Remembering John Bellini

Publication Date 
08 Jun 2021

by Stanley Britton, CME, FRAIC

If ever there was an outspoken champion for the Canadian Military Engineers it would be the late John Bellini, founding President and CEO of the Trans Canada Trail (1992 to 2006). John passed away in Montréal on the 21st of April.

It was during the work-up phase of CME 2003 that John was invited into NDHQ/J3 Engr to ponder the notion of Trail blazing as a Centennial undertaking. Forever the spirited entrepreneur, he answered the “What if?” question with a “Why not?” Observed John: “the infantry breaks trail, engineers span the gaps do they not?” And so was born the mighty Bridges for Canada initiative.

Three dozen unit-built community-sponsored bridges necklaced across Canada, each commemoratively signed and celebrated in whole at the Trail’s CME Tribute Pavilion, an architectural gem symbolically located in Dartmouth overlooking the pre-Confederation Royal Engineers’ fortification atop Halifax’s Citadel Hill and the water’s edge HMC Dockyard.

John’s “keep it simple” strategy of “keep it local” was brilliant. By way of a testament an increasing number of Trail gaps have been crossed as Regular and Reserve Force training projects post-Centennial and others will no doubt follow in the lead-up to the CME Quasquicentennial in 2028. This is John’s legacy: the gift that keeps on giving.

In fond remembrance.