1968 – An idea takes root
As early as 1968, the London Chamber of Commerce expressed concern over suggestions that the government should purchase river valley lands for public use. It was felt by many that the ideal situation would allow for public enjoyment of these lands without the landowners losing control of their property. With this as its premise, the Chamber Recreation Committee began studying various recreational possibilities in the Thames River Valley, including the feasibility of a hiking trail similar to the well-publicized Bruce Trail. After hiking the area and making preliminary contacts with some landowners, it was seen that the idea of a hiking trail held a great deal of merit.
1971 – The TVTA is formed
Three University of Western Ontario students who were keenly interested in this venture, together with the Chamber of Commerce, organized a meeting of about fifty like-minded persons at the London Public Library and the Thames Valley Trail Association was formed on October 19th, 1971. The first directors were Bill Ratcliffe and Jim Gilpin, two of the U.W.O students; Jay Sanderson and Wilf Lamb of the Chamber of Commerce; and Chris Horne.
1972 – Trail work starts
The University of Western Ontario approved a trail through its grounds on July 10th, 1972. In December of the same year the section of the trail around Fanshawe Lake was completed.
1973 – Official opening
The London section of the trail was officially opened on June 16th, 1973.
1976 – Trail expansion & incorporation
Over the following years, trail construction, clearing and marking continued with the co-operation of many community-minded landowners – from large property holders such as the London Public Utilities Commission, to many farmers north of the city. The trail continued to develop and finally reached St. Marys, north of London in July of 1976. In this same year, the association became incorporated. Several years later, Tom Petley developed and blazed a trail through Kains Woods west of London. After Roy Kerr had maintained this trail for many years, the Thames Valley Trail Association took over and named it the Roy Kerr section of the trail.
1992-1995 – Trail completion and links
In 1992, through the efforts of Gordon Jackson, the trail was extended south and west through Komoka Provincial Park. Finally, in 1995, a further extension southward through Delaware to Elgin County linked the Thames Valley Trail with the Elgin Trail, completing a network of trails from Port Stanley to the Bruce Trail. This final extension was brought about through the enthusiastic efforts of John Nolan who carried this idea to fruition, extending the trail from its original length of 60 kilometers to 109 kilometers.
We thank our landowners for generously permitting us to travel on their property. Please stay on the trail. Walk around the edge of fields. Do not disturb the animals. Guy Engels has been working on maps, records and archives to update our lists. Landowners receive a copy of the Trekker. We do not hike on the trail Dec. 25. This allows the land to remain private. Wildlife is to be left undisturbed and protected.