A new 180 ft boardwalk will soon connect the 1 km loop of the purple trail at Laurier Woods Conservation Area, thanks to the friends and family of 28-year old Michael Gauthier who wanted to honour his memory, his passion for the outdoors, and his love of the woodland.
“Michael and Samantha hiked the trails of Laurier Woods trails daily," said Michael’s father-in-law Don Seguin who initiated the project with the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority and Friends of Laurier Woods who co-own the property.
"It was a large part of their lives and a spot where they made so many memories. They even had their wedding photos taken there.”
Michael’s friends and family, as well as a number of local contractors and suppliers who contributed to the construction of the boardwalk, came together March 7 to help in the construction and remember Michael who passed away suddenly on an outdoor trip in September 2018.
The 1 km purple trail at Laurier Woods will no longer end at the edge of the pond and marsh once the boardwalk is completed.
The trail which meets the south side of the pond will be cleared in the spring. The boardwalk will afford a view of a marsh that is home to two species at risk, the Blanding’s turtles and the Gypsy cuckoo bumblebee. An interpretive sign about the environmental assets of Laurier Woods and the significance of the boardwalk will be erected on “Michael’s Boardwalk” in the spring.
NBMCA worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to ensure the boardwalk was constructed in a way and at a time that would respect the species at risk. The 11 river-stone filled cribs and stringers supporting the boardwalk are made with rough cut hemlock.
“We are grateful to Michael’s family for honouring his memory in this way," said Troy Storms, NBMCA Manager of Lands and Stewardship.
"Michael’s boardwalk will make it possible for everyone who experiences the Laurier Woods trails to appreciate the environmental significance of this area for years to come. It’s a lasting legacy,”
Michael's memory continues to be celebrated by his wife Samantha, as well as his parents Mark and Ruth Gauthier and Don and Michelle Seguin, his brothers Raymond and his partner Adam Hewitt, Graham and his wife Joy, Jordan Seguin and his grandmother Lois Carey.
A special dedication of the Boardwalk is tentatively scheduled for May 9, subject to update on the COVID-19 virus status and a return to public gatherings.
The 240-acre conservation area encompasses a provincially significant wetland, rocky outcrops, and upland forest, and is a sanctuary to a broad range of wetland and woodland creatures and migrating birds. The trailhead is located off Brule St., just off Franklin St.