35 Years
Lambton Wildlife

1966 - 2001

History - Index


History of Lambton Wildlife - 1966 to 2001

From a report on The First 25 Years of LWI, by Fern Noël
Plus an update to 2001

Table of Contents
Preface to the First Edition
Preface to the Second Edition
25th Anniversary History of LWI

. . . . .Plus 10

Organizational Changes since 1966

Table 1 - Presidents of the Organization
Table 2 - Directors of LWI - 1973 - 2001
Table 3 - Fundraising Summary - 1989 - 2001
Appendix I - President's Honour List & Other Awards
Appendix II - LWI Conservation / Environment Awards
Appendix III - LWI Meritorious Service Award
Appendix IV - All about EARTHWAYS
Appendix V - Purchase of Mandaumin Woods
Appendix VI - Purchase of Karner Blue Sanctuary
Appendix VII - Purchase, Port Franks Forested Dunes

Lambton Wildlife Milestones

LWI Index


Preface to the First Edition

This report deals with the history of Lambton Wildlife Incorporated (LWI) from 1966 to 1991. In writing this report I wanted to produce a document which would be of historical value and, most importantly, useful in planning LWI's future.

The first draft was reviewed by the LWI directors of 1991 and I have incorporated their suggestions. Despite careful and constructive critiquing there is still, in an historical compilation such as this, the danger of oversight of accomplishments and contributors.

The first part of this report gives an historical outline of our origin, various key accomplishments, and who were the main contributors. The decision on what was a key accomplishment and who were the key contributors will no doubt vary from person to person. For me a key accomplishment was one which affected the overall organization and had significant public recognition. For each of these accomplishments there were always many contributors. The key contributors were those who, because of their extra special efforts, made success possible.

The second part is a presentation of various facts with some comments. It is hoped that the graphs and the trends they show will be of value to LWI directors in planning LWI's future. The facts relate to membership growth, type, distribution, duration, changes and operating costs. All the information used was obtained from copies of EARTHWAYS, and membership records. The data which were used to construct the various figures are given in the tables, with the exception of Figure 7. The latter is a rather cumbersome table to print and explain. However, all of the tables, figures, and text are stored on computer disk, and may be borrowed by request.

Special thanks to Ross MacMillan for his help in organizing and printing this booklet.

Fernand Noël
January, 1992


Preface to the Second Edition

This edition corrects some known errors of fact and typography of the first edition and chronicles the LWI history over the next ten year period. Some new errors may be introduced and so readers who were involved in any of these historical events are asked to feedback any corrections and insights.

Fern's original concept of key accomplishments has been retained for the most part in this update. With the exceptions of Tables 1 and 2 the graphs and tables of the first edition have not been retained. It is felt that whatever their value was, it has been consummated and indeed there was some question on the integrity of old Figure 3, "Cost Per Membership", when the Consumer Price Indices were applied.

Some historical articles taken and updated from EARTHWAYS have been added to this edition.

To a large extent this is a history of involvement with LWI. In a booklet of this size, Fern wisely decided to name only the principals in many of the activities. This has been followed again. Obviously there are many more unsung heroes, both individual and organizational, than we record. One only needs to look at Table 2, "Directors of LWI", and the lists of names in the appendices to appreciate what wide cross-sections of our community have participated in and enriched LWI.

Unfortunately we do not have all of the names for the very many committee chairs and their members that have existed nor the names of the various Board Representatives over the years.

Once again, Ross MacMillan deserves thanks for his efforts in designing and production of this booklet.

Peter Banks
September 2001

History Index

History of Lambton Wildlife - 1966 to 1991 by Fern Noël

Twenty five years ago, in 1966, a group of seven local naturalists (Peter and Elizabeth Tasker, Dennis and Sue Rupert, Roy and Stephannie John, and Gerry Clements) met and decided that Sarnia ought to have a new naturalist club. Thus an advertisement was placed in the local paper, and the first meeting of the Lambton Field Naturalists was held at the Sarnia Public Library. Les and Isobel Greenop attended this library meeting and became active members.

Little did these people know that 25 years later their planted seed would still be flourishing, the organization would include hundreds of people, and be a significant contributor to the community especially in the area of conservation. We remain very thankful to these people for having made that decision some 25 years ago.

The first milestone for the group was the decision to participate on an annual basis in a national resident bird count. Dennis Rupert for many years played a key role in the organization of this activity. This bird count has continued each December, and later was enhanced by a chilli dinner organized by Sandy and Ross Mackintosh.

In 1970 the club decided to expand activities from observers of birds and flowers to protectors of the local natural habitat. With this decision came a revised constitution, a new organization with a new name (Lambton Wildlife Trust), and a decision to buy a 25 acre wood lot in Mandaumin.

The money ($10,500) for this lot was raised largely from the membership through outright donations, teas, and sales. The Taskers, Greenops, Peter and Joan Banks were key contributors toward the success of this project. During the fund raising it was realized that there would be a tax advantage in becoming a charitable organization. Thus, there followed another major change in the organization. The process for incorporation was started and in 1973 Lambton Wildlife Incorporated (LWI) was born.

