Philanthropist Jack Cockwell has pledged an additional $3-million to the Trans Canada Trail – the single-largest gift to date in TCT history, to help complete connection of The Great Trail and build a lasting legacy for all Canadians.
Cockwell made this gift in honour of his mother, Daphne Cockwell, a retired nurse whose life joy was to help maintain a 10-kilometre hiking path outside her home in the South African town of Hermanus. As part of his pledge, Cockwell will match every gift to Trans Canada Trail until August 31. Every dollar you give today will go 2.5X further, thanks to Cockwell’s matching gift, and the Government of Canada which recently extended its offer to match 50 cents for every dollar donated.
For Cockwell, support for The Great Trail is linked to his personal passion for nature. In the 1990s, Cockwell acquired a wilderness property on the edge of Algonquin Park and began spending weekends rehabilitating the land with his two sons, then youngsters, now both professional foresters. Today, Cockwell’s property has 70 kilometres of trails, all open to the public.
“There is a Japanese expression, ‘forest bathing,’ that describes the necessity of spending time in nature for our mental and physical health. Jack believes this; that we need to spend time outdoors and that it is crucial to our well-being,” says TCT Foundation co-chair Valerie Pringle.
The vast majority of Canadians have an opportunity to enjoy ‘forest bathing’ on the Trail, as 80 per cent of Canada’s population lives within 30 minutes of The Great Trail.
“Sometimes it seems that we spend our lives working and don’t necessarily see the fruits of our labour clearly in front of us. The thing I love about working on a trail is that you see tangible evidence of your hard work. That’s very satisfying,” says Cockwell.
Equally satisfying is the prospect of honouring his mother’s memory, and leaving a legacy of environmental stewardship for future generations of Canadians.