Andrea DeMeer                                Jim Stolth directed much of the work that created the trail opportunities around Princeton today.

Andrea DeMeer Jim Stolth directed much of the work that created the trail opportunities around Princeton today.

Trail blazer receives prestigious senate medal

Former Tulameen man recognized for contributions to rail trail and health and fitness

Jim Stolth was “quite impressed” a few months ago when he received a phone call from Senator Nancy Greene Raine.

The high profile senator – who promotes health and fitness and was voted as Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th century – informed Stolth he would receive a Senate of Canada 150th anniversary medal.

“I was a little shocked by it. I’m still in shock I guess. I never expected to get anything like that in my life,” he told The Spotlight.

“Nancy Raine called me and said I’d been nominated for this award and would I accept it? I said ‘well I can’t think of a reason not to’ and she said ‘that’s good because you are getting it anyways. Your name is being printed on it right now.’”

The medal was presented Monday night, on Raine’s behalf, by Princeton Mayor Frank Armitage.

Stolth was a member of the local Rails to Trails society that evolved into the Vermilion Trails Society in 1997. He was president of the group for seven years and during that time led a team of volunteers to restore the trail in the Princeton area for hikers and cyclists.

“I guess we started by decking and hand railing the trestle in Tulameen and after that we were able to get funding and get all the railway bridges in the valley decked and hand railed.”

In many places the trail was unsafe to travel and in other places it was unsightly.

“It was an abandoned rail bed and many of the trestles were washed out and had pieces missing…down behind Chevron used to be a mud hole parking lot of trucks.”

Stolth said many volunteers donated time to the effort.

“I guess I always hoped the trail would be better than it was, but I never expected to see it quite as spectacular as it is now.”

Stolth also operated a cycle shop to cater to trail users, and ended up meeting people from around the world.

“I always enjoyed the visitors that I saw along the trail, people from every walk of life; airline pilots and ferry captains and doctors and lawyers. It was really kind of amazing the various people who were out there,” he said.

“Jim’s work on the development of the Trans Canada Trail in our area truly has made a lasting difference and has become a long-term legacy of a healthy lifestyle for our area,” said Armitage.

Stolth and his wife Yvette moved from Tulameen to Chilliwack 18 months ago.

The special senate medals were struck to commemorate the first sitting of that body 150 years ago. Each of the 105 senators was given twelve medals to award.