Ray Lowes : Environmentalist of the Year – 1985

The spirit of Ray Lowes is best expressed in his own words, ” It comes to the point, though where you say ‘to hell with the feasibility study’, let’s do it!”

Ray Lowes cutting the ribbon at the dedication ceremony of the Ray Lowes Sidetrail, Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club, June 4, 2005.

With this acumen and a powerhouse of energy, the Bruce Trail was forged by Ray and a multitude of friends and volunteers. Stretching 680 kilometres from Queenston to Tobermory, maintained by nine clubs comprised of over 9,000 members, this nature trail is a permanent legacy for the people of Canada. Approximately 105 kilometres of the trail winds through the vicinity of Hamilton, providing residents of this area with some of the finest hiking trails in Canada.

For the role that he played in bringing this project to life, Ray has been honoured by universities, governments and organizations over the years. He freely shared these honours with all of those persons who contributed their efforts, knowing full well that this could never have been accomplished without their massive support.

It was 1959 when Ray wrote to the Federation of Ontario Naturalists, proposing such a trail. A committee was established in 1960 to look into the mechanics of getting the trail started. It was a huge project and had to be done simultaneously in 9 or 10 sections! Each group negotiated the key points to their section of the trail.

In 1963 the Bruce Trail Association was incorporated and Ray was the Secretary from then until 1983 when he was named Honorary President for life. Ray was still actively involved in the B.T.A. [as of 1986], spending several hours a day at Rasberry House, the B.T.A.’s Headquarters.

Ray served on the Niagara Escarpment Commission from its inception in 1973 until 1984. His interest in the natural world was not restricted to the escarpment. Through his involvement with Earthwatch, a group that brings scientists and volunteer lay people together, he participated in scientific studies in Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, and in January of 1986 was a guest consultant on parks and hiking trails, to the Government of Dominica.

In 1986, Ray was a very young 75 years of age. Still an avid hiker, Ray had hiked the Bruce Trail from End to End along with more than 300 others. He had also hiked in Norway and British Columbia. He still ran about five kilometres most days and loved cross country skiing, snorkeling and diving.

His dream was to see a line of trees planted from Tobermory to Queenston, “the best thank you he can think of” for the land owners who have contributed to the preservation of the escarpment for future generations.

Ray is truly a Man for all Seasons, and one of our country’s most valuable assets.