A lifelong Haligonian, I fondly remember family bike rides at Point Pleasant Park, beach combing at McNabs Island, and acting out epic childhood adventures at York Redoubt. The outdoors was an important part of my childhood. Enthusiasm for the outdoors is behind every adventure I share, which I hope entices more explorers to “Canada’s ocean playground”.
My favourite jobs, sports, and other recreational activities have always been outdoors. As a kid, I was happiest playing in the yard, at the park or on my bike. During university at St. Francis Xavier and Saint Mary’s University, I planted trees in Spring and Summer for the forestry industry.
Tree planting involved hauling heavy loads of trees through kilometres of clearcut wastelands in every manner of inclement weather with no shelter. I learned a lot of valuable lessons testing my physical and mental limits with daily adversities. I eventually thrived on the challenges and became a highly productive planter, planting many hundreds of thousands of trees during my 4 seasons.
Beyond the life lessons; a major thing that stuck with me from tree planting was the feeling of disgust at the abhorrent treatment of our environment. Each day in remote clear-cuts, hidden from public view, felt like living a dystopian future that I didn’t want any part in creating. I gained a new-found appreciation for the beauty of wilderness in its natural state. These early days played a big part in why I created HalifaxTrails.ca.
Your support will allow me to continue furthering my objectives:
- Inspire healthy living and an appreciation of the natural world through outdoor activity. “Nature Therapy” has been shown in many studies to be the best thing you can do for mental and physical health. One of the greatest rewards I get is knowing my work has helped people experience this fact.
- Bring recognition and support to local volunteer organizations, groups, unsung heroes and causes. Those who take the time and effort to construct, maintain and protect our natural assets. I use my growing social media influence and the guides on my website to spotlight activism.
- Put Nova Scotia on the map of the best ecotourism destinations in the world. Help encourage a modern, sustainable green economy based on our unique natural assets. Attract new citizens and business to our region, putting us at the forefront of a modern, green economy.
- Explore, map, photograph and post new guides for all of the parks, trails and outdoor adventure destinations in Nova Scotia.
- Develop a mobile app.
- Upgrade hardware and software to improve productions. These items are on my wishlist of things that would allow me to create top-quality productions. What I’ve been able to create so far is on my own shoestring budget, with very basic equipment.
- Eliminate the need for advertisements on the website.
Why I Created HalifaxTrails.ca
I created HalifaxTrails.ca in 2009 as I started to explore new areas of our great outdoors. I relied mostly on word of mouth to find new places. Searching online for maps, photos and videos of local trails didn’t turn up many results, so I decided to create them myself. In a province with so many hidden gems, I knew it may require a lifetime to cover them all, so I tamed my ambition and focused on Halifax.
Even with the most simple task, like naming it, I realized things were going to take significantly more work than I anticipated (still trying to think of a good name to this day). After days of brainstorming, I threw the list of whimsical names in the garbage and went straight to the point. With no web design knowledge, a rudimentary digital camera and Microsoft Publisher (a program not intended for web design) HalifaxTrails.ca was live. Though frustratingly left-justified and ugly as hell for many years, it did its job and was well used despite its aesthetic shortcomings. I could tell I was filling a need as I steadily gained a large following of like-minded explorers. This was the beginning of a long process of learning and improving that continues today.
Through the years I’ve documented most of my trips in hopes of helping people explore the amazing natural resources which make Halifax and Nova Scotia so beautifully unique. It is my view that the more people we can get out enjoying nature, the more collectively aware we become of how threatened, under-funded and underappreciated our natural assets are. As these places become well known to the public, their preservation and importance will become apparent to elected officials and people in positions of power (the collective saving of Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes wilderness area is a great example).
An Independent Voice
I have put a lot of time and effort into the site through the years, and have learned many valuable lessons and skills along the way. It has been a joy to share my work with the public and get feedback from people who feel as passionate as I do about the amazing places we have in our own backyard. I gladly respond to emails from tourists and locals alike and am proud to say I’ve helped many people discover our great outdoors.
Through Halifax Trails, I’ve been able to help promote the work of local volunteer organizations, and environmental causes while staying independent and self-funded. I do every aspect of work on the site; every photo, video, map, blog and social media post is created by myself alone. It’s a lot of work for one person. Without government or corporate backing and my current limited, to non-existent budget, I’m hoping to build enough public support to continue being an independent voice.
Thank you, and happy trails!