Dream come true for artistic ‘trailblazer’

White Rock senior aims to inspire others about Trans Canada Trail.

Nina McLachlan

Combining a love of art, nature and the landscape of Canada, a White Rock senior is sharing a project she describes as a “lifelong dream” with the community.

Monday, Nina McLachlan, 94, presented a three-dimensional map depicting the Trans Canada Trail that she created over the past several months to a group of children at White Rock Library.

The map details not only the route that the trail follows across the country, but also each province’s flower and animal, as well as intricate landscape details spanning the nation.

McLachlan, a resident of White Rock Seniors Village, said the project took her six weeks – roughly 120 hours – to complete.

She undertook the massive project in the living room of her one-bedroom suite and, with the help of the retirement community’s staff, researched the history and details of the trail online and collected all the necessary supplies.

“Each item was sketched, then hand-moulded with papier mache and painted with acrylics,” McLachlan explained, pointing to the various provincial flowers, including B.C.’s dogwood, and the various wildlife depicted on the map, which measures six feet across.

McLachlan said she first became interested in the Trans Canada Trail when the project was launched in conjunction with the country’s 125th anniversary celebrations in 1992.

“When it was announced that it would be coming through Summerland, I was living there at the time, and I was so enthused by the idea,” she told Peace Arch News.

McLachlan decided to purchase sections of the trail for each of her children and seven grandchildren, for which each was given a certificate of entitlement.

“My family didn’t know at the time, but it was also a stipulation, made by me, that they travel on their section of it whenever they came to Summerland,” McLachlan said.

She has watched with great interest over the past few decades as the Trans Canada Trail has grown and large sections were completed from coast to coast. The trail is currently 80 per cent complete, with 18,000 kilometres, of the 23,000 km it will stretch once finished, in operation.

A campaign is now in the works to solicit donations in order to have the trail completed by Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.

In addition to the trail’s route, McLachlan chose to include wildlife on her map in an effort to “stimulate an interest and appreciation of the cohabitation of wildlife and man,” she said.

She plans to include a message of environmental responsibility when discussing her project with youngsters in the community, like the group of more than a dozen who listened intently to her presentation this week.

“With so many species of wildlife at risk, it’s absolutely necessary that each of us accept a responsibility to commit to protecting our precious fragile environment,” McLachlan said.

Though she admits that at her age, she’s not able to hike much anymore, she said she loves to hear stories of others hitting the trail. One of her grandsons lives near the trail in Halifax, N.S., and McLachlan said he and his children make sure to tell her every time they go for a hike.

“What better way to experience nature firsthand than to trek on the trail?” she said.

With three new great-grandchildren recently born, McLachlan is now contemplating carrying on the legacy of purchasing pieces of the trail for the younger generation.

She hopes her project will inspire others to explore the Trans Canada Trail, a “landmark” she said she’s proud to be a part of.

“I may not own a home, but I own a piece of Canada,” she said.

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