420 Metres of Phase 1 have been completed!

HERITAGE TRAIL REHABILITATION AND IMPROVEMENTS ARE DESIGNED TO PROCEED IN 4 PHASES.

THE FIRST PHASE IS FROM JOHN STREET TO EAST-WEST LINE. THE SECOND PHASE IS A CONTINUATION ALONG THE EAST SIDE OF CONCESSION 1 TO LINE 3.

THE THIRD PHASE IS FROM LINE 3 TO LINE 9. FINALLY THE LAST (4TH) PHASE IS FROM LINE 9 TO YORK ROAD.

To date, the Heritage Trail Committee has installed 4 large signs on this section clearly 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 $100,000 for the rehabilitation of the trail. Most of these donations have come from local people who have purchased 1 metre of trail for $100. Over 100 people and families have committed donations as “Trail Blazers”.  As well there have been significant corporate donations - see below for details.

As of the summer of 2020, the first 420 metres have been rehabilitated with a fine stone surface.  The Committee is planning to host a virtual open house in October to discuss the resurfacing of the final section of Phase1.

Click to view video of the rehabilitated section of the trail. 

PRODUCED IN AUGUST 2020 BY RENE BERTSCHI (AERIAL VIDEO & PHOTOGRAPHY).

Canopy Growth donates $40,000 toward rehabilitation of trail.

September 30, 2020

Canadian National Railroad generously provided $10,000 to the Heritage Trail!

Daniel Salvatore of CN, Rick Meloen and Tony Chisholm of the Heritage Trail Committee, January 8, 2020.

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.

Donate to the Trail!

YOU CAN NOW DONATE TO THE HERITAGE TRAIL ONLINE WITH YOUR VISA OR MASTERCARD CREDIT CARD. THE SERVICE IS SAFE AND SECURE, AND IS MANAGED BY THE TOWN OF NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE.

TO MAKE A DONATION, GO TO THIS PAGE AND THEN SELECT DONATIONS - HERITAGE TRAIL UNDER  "SELECT A PAYMENT TYPE".

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE IN SOMEONE ELSE'S NAME OR IN MEMORY,
PLEASE MAIL A CHEQUE ALONG WITH A NOTE TELLING US THE NAME OF THAT PERSON TO:
THE TOWN OF NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, 1593 Four Mile Creek Road, PO Box 100, Virgil, ON  L0S 1T0

ONCE PAYMENT IS PROCESSED YOU WILL RECEIVE A CHARITABLE TAX RECEIPT BY EMAIL FROM THE TOWN.

NOTL Horticultural Society beautifies the Trail with a generous donation!

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. 

Photo of several Trail  Blazers who donated to the Trail on July 29, 2019

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.