After almost five years and hundreds of hours of volunteer effort, the Back Country Horsemen Society of British Columbia’s North Vancouver Island Chapter (BCHBC-NVI) has two reasons to celebrate.

On January 5th, 2015, BCHBC-NVI received notice that the Government of British Columbia had ‘officially designated’ the Salmon Brewster Equine Campsites and Trail Corridor Project located in the Sayward Valley, north of Campbell River. This designation ensures that these facilities, built by BCHBC, can be enjoyed by equine enthusiasts and other outdoor recreational users in perpetuity. On February 19th, the volunteers will gather to celebrate that achievement and the release of a new book chronicling the project’s history.

“Trail Blazers: The Creation of the Salmon Brewster Equine Campsites and Trail Corridor Project is the story of how our 50+ members, who reside from Parksville to Port McNeill, engaged community and government to turn this project from a dream into reality,” explains BCHBC-NVI’s chapter chair, Sharon Pickthorne. “In cooperation with Recreation Sites and Trails BC, and other community stakeholders, BCHBC has built two campsites with facilities to accommodate horses, connected by a 40-kilometre wilderness trail network.

“The project is a significant historical achievement on Vancouver Island, as these are the first equine-friendly public recreation campsites on Crown-owned land,” adds Pickthorne. “Since their development, the campsites have been enjoyed not only by equestrians, but hunters, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts from across Vancouver Island and beyond. These facilities exist as a testament to the spirit of cooperation and a commitment to environmental stewardship.”

The book captures the history and personal anecdotes of the project visionaries, Rick Phye and Gerald Whalley, and the many dedicated volunteers who worked on the project. It takes readers back in time, to learn the history of the region, and then follows the ‘paper trail’ of how the volunteer task force secured the support of community stakeholders.

The 100-page paperback features more than 60 photographs and maps of the Sayward Valley and is a true ‘Made on Vancouver Island’ project. It was written by Terri Perrin, a Comox Valley-based freelance writer and BCHBC member. Graphic design is by Linda Graceffo, The Writer Connection, Courtenay. Printing by Victoria Bindery.

A professional writer with two previous books and over 2,200 on-line and print articles to her credit, Perrin explained that she wanted to be certain that the story behind the development of the project never be forgotten.

“I appreciate all of the work that went into building these amazing facilities,” said Perrin. “Volunteering to chronicle the project history was my way of expressing thanks to the people who put in hours of effort and to the community stakeholders whose contributions of time, supplies and financial resources made it all possible. Proceeds from the sale of Trail Blazers will be used to support the on-going maintenance and development of the campsites and trail network.”

The Trail Blazers Book Launch and Project Celebration will be held at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, February 19th, at Grantham Oddfellows Hall, 6040 Old Island Highway North, Courtenay. The public is invited to come to enjoy a PowerPoint presentation that will showcase the campsite facilities and trail corridor, to hear a book reading by Terri Perrin, to listen to stories from those who were involved in the project, and to meet the author, project visionaries and volunteers. Refreshments will be served and admission is free. Books are $20 cash or cheque. Trail Blazers will also be available on February 20, from BCHBC by mail order, or at Laughing Oyster Books or South Country Feed and Supply in Courtenay.

To learn more about the new horse camps, visit
To learn more about BCHBC, visit or call Sharon Pickthorne at 250-337-1818.