Mapping Carbonear’s paths to the past

By Mark Squibb | Aug. 13, 2020

If you know an old path off the beaten trail, the Carbonear Green Team, Colby Sharpe, 17, and Autumn Lambert, 18, want to hear from you.

The team are building off an idea that has been germinating since last summer.

 “Last year, we had put in a proposal to start with our trail inventory. So, Carbonear has a bunch of trails that are maintained, insured, and promoted. And what we wanted was for them to be mapped,” said Kerri Abbott, the Town of Carbonear’s economic development and tourism officer. “There was nothing online or in paper to show where the trails were. There are storyboards located at the front of the trails, and most of the residents know about them, but nobody else.”

Last year, the team designed brochures for the trails, which included a map that made note of features such as benches, garbage cans, and animal waste bags, along with information about the trail such as distance, difficulty, and trail features, and even a note about how the trail got it’s name. The brochures were available both as a physical copy and as an online PDF available on the Town of Carbonear website.

This year’s project will focus on the lesser known trails and paths around the community.

“We decided that we wanted to expand the project a bit. Because there are other areas in the community that have changed over time,” said Abbott. “So, I can remember shortcuts that I used to take to go to the cinema, or to Freshwater Pond to go swimming, and those would be lost now. What they’re doing is working with Dale Jarvis of Heritage NL, and they’re engaging with people about the old pathways and cart ways that were used. And they’re going to map them, and put it together into a virtual story map. So, even if you’re not here in Carbonear, if you remember a path, and we have it on the map, you can just click and go down the path, and see pictures, and maybe hear a story, or see what the names were called previously. They’re going to be people’s eyes, for the summer.”

The interactive map will be available through the Town’s website and social media.

But what would a user be able to do when they visit the online map?

“You have a map, and you can put a pinpoint, say, on a museum. And you can have a picture of the museum, and a caption about what it is,” said Green Team member Autumn Lambert.

Green Team members can also add audio and video files to pins, giving visitors a plethora of information about the trail.

Part of the inspiration came from the community’s reaction to the newly minted Doctor Davis Earle trail, a strenuous hike which branches off from Nell’s Walking Trail and leads under the Route 70 overpass by Valley Road.

“We were hearing from people who loved the boardwalk and Nell’s Trail and the Southside Trail, but they did want more of a trail that made you forget that you were in the middle of a community, that was a bit more of a hike, and was more into nature,” said Abbott. “And so, the Doctor Davis Earle Trail is not for the lighthearted; you have to wear good shoes, and depending on the time of year it is, your feet may get wet. But it’s beautiful, it is absolutely beautiful. And you do forget that you’re in the centre of Carbonear.”

The Town had a public feedback session in 2019 where people told stories about the ‘off-the-map’ trails that they used in Carbonear.

“Just from that, we had about a dozen people show up. And there were all these shortcuts that we didn’t know about, and cart paths, and little pathways that we didn’t know about that people had used as kids,” said Abbott. “So, we thought it would be a good project to build on.”

A typical day for the members involves taking photos, calculating distances to and from the trail to gas stations and other amenities, researching, or plugging the information into the digital platform.

They say the work is enjoyable, and also rewarding.

“I was also working with the Green Team last year, and I loved doing it then, so I reapplied,” said Colby Sharpe. “When I was first looking (last year), I was looking at some job listings, and didn’t know what I wanted to do, and then this Green Team thing popped up. So, I thought, ‘Hey, this might be interesting, I’ll apply for this.’ I like being outside, and walking, and trails, so I decided to do it. So, I got the job, and have loved it ever since.

Lambert is just as enthusiastic about the work. “My brother was on the Green Team last year, and he loved it so much, and he was always telling me great things about it,” she said. “And what I really liked was that I get to work locally, and outside, and I get to learn about the history of my community, and that really interested me as well.”

This summer, Green Teams across the province are tasked with the additional challenge of working in the COVID-19 pandemic environment.

“From a supervisor perspective, in terms of overlooking the teams I’m taking care of this summer, I’m communicating with them all the time and making sure that that’s something on their mind and something that they’re paying attention to,” said Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador regional supervisor Ben Piercy. “We supply each team with hand sanitizers and wipes and face masks and things like that. So, when they are working together and can’t maintain that physical distance, we do have precautions in place to make sure that they’re keeping themselves safe.”

The program has also opted for smaller, two-person teams in many communities, bringing the total number of students participating down from about 100 last summer to some 70 to 80 this summer.

Conversely, Abbott noted that, due to shutdowns and cancellations caused by the pandemic, more people seem to be out using the trails, so it’s a good time to focus on and promote trail usage.

“They’re recognised within the community as a Green Team, and I think knowing that you’re able to do that kind of work within your own community is definitely a great benefit for everyone,” said Piercy.

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