Photo by Chung Chow
Bryan Tisdall expresses wonder and excitement at being named to the Order of Canada. The long-time Richmond resident and retired head of Science World says, that while he is very honoured, his first reaction was disbelief.
“There are many things in life I can imagine happening. But this?” Tisdall remembers his first thought when phoned and asked if he would accept this honour, “Are you pulling my leg? Really? This is really the Governor-General’s office calling?”
His next thought was, “Could this be me? I’m not Order of Canada material.”
Finally, the news sunk in. “It’s wonderful,” he says.
The president and chief executive officer of Science World from November 1997 until his retirement in June 2016, Tisdall has lived in Richmond since arriving from Toronto to helm the science centre.
“We are so pleased we settled into this area, down by the dike, right by Garry Point. I can walk into Steveston. We see the sun go down every night,” Tisdall says.
Having just passed his 70th birthday, Tisdall is not sitting on his laurels one bit. He is, however, more philosophical.
“Our perspective changes as we age. Also, we aren’t the same as the previous generation was when they hit this stage. I’m down at Steveston Community Centre at seven o’clock every morning, doing my gym activities just as much as I was 20 years ago.”
He speaks clearly about wanting to stay active in the community as well.
“There are both contributory to, and benefits from, being out and about, keeping your hand in,” he says.
He spent the year, before he planned to retire from Science World, asking advice of others.
From that he realized: “I had had a wonderful opportunity for wonderful experiences because of Science World and what that organization was. I had respect in the community. I got to meet people and have responsibilities far beyond what I would have imagined.”
A sage advisor told Tisdall, “You now have the responsibility in retirement to use that. How will you use all those experiences, and what you gained from them, to turn them back into the community?”
From there, Tisdall chose less than half a dozen boards to join.
“They are all in the area of informal science education not in the sense of content as much but in imagining, ingenuity, and curiosity, that are the basics for discovery and invention.”
Next to his family, Tisdall’s two big loves these days are his work with the Terry Fox Centre that works to keep Terry’s story alive and to show people the good done with all the money raised for cancer in his name.
His other big love is the SpencerCreo Foundation that works out of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.
“Largely supporting any number of organizations, bringing individuals to a level of self-sufficiency, making transformative changes in people’s lives. We’re doing that in number of ways,” Tisdall says.
“At Main and Keefer Streets, the SpencerCreo Centre is set up for small non-profits that would otherwise be working off a kitchen table without a fax, computers, board rooms, high speed internet access,” Tisdall says.
Tisdall enjoys his retirement. And another thing he loves about his active retirement: he’s given up the long commutes at rush hour and the 60-hour work weeks.
“I try to do things on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and keep Mondays and Fridays clear.”
While no one can tell what’s ahead after the September 6 presentation ceremony at Government House in Ottawa, “The order of Canada raises the stakes,” Tisdall says.
“Although I have many years behind me, I keep thinking the good things are still ahead.”