Connie Harris Crowley (second from left) receiving the Shuswap Trails award in 2010 for her outstanding contribution to trails within the region. Also shown are fellow trail stewards, Jim Beckner, Jim Hoskins, and Ed Hinman. Crowley has most recently been awarded a Senate 150th Commemorative Medal in recognition for her work in building and promoting community trails throughout the Shuswap as a legacy for the future. - Photo contributed

Shuswap trail volunteer earns national medal

Connie Harris Crowley has worked to create a trail legacy in the region

By Leah Blain, Observer contributor

“Legend” is the word the Shuswap Trail Alliance uses when describing Connie Harris Crowley.

When she hears this Crowley’s eyes widen in surprise for a moment before she begins to smile.

“I suppose I’m old enough to be one,” she jokes.

Crowley is officially being awarded a Senate 150 Commemorative Medal at Salmon Arm’s next council meeting. This medal is awarded to outstanding community volunteers from the interior of BC for their work in building and promoting community trails as a legacy for the future.

“I was kind of flabbergasted actually,” says Crowley, “Senator Nancy Green phoned me. I asked her, ‘How did you get my name?’ She told me she asked mayors from various towns and Nancy Cooper got my name from Phil McIntyre-Paul.”

They “chatted a bit” and then, a couple of hours later, she received a congratulatory call from Mayor Nancy Cooper.

And all this because Crowley and her husband, Tom, were into a sport that hadn’t really caught on yet here in the Shuswap.

“We had picked up cross-country skiing in Calgary. We were in Michigan and cross-country skiing was really coming on. We came here – it was a record snowfall and what we found was there were few cross-country skiers, Tom says he counts five, and there were no trails or anything. When we went we were on unplowed logging roads.”

They were always on the lookout for good places to ski and they found Larch Hills.

“They had done horse logging there in 1950s, there was deadfall and stumps. It was a good place for a trail system but it needed a lot of work.”

The small group worked hard clearing trails but they all realized it wasn’t going to develop a system very fast. They needed a plan and money. Crowley attended a conference in Ottawa for cross-country ski trail building and used the information when designing the first Larch hills loops.

“The government of Canada gave out grants to community groups to do things for the community. I made all the applications but we didn’t get it that year. We weren’t organized. I went through the trouble of an elaborate constitution and bylaws and incorporating the group as a club. In the fall of 1977 we got a grant to clear trails and I became project manager.”

They called the group Shuswap Outdoors!

“The lawyer asked me, ‘Why the exclamation point?’ and I said, ‘Because it’s such a good idea.”

Over the years Crowley, as part of Shuswap Outdoors!, helped with trails throughout the area including most of the Shuswap’s iconic alpine hiking trails, and the creation of the Mara Meadows Ecological Reserve. She helped to guide the creation of the Shuswap Trail Alliance.

She has put in countless hours to the Shuswap trail system. It was a lot of work but it was rewarding. She remembers the thrill of seeing total strangers enjoying the trails she helped build.

“It’s lovely. I like seeing other people out there. It’s fantastic.”

Mayor Nancy Cooper will be presenting Connie Crowley with her medal at City Hall at the beginning of the Dec. 11 council meeting, at 2:30 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

Just Posted

In Photos: Trooper attracts a crowd on Shuswap Lake

Hundreds of boats turn up to watch the Canadian rockers play atop a 94 foot houseboat

Salmon Arm Secondary hosts B.C. mountain biking championships

Over 200 riders expected to hit the trails May 25-26

Tanto Latte brings authentic Italian flavour to the Okanagan

Organic Italian cheese to be produced in Salmon Arm

Shuswap karate instructor doubles for Hollywood’s big stars

Holly Raczynski’s latest job was as a stunt double on the upcoming X-Men film, Dark Phoenix

Rain will push risk of ‘extreme flooding’ in Okanagan

River Forecast Centre says rainfall over the next 24-36 hours will have the greatest impact

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

175 evacuation orders lifted as floods recede in Grand Forks

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

The Okanagan shines in foodie finalist list

Western Living has released their 2018 list of finalists

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Most Read