MUSKOKA - A new group of leaders has been chosen to protect, conserve and nurture Muskoka’s environment.
Outgoing Muskoka Heritage Foundation president Dan Brooks speaks during the organization's annual general meeting on Saturday, Oct. 20 at the Port Carling community centre. The group is moving towards a merger with the Muskoka Heritage Trust by years end.
Photo by Louis Tam
The Muskoka Heritage Foundation elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting at the Port Carling Community Centre on Saturday, Oct. 20. The board will be managing the organization as it moves towards an eventual merger with the Muskoka Heritage Trust by the end of the year.
The 2012-2013 board of directors are Allyn Abbott, Chris Blaymires, Tom Clark, Bill Dickinson, John Finley, Cecil Hayhoe, Isobel Heathcote, Heather Kaye, Marg McLaren, Rob Milligan, Rob Purves, Kathy Ristic and Cynthia Smith.
“Knowing these individuals personally, I can tell you the depth of experience and expertise on this board is exceptional, and I’m really excited about moving forward with that in the next year or so,” said outgoing president Dan Brooks, who is also returning as a board member.
When the merger is finalized, the new organization will be known as the Muskoka Conservancy. In previous interviews, the Muskoka Heritage Foundation has said the move will help trim operating costs.
Though the latest federal government omnibus bill has threatened to remove environmental protection from smaller waterways, Brooks said the organization continues to be non-political, serving in an advisory role only.
“We make it a policy not to comment specifically on government initiatives, but what we do is provide any information that the public or government may want within our own jurisdiction, in terms of information that we may have on file relative to Muskoka,” he said. “We provide information. We particularly don’t comment on that sort of thing, we leave that to others. But we’re happy to provide any information the government may need or the public may need to make comments.”
A number of environmental and heritage awards were also handed out to Muskoka residents and organizations during the meeting.
The RMS Segwun, the only remaining Muskoka steamship out of an original fleet of 17, was honoured with a Community and Cultural Heritage Award, while the historical Windermere House received the foundation’s Built Commercial Heritage Award. Muskoka Film Works received the foundation’s Robert J. Boyer Award for producing Harold and Lorna, a film about famed Canadian speed boat racers and legendary vessels that were built mainly in Gravenhurst.
Two 1900s-era properties, Kilcaire Beaumaris on Lake Muskoka and the MacKendrick family cottage in Windermere, received Built and Cultural and Heritage Stewardship Awards. A Joint Award for Environmentally Built Heritage and Natural Heritage Stewardship was given to Elizabeth Mason, who owns one of Muskoka’s earliest Lake Joseph cottages on Chief’s Island. Lake of Bays residents Bev Easton and Paul Crosby were honoured with the Natural Heritage Stewardship Award for their two-acre property on Sunset Bay.
The foundation’s Wayland Drew Award was given to Harry Brown, a tireless volunteer who has lent much of his time to the Muskoka Heritage Foundation. A 41-year member of the Huntsville Nature Club, he has assisted with the foundation’s spring native plant sale, organized cleanups on Highway 60, volunteered with Meals-On-Wheels and is an active member of the Huntsville Fall Fair volunteer group.