The Beginnings

In 1961, a "save the escarpment" conference was held in Hamilton, and a hiking trail along the Niagara Escarpment was proposed. Gerry Wolfram, the outdoors writer for the St. Catharines Standard attended and was inspired to hike the escarpment from Grimsby to Queenston along a possible route for a trail. After that, he proposed to the Peninsula Field Naturalists club that a committee be formed to develop a hiking trail.

The club did form such a committee, and club president Bert Lowe proceeded to contact landowners along the proposed route for permission to cross their properties, and he went ahead and blazed the trail.

In March 1962, the first section of the trail was officially opened at the Bucknall farm in Beamsville.

In June 1963, the Escarpment Trail Council was formed to oversee the Niagara Escarpment Trail. By October the trail was finished. The Niagara section was completed largely independently of the remainder of the Bruce Trail, and before any of the other sections. It was estimated that about 1600 hours of work were required to complete the trail, but with a cost of only $127 to the committee. The Niagara Escarpment Trail was officially opened May 24, 1964, in a ceremony at Queenston.

In 1962, the council was contacted by the Bruce Trail association to consider joining the organization, but the Niagara group was not satisifed with some of the BTA bylaws, and did not merge with the BTA until November 1968, at which time the Niagara Bruce Trail Club was formed. On that occasion, Norman Pearson, the first president of the BTA was quoted as saying that the Bruce Trail would never have gotten off the ground had not Bert Lowe completed the Niagara Trail.

The Niagara Bruce Trail Club has recognized Bert Lowe's contribution by renaming The St. Catharines Side Trail, which had been part of the original Escarpment Trail, to the Bert Lowe Side Trail. Bert was also honoured at the annual meeting of The BTA held in St. Catharines in September 2004.

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