What is the Labrador Pioneer Footpath?
The Labrador Pioneer Footpath is an existing system of five hiking trails that extends from L'Anse au Clair to Pinware. The Footpath was constructed in 2009-10 but a proposed Pinware to Red Bay section was left at a preliminary planning stage. Due to inadequate construction techniques along some sections, deterioration of natural routes, and inconsistent maintenance, considerable improvements and upgrading of the L'Anse au Clair to Pinware sections are required. Extensions are also proposed from the NL/Que border to L'Anse au Clair Jersey Trail and from Pinware to Red Bay.
The existing trail sections extending from L'anse au Clair to Pinware were completed in 2010 under the leadership of the Historical Development Corporation in partnership with the municipalities in the area. Each municipality is the owner of the trail section within its jurisdiction. Following construction each municipality assumed responsibility for maintenance of the trail section under its jurisdiction.
In 2019, interest was expressed by representatives of the TransCanada Trail to include the Footpath as part of the TransCanada Trail system. However, given the number of trail owners, registration with the TransCanada Trail would only be accepted if a single approved organization would assume a leadership role acting on behalf of the trail owners. Subject to the agreement and understanding of the Labrador Historical Development Corporation this leadership role was accepted by the Southern Labrador Development Association and approved by resolution in the spring/summer of 2019 by all municipalities in the Labrador Straits. Accordingly, the Labrador Pioneer Footpath was registered with and approved by the TransCanada Trail.
A needs assessment of existing trail sections and proposed extensions was funded by the Regional Development Program, ACOA, and the TransCanada Trail and completed in October 2020 by Greenleaf Resources. The Final Report of the needs assessment recommends extensive upgrading and restoration of existing trail sections and two trail extensions. The first extension is a short section of trail to begin at the NL/Que border and join with the L'Anse au Clair Jersey Trail. The second extension is a 25+ km trail from Pinware to Red Bay.
The Southern Labrador Development Association has been involved in economic and social development of the Labrador Straits for many years. In carrying out its work SLDA has been guided by the principle of community participation in decision-making in its undertakings.
The Labrador Pioneer Footpath is now the first trail system in Labrador to be a part of the TransCanada Trail (now known as The Great Trail). The project, when completed, will establish the Pioneer Footpath as a first- class destination trail and marketing and promotion afforded by the Great Trail will be a major boost to tourism in the Labrador Straits.
Labrador Pioneer Footpath Upgrading project Phase 1 and beyond
Phase 1 includes construction of a new trail section known as the Gateway Trail and extends from the NL/Que border to join with the Jersey Trail. Construction began in September 2021 and was completed in October 2022. Phase 1 also included signage/ branding/marketing concepts and signage fabrication. Contracts for both pieces of work were awarded following Requests for Proposals. Waterwerks Agency of St. John's was engaged to do signage, branding, and marketing concepts with guidance from the Pioneer Footpath Committee. Leaman Signs of St. John's were awarded the signage fabrication. Signs have now been delivered and will be installed next construction season, 2023. The total cost of phase 1 was $176 000.
A funding proposal for Phase 2 has been submitted to ACOA, Regional Development Program (IET), and TransCanada Trail. The proposal will call for the trail upgrading from L'Anse au Clair to Pinware for a total of $535 000, with construction to begin in 2023.
Phase 3 will be the Pinware to Red Bay section with construction slated for 2024.