Please find our line up of Presenters to Trailhead Ontario 2016! Alphabetically by last name.


Alastair Baird, County of Renfrew Trails

Alastair Baird - Renfrew.jpg

Alastair is presently Manager of Economic Development and the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association for Renfrew County in Eastern Ontario, and has been there, first as Business Development Officer and then as Manager, for thirteen years. In this role he has been engaged in all aspects of economic, business and community development and management of Enterprise Renfrew County, the Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) serving the County of Renfrew.

At Renfrew County Alastair is engaged directly in agri-business, forestry, wood processing, manufacturing, defence and security, aerospace, tourism marketing and broad-based investment attraction. As host to Canada’s single largest science and technology centre, Chalk River Laboratories (3,000 employees) of Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, Inc., he coordinated a major regional initiative, working with economic development partners across Ontario and Manitoba and in four US states, to ensure the retention of the nuclear-focused, but broadly based, science and technology hub at Chalk River Laboratories here in Ontario. He has worked with provincial, federal and international government representatives, is engaged in several of the Ontario East Sector initiatives and has a great appreciation for the hard, constant and creative effort required daily to deliver economic development to our communities, province and country.

He has also had fifteen years experience working in the tourism sector for Wilderness Tours, a major whitewater rafting and adventure company in Renfrew County and Mount Pakenham, a highly successful regional snowsport centre in Lanark County. And in the Ec Dev field he has also worked for eight years as Marketing Manager for the Ottawa-Carleton Economic Development Corporation in what was then the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton- now the City of Ottawa. This experience enables him to understand the economic development world from both a rural/small town and a big city perspective.


Louise Bissonnette, Sentier Prescott & Russell Trails

Louise Bissonnette - Prescott Russell

Louise has been employed by the Economic Development Office for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell since 1994. She was assigned to the position of Project Officer with Prescott and Russell Recreational Trail in 2005. Prior to this, she worked at various ministries within the Federal and Provincial Government in the Ottawa area.


Emily Conger, Algonquin to Adirondack Trail

Emily Conger

  • Born 1946 Albany, New York, raised in Virginia
  • Started walking parts of the Appalachian Trail as a preteen
  • Education: University of Wisconsin (Madison) B. Sc. 1969, graduate work there in English Literature (1968-1969). University of Victoria: course work in English Literature (1969-1970). Queen’s University: obtained Specialist Qualification in Special Education, Qualification as Teacher of English as a Second Language, courses in Spanish, Drama. St. Lawrence College: courses in Spanish, French, Art (ongoing)
  • Immigrated to Canada in 1969
  • Settled on a farm on the Frontenac Axis in 1970
  • Taught and served as a consultant for what is now the Upper Canada District School Board from 1971 until retirement June, 2001, with the exception of a year teaching in Costa Rica: Escuela Blue Valley1995-1996
  • Became involved in environmental issues in the late 1970s; continues to work on environmental, peace and social justice issues in a variety of groups including the Gananoque River Waterways Association, (Past President)
  • Taught in the teacher education program at Queen’s University for two summers in the 1980s.
  • Joined the board of the Algonquin to Adirondacks Conservation Association (A2A) December 1999, served as president of the organization (now Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative) from 2002-2016
  • Worked at the township and county levels on waste management issues, serving on the Public Liaison Committee of the Waste Management Master Plan Study for Leeds and Grenville Counties, 1988-1995. Served as Chairperson 1992-1995
  • Granted Canadian citizenship 1995, now a dual citizen of the United States and Canada
  • Served on the Scenario Planning Team of Sustaining What we Value, an integrated Landscape Management Planning Approach for the of South Frontenac, Lanark and Leeds and Grenville Counties, representing the Algonquin to Adirondacks Conservation Association (2009-2011)
  • With her partner, Cameron Smith, helped to build a community group which fundraised, purchased and donated just under 500 acres on the Frontenac Axis to create the Lost Bay Nature Reserve, now owned by Ontario Nature
  • Serves as a host: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) (2004-present)
  • Walked the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain in 2014
  • Helped form the A2A Camino/Trails Committee late 2014; serving now as interim Chair
  • Makes regular presentations to community groups and government bodies about the A2A Trail
  • Member Brockville Community Choir
  • Avid gardener, outdoor sports enthusiast, visual artist, hiker


Patrick Connor, Ontario Trails Council


For 30 years Patrick has conducted, designed and facilitated management process leading to changes in national, local and provincial government, and community and public institutions in the funding, policy or service delivery.

