Bill Lishman was a man of many talents. Listed on his curriculum vitae were diverse abilities like photography, metal sculpting, writing, film-making and architectural design. He created his own underground home, leaving the local building inspectors scratching their heads. He built the machines that cut the material for his wife’s world-renowned fur fashion business and was the first person to fly in formation with a flock of birds.
Bill’s self-taught occupations could produce dynamic, powerful or sometimes whimsical results but the quality of the outcomes were remarkable. Paul Lishman knitted fur fashions were innovative and sold around the world. Their home in rural Ontario was a local tourist attraction and his sculptures graced institutions, town centers and World Fairs. His first flights with birds led to the reintroduction of Whooping cranes into the Eastern Flyway.
In the late 1980’s Bill taught himself to fly. Long-time employee, associate and friend, Richard Van Heuvelen would repair the hang-glider after his many early mishaps. Eventually, Bill added an engine to his aircraft and after seeing local film maker, William Carrick lead Canada geese with his boat, Bill tried it with his ultralight.
He produced a homespun video called C’mon Geese which won international awards and attracted the attention of Dr. George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation.
Whooping cranes learn migration behavior by following their parents but when the birds that once used the Eastern Flyway were wiped out years ago, those routes were lost. Bill’s efforts to lead geese held the key to human taught migration. Bill’s adventurous flights and George’s insight led to the 100+ Whooping cranes that now migrate in the east, the first in over a century.
Bill Lishman passed away this weekend. Our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.