The Trans-Canada Trail passes through Whitehorse, along the Copper Haul Road, on its way to the Beaufort Sea at Tuktoyaktuk — and an urban connector trail also runs through the downtown core of the city.
It was fitting that the Klondike Snowmobile Association, the Trans Canada Trail organiztion and the RCMP gathered on the Trail at Rotary Peace Park on Friday to honour the late Peter Greenlaw, with a memorial panel on the Trans Canada Trail Pavilion.
It was Greenlaw who spearheaded the movement to bring the Trans Canada Trail through the Yukon in the mid-90s.
“Peter was a visionary for the trail, that’s why we dedicated a panel to Peter here at Rotary Park,” said Mark Daniels, president of the Klondike Snowmobile Association, during the frosty noontime ceremony.
“He’d be so proud of it, he worked very hard at this, and he wasn’t one that needed thanks or wanted it, it’s just something he loved to do,” said Deborah Greenlaw, who attended the unveiling with her children Graydon and Sheena.
“I think it’s just awesome.”
“Peter started with the KSA about 1995, and was instrumental in getting the KSA as an agent for the Trans Canada Trail,” said Greenlaw.
That meant finding the routes and developing them through the territory.
The director of trail operations for the Trans Canada Trail, James Clark, made the trip from Calgary to be part of the unveiling.
“Peter was a great volunteer, he really set the example for how volunteerism should be in Canada,” said Clark. “He was visionary and he believed in community — he was a leader for the Trans Canada Trail.
“We thought we’d definitely have to have someone up here to honour him for that. The Trail started in 1994, and we went looking for groups that wanted to champion the cause in their area.
“The Klondike Snowmobile Association was the organization that stepped up. They became our agent, and they really wanted to spearhead it … Peter was the lead person that went into the communities and talked to people, and was the visionary of the route that would get us through the Yukon.”
The work Greenlaw started continues — the Trans Canada Trail in the Yukon has gaps, which the snowmachine association members working on, notably on sections of the Dawson Overland Trail between Braeburn and Whitehorse.
“We’re still building trail in the Yukon, we’ve got quite a ways to go,” said Clark.
The panel reads: “The spirit of Peter Greenlaw shines on brightly, guiding all who follow the trail, now and in the future. The Trans Canada Trail is indebted to Peter … the memory of Peter Greenlaw is intricately woven into the fabric of our community and lives.”
Originally from New Brunswick, Greenlaw lived in the Yukon for 20 years with Deborah, raising his children here, while serving with the RCMP M-division as the drug awareness co-ordinator.
He focused much of his energy on helping local youth organizations, through coaching basketball and soccer and supporting the Music, Art and Drama program at Wood Street Centre.
“It was with great pride that he did his work with youth throughout the Yukon — promoting positive alternatives to drug use,” said Cpl. Grant McDonald of the RCMP. “Peter was a very humble man, he would’ve been for sure honoured by this unveiling.”
Greenlaw died in 2005 after a 10-year battle with Wegener’s granulomatosis, a rare blood vessel disease.