Key achievements include securing $10M in funding for Trans Canada Trail (TCT) lands through the National Trails Coalition project of 2009-10, 2014-16 that resulted in tens of  thousands of kilometers of multi-use trail refurbished and maintained for continued public use.

A convenor of conferences, publisher of papers, and enactor of change, Patrick is equipped with extensive trail development experience aided by a unique practice-based methodology and keen understanding of trail planning processes and stakeholders in Canada. In 2012, Patrick was awarded the QEII Silver Jubilee Medal for Service to Canada.

He is a member of The Canadian Society of Association Executives as well as The Economic Developers Association of Canada.


Mike Goodyear, Trans Canada Trail

mike goodyear

Michael Goodyear is the Trans Canada Trail, Trail Development Manager for Eastern Canada. Wanting a career working outdoors Michael graduated Ecosystem Management at Fleming College, Environmental Studies at York University and immediately after finishing school started his career in land management.  Michael started off maintaining, designing and building trail before getting into stakeholder consultation, Trail system planning and land use policy.  Michael now works with provincial government, provincial organizations in Ontario and east to Newfoundland to facilitate the connection of the Trans Canada Trail by 2017. When not working Michael can be found mountain biking, running or taking his kids out on the Trails in Uxbridge ON.


Jeff Jackson, Algonquin College


Adventure Industry Experience: 25 years of expedition guiding and instruction, ranging from the Yukon to Austria to the Southwest United States, Senior instructor with Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School, Manager of high profile kayak schools, expedition programs and Nordic ski resorts; trail builder and trail manager, Risk management consultant working with Canadian and international organizations, Present and publish extensively on adventure-based risk management issues

Education: PhD candidate, Sprott School of Business; research in the area of safety motivation and organizational culture, M.Ed., Charles Sturt University (2005); thesis research in using case studies to build judgement, Bachelor of Business Administration (Hon.) Wilfrid Laurier University (1993)

Professional Qualifications / Industry Certification: Co-author, Managing Risk, Systems Planning Of Outdoor Adventure Programs (2010), Whitewater kayak instructor trainer (CanoeKayak Canada); river rescue instructor

Other Interests: Trail tourism and community development


Peter Jeffery, Ontario Federation of Agriculture


Peter began his employment with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture in March 1987. Initially his role involved working primarily with individual OFA members, assisting them in resolving farm-related problems.

Peter joined OFA’s Farm Policy Research Group as a Farm Policy Researcher in 1994. With the Farm Policy Research Group, his responsibilities include the preparation of briefs, reports and correspondence, as well as providing issues analysis and advice to the OFA President, Executive Committee, Board of Directors and Policy Advisory Council on land use planning, drainage, right-to-farm, endangered species, wildlife, line fences, and the application of the Highway Traffic Act to farm vehicles on the roads.

Peter was born in Toronto, and earned his Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES) from the University of Waterloo in 1979, where he majored in Physical Geography.

Prior to joining OFA, Peter lived in Calgary and was employed in oil and gas exploration.

Peter, his wife Laura, and their daughter Tara live in Guelph; their son Ryan lives in Barrie and their daughter Shannon and her husband Russell live in Otterburne, Manitoba.


Christine Luckasavitch, Algonquins of Ontario

Christine Luckasavitch - Algonquins of Ontario

Christine Luckasavitch is a descendant of the traditional Madaoueskarini Algonquin band. Born and raised in Whitney, Ontario, Christine has a deeply-rooted love for the traditional land of the Algonquin people.

A graduate of Acadia University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and History, Christine began her career with the Algonquins of Ontario as the Research Assistant to the American Eel Project in partnership with Canadian Wildlife Federation. In March 2013, Christine joined the Algonquins of Ontario Consultation Office as Economic Development Officer, particularly focusing on projects of cultural heritage significance. Her personal interests lie in natural and cultural history, archaeology, genealogy and literature.


