How the Harte Trail came to be


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/12/2021 (546 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Having written columns about Charleswood’s history in the past, I was looking forward to Eileen MacDonald’s History of Charleswood presentation to learn more about topics I may be able to cover in the future.

Unfortunately, I was unable to access the Zoom presentation offered by South Winnipeg Senior Resource Centre.

Suffice to say, I’m not great with technology. I was, however, able to obtain the topics she covered and decided to zero in on Harte Trail, having enjoyed many walks along this pathway. The following information is a brief summary based on the Charleswoood Historical Society presentation, as well as sources including Friends of the Harte Trail, who can be found at

Supplied photo This plaque along the Harte Trail in Charleswood explains the trail’s origins and how it came to be.

Locals know the Harte Trail, a 6.5 kilometre strip of wilderness, as a great place to walk, run, cycle, cross country ski or just explore nature. But, what many may not know is that Harte Trail is actually on an old railway bed. Some of the original wooden railroad ties to which the steel rail were attached can still be seen. Over the years plants, shrubs and trees have grown up and the natural growth acts as a shelter for a path that now has a crushed limestone surface.  

While countless Winnipeggers have been using the Harte Trail since it was established some 30 years ago, its history is probably not as well known as the location.

The name Harte Trail was taken from the Harte Line, the first section of Grand Trunk Pacific Railway built in western Canada in 1894, and was in use until 1970. Trains used to leave downtown Winnipeg and pass by Pacific Junction Station en route to Portage la Prairie.

A commemorative plaque with information and photographs of the Pacific Junction Station can be found on the trail east of Elmhurst Road. The sign references the Searle Grain Elevator and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, which ran west to Prince Rupert, B.C. The rail line was completed in 1914 but due to financial issues, fell into ruin. It was taken over by the federal government and eventually became the Canadian National Railway.   

The historic Prairie Dog Steam Train was the last train to use the tracks in 1974.

In 2000, Harte Trail became part of the Trans Canada Trail, the world’s largest network of recreational trails. Established in 1992, the Trans Canada — when fully connected — will stretch 23,000 kilometre from Atlantic to Pacific to Arctic Ocean.

Within the city, Harte Trail has many connections. In the east, it connects to Preston Trail, which allows users access to Assiniboine Park. At Shaftesbury Boulevard, south of Wilkes Avenue, it connects to Thundering Bison Trail, which can take users along Sterling Lyon Parkway, or to Fort Whyte Alive.

Going west, the trail follows the rail bed to the Perimeter Highway and continues on the other side of the Perimeter as the Grand Trunk Trail, which runs right through Headingley, where it has been well-marked and preserved.  Just pick a direction and head out.

While you’re walking, jogging or skiing down Harte Trail, reflect on how this slice of nature started, where it stretches, and why it happens to be in the heart of Charleswood.

Donna Minkus is a community correspondent for Charleswood.

Donna Minkus

Donna Minkus
Charleswood community correspondent

Donna Minkus is a community correspondent for Charleswood.

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