Pierre Camu remembers the day the Trans Canada Trail was born. In fact, in 1992, it was he and his colleague Bill Pratt who together dreamed up the concept of a multi-use pan-Canadian trail and secured the federal seed funding that got the project started.
On May 24, 2013, Dr. Camu saw the Trail take one of its most significant steps forward.
Stately and soft spoken, the retired engineering executive stood among dignitaries, TCT board members and other supporters to celebrate the opening of a new section of Honorary Trans Canada Trail at Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex in Ottawa.
The event, which included remarks by the Governor General and TCT honorary patron David Johnston and TCT honorary campaign chair Mrs. Laureen Harper, illustrates the Trail’s growing stature and the forces determined to see its completion.
“I think it has evolved very well. I am really impressed. I knew this project could be done, but it was very difficult in the beginning,” says Dr. Camu.
While progress has been steady, Trans Canada Trail Foundation co-chair Valerie Pringle says, “The fact is there is still a lot of work to do. The time to build Trail is now.”
Ms. Pringle’s co-chair, Hartley Richardson, emphasizes, “There is no dress rehearsal. This is a race to the finish line. We need more runners to carry us forward.”
Mr. Richardson is referring to the philanthropic heft needed from all levels – corporate donors, government and grassroots supporters alike – to meet the goal of connecting the entire Trail by 2017, Canada’s 150th birthday.
A key pillar in the Foundation’s current efforts is Chapter 150, an initiative launched in 2011 to attract minimum $500,000 donations from visionary Canadians. Among the philanthropists to recently invest in the project is Peter Gilgan, founder and CEO of Mattamy Homes in Ontario. He joins others from across the country including mining investor Ross Beaty, restaurateur David Aisenstat and some of Canada’s largest corporations including Teck Resources and Brookfield Asset Management, headed respectively by president and CEO Don Lindsay, and group chairman Jack Cockwell.
“We are gaining momentum as more people understand the opportunities and come on board as champions, investors and supporters,” says Mr. Richardson, a founding Chapter 150 member. “We are seeing corporations, individuals and foundations come to realize that this is about giving a legacy gift to all Canadians – including their friends, family and personnel.”
While such high-level support is critical, Mr. Richardson notes that the Foundation’s ‘Every Canadian’ initiative, an outreach effort encouraging grassroots support, is equally important. “We would like to see every Canadian show his or her support in some way.”
Various Canadian Champions, leaders in their fields, are also pitching in. Among the high-profile personalities, lending their profile and support, are Trail supporters Norman Jewison, Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, Stuart McLean, Gary Doer, Rick Hansen, as well as Craig and Marc Kielburger.
The Foundation is focusing on raising funds to support the remaining sections of Trail.
“We need to put our shoulders to the wheel in areas that aren’t as far along. We are talking to the premiers and business leaders in these regions, hosting meetings and events to help draw out leadership and support in a very targeted way,” says Mr. Richardson.
At all levels, Ms. Pringle says, “We are thrilled that we continue to gather supporters – people who are as enthusiastic as we are about it. I am stunned at people’s generosity and commitment. Ultimately this will be a massive campaign to reach all Canadians. It’s their Trail; it’s a gift from all Canadians to Canada.”
TCT Honorary Patrons, Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and Mrs. Sharon Johnston, and TCT honorary campaign chair, Mrs. Laureen Harper opened an honorary section of Trans Canada Trail at Rideau Hall and 24 Sussex on May 24, 2013. Also pictured are TCT chair Paul LaBarge (left), TCT Foundation co-chairs Valerie Pringle (second from left) and Hartley Richardson (in back, third from right), and TCT president & CEO Deborah Apps (right).Cpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall, OSGG
The Trans Canada Trail Foundation
Incorporated as a non-profit corporation in October 2010, the Trans Canada Trail Foundation (TCTF) is responsible for raising funds to support the advancement of the Trans Canada Trail. Among its activities, the TCTF has undertaken an ambitious national campaign to raise $150 million, which is needed to complete the Trail by 2017.
Valerie Pringle, Co-Chair, Ontario
Hartley Richardson, Co-Chair, Manitoba
David Aisenstat, Director, British Columbia
David Cottingham, Director, Ontario
Anthony Graham, Director, Ontario
David Hoffman, Director, Nova Scotia
Pierre Lassonde, Director, Ontario
Bruce Simpson, Director, Ontario
Ken Killin, Treasurer, Ontario
Paul LaBarge, Chair, TCT ex officio
Matching program aims to inspire greater giving
Trans Canada Trail Foundation co-chair Hartley Richardson has an inspiring offer for all Canadians: give to the TCT now and you have the chance to double your charitable impact.
Mr. Richardson makes the generous offer on behalf of the Richardson Foundation, the philanthropic arm of his family’s business – James Richardson & Sons, Limited – one of Canada’s oldest and most respected family enterprises.
Until August 1, 2013, the Richardson Foundation will match every dollar donated to the TCT up to $200,000. “Our goal is to inspire Canadians everywhere to get behind this national dream,” says Mr. Richardson.
As the first TCT Chapter 150 member, the Richardson Foundation pledged $1 million towards connecting the Trail by 2017. Half of the Foundation’s gift will be allocated over five years as matching funds to encourage all Canadians to support their national Trail, said Mr. Richardson. “Hopefully, this inspires some immediate giving.”