Jeff McGirr, Mattawa Economic Development


Jeff McGirr is the Director of Economic Development for the Mattawa-Bonfield Economic Development Corporation which represents the municipalities of Bonfield, Calvin, Mattawa, Mattawan and Papineau-Cameron.  Jeff is very passionate about promoting, marketing and developing the region.  He is proud of the organization’s achievements over the past few years in the business development, industrial start up, film industry, health care and the tourism industry.

McGirr is very active on several boards, volunteering his time on the Northeastern Ontario Tourism and Blue Sky Net Economic Development Corporation Boards of Directors.  Jeff is the Vice-President of the Mattawa and Area Snowmobile Club and a member of the Near North Trails Association Committee.

McGirr is a graduate of Canadore College in Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Management.  His education also includes Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Management from Marshall University in West Virginia and specialized certificates from ESRI in GIS.

Jeff is married to Kim and together with their dog, Timber, they share an enthusiasm for the outdoors, including snowmobiling, ATV’ing, snowshoeing, fishing, boating and hiking.  Jeff shares his adventures by contributing to the Northern Ontario Travel Blog as well as maintaining a YouTube channel that hosts over 500 videos and has generated millions of views from around the globe.


Jeremey Neff, Parks of the St. Lawrence

Jeremy Neff

Jeremy Neff, Business Development and Planning Coordinator, St Lawrence Parks Commission. Masters of Business Administration from the Royal Military College of Canada. Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management from the University of Guelph. A business developer formerly from the Canadian advanced manufacturing industry who’s focus was on export sales and business to government contracts. Currently, guiding the Parks of the St Lawrence in creating camping and recreational products to increase tourism spending and secure new investment that supports the economic development of South Eastern Ontario. Jeremy’s focus is on building value added activities that customers want to pay for in order to make the best use of the benefit from tourism.


Paul Nopper, Township of Greater Madawaska


Paul Nopper is the Recreation and Community Development Coordinator for the Township of Madawaska Valley. He holds an Honours in Biology and Geography with emphasis on Urban Planning and Population needs. Prior to working for the Township of Madawaska Valley, he conducted a Downtown Revitalization Study for the Township of Cavan Monaghan in Peterborough County and was a Community Development Officer for the Township of Selwyn in Peterborough County.


Carol Oitment, Ministry Tourism Culture and Sport

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Carol Oitment is a policy advisor with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Her portfolio includes trails. Carol has been involved with the development of the Ontario Trails Strategy, the Trails Action Plan and the current trails legislation. Before joining the Provincial Government, Carol worked with parks and trails in municipal, not-for-profit and private sector settings including developing Parks and Recreation Master Plans for a number of municipalities across Ontario.


Don Ross, Frontenac Arch Biosphere

D Ross

Don Ross comes from Canada’s southernmost town, Leamington, but moved to the Thousand Islands in the mid 1970s, as the Chief Park Naturalist for St. Lawrence Islands National Park. He worked for Parks Canada for a period of 12 years.

Don left Parks Canada in 1983, to own Dave Jones Sports in Brockville. During those next 19 years, Don Ross helped found one of Ontario’s first Land Trusts, today’s Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust, and remains very active there. He was an author for the nomination papers which lead to the 2002 designation of Canada’s 12th UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve—the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve.

Today, Don Ross is the Vice Chair of the Biosphere Reserve. He has helped to build the Biosphere Network’s 80 member partnership and programs in areas of ecology and conservation, cultural heritage, arts, education, trails, Local Flavours, sustainable tourism, and many other aspects of sustainable community development.

In spare time, Don restores antique boats; and writes on natural history, heritage, boating and woodworking, has published three books, and sails, paddles and cruises the region’s waterways.


Ole Hendrickson, Ottawa River-Keeper

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Ole Hendrickson is a forest ecologist with a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Georgia.  He is a volunteer river-watcher with Ottawa Riverkeeper, president of the Ottawa River Institute, and education committee chair of the Ottawa Valley Cycling and Active Transportation Alliance. Before retiring in 2012 he worked for 29 years as a research scientist and manager with the Canadian Forest Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service, and remains active in the scientific community as editor-in-chief of the journal Biodiversity, published by Biodiversity Conservancy International and Taylor & Francis Group.