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Cowichan Valley Trail Holmes Paldi bicycle

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Published on Jun 17, 2011

Cycle from Sherman Road, Duncan, BC to Paldi, BC. 20km roundtrip. First bridge crossing is the all-new Holmes Creek footbridge. Thanks to the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD). The rebuilt railtrail connects Lake Cowichan, BC with Duncan, BC, over its 26km length. A very good cycling trail.

Book Review by WJI:

"Well my dear, do you want the short answer to your question or the long answer?" was Gramps' reply to his granddaughter's question. "Please give me the short answers, Gramps," was her succinct reply. Grandchildren often remember the last time they asked a question of their elders and also remember how long it took to get the answer. The simple answer, that is.

So it is with T.W. Paterson's latest book: Rails to Trails Historical Map & Guide. For those looking for the short answers to any question they may have regarding multi-use trails in the Cowichan Valley, they need look no further than Tom Paterson's, latest, 28-page book. Tom answers all your question with short answers in his newest Firgrove Publishing book: Rails to Trails Historical Map & Guide.

Perhaps best known for his ghost town books which have been in print since the 1970s, TW Paterson is a familiar byline to thousands of readers who enjoy his newspaper and magazine articles, and his 26 books on popular British Columbia's history. For 14 years, TWP has written a twice-weekly historical column, Cowichan Chronicles, in Duncan's Cowichan Valley Citizen.

Tom's latest offering is really the most information regarding Cowichan Valley trails one could publish in print and still have fit into one's pocket (140x265mm or 5.5x10.5 inches). The real value of this book is as one travels these Cowichan Valley rail-trails today, ready references can be made by consulting its pages, including its maps or photographs.

Firstly, as its title implies, Rails to Trails, is a history of the Cowichan Valley's major railways, why they were built and the communities that were spawned as a result. Secondly, it's a complete reference regarding how to access these rails2trails and the points-of-interest they provide. Thirdly, it's a history of the Kinsol Trestle and its ongoing Restoration Project culminating in its opening to the public during the summer 2011.

Rails to Trails Historical Map & Guide, includes many full-colour photographs and maps. The most note-worthy, full-colour map is printed as a two-page flyout on the last pages of the book. Using the Historical Sites, Mileposts & Trestles' numbered guide printed on p.24, the reader can easily identify every point-of-interest shown on the two-page map (pp.25,26). This makes for a simple three-page layout anyone can use to identify every section of all the Cowichan Valley's former railway stations, mill operations and family-named references. A very handy resource.

The book starts with a brief history of the main players in the construction and operation of Cowichan Valley's railways. These were built by: The Canadian Northern Pacific Railway -- later to become Canadian National Railway (CNR); The Esquimalt & Nanaimo (E&N) Railway -- later bought by Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). After the CPR bought the E&N in 1905, the latter existed in name only.

Tom goes on to explain the location and reasoning in constructing the various spur lines these two railroad giants built from their mainlines. Like the mainlines, all these spur lines are also today's railtrails (or in the process of becoming so). Unfortunately, Tom points out, some right-of-ways are lost forever due to urban expansion. In the case of the Tidewater, Tom reminds us their still time to save it for future generations. Let's hope so.

Therefore, if you are one of the many who love old railways and love to get out and enjoy what's left for us, Tom's latest book is for you. Rails to Trails Historical Map & Guide is a great book and must-have reference for anyone contemplating exploring the Cowichan Valley region. It retails for just $9.95 and will soon be available in bicycle and outdoor stores throughout Vancouver Island.

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