Algonquin Highlands Trails staff Ski Friends of the Frost Centre and family of Ted Koehler gathered at the cross-country ski trailhead on Saturday March 10 to honour Ted’s years of volunteer work at the Leslie Frost Centre ski trails with a memorial plaque to be installed at the Deer Trail shelter. Ted worked on the trails from his retirement in 2002 to 2011 when the township of Algonquin Highlands assumed the management of Frost Centre ski and snowshoe trails along with summer hiking and water (canoe) trails which the township was already managing.
Ted continued to appreciate these trails until he passed away on Aug. 18 2017.
Ski Friends of the Frost Centre were operating the ski trails when Ted and his wife Glena retired to their cottage in 2002. Ted and Glena joined this volunteer group ably led by Wally Ozog who enjoyed clearing the trails of debris such as fallen trees improving drainage and providing firewood in ski shelters for skiers’ use in the winter.
In the summer months Ted and Glena noticed that there was a garbage problem due to unauthorized camping at the Raven Lake Dam and they approached the township about this situation. Subsequently Ted served on the Algonquin Highlands Water Trails committee while Glena served on the waste management committee until such time as these committees became redundant due to the township assuming their management.
Mark Coleman now Minden Hills parks and recreation manager and Chris Card now Algonquin Highlands parks recreation and trails manager worked diligently to improve the trails. Employing the Algonquin Park model of booking campsites for canoe trips along with conservation officer regulatory enforcement enabled the township to greatly reduce the previous environmental devastation from unauthorized camping in the Frost Centre area.
Fortunately Algonquin Highlands realized the need to keep canoe hiking ski and snowshoe trails open for the fitness and healthful benefits of quiet non-motorized outdoor sports as well as tourism benefits for our community.
Ted Koehler is remembered for his sheer joy at being part of the Ski Friends of the Frost Centre work parties in the outdoors. He loved working on the trails while maintaining physical fitness and appreciating nature with like-minded companions. His sense of humour was always uplifting. For Ted work was essentially play!
Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt summed it up when Ted received his 2013 Enviro-Hero Award for his contribution to “protection and sustainability” of our natural resources and environment a gala hosted annually by the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust: “The thing about Ted is that he works quietly in the background expects no recognition and he’s the kind of guy you want to give an award to … He’s a passionate outdoor and trails enthusiast and he’s travelled extensively throughout North America to many of its greatest natural wonders parks and trails.”
The memorial plaque inscription reads: “In memory of Ted (Edward J.) Koehler May 10 1939 – August 18 2017 Haliburton Highlands Land Trust Environmental Stewardship Award – July 6 2013 Frost Centre Ski Trails dedicated volunteer and skier passionate outdoor and trails enthusiast. ‘Happy Trails to you.’”
Attending the Frost Centre for a photo on Saturday were trails staff Peter Buwalda and Dylan Reynolds; Ski Friends of the Frost Centre’s Wally Ozog Anu Lellup Norm Vanstone and Peter Brogden; family members Karen Koehler (daughter) Robert Sargent (son-in-law) Kevin Koehler (son) and Glena Koehler (widow of Ted); as well as snowshoe group friends and Zion United Church friends.
-Submitted by Glen a Koehler