18 March, 2024

A Powerful Gift to the Climate Smart Trails Program, Thanks to the Ratford Family

A person sitting on a red lawn chair facing the water

Bruce and Elda Ratford are driven by a deep appreciation for trail networks and the profound connection they create between nature and people. During Bruce’s time in Europe in the 1960s, when he was working on meticulously maintained and interconnected trail systems in Germany, he gained firsthand insight into the pivotal role of proper maintenance and signage in ensuring a positive trail experience. Since then, Bruce and Elda have cultivated their passion for trails, nature and connection.

The allure of nationwide connectivity drew them to the Trans Canada Trail. Bruce reflects, “The concept of the Trans Canada Trail is appealing because it links the country, similar to the creation of the Trans- Canada Highway, which created a sense of national togetherness.”

While exploring the East Coast of Canada, the Ratfords were delighted to encounter a Trans Canada Trail sign in a remote area of Newfoundland. This experience reaffirmed for them the monumental achievement of a connected trail spanning the country from coast to coast to coast.

“Without Action, We Risk Falling Behind the Curve”

An overview of Middle Cove Beach

Concerned about the Trail’s future in the face of climate change, Bruce and Elda resolved to support Trans Canada Trail. Bruce, recognizing the urgency of the situation, notes, “Without action, we risk falling behind the curve, fighting a losing battle.”

To address this pressing concern, the Ratfords proactively accelerated their bequest, recently donating what they had originally earmarked for Trans Canada Trail in their will, years down the line. Their forward-thinking contribution serves as the cornerstone for an important new program known as Climate Smart Trails. This innovative program is dedicated to climate adaptation, prioritizing measures to enhance trail resilience and sustainability while also elevating the pivotal role of trails in climate mitigation.

The Ratfords’ generous bequest has a real impact on Trans Canada Trail’s ability to focus on climate mitigation through the new Climate Smart Trails Program. This can be seen through clear action. Trans Canada Trail will advance climate as a central theme at the upcoming World Trails Conference in September 2024 in Ottawa. Moreover, we are bolstering internal expertise and capacity with the creation of a dedicated position focused on climate and trails. Additionally, through consultations with trail organizations nationwide, the Climate Smart Trails program is being tailored to meet the unique needs of communities, ensuring its efficacy and widespread adoption.

Laying the groundwork to fortify the Trans Canada Trail

Low Point Lighthouse, Newfoundland

These significant strides, made possible by the Ratfords’ generous support, are laying the groundwork for fortifying the Trans Canada Trail against the ravages of climate change. The Ratfords hope to inspire others to join them in securing the Trail’s longevity. They derive immense satisfaction from witnessing the tangible outcomes of their investment and cherish the meaningful relationships forged through organizations like Trans Canada Trail.

We are deeply moved by Bruce and Elda’s resolute commitment to preserving the Trail through their visionary contribution to the Climate Smart Trails program. Their bold generosity stands as a rallying cry to all who hold the Trail dear, urging others to safeguard its legacy for generations to come.


For those interested in supporting this vital program, please reach out to Cheryl Hanson, VP & CDO, at chanson@tctrail.ca to learn more about how you can make a difference.

Thank you