Messages from the Chair of the TCT Board of Directors and President & CEO, 2019-2020
A message from Michael Lindsay, Chair of the TCT Board of Directors
I have been a supporter of Trans Canada Trail since I was an elementary school student. In those days, my three-leaf TCT pin occupied a position of pride next to my Canadian Fitness Award badges – meaningful emblems of outdoor rituals, which I knew I shared with Canadians across the country.
Later in life, I literally fell in love whilst on the Trail in Ottawa. In the early days of our relationship, my wife and I would go running together on a section of the Trail near Parliament Hill. Since then, we have been fortunate enough to explore stretches of the Trail across the country – perhaps most memorably in the northernmost latitudes of Yukon.
Being a board member has continued to deepen my connection to this Trail and everything it has to offer. I am honoured and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the new Chair of the TCT Board of Directors.
As I take on this new role, I would like to extend my personal thanks to Neil Yeates, who retired as Chair of the Board in early 2020. It would be difficult to overstate the role that Neil played in the success of our capital campaign, and under his leadership, we have formed strong and indispensable bonds with the federal government and entities like Parks Canada.
I am also thrilled my appointment coincides with the addition of Eleanor McMahon to the TCT family as our new President & CEO. Eleanor not only brings a wealth of experience within the public, private and non-profit sectors, but also a wonderful enthusiasm for the outdoors, and a deep belief in the value of bringing Canadians together. We are confident that, under her leadership, TCT will continue to uphold its mission of developing, enhancing, and protecting The Great Trail for generations to come.
My friends, The Great Trail is an important part of our national identity. But this line, which connects three oceans, is a very fragile one. Our work to enhance maintain and promote the Trail is not done.
The projects and activities you’ll read about in this report reflect our unrelenting dedication to make the Trail more accessible and inclusive, to convert interim roadways to greenways, to strengthen our relationships with partner organizations and Indigenous communities, and to provide signage that showcases our shared history and diverse communities.
In recent months, we’ve faced challenges unlike any in our lifetimes. For me, running along the shores of Lake Ontario, as well as through Seguin Falls, has brought me peace of mind. It makes me feel connected to other Canadians doing the same in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Wawa and Whycocomagh.
I am also encouraged by the dedicated and talented staff, and by the visionary members of our corporate and foundation boards. The people who make this cross-Canada trail a reality are motivated by something much greater than the prospect of personal reward. They joined this national effort to create and sustain a Canadian legacy that enshrines the importance of connecting with one another, of getting outdoors, of highlighting our shared history and of protecting our environment.
We have accomplished so many great things together, and I’m excited to begin the next chapter.
A messsage from Eleanor McMahon, President & CEO of Trans Canada Trail
I would like to thank you for being part of a community that loves and supports The Great Trail of Canada. It is an honour for me to take on this new role, and to join this amazing group of donors, trail builders and supporters. Our successes are thanks to people like you, and I am excited to contribute to the wonderful legacy that you have helped to create.
Included in that support are the thousands of volunteers across Canada who shape the Trail – in particular, our TCT Board of Directors and our TCT Foundation Board. I want to recognize and thank them for the time, talent and passion that they bring to their roles.
My arrival at TCT coincided with one of the most difficult periods that Canada has ever faced. The COVID-19 pandemic began as our fiscal year ended, and highlighted the many challenges ahead. However, it also reminded us of the important role that The Great Trail is playing, and will continue to play in the future. As stewards of the Trail, we have the privilege of establishing that sustainability.
Despite the pandemic, our work has continued with vigour and enthusiasm, thanks to our incredibly talented and dedicated staff. I’m grateful for their unwavering commitment, and for the support they have given to me as I joined the team. The Trail is well served by their skills and abilities, and I feel fortunate to work with them.
The outdoors has always been a central part of my health, my well-being and my career. As both a former provincial minister in Ontario and the founder of the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, I was proud to support public policy changes that put trails at the forefront, inviting everyone to enjoy them to their fullest extent.
In my own life, I have often turned to the outdoors, to nature and to trails for respite and healing. Indeed, many of us have found the same solace on trails at difficult moments recently.
The achievements of last year highlight the solid foundation we have built, and from which we can move forward. As we emerge from the pandemic, TCT is ready to play its part in Canada’s social and economic recovery – in terms of tourism, physical and mental health and, of course, getting Canadians outside again.
We will keep up our discussions with governments to ensure the Trail continues to be a vehicle for the hopes, dreams and aspirations of everyone who calls Canada home. We thank governments and elected officials from across Canada for their ongoing support and passion for the Trail.
As an organization, we simply would not be where we are without the support, the generosity and the knowledge of our Trail partners. We appreciate them and their contributions to building and sustaining the Trail – and, in the process, enhancing the lives of people we serve.
To our Indigenous partners, we are grateful for your guidance, wisdom and support. We are thankful for the opportunities to learn and to grow in partnership, and are excited by the potential in sharing our mutual passion for the land and the prosperity inherent in working together.
As an entity that connects all the provinces and territories of Canada, it is TCT’s duty to be a leader in ensuring that everyone has safe and equal access to trails. We acknowledge that in Canada, we are not free of the kind of systemic discrimination that creates unfair barriers. Either through our actions or inactions, racism continues to exist. To tackle this, we are taking a hard look at our efforts to make The Great Trail more inclusive, examining how we can add inclusion requirements to our programs, and growing our knowledge of minority-specific issues and sharing our platform with members of our community who have been affected by racism. We will also make sure this work is reflected in our conversations with our government partners.
In closing, I want to thank my predecessor, Deborah Apps. Her leadership, stewardship and dedication laid the foundation for the exciting path ahead. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this organization on our shared journey onward. I look forward to connecting with you soon and moving forward in fellowship.