Patience pays off with announcement of trail project

October 24, 2023

Design work is already underway, after the Nova Scotia government announced $6.4 million for the long-awaited Seawall Trail at an announcement in Meat Cove in late June.

The multi-day hut-to-hut hiking trail, which is expected to be ready for visitors in three years, was originally proposed by the Northern Cape Breton Development Society 20 years ago. Fifteen years ago, that body was replaced by the Seawall Trail Society, and that group’s chair says he’s “ecstatic” with the recent announcement.

“I’m looking forward to getting started and building on the community’s vision,” says Ray Fraser, adding that time and patience were the key to getting the project over the finish line.

“All the credit goes to the community,” Fraser adds. “It’s the community that didn’t stop. We just kept pushing forward.”

“The counties – both Inverness and Victoria – have supported us from day one. They’re part of that community.”

The provincial funding will go towards design and marking of the trail and construction of the huts which will accommodate hikers as they make their way along the nearly 50-kilometre trail from Red River to Meat Cove. It will also be used to establish parking areas and a shuttle service between the two communities.

Fraser says the involvement of the local Indigenous community was critical at every step along the way.

“There are 10 years’ worth of community engagement gone into that trail plan,” he says, noting that a steering committee will now guide the project. That committee includes representation from the two counties, the province, the Seawall Trail Society, and the Nova Scotia Indigenous Tourism Enterprise Network (NSITEN). It will be co-chaired by the Seawall Trail Society and the Municipality of Inverness County.

The Seawall Trail will also have a new name – Jajiktek – which means “a difficult path or trail along the water.”

Mi’kmaw elder Ernest Johnson, who participated in the announcement, noted that trails in the area have long been used by the Mi’kmaq and by the animals of the forest, and that the new name also reflects the ones that were there before us.

Tenting will not be allowed along the new trail, as hikers will instead be housed in the huts, which will reduce impact on local plants and animals.

“The Seawall Trail has the potential to become one of North America’s iconic wilderness attractions for world travellers,” said Inverness MLA and Deputy Premier of Nova Scotia Allan MacMaster, on behalf of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage Minister Pat Dunn. “This is an investment that will allow visitors to experience coastal scenic beauty now and generations to forever.”

“Inverness County has established itself as a world-class destination for those who love our exceptional landscapes and access to pristine wilderness,” said Warden Bonny MacIsaac, council leader of the Municipality of Inverness County. “Today’s announcement will bring joy to the local communities that have actively worked to promote this project for many years.”

“It will also bring employment opportunities to this part of the county over the coming years and provide a significant pull for our thriving tourism industry for generations to come,” she added.

The municipality will work with Build Nova Scotia and the Seawall Trail Society to support community engagement and ongoing project communications. The provincial body will also provide project management and administrative services to the municipality for design and construction of the trail.

Once it’s completed, Jajiktek | the Seawall Trail will be the only multi-day hike of its kind along the eastern seaboard of North America. It will be located primarily in the Pollett’s Cove-Aspy Fault Wilderness Area, which boasts unique and impressive attributes for outdoor recreation.

A large crowd of residents, politicians and development officials turned out for the June announcement that the Seawall Trail would be going ahead.

A large crowd of residents, politicians and development officials turned out for the June announcement that the Seawall Trail would be going ahead.