Had you been in Caledon’s historic Forks of the Credit on Friday, January 26, 2007, you might have wondered at the helicopter carrying a large metal disk hovering above the area’s iconic trestle bridge. Turns out, it was one of a multitude of pieces that had to fall into place before the 600m-long Ring Kiln Side Trail could be officially opened nine months later.
Three years earlier, Barry Westhouse, a long-time Bruce Trail volunteer and amateur historian, had located the century-plus-old ruins of a Hoffman lime kiln (circa 1896). He suggested building a side trail into this relic of Caledon’s industrial past.
Carol Sheppard, the project’s volunteer manager obtained permission from six property owners for the trail to cross their land. She obtained consent from the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) since the lime kiln sat on its property and satisfied the MNR’s condition that a safety cover be placed over the hole that had been left behind after the lime kiln’s 30m-tall chimney crumbled. Next, she found companies to design and manufacture the cover. Then she had the 363kg steel grate transported to Inglewood where the Orangeville-Brampton Railway moved it (at no cost) to the lime kiln site. At this point, the greatest challenge began. How could they get the grate from the railway tracks up a long steep bank to its final resting spot? Chris Walker, the Bruce Trail’s volunteer trail maintenance director, had an idea. Walker said, “Boy, it sure would be nice to have a helicopter to save us all this work.” Not only did Sheppard find a chopper pilot willing to do the work, but she also got him to do it for free!
All of which explains why, when the Ring Kiln Side Trail officially opened on September 28, 2007, it was a proud moment – but also a poignant one. Chris Walker had sadly died only days before the ceremony. In remembering Walker, the CHBTC’s president, Janice McClelland, explained that two months earlier, Walker had carved “CHBTC 07” into the interpretive sign’s cement base, forever marking his role in yet another CHBTC successful team effort.