Trail of the Susquehanna
Ron and Margaret Brownsberger Complete Their
from Pennsylvania to Stouffville
article by Grant Weaver, GuidingStar.ca
Back in Stouffville, just a few metres to go
11 .09) This
afternoon, at 4 p.m., right on schedule, a beaming Ron Brownsberger
and his wife Margaret Brownsberger completed their 443-mile (700
kilometre) trek from Pennsylvania to Stouffville. Wellwishers
and supporters, including Stouffville-Whitchurch Mayor Wayne Emerson
and Oak Ridges-Markham MPP Helena Jaczek, were on hand to welcome them
as they arrived at the designated endpoint of their trip--Millard Street
northeast of Highway 48 and Stouffville Road.
did it all begin? With a sense of history and a
sense of gratitude for health restored.
Ron Brownsberger’s great-great-grandfather, Georg Braunsberger, along with his wife and six children,
made the trek from a farm three miles northwest of the Pennsylvania
German settlement of Mannheim, Pennsylvania in 1826 to take up land in
what is now Ringwood, Ontario. They left around
April 6 of that year and arrived around June 22. The
farmland they took up, settled and cleared is located just a stone's
throw from where Ron and Margaret's trip began on March 23 and ended
retired after a 35-year career as a schoolteacher and 5 years as a
charter bus driver, underwent heart bypass surgery on January 29,
2008 at the Schulich Heart Centre at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences
Centre in Toronto. Back on his feet, and, by
September, progressing well in his rehab, Ron proposed to celebrate
his good health, to retrace some family and local history, and to
raise funds for the hospital that helped him back to good health, all
at the same time.
and Margaret talked it over and decided to undertake, the following
Spring, the adventure which they named The Trail of the Susquehanna, after the river and river valley
that runs through Pennsylvania and which was followed by the
Braunsberger family in 1826.
amazing," Margaret told us. "A year ago, Ron could
biggest challenge was climbing hills," Ron said, "trying to
keep my heart rate under 96, which meant sometimes leaning against the
guardrail and resting for a while."
their trip at the end of March also put them into weather that varied
daily from wintry to Spring-like.
day had its twists and turns and adventures but the basic routine was
for Margaret to drive the van three kilometres ahead of Ron, and walk
back to meet him. Each time they reached the van, they
would rest and have something to drink and a bite to eat. The plan was to average four of
these three-kilometre segments each day and they were often ahead of their own
keep friends and supporters informed of their progress, they
created a lively and entertaining blog which they kept updated
all through their trip whenever they could get Internet access.
You can read about their experiences and enjoy some spectacular photos
and Margaret have invited supporters to make a donation to
the Schulich Heart Centre at Sunnybrook and many individuals and businesses
have already done so, with over $4,000 raised so far. Ron is
hoping to raise $22,000 that would supply one artificial heart to a
Donations can be made through the following link:
you can simply mail a cheque to Sunnybrook Foundation, Rm H366, 2075
Bayview Avenue, Toronto, M4N 3M5 with
a notation "Trail of the Susquehanna".
trek like this, of almost three months duration, required meticulous planning and preparation. First
of all, their
van got some needed repairs. Packing included not just clothes
but coleman stove, cooking gear, first aid supplies and medication,
and, among many other things, a two-way walkie-talkie radio with a
range of ten miles. They planned a route for their return walk
from maps and guides but as they drove to Pennsylvania they also
observed the lay of the land and noted mountains and hills to avoid or at least be
they would not be allowed to walk along the superhighways, they kept to the secondary roads but that still involved a few sections
where traffic was worrisome. They lost track of the number of
times drivers stopped to ask them if they were having car trouble
folks need help?"
we're walking to Canada."
often needed a bit of explaining but Ron and Margaret appreciated the
many expressions of kindness they received.
a very positive story," Margaret said, thinking back on all the
friendly encounters they had all along their trip.
had to be careful too. On April 16, Ron records in the blog how
the locals told them they might want to be mindful of bears in that
area of Pennsylvania. So, that day Margaret kept the van in
sight of Ron at all times.
sense of humour helps too. Another entry, on April 7, has a
slightly tongue-in-cheek reference to the sighting of large numbers of
vultures. This apparently was due to the significant amount of
road kill in the area and nothing to do with the health of our two
took time to explore along the way many places of interest
including historical museums, churches and a wide variety of local entertainments. There is a decided preference for jazz in the
were the inevitable aches and pains from the exertions of the trip
even with the conscious effort not to overdo it, and to build in rest
periods. On May 17, Margaret records her mantra for when the body is
starting to complain: "Another muscle on, another pound
gone!" In fact, halfway through the trip they had each lost
about ten pounds.
May 9, they crossed the Peace Bridge and re-entered Canada.
After taking a home break for a week or so, they resumed the journey
and on May 29 celebrated their wedding anniversary in a ninth floor
level Keg, with a beautiful view of Niagara Falls.
they walked, wending their way never far from Lake Ontario, strode the
lakeshore of Toronto, travelled north through Scarborough and Markham
and today have completed the last leg.
was interested in knowing how they will cope with life returning to
normal. No problem for these two well-grounded people.
I go to the foot doctor," Ron told me. After that he has a
den to finish in their house.
have grandchildren, and I have a daughter getting married in
July," Margaret said.
I dare predict we will see Ron making a contribution to the building
of another impressive set for Markham Little Theatre of which he and
Margaret have been active members for many years. Many members
of MLT were at Millard Street today to greet their two old friends and
to present a cheque for $250.00 from the group.
contingent of wellwishers were from Springvale Church in Stouffville
including Pastor Bob Flemming who offered a prayer of thanks at the
beginning of the official welcoming ceremony.
is probably in the future also. Margaret has suggested they try
the walk from Kew Beach in Toronto to Kingston, Ontario! Hey, a
piece of cake!
Back in Ringwood to cheers and hugs
A cheque for $250 from Ron's friends at Markham Little Theatre
Reaching a milestone
On the Canadian side of the Peace Bridge
The American Falls at Niagara
Covered bridge in New York
Along the Toronto lakeshore
Scarborough, getting closer to home
photos of Ron and Margaret's trip are taken
from their blog,
photos of their arrival back in Ringwood on June 11 are by Grant
Weaver and Charles Lue, GuidingStar.ca