video of the rehabilitated section of the trail. 
PRODUCED IN AUGUST 2020 BY RENE BERTSCHI (Skyview Aerial Video & Photography)
JUNE 10, 2019:  Heritage Trail Committee,  members of the Niagara on the Lake Horticultural Society and NOTL Parks staff at the unveiling of plantings and a plaque at the Trail entrance at John & King Streets. Photo: Penny Coles/The Local

Thanks to Supporters of the Heritage Trail!

Corporate Donors

August 12, 2019: Presentation of Trail Blazer certificate to ZOOM Leisure Bikes owners,  Rebecca and Steve DeBoer (3rd & 4th from right). Heritage Trail Committee Members Cheryl Morris, Fred Sentineal, Alan Bisback, Rick Meloen, Dick Coyne  and Tony Chisholm (photographer)  and Kevin Turcotte of the Town of NOTL. 

Brief History of the Heritage Trail

Historic photos of the Old Railway available here.

The Upper Canada Heritage Trail was established to follow the railroad corridor of the Erie & Ontario Railway linking Niagara-on-the-Lake, the First Capital of Upper Canada, with Niagara Falls and the Great Western Railway.  When operations began in 1854 it was one of the first steam powered railroads in Canada West, the new name for Upper Canada. It was responsible for breathing life into the Town of Niagara following the years after the opening of the second Welland Canal by attracting tourism and commerce.

Rail operations ceased in the mid-1950s, with the corridor being formally abandoned in 1969. For 50 years, the trail has been used by cyclists, equestrians, runners, walkers, cross-country skiers, and others. Many organizations enjoy the trail including: Upper Canada Equestrian Association (UCEA), Queenston Residents Association, St. Davids Ratepayers Association and the Niagara Bruce Trail Club.

The Heritage Trail corridor provides a continuous connection from the southern terminus of the Niagara Escarpment with the federally-owned Niagara Commons. The UCEA became the major environmental steward in 1982, organizing annual rides and clean-ups.  Other educational and environmental stewardship activities have included a major tree-planting activity by the Boy Scouts of Canada.