Remembering Stan Skirrow

On Saturday, December 8, our beloved Stan Skirrow passed away.

Stan was more than a longstanding member…he devoted his passion and energy into making the Waskahegan Trail and its organization what it is today.

We have long wondered how to properly honour Stan and let the world know of his accomplishments. In 2017 we nominated him for a prestigious volunteer award given by the Province (even though we knew he wouldn’t attend the awards dinner in Banff—a mandatory condition of the award). This is what we told the award committee.

For the presentation portion of the AGM that year, we invited other longstanding members to talk about their volunteer experiences with the Association. Stan was in the hospital, but members who had visited him that day brought comments on his behalf.

One way we will remember Stan is with The Waskahegan Trail Guidebook. All the trail descriptions (over 45 trail sections) is Stan’s original writing, except where we’ve had to update the directions and contact information. Open the book to any trail description and he’ll tell you the story in his warm, entertaining style.

And then there is Stan’s Bench (above), situated on a ridge overlooking the Mud Lake area valley towards Coal Lake. It is said that it was his favourite view. We surprised him with it in 2006. Plans are in the works to have a special celebration there in the spring.

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Many former and current Waskahegan members will be at Stan’s Memorial Service at 1 p.m. this Sunday, at Foster McGarvey (10011 – 114 Street) in Edmonton.

Many thanks to Karen Bell for providing the photos.

They hiked the 290 km Waskahegan Trail in just two weeks

Summer adventure of 50 years ago provides lasting memories for the Dorward brothers and inspiration for local hikers

(A similar article originally appeared in the Camrose Booster – Country Edition July 10, 2018)

On July 4, 1968, Ross Dorward, 16, and his brother David, 15, started a hike on the newly-created Waskahegan Trail in central Alberta. The trail was developed as a Canadian centennial project, initially through the efforts of their father Fred Dorward and the Oil Capital Kiwanis group.

The trail runs mostly on private land and has few amenities for camping. “Ross and I completed it with Converse running shoes, heavy canvas backpacks, and no tent or freeze-dried food!” says David. He still has the journal he kept from the trip.

The route took them through Edmonton, Battle River country, Camrose, Elk Island National Park, Fort Saskatchewan, and St. Albert. “When we arrived at Emily Murphy Park on our return, we were met by Lt. Governor Grant MacEwan.”

On July 24th, the brothers were welcomed in St. Albert. According to the report in the St. Albert Gazette, “Both boys looked remarkably fresh—didn’t even complain of sore feet.”

Quite often we’re asked whether it’s possible to hike the whole trail in one go. Except for young David and Ross Dorward, we don’t think anyone else has done it. When we look back on what they did, we’re awestruck.

We recommend that regular folk like us walk the trail in day trips. For example, our Sunday guided hikes cover 5 km sections at a time, for 10 km return trips. Anyone can join us. And because we carpool from Edmonton, even city-dwellers who don’t drive can enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty of the countryside.

The trail is a unique treasure in this province and we can see why David and Ross were excited to take on the whole thing at the start of their summer vacation.

 

Hikers at Wanisan Lake trail