The Howard Watson Trail is a 16 km unmotorized trail that goes from Sarnia to Camlachie. Thousands of people walk, bike, and run the trail each year. For some people, the trail has become a part of their daily routine.
Howard Watson, for whom the Trail is named, was a member of the Clearwater Council and is well remembered as an important supporter for the trail concept. While serving on the Council, Watson passed away in the fall of 1989.
Extension and improvements to the Trail have now started, beginning at the west end (Mandaumin Road). The work includes grading and surface restoration with a plan to extend the trail to Rapids Parkway, through a Highway 402 underpass and ending at a new intersection at Exmouth Street.
Up until 1967, the Trail occupied a rail line owned by CN. From 1967 to 1982, it remained unused until Councillor Watson approached Lambton Wildlife Inc (IWI), suggesting that it be changed to a nature trail. In 1983, LWI member Don Smith approached Sarnia Township Council with the idea of purchasing the abandoned railway and transforming it into a nature trail. Unfortunately the idea was rejected.
In 1988, when the former Sarnia Township was incorporated as the Town of Clearwater, more than 250 people attended the meeting. LWI representative Fernando Noel again presented the original proposal, the idea for which had been debated for three years.
Finally, the proposal was approved, with the LWI managing the Trail for three years at no public cost.
To raise money for the work required, LWI member Peter Banks created a fundraising program. During this time, the anti trail groups continued to protest, sending letters to newspapers and calling the Council office. On June 14,1988, Noel escorted LWI President Dorothy Edwards to the Clearwater office for the signing of the Management Agreement between Clearwater and Lambton Wildlife Inc.
Today’s extension and restoration of the Trail will be an improvement to what is now a valuable community resource and for the citizens who use the Trail.