Southern Shore proprietor glad annual East Coast Trail and mental health fundraiser still a go

·3 min read

Nestled in Port Kirwan, just south of Ferryland, is a cozy bed-and-breakfast which caters to visitors from the world over who come to hike the East Coast Trail.

“The age group of people that come here are retired professionals. They’ve done backpacking and roughed it in their younger years, and they still want to be out in nature. They still want to hike; they’re very committed to their wellness and peace of mind. Hiking on the trail gives you that. If you could be a fly on the wall here in the evening, and have groups of people, who never knew each other until they showed up here, and the conversations are very positive and the energy is very positive And I completely connect that with hiking,” said Sharon Sinnott, owner of Belle Maison Dine and Dream.

Sinnott hasn’t been catering to those guests this summer, as COVID has dried up much of the province’s tourism industry, but says that the many local have been out and about and exploring the trails.

Growing up on the Southern Shore, Sinnott said that the trail, which began in 1994, has been an important cornerstone of the area’s culture and economy.

“There was a lot of enthusiasm, because, don’t forget, we were facing the cod moratorium, a lot of people where leaving the province, we didn’t now at the time, to never come back. So, having something to bring some kind of hope that we would still have people here and people working here meant a lot,” said Sinnott, who said the trail draws in visitors year after year.

“There were people around and bums in the seats as they say,” said Sinnott.

For that reason and more, Sinnott said that she’s glad that the annual East Coast Trail Association (ECTA) Trail Raiser fundraiser is going ahead this year.

Like many other fundraisers and events, the Trail Raiser, a partnership with Canadian Mental Health Association-NL, has been ported to a virtual platform due to pandemic restrictions. Participants are encouraged to raise funds as they seek to hike the entirety of the East Coast Trail (336 kilometres) by November 30.

The ECTA and CMHA-NL hope to reach $100,000 in funds, which will be split between both parties.

Sinnott, who has hiked the trail in its entirety in years past, says that the two associations work hand-in-hand.

“Walking the trail is like having your wellness toolkit. You can’t come off that trail and feel stressed, or anxious, because you’re letting that go with every step you take during the day,” said Sinnott.

Many of her guests hike the entire trail, a feat which may take up to two weeks of steady hiking, and she’s even had one guest from Britain who ran the entire trail.

They wishing to get invovled can register on the East Coast Trail Association’s website.

Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News