The late Rob Nash’s legacy was recognized and celebrated during the grand opening of the new South Canoe trails shelter named in his honour.
After guided hikes and bike rides earlier in the day, a public ceremony took place at the timber structure to mark the opening of the Rob Nash Memorial Shelter on Saturday, May 27.
Nash, 48, was killed in May 2019 when he was struck by a vehicle while offering assistance at the scene of a motor-vehicle incident.
The event was organized by the Shuswap Trail Alliance (STA), and at 3 p.m. STA executive director Jen Bellhouse welcomed the crowd that gathered at the shelter, located at the northeast end of the South Canoe trails parking lot.
“As with many projects the Shuswap Trail Alliance is involved in, this is a true example of collaboration, partnership and what people can do when working together,” said Bellhouse, thanking volunteers/supporters who helped bring the shelter to fruition, before welcoming comments from Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison.
“Rob was the kind of resident, the kind of person, the kind of volunteer that we all aspire to be,” said Harrison. “We all learn from Rob, and his legacy, not just here but all over our community, is remarkable.”
Next to speak, the Shuswap Trail Alliance’s Phil McIntyre-Paul, referring to the gazebo’s construction, commented on how Nash “would have been right here in the midst of making this work and figuring it out.”
McIntyre-Paul recounted how Nash often stepped up for the community and helped to solve problems when they arose.
“When Rec Sites and Ministry of Forests had that little gap where they went, ‘We can’t handle looking after rec sites,’ I remember Rob just stepped in on all the historic alpine trails that we have in the Monashee, and suddenly there were little handmade signs put up, and it was really the first time I got to experience the Rob that was kind of like, ‘something has got to be done and we need to figure out how to do that,’” said McIntyre-Paul.
“I think this would make Rob really proud, especially knowing it’s going to engage students from the outdoors school, it’s going to engage people who use the park, and it’s a place that makes you pay attention to what’s around you and realize, wait a minute, this is an important place to look after. And I think that he would really appreciate that it’s circular, and that it gathered people.”
Heather Nash, Rob’s spouse for just under 25 years, was last to speak. She began by explaining how the Rob Nash Memorial Shelter came into being. She said it began four years ago, when she and Rob were walking in the South Canoe trails and ran into Sutra Brett, who shared plans for the trails including the relocation of the parking lot, the addition of a bike-wash station and a shelter.
“I could also tell Rob was getting pretty geared up to help wherever he could,” said Heather. “Unfortunately, that conversation didn’t go any further because Rob didn’t return home that week from a work trip.”
Heather said people started sending donations and it was important for her to dedicate the funds to something “meaningful for Rob, meaningful for us, for the people who donated in his memory and for the community who was supporting us.”
“Have you ever stressed over a decision and just suddenly it comes to you?” said Heather. “I think I was blow drying my hair and it came to me to build a shelter in South Canoe.”
Heather thanked a long list of individuals and groups, including the Shuswap Community Foundation (SCF), which oversees the Rob Nash Memorial Endowment Fund, and SCF manager Roger Parenteau, who wrote to city council to ask for its support in building the memorial shelter at the South Canoe trailhead. She thanked the city, the Shuswap Trail Alliance, local businesses and volunteers including Reg Walters who constructed the shelter.
At the end of her speech, Heather spoke about Rob’s legacy, and said she was fortunate to watch Rob volunteer his time and energy to the numerous Shuswap “communities” he was involved with.
“Oh how he loved being able to use his many skills to help in any way he could, and how our lives became richer because of it. The more he helped, the more he wanted to help,” said Heather. “And so today, I am so very grateful to be here in front of this fantastic shelter knowing that it was built by a community through donations of money, materials, time, energy and skills, and that it will be enjoyed by a community of people who Rob would have helped on any given day because that is what he did, and also enjoyed by visitors to our beautiful and amazing Shuswap, who Rob would have been keen to tell all about the trails, and what they should do and see while visiting.
“I really do feel that Rob has left behind a legacy of community spirit, and we hope that the Rob Nash Memorial Shelter here at South Canoe will be a reminder of just that.”
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