What’s that? Destination: The Millennium Trail

Do you ever wonder what’s with some of the icons and signs placed around Terrace, B.C.? So do we. Let's explain

The Terrace flywheel is one of several points of reference along the Millennium Trail

“Ooh, what’s that?” asks an out-of-town friend as we drive along Highway 16 heading west. He’s pointing to Terrace’s 1.6 kilometre linear park, aka the Millennium Trail, formally called the Grand Trunk Pathway, and what some like to call Terrace’s seawall – except instead of running between the ocean and a park, it runs between the railroad tracks and the highway.

That latter bit of description doesn’t quite give justice to what has over the last decade-and-a-half – and thanks to the dedication of the Terrace Beautification Society and other community members and groups – evolved into a fairly primped pathway to linger along.

And whether you’re running, biking, strolling, or hey, even rollerblading the tree-lined route, as more and more seem inclined to do, there are plenty of opportunities to stop and say, “What is the deal with that thing, anyway?”

So, here’s the deal with some of those objects. And please, leave your suggestions for other Terrace landmarks or icons or weird things you’d like explained in the comments so we can include them in a future post.

The Spirit of Terrace

That’s right. Terrace has its own song – it’s even logged in the national music archives in Ottawa. “The Spirit of Terrace” was composed by Terrace’s music master and mentor, Jim Ryan (he’s the founder of the Terrace Community Band and the Terrace Symphony Orchestra).

That’s Jim Ryan, on the right, with his Order of Terrace. Bill McRae is on the left.

The metal monument was erected as part of a fundraising opportunity for the Dare to Dream foundation in the early aughts – this was back when the group had a deal with Alcan, when Alcan was just Alcan, not Rio Tinto, to match money raised – and as a testament to Ryan, who died in 2004.

The band plays the song often – but if you can’t catch it in person, listen to it here, compliments of the Terrace Community Band:

 

(Bonus track: Listen to Jim Ryan talk about the inspiration behind the song.)

Old Railcar

Yes, this historic old railcar is still used – just like the sign says, the Skeena Valley Model Railroad Association meets Monday at 7:30 p.m., although there are only three attending members left (talking to you, train model aficionados hiding in your sheds and others who are just interested in checking it out). The public can also climb aboard during Riverboat Days.

Boulders and Benches

This stone monument and bench, found on the western end of the trail, honours loggers of the pacific northwest, and is one of a number of boulders and benches honouring important and generous Terracites clustered along the route (my personal fave: the boulder thanking a local crane company for “raising Terrace to new heights”). Do you want a boulder or a bench of your own? Talk to the city. There is a standard form and fee for benches, and boulders or other monuments need city staff input. The eastern end of the trail has a lot going on but the western end – due to eventually be lengthened to Kitsumkalum – has plenty of room. Surely some groups fancy themselves a boulder, a bench, or something else entirely?

Not Graffiti

There is one lone sticker on a lamppost near the eastern end of the pathway that marks that time the Olympic torch passed through Terrace in 2010 en route to Vancouver.

Want to relive the torch relay? Here’s a video:

Terrace Flywheel

No, that’s not the source of the strange sounds in Terrace, B.C., it’s a historic flywheel that helped power the Little, Haugland, and Kerr Sawmill dating back to the early 1920’s. There’s a historical board at the base of the structure that explains its history, but Terrace Beautification Society past-president Chris Olsen says that as soon as George Little’s granddaughter decided to donate the wheel, decisions on where to put it and how to display it flew by without a hitch.

“In recognition of the natural splendour of this area.”

Did you know that the short table-top like concrete structure at the first fork of the pathway (right beside the wheel) actually points out all of the mountains that make up the walls of our little snowglobe of a town? Because it does.

It wouldn’t be Terrace without Spirit Bears

A mosaic bear done by Kaye and Matt Ehses, of Northern Light Studio, for Terrace’s 75th anniversary hangs out in front of the railcar. This bear builds on a stained glass window the couple created for the town’s 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, Northern Light Studio is a memory, but the art lives on – the stained glass window is at 4818 Halliwell and the Ehses have a stunning Japanese garden with more mosaic creations at their own home on the bench.

Meet Luna’s Pod, one of the bears that was part of a huge Easter Seals auction about 10 years ago. The plaque at the bottom of the bear directs visitors to the website www.spiritbearsinthecity.com (which now appears to belong to an Arizona real estate company) but a cached version of the site says the art project was “modelled after Chicago’s ‘Cows on Parade’, Toronto’s ‘Moose in the City’ and Vancouver and Victoria’s ‘Orcas In The City’.

The bears live in a number of B.C. communities, and Terrace has several – apparently there was a time when if someone wanted to protest something, they’d hang a sign around the neck of the bear in front of the Scotiabank. Terrace, B.C., never change.

This article has been updated to reflect that Jim Ryan died in 2004, not in the ’90s as initially reported.