Rapids Parkway Extension slowly moving forward

Howard Watson Trail now runs to Lambton College

Posted On: March 1st, 2020

Sarnia Council, at it’s sept. 9/19 meeting, approved a side-extension of the Howard Watson Trail that passes across Finch Drive and lead directly into the campus of Lambton College.

The Committee is funding 20% of the $278,000 cost, with another $30,000 coming from Lambton College and a provincial grant covering the rest. Cope Construction did the necessary work, including paving of the new trail.

A flashing-light pedestrian crossing has been installed to allow for safe crossing of busy Finch Avenue. The new trail is now open for use.

Pricing and procedure for buying memorial benches on the Trail system

Posted On: March 1st, 2020

An increasing number of people are asking about purchasing memorial benches to be placed within the city’s trail/park system. Please click on the link below for complete information and application forms.

Some PortaJohns on the Howard Watson Trail Will Remain During Winter

Posted On: November 22, 2020

The Bluewater Trails Committee has decided to fund year-round portajohns at 2 locations, Cathcart Park (adjacent to tennis courts) and at the entrance to the Suncor Nature Way on Modeland Road. The committee recognizes that trail use has increased dramatically and this increased use will likely continue over the winter.

The HWNT is 33 Years Old in 2021 – how it came to be

Posted On: November 22, 2020

Click here for the interesting inside-story of how the trail came to be.

Ecological Significance of the Howard Watson Nature Trail

Posted On: February 1st, 2020

The Howard Watson Nature Trail (HWNT) is a remnant prairie, a habitat-type that at one time covered much of southern Ontario. Temperate grasslands and savannahs are among the most endangered ecosystems worldwide. In Ontario, less than 0.5% of the historic prairie and savannah areas remain. Because these ecosystems are so rare, many of the species that are found within them are also rare or at risk.

14 of the plant species found on the HWNT are provincially tracked, including three species at risk, Dense Blazing Star (Threatened), Riddell’s Goldenrod (Special Concern) and Hop Tree (Threatened); and two other species known from fewer than 5 populations in Ontario, Smooth Agalinis and Fringed Puccoon.

Dense Blazing Star

Riddell’s Goldenrod

Revised policy and pricing for memorial benches

Posted On: March 6th, 2018

Pricing for the installation and maintenance of a memorial bench on the trail system is now $1500 per bench. The bench is specially-designed to withstand the rigours of nature and regular use by trail users. The cost includes a specially-engraved nameplate. For more information, click on the link below.

5 New Benches Donated by Sarnia Community Foundation

Posted On: November 24th, 2016

Bluewater Trails Committee is pleased to have received a grant from the Sarnia Community Foundation to finance 5 new benches for the section of the Howard Watson Trail between Exmouth Street and Confederation Line. These benches fill a need in this 2.5 kilometer trail section which previously did not have any seating for users.

“The Parks and Recreation Department is grateful to the Sarnia Community Foundation for their generous contribution which has allowed the hardworking Bluewater Trails Committee to improve the Howard Watson Nature Trail for the enjoyment of all users,” explains Ryan Chamney, Manager of Recreation and Planning.


Benches allow for seniors, families, and people with disabilities to enjoy an outing on our trail. They provide a respite where one can sit and enjoy the outdoor setting. Recent accessibility surveys by both the city and county, as well as surveys conducted by Bluewater Trails Committee volunteers had found a shortage of benches on this section of trail.

Additional benches are available for a $1500 per bench donation. This price includes the heavy-duty bench itself, the installation, ongoing repair and maintenance,  and includes a memorial or honorary plaque to remember or celebrate trail advocates and users. Upwards of 20 benches have been donated.

Grants from upper tier governments and foundations combined with donations from local industry have allowed Bluewater Trails Committee to update this trail in an effort to meet Government of Ontario accessibility standards and become a first in class urban pathway for residents’ recreation needs. Benches are one of many requirements to achieve these standards.


Bluewater Trails Committee is a volunteer committee of Sarnia City Council which advises City Staff and Council on the management of the more than 60kms of city trails and safe street routes used to connect these trails and city parks. The Howard Watson Trail is a 16km linear park which was originally a rail line.

Ryan Chamney

Manager of Recreation and Planning, City of Sarnia or 519-332-0527 Ext. 3202

Resurfacing the Howard Watson Trail (watch video)

Posted On: November 23rd, 2016

Watch a 2-minute video showing the resurfacing in action! Click on link below:


(above) The city, in concert with the Bluewater Trails Committee, is working to widen and smoothen portions of the Howard Watson trail. Here, just west of the Blackwell Road gateway, a work crew painstakingly applies fine screenings onto the trail. This creates a smooth, wider trail that is then  “rolled” to harden the surface.


(above) Before the fine topping is applied to the trail, the surface is scraped-down several inches to create a smooth, flat “bed” for the topping materials. This section is at the Modeland gateway facing east.


(above) Here at the Blackwell gateway, looking west, a roller sits idle at trailside while in the distance two workers use a dump truck to drop the topping materials onto the pre-excavated trail bed.


(above) A roller is used to pack-down the screenings here at the Blackwell gateway.


(above) The wider, flatter trail allows for greater accessibility to the HWNT, and encourages safe distances between various trail users (pedestrians, cyclists etc. )

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