The incorporation of Lambton Wildlife meant the formation of a board of directors and extensive changes in the organization. The first chairman of the board was Elizabeth Tasker. In a way that was the culmination of years of work on her part. She had nurtured the seed to a full grown plant and was now ready to turn it over to someone else.

1972 saw the first exposure of LWI to a broad network of conservation and environmental groups. That year the club successfuly hosted the Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (FON). Les Greenop Šheaded LWI's committee for the event.

In 1972-73 Fern Noël spearheaded the setting up of an eight mile hiking trail in the Ausable Valley near Arkona: starting at Hungry Hollow and ending at #7 highway. In October 1973, the Ausable Trail was officially opened. Much credit goes to John Tymar, Don Smith, Gerry Clements, Les Greenop, and Ron Laflair for all the help they gave in setting up this trail. Presently this trail is under the loving care of Delmar Ellis and his committee.

During the activity in setting up the Ausable Trail, LWI developed a very good working relationship with the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority. LWI convinced them to buy 100 acres of land along the Ausable River. This land contained what is referred to as Mystery Falls, a very beautiful and precious parcel of land. It is now protected and safe from any possibility of clay mining.

In 1980 during the time that Lorna Graham was president of LWI the board identified the Wawanosh area, off Blackwell side road, as worthy of preservation. Thanks to the leadership of Alf Rider and much help from Don Smith, LWI donated in 1983-84 a total of $10,000 to the St. Clair Conservation Authority as seed money for the purchase of what is now known as Wawanosh Wetlands. In recognition, LWI received a Conservation Award from the St. Clair Conservation Authority. This donation, along with assistance from other sources, enabled the Authority to obtain the balance of the required money from the government to purchase the land. The official opening of this new park took place in May 1988, eight years after the initial proposal from LWI.

In the period of 1984-86 there was much interest in making changes, called improvements, in the Sarnia Bay area and Centennial Park. During this time many LWI members attended public meetings and made presentations towards protecting the area. Bob Killey probably set the record for the variety and number of meetings attended. Through the efforts of LWI members, the Sarnia Council did agree to desist from some of their plans with the idea of leaving open space for people to enjoy. We can now look at Centennial Park and proudly feel that LWI made a contribution towards enhancing its quality.

In 1984 Gerry Clements and Brenda Kulon communicated to LWI their concern for the plight of the rare and beautiful Karner Blue Butterfly in the Port Franks area. Apparently here was Canada's only viable colony, but the land housing this colony was up for development, or could be bought for $80,000.

Undaunted, Brenda and her committee, (Ben Kulon, Gerry Clements, Frank Baugh and Nan Macnair) used all avenues to raise the money. LWI donated $5,000 from the Conservation Fund, LWI members and other conservation groups donated over $10,000 and almost $2,000 was received from the corporate sector. Ultimately the Carolinian Canada organization agreed to fund the whole land purchase, over $85,000, with 50% coming from the Province of Ontario (Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Culture and Communications) 25% from Wildlife Habitat Canada and 25% from the Natural Conservancy of Canada. The money that the committee raised, almost $20,000, was able to be used to provide fencing for the property. It is an outstanding credit to Brenda that the goal was met. LWI became the proud owner of the property and held the official opening of the Karner Blue Sanctuary in July 1988. The property has been managed with the assistance of the MNR at Pinery Provincial Park.

While the Karner Blue project was progressing something else was happening. The Canadian National Railway (CNR) was planning to abandon its rail line that ran through the Blackwell community in Sarnia Township. Don Smith had the vision to see this as a potential linear park, and proposed this to the township council in 1983.

CNR did eventually abandon the rail line, and the abutting owners and the council found themselves embroiled in a once in a life time question. Should they use this land to add on to existing lots, or should they allow it to be used as a linear park? There followed one of the most controversial and heated public issues that this community had ever seen: pro-trail groups vs anti-trail groups; rivalry between LWI and the public, and even within LWI. Much credit goes to Horace Baker, then President of LWI, for his vision and determined effort in committing LWI resources to both the Karner Blue and Rail/Trail projects.

Thanks to some brilliant strategy by Peter Banks, LWI did convince the council that the rail to trail concept was a good one and should at least be given a trial, with all expenses borne by LWI. The public and LWI members donated a total of over $24,000 to help pay for the management of the trail during this trial period.

In 1988 LWI signed a three year trail management agreement with the municipality and set up a trail management committee headed by Fern No╬l , and then Sheila White. After a one-year trial period the trail concept was declared a resounding success by the council, and the trail was officially named "The Howard Watson Nature Trail". Mr. Watson was a councillor who supported the linear park concept from the time it was first proposed by Don Smith in 1983, until he died in 1989.

When the lease expired in July 1991, LWI and the City of Sarnia developed a new five year lease, which now included shared management responsibilities. During the time that LWI was engaged in establishing the rail to trail conversion other communities had similar opportunities, and many turned to LWI/Sarnia as a shining example for help and information.

In all of the projects that LWI has undertaken in its 25 years the rail to trail conversion was the most controversial, and thrust LWI into the public arena. The success of this venture has given LWI a wide public recognition.

History Index