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Trail Research Hub Acquires Trent-Fleming Trail Studies Unit's Resource Library

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

By: Kelsey Johansen

Trent University - Main Entrance

On Friday July 15th, 2022, the Trail Research Hub acquired the Resource Library curated by the Trent-Fleming Trail Studies Unit. From 1992 until his retirement, Professor Emeritus John Marsh, PhD founded and subsequently ran the Trent-Fleming Trail Studies Unit at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario which officially closed on July 1st of this year.

Trent University - School of the Environment / Environmental Sciences Building

Throughout its tenure, the Unit hosted national and provincial conferences on trails, published books on Rails to Greenways and Trails and Tourism and local trail guides, enabled research involving students, including coursework, Masters and Doctoral thesis work, and supported international research and industry engagement on a consulting basis.

During Dr. Marsh's tenure, the Resource Library accumulated over 3400 references on all aspects of trails and received requests for information from all over the world. Included in the collection are:

  • Trail research articles, briefing notes and summaries;

  • Trail planning and management documents;

  • Trail guidebooks and brochures; and,

  • A sub-collection of trail design and management manuals.

Over the course of the global COVID-19 pandemic, trails have emerged as essential recreation and tourism infrastructure, providing numerous individual and community services, including supporting healthy living, wellness, nature connection, outdoor recreation, tourism, conservation of greenspaces and parks, and opportunities for community beautification, while providing a myriad of economic benefits to local communities.

Around the world, countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Ireland have developed strategies and policies to support trail development that bring together a variety of stakeholders from across industry and the academy to strengthen the trails sector across geopolitical boundaries. An excellent example of this is the American Trails Advancing Trails Webinar Series and Resource Library, and the World Trails Network's annual conference.

In contrast, Canada has not been as well coordinated in its approach to research and resource sharing. Although events like Trailhead Canada, hosted in 2017 by the Canadian Trails Federation and the National Roundtable on Risk Management co-hosted in 2022 by the Canadian Trails Federation and the Ontario Trails Council with support from the Trail Research Hub, provide opportunities for networking and resource sharing. And, while organizations like the Canadian Federation of Snowmobile Clubs have filled the gap related to their specific trail user groups and activities, and some provinces have created strategic plans for trails, other organizations and provinces / territories have not.

Now, with the closure of the Trails Studies Unit there is an absence of a centralized repository of Canadian case studies, policies, legislation, and best practices in trails. This means that funders, government and conservation organizations, and trail consultants will struggle to address multiple requests for support from community-based stakeholders and trail organizations, which in turn has the potential to make funding for trails difficult to secure and sustain while simultaneously forcing community-based and volunteer-operated trail organizations to exhaust themselves in attempts to solve obstacles to building and operating trails in isolation from others in their sector.

As such, Dr. Marsh reached out to the Trail Research Hub to ensure that this valuable resource, and the important research and industry work it has supported, could continue through the Hub.

Dr. John Marsh (Professor Emeritus) and Dr. Kelsey Johansen (Chair, Trail Research Hub) at the Trail Studies Unit

Now, having acquired the print-based Resource Library, the Trail Research Hub is investigating means of digitizing its contents, and converting it into an accessible and useable online resource library through which independent academic programs, and industry stakeholders could access, use, collaborate on, and contribute to, the materials while supporting the continued growth and long-term viability of the Canadian trails sector.

Through this work, we intend to update and expand on the extensive materials already housed within the Trail Studies Unit Resource Library collection to include:

  • Academic Publications (journal articles, thesis research, and research reports) on Trail-related topics;

  • Trail-based legislation;

  • Economic Impact studies of Trails;

  • Community Engagement in Trails;

  • Trail Tourism and Trail-Based Recreation Planning; and,

  • More!

We will therefore be reaching out to industry stakeholders, and academics, in the upcoming months to request digital copies of publicly available documents related to trails and trail-based economic, community, and sustainable development for consideration for inclusion in the Trail Resource Library.

Get In Touch

If you would like to stay up to date on progress towards launching the online Trail Resource Library, please subscribe to our updates by visiting or reach out to us at: to discuss collaboration opportunities.


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