Press Release: Grand Opening of the Georgian Bay Snowriders Trail and the Pilgrim Route

Contact: Frieda Baldwin
Phone: (705) 245-1005


Wednesday June 11, 2014

Grand Opening of the Georgian Bay Snowriders Trail and the Pilgrim Route

We all know people who have hiked the Camino Frances, an 800 km pilgrimage from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port (in France) to Santiago de Compostela in Western Spain. So, if people from all over the world go to Spain to hike the Camino, why not create a “local camino” here in Simcoe County, and beyond? We also have the National Shrine of the Canadian Martyrs located in Tay Township, right on the Georgian Bay Snow Riders Trail. This trail on the old CPR line is owned by the Georgian Bay Snowriders snowmobile club, who are graciously opening their snowmobile trail to walkers year-round.

While hundreds of pilgrims already take part in organized pilgrimage walks on specific days throughout the summer from Burlington, Guelph, Toronto, etc. to the Martyrs’ Shrine, they tend to use roads, some quite busy, to make the annual trek. No doubt, a pilgrimage along the trails network in Simcoe County is more suitable for quiet reflection, meditation, prayer and enjoyment of our beautiful countryside.

Thanks to a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the idea of a permanent Pilgrim Route to the Martyrs’ Shrine, was presented by Simcoe County Trails ( to the Martyrs’ Shrine and has been enthusiastically embraced by various municipalities in Simcoe County.

“The Pilgrim Route enables anyone to follow the route any day of the year, alone or with friends or family, as a parish, or as a tourist to explore this part of Canada, in an off-road setting”, says Fr. Bernard Carroll, S.J., Director of the Martyrs’ Shrine. “Some pilgrims may want to follow the Pilgrim Route for religious reasons, others may just want to set themselves a personal challenge, meet other people, or visit another region.”

Mike Lauder, chair of Georgian Bay Trails, a recently founded Trail Development organization and committee of Simcoe County Trails, added that “From a tourism perspective, the Pilgrim Route is expected to bring tourists to the area and contribute to the local economy as pilgrims and tourists need accommodations, food and other supplies along the way”.

As a first phase in the development of the Pilgrim Route in Simcoe County, a route between Barrie and Midland via Orillia and Coldwater has been confirmed and follows Barrie’s North Shore Trail, the Lake Country Oro Medonte Railtrail, Orillia’s Millenium Trails, the Uhthoff Trail, the Tay Shore Trail and the Georgian Bay Snowriders Trail. Further expansions are planned south to Tottenham and into neighbouring regions.

Georgian Bay Trails, Simcoe County Trails and the Martyrs’ Shrine are therefore very pleased to announce the official opening of the Georgian Bay Snowriders Trail as well as the Pilgrim Route on June 21, 2014, National Aboriginal Day, which was deemed an appropriate date as our local trails in many instances follow aboriginal trade routes. Samuel de Champlain also took advantage of these trade routes to explore the area.

The June 21 opening event program includes:

  •     Official opening ceremonies at St. Ignace (on Rosemount Road, Tay Twp)
  •     10 km Walk from St. Ignace to the Martyrs’ Shrine along the Pilgrim Route on the new Georgian Bay Snowriders Trail
  •     Fundraising BBQ for Georgian Bay Trails at Trestle Park on hwy 12
  •     Guided tours of the Martyrs’ Shrine and the Museum
  •     Bannock making and trail club displays
  •     Pilgrim Mass

Everyone welcome. Free admission and parking at the Martyrs’ Shrine. Enter via the west gate on hwy 12, just east of Midland. Free busing to St. Ignace between 8:30 AM– 9:30 AM. Hop-on/hop-off buses at trail crossings to Tressle Park and to Martyrs’ Shrine in the early afternoon. Parking at St. Ignace or on Rosemount Road is very limited and should be avoided. Bring your own water bottle.

We hope you will join us for this event. For event details, see or contact



The Georgian Bay Trails (GBT) organization is a grass roots trail organization established to provide quality, well built and well maintained trails that connect the trail systems in Tiny, Tay, Midland and Penetanguishene. Their goal is to work closely with local municipal trail committees, as well as with residents and businesses, to design and develop new trails, secure private and public land use agreements or easements, and to raise funds to finance the projects (grants, donations, endowments, events, etc.). Some of their projects, currently in the planning stages, include a trail… from Penetanguishene to Awenda Provincial Park, and a trail from the Tay Shore Trail at hwy 12 in Midland to Wyebridge then further extending along Tiny Conc. 7 to Wylbolwood Beach. The Georgian Bay Trails organization has been set up as a trail development committee of Simcoe County Trails (, which is a not for profit charitable organization.


Simcoe County Trails (previously known as Huronia Trails and Greenways) is a registered not-for-profit charitable corporation (charitable number 869134759RR0001) and is specifically focused on the promotion of trails for their health, social, cultural, environmental and economic benefits, as well as the completion of a world class trails network in Simcoe County.  For trail maps or further information check or contact or 705-245-1005.


The Georgian Bay Snowriders Snowmobile Club has been in existence for over 40 years and it takes great pride in its strong commitment to working with land owners and municipalities to minimize their burden and reduce their effect on the environment, as much as possible.. The Georgian Bay Snowriders Club truly promotes a healthy and safe environment. Currently the club has a very strong membership base, 1600 strong and is very active in the community. For further information check info @ or 705-529-3307


Located in Tay Township, Ontario, the Martyrs’ Shrine commemorates the earliest days of the Catholic faith in what was then New France. A ministry of the Jesuits in English Canada, it honours the eight Jesuit saints—six priests and two laymen—who were martyred here in the seventeen-century. After the Canadian martyrs were canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1925, the Martyrs’ Shrine was opened in 1926 across the road from the ancient ruins of SainteMarie among the Hurons. The present Shrine Church on the hill overlooking Georgian Bay has been at this location for almost ninety years. More than 100,000 visitors from around the world and from all cultural backgrounds are welcomed to the Shrine’s 75 acre landscaped grounds each year. For more information, visit