A side profile of a woman in a russet-colored turtleneck and white bag. She looks up with her eyes closed.

“Gerda and Rudi Tismer were married in Germany in 1950. It was the beginning of a long love story that ended up with a real affection for the Bruce Trail.”

— Gerda & Rudi Tismer, Bruce Trail Conservancy Donor

Gerda and Rudi Tismer were married in Germany in 1950. It was the beginning of a long love story that ended up with a real affection for the Bruce Trail.

This affection resulted in the largest bequest ever given to the BTC – over $1 million dollars.

wood carving

The Tismers immigrated to Canada in the 1950s and made their home in Toronto. Rudi built his own thriving business as a plumber and machine operator, while Gerda worked as a clerk at Sherwood Windows Manufacturing. The couple shared a great and enduring love of the outdoors, from hiking the Bruce Trail to fishing, camping and canoeing. Over the years Rudi developed a real talent for wood carving and especially enjoyed creating lively sculptures of small animals and birds. In the meantime Gerda studied German history, sang German folksongs and learned how to use computers.

night camping

When they retired they moved to a new home in St. Catharines to take part in the German community living there. They were long-time members of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, belonging to both the Toronto and Niagara Clubs. The couple had a wonderful life until Rudi developed health issues and had to be moved to a long-term care facility. Rather than live apart, Gerda decided to give up their home and move into the same long-term care facility to be close to Rudi. In early 2015 they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in the facility’s gardens. Since she was still very active and mobile, Gerda became a well-respected volunteer at the facility and was considered “almost staff”.

Gerda was devastated when Rudi passed away in December 2015.  Nevertheless she continued to be active at the facility and was often seen with a book on her walker out in the garden or engaging in spirited conversations with others. Sadly in March 2016 Gerda, too, passed away. The BTC was notified of Gerda and Rudi’s transformative bequest shortly afterwards.

The Tismers’ wonderful legacy contributed toward preserving three new Nature Reserves – Ancient Beach, Dunedin Ravine and Kemble Rock – as well as supporting BTC programs.

Visionary gifts like the one given by the Tismers truly demonstrate the importance and value many people place on the Bruce Trail and the work of the BTC.  As grateful benefactor, the BTC is carefully stewarding the land the Tismers helped to protect. 

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