Remembering Bill Lishman

Photo (c) Martin Lipman/SOI Foundation

Lishman, M.S.M., L.L.D.
12 February 1939 – 30 December 2017

Students on Ice is extremely saddened at the passing of Bill “Father Goose” Lishman on December 30, 2017 at age 78.

Bill was a cornerstone of many of our Arctic and Antarctic expeditions throughout the years and was an inspiration to many both onboard and in creative communities around the world. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Bill’s family and friends.

Bill’s boundless imagination, contagious passion and problem solving mentality greatly impacted those who knew him. Not only was he an influential sculptor, he was also an aviator,  humanitarian, environmentalist and conservationist, well known for teaching Canada geese to imprint on his ultra-light plane. In 1988, he became the first person to lead a flight of geese with an aircraft, and in 1993, the first to conduct an aircraft-led migration of birds, documented in the film “Fly Away Home” starring Jeff Daniels and based on Lishman’s autobiography “Father Goose”.

On SOI expeditions, Bill had a natural ability to connect with youth in a life-altering way. Bill was truly one of a kind and he will be greatly missed.

The following article was shared in the Toronto Star this week: Bill Lishman Who Taught Birds To Fly With Him Remembered For Thinking Outside The Box.

Since Bill gave so much to us, we would like to give back to his family at this time. We are collecting stories, photographs, and tributes of Bill from the SOI community to share with his family. If you have something to share, please forward to by Monday, January 15th.

In loving memory of Bill and his ever-present expedition spirit,

The SOI team

Bill Lishman photographing an iceberg and examining it for inspiration for his iceberg sculpture project. Photo (c) Lee Narraway/SOI Foundation. 2012 Students on Ice Arctic Expedition

Sculpting onboard an SOI Arctic expedition. Photo (c) Lee Narraway/SOI Foundation

Bill Lishman engaging students on land during an SOI Arctic Expedition

About Bill Lishman

One of Canada’s great pioneers, Bill was the first person to foot-launch and land a powered rigid-wing aircraft in the 1970s. Taking advantage of the slow flight capabilities of his customized aircraft, he developed a technique to lead Canada geese in the air. After several years of research and experimentation, he successfully led a flock of 16 geese on a 400-mile migratory journey. This journey inspired the Oscar-nominated film Fly Away Home. Bill went on to apply his migration techniques to safeguarding the whooping crane, one of the world’s most endangered species. For his breakthrough work with migratory birds, Mr. Lishman received numerous awards including the prestigious honour of the Meritorious Service Medal from the Canadian government in 2000. In addition, Bill was celebrated around the world for his work as a sculptor and renowned inventor/designer of furniture and underground architecture. His work includes Autohenge, a full-scale replica of Stonehenge, and his dome-shaped, underground home with its unique features and energy-efficient designs. Bill received an honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in June 2008.

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This website was made possible by a generous contribution from the Leacross Foundation.