He had a dream that wouldn’t fade, and a vision that had to be shared. With development encroaching ever further on the precious habitats of the Niagara Escarpment, he sought to create a nature trail that would span some 800 km, from Queenston Heights in Niagara to Tobermory at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula.
Ray Lowes was a Stelco metallurgist by trade but also an avid amateur naturalist when he launched the Bruce Trail 40 years ago.
He founded the Bruce Trail Association and, with help from numerous volunteers, blazed Canada’s longest footpath, providing the only public access to the magnificent Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. He was active on all fronts, from paperwork to public speaking to physical path clearing.
“He was always a visionary, a trailblazer in every sense of the word”, Al Ernest of the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club says.
The Bruce Trail opened in 1967, but Ray’s legacy was far from complete. In 1992, he established the Ray Lowes Environmental Fund at Hamilton Community Foundation to support environmental causes in perpetuity, and he added to the fund over the years. At first, Ray guided the fund himself, but in later years he asked the Foundation to make grant decisions on his behalf.
“Ray had an outstanding personal commitment to the environment, and he inspired others to share that commitment through his conservation work, and through his philanthropy,” says Carolyn Milne. “Our community owes him a great deal.”
Excerpt from 1989-1990 Annual Report