Origins

The beginnings of the Alberta Hiking Association ostensibly go back to 2005 when Alberta Parks and Recreation announced its desire to make significant changes to provincial parks and protected areas. However, our roots go deeper, back to the 1970s and 1908s to be exact.

The Alberta Hiking Association has had a long genesis. Day hiking and back country hiking had grown increasingly popular in the late 1960s and 1970s, and by the 1980s, hiking was one of the most popular outdoor experiences that Albertans enjoyed. Then, in 1989, Alberta TrailNet, a non-profit charitable society, was created to help bring together trail users, be they hikers, ATVers, cyclists or equestrians. Well-established organizations, most notably those representing motorized recreation, readily joined Alberta TrailNet. Hikers, though, were left in a limbo, without an organization to speak to their interests and concerns. So, in the absence of a formal hiking association, Alberta TrailNet sought individual hikers to sit in on its meetings. When the TransCanada Trail was founded in 1992, Alberta TrailNet was appointed as the TransCanada Trail agency in the province, and increasingly strong support came from motorized recreational organizations.

In 2005 the provincial government recognized that hiking interests needed to be addressed in its pending new Parks Planning Framework that would bring changes to land use in Provincial Parks and Protected Areas. The hiking fraternity needed to organize. The first crucial step to ensure that hiking interests were heard at government stakeholder meetings was to create an inventory of hiking groups in the province. It was Trailminders of the Bow Valley in Canmore, most notably member Doug Campbell, who worked on drawing up a list or organizations. As the list grew, a website, hikealberta.ca, was set up where groups—eventually 24 of them— could promote their activities. Another website, hikealberta.com, offered to open two new pages, Advocacy and Clubs, for the use of hikealberta.ca. With each domain feeding different fields of information into a single site, both groups benefited.

Meanwhile, hiking clubs and individuals such as Alison Dinwoodie and Bertha Ford in central Alberta, who had been involved in various government management plans, became aware of this initiative, and by the autumn of 2007 it was clear that there was a growing interest in creating a provincial organization to represent the hiking, cross country ski and snowshoeing fraternities. An initial meeting was called on 26 April 2008 at the Calgary Area Outdoor Council offices where 22 attendees representing 16 clubs agreed upon tentative objectives of a new organization. It was at this meeting as well that a steering committee composed of Doug Campbell, Alison Dinwoodie, Sandra Newell, Maurice Gaucher, Marc Pinel, Joyce Hildebrand and Rick Young was formed. By June, the association was registered as a non-profit organization under the name Hike Alberta Society. Five months later on 1 November, the Steering Committee called a general meeting in Red Deer where seven people were elected to the Board of Directors. It was charged with pursuing memberships, drafting bylaws and addressing other administrative details. Over the course of the next six months, draft bylaws were drawn up, the current website was set up by June 2009 by one of the members, Marc Pinel, and membership structure and fees were established. To avoid confusion with the group Hike Alberta, the name of the new organization was changed to the Alberta Hiking Association. Annual general meetings are held each spring where a new Board of Directors is elected.

This photo was taken following the 26 April 2008 meeting. Unfortunately, some people had left before the photograph was taken. There are a couple of people in the photograph who we cannot identify. Can you help us? Please Contact Us.

L-R: Joyce Hildebrand of the Alberta Wilderness Association; Marc Pinel of Grand Nature Club, Banff; Jack Burns of Central Alberta Mountain Club, Red Deer; Doug Campbell of Hike Alberta; Art Johnson of the Evergreen Seniors Outdoor Club; Nobby Mann of the M ‘n’ M Outdoor Club; ?; Carl von Mirbach of Rocky Mountain Ramblers, Calgary; Shirley Deneka of the Westwinds Outdoor Club of Calgary; Maryann Ayim  of the Canmore Seniors Meanderthals; Joan Kneisz of the Westwinds Outdoor Club of Calgary; Steven Geczy of the Westwinds Outdoor Club of Calgary; Lynn Bowers of the Calgary Ski Club, Calgary; Bertha Ford of the Red Deer Ramblers, Red Deer; ?; Betty Jaap of the Red Deer Ramblers, Red Deer; Maurice Gaucher of the Coalition of Seniors’ Outdoor Clubs, Calgary; Colin Graver of the Second Sixties Outdoor Club; Alison Dinwoodie of the Edmonton section, Alpine Club of Canada; Mary Campbell of Canmore Seniors Meanderthals, Canmore; Rick Young of Second Sixties Outdoor Club, Calgary.