For the past four years, Jean Tellier has been actively urging the Rainbow Routes Association to develop a trail in his hometown of Coniston.
On Oct. 12, Tellier's vision came to fruition.
Rainbow Routes Association officially opened its newest trail Friday morning. The two-kilometre trail, which is wheelchair accessible, connects residents and two schools via the end of Rideau Road to Edward Avenue in Coniston. It is also part of the Trans Canada Trail, which spans the entire country.
While Tellier was beaming with pride and satisfaction during the opening ceremonies, his pride turned to humble honour when it was announced that the trail would bare his name.
Rainbow Routes is currently seeking approval from city council to officially dub its newest path the Sentier Jean Tellier Trail.
"I didn't mean to have my name on the trail," he said. "But I'm pleased to get a trail for the people of Coniston. It's gives me a lot of joy to know that people will be able to walk on it and enjoy it. So far, there are so many people that have been on it and they have come to me and said 'It's changing our life in Coniston.' It's very nice."
Tellier, a retired teacher who has lived in the small community since 1979, said the trail is changing his life, too. The active lifestyle Tellier lives — walking the trail each and every day — helps him keep a handle on the effects of Lou Gehrig's disease.
"It keeps me young at heart. I go out and meet people, some youngsters. It gives me joy when I see the children coming to school on their bikes, taking the path. And you see also a lot of older people who said 'I remember walking a dirt trail a long time ago, and now there's a new trail. It's better.'"
Deb McIntosh, Rainbow Routes Association's executive director, said Tellier was a driving force behind the creation of the trail.
"There are community members that are persistent and they keep coming into the office and they work at it — they don't just say they want a trail ... and expect Rainbow Routes — a little not-for-profit — to be able to do it on our own," McIntosh said. "I can think of a handful of community members who have gone out and flagged things, GPSed and garnered community support, which is what Jean Tellier has done here in Coniston."
"He's been diligent in keeping after us to keep going on it and he got the Coniston-CAN involved too," McIntosh said.
She admitted Tellier's dream is much bigger than the current trail, "but this is what we could do for now."
The Trans Canada Trail stretches across the entire country, and once completed, it will be 22,000 kilometres in length. Locally, the trail winds its way from Nairn Centre in the west, through the heart of the city towards Coniston and eventually to North Bay in the east.
According to McIntosh, 85 per cent of the route through Greater Sudbury has been completed. The association's goal is to complete the entire distance — 95 kilomtres — by 2015.
For more information on local trails, visit www.rainbowroutes.com.