By Rob Patry


At first I thought this was something that only concerned matters of the heart. Apparently it’s much more than that. ECG stands for The East Coast Greenway. Now, prior to ever hearing of St. Stephen, New Brunswick or Calais, Maine, I had heard of Key West. Key West is one of my most beloved destination spots in the world. After all it’s the home of one of my favorite musicians, Mr. Jimmy Buffett and his first foray into the world of rock themed restaurants, Margaritaville. More than a restaurant, more than a song, it’s a lifestyle. It means often wearing wildly printed Hawaiian shirts, shorts, and flip-flops, sipping on Piña Coladas, Mai Tais and Margaritas through those glorious sweltering summer months. Caya Hueso, as the natives call it, is this wonderful, tiny absurd, bohemian little spot that was once the home of novelist Ernest Hemingway, the gallant and often maligned Captain Tony, and an entire jumble of eccentric and wild characters searching for the lost Horizon, Valhalla and Eden all rolled into one. The ideal spot to reconnect with your inner spirit, and shuck all form of responsibility to the wind. 

So you ask, what does any of this have to do with Calais, or St. Stephen for that matter? ECG. That’s what it has to do with it. The East Coast Greenway is connected tracts of bike and off road pathways that stretch along the entire Eastern seaboard from Key West right up to Calais, Maine. And from our perspective on the side just North of Calais, we would like to connect it to The Great Trial, which in turn would see a route from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans. No small feat by any means. Yet in the minds and hearts of many including New Brunswick MLA and Minster of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, John Ames, it remains a dream close in reach. With Canada 150 now in progress, the need to amalgamate these great paths is one of his visions. According to Mr. Ames, “This is part of an incredible journey which started on our side of the border one hundred and fifty years ago with Confederation. July 1, Canada Day represents our coming together as a people, just as I hope some day these paths will become one link to two great nations, fulfilling a promise of green space, sustainability, and beauty for the world to see and enjoy. It’s more than just a path, it is the very lifeblood of a history, centuries of shared ideals and goals to achieve what we now have.”

The dream is coming to fruition. ECG has evolved to a stage of near completion, and it is something monumental that still many have not heard of, nor many cannot even comprehend. But as the Great Wall of China once divided a land and its peoples, these paths have the ultimate goal of unity and building connections. As two countries separated by a border, we are truly in the heart of the matter about tearing down walls, not building them. Let’s hope these lessons of history resounding through our very shared earths do not fall on deaf ears.