• Stephanie O’Hanley

Mapping Hudson’s trails: McGill School of Environment students create new electronic map


PHOTO COURTESY HIKEHUDSON.CA

The gates at Hudson’s Sandy Beach parking lot are one of the images captured on the new online map documenting the town’s many walking trails.

Hudson residents and visitors have a new way of discovering Hudson’s trail network. Thanks to McGill’s School of Environment, you can use a smartphone or the Web to consult an electronic map of the much-loved trails. The free, interactive trails map will be part of the redesign when the Town of Hudson launches a new website and soon, citizens will be able to upload their own photos taken along the trails to the map.

Martin J. Lechowicz, a McGill University Biology professor and Hudson resident who is a member of a town committee overseeing the replacement of the Pine Lake dam, came up with the idea. “I saw an opportunity with regard to trails associated with Pine Lake and more generally with the Viviry River, which is part of our bigger perspective on what to do about Pine Lake,” said Lechowicz, who often uses the trails. Lechowicz spoke with his colleague at McGill, Jeffrey Cardille, who also lives in Hudson. As an associate professor at McGill’s School of the Environment, Cardille teaches a senior capstone course where students seek an opportunity to work with a ‘client’ for a semester to address a practical problem related to environmental management, he said.

“I suggested to Jeff that something on the trails at Hudson would work for the course,” Lechowicz said. “He jumped at that opportunity.” Lechowicz and Cardille met with Mayor Ed Prévost and former director-general Catherine Haulard and soon received a green light to have McGill students produce a free mapping tool for Hudson. Cardille said he teaches courses where students learn to use expensive specialized mapping products.

“I realized that we could use new, free software, Google Earth, to produce a very powerful mapping tool for free for the Town of Hudson.” Last fall a small group of students in Cardille’s capstone course visited Hudson. “The students came to Hudson from the city, walked our trails, took pictures, and learned how to put it all together to create this free map,” Cardille said. Completing the map was a “one-semester project, from beginning to end,” he said.

Along with Hudson’s network of trails, the electronic map includes trail head photos, geocaches, proposed trail connections, hidden gems and a network of trails located at Le Nichoir bird rehabilitation centre. Cardille, who curates the map, said a new feature soon will allow citizens to upload photos they take along the trails.

“Over time we can have a photographic record of trees and birds and the view of nature from all along Hudson’s trails,” he said. As well, Cardille said it would be possible to add a layer of historical photos of Hudson. Hudson’s legacy of preserving green space includes Sandy Beach, Jack Layton Park and Hudson’s “beautiful trail system,” Cardille said.

“We wanted to help preserve this living resource,” said Cardille. “Our town’s paper trails map can be found in local businesses and I use it all the time,” he said. “Our electronic map can be attractive to all kinds of people and can be a complementary resource. This map can be used for holding and displaying nature photographs, for preserving the town’s history and by planners and ordinary citizens.”

To view the map, visit www.hikehudson.ca or, using Google Earth (you may need to download it) visit http://goo.gl/tKQHLC and download the map.

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