North

Trans Canada Trail honours Whitehorse trail groomer Harris Cox

The Trans Canada Trail, launched in 1992, is now 75 per cent complete, but it wouldn't have happened without volunteers like Harris Cox of Whitehorse. 'I plan on staying until I can't drive anymore,' he says. 'I'll groom 'til hell freezes over, and I'll groom there too!'

'Seven hours a day on a snow machine, no problem,' says Cox, 73

Harris Cox of Whitehorse is one of six Canadians featured in a new ad campaign for the Trans Canada Trail. He puts about 5,500 kilometres on how snowmobile each winter. 'I'll groom 'til hell freezes over, and I'll groom there too!' (CBC)

If today's snowmobiler is often like a rodeo cowboy, riding a fast and dangerous machine for kicks, Harris Cox is the equivalent of the drifting cowpoke, spending countless lonely hours gently riding the range.

The Whitehorse man is one of six Canadians profiled in a new ad campaign for the Trans Canada Trail. Cox was chosen because of his many years of volunteer work, grooming trail for the Klondike Snowmobile Association.

He estimates tending about 600 kilometres of trail every winter, a third of it part of the Trans Canada Trail network.

"Seven hours a day on a snowmobile, no problem," says Cox, 73. "I put on an average of 5,500 kilometres a year on the snowmobile. It's fun."

The series of six short videos were produced to mark National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 12 to 18. Each video focuses on a Trans Canada Trail volunteer in a different part of the country. Cox is the only Northerner.  

"Harris came very highly recommended," says Gay Decker, communications director for the Trans Canada Trail. She says Cox's name was put forward by Mark Daniels, president of the Klondike Snowmobile Association.

The video shows a smiling Cox standing and riding his machine at various spots along the Copper Trail near Whitehorse. He's shown holding signs that profess his love for the trail network, and the ongoing efforts to develop it.

"I promote the Yukon," says Cox. "I call it my backyard."

"You'd be surprised the number of people across Canada doesn't know where the Yukon is. This will help put it on the map some more."

'Bold mission' to complete trail

The Trans Canada Trail was first launched in 1992, to mark Canada's 125th anniversary. It's one of the world's longest networks of recreational trails. Once fully connected, it will stretch more than 24,000 kilometres through every province and territory.

Trail officials estimate it's now about 75 per cent developed. The gaps tend to be in remote areas with difficult terrain. Decker says the "bold mission" now is to see the trail complete by 2017, the 150th anniversary of Confederation. 

 "We're so proud of the work everyone's been doing across the country, everybody puts their heart and soul into it," says Decker. "These people work without any fanfare." 

As Cox approaches his 74th birthday next month, he's not thinking of retirement. He has ambitions to help develop the trail northward, right to Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. His only wish is to have an enclosed snow machine, to make the ride a bit more comfortable.

"I plan on staying until I can't drive anymore," he says. "I'll groom 'til hell freezes over, and I'll groom there too!"

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