A longtime Bracebridge businessman and resident has been honoured for helping keep Muskoka’s past in the present.
Don McVittie was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement in late February at a special ceremony at Queen’s Park. The award recognizes outstanding volunteer contributions to their community in the area of built, cultural or natural heritage preservation.
“The town is very pleased with the provincial-level recognition for Mr. McVittie’s accomplishments and contributions to the town,” said Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith in a statement. “Don McVittie has made an incredible commitment to protecting and preserving wildlife in the area. Don’s efforts to ensure that our natural environment is available for future generations to enjoy are greatly appreciated by the citizens of Bracebridge and the entire Muskoka region.”
McVittie is a founding member of the Muskoka Watershed Council, and has served as its director for the past decade. The organization publishes regular watershed reports and best practice brochures in a number of areas, and helps fund local watershed research.
He also served as a director for the Muskoka Heritage Trust, which has since merged with the Muskoka Watershed Council to become the Muskoka Conservancy.
In a release, Bracebridge Coun. Steve Clement noted that McVittie has also contributed to the Parry Sound-Muskoka Stewardship Council.
“Mr. McVittie and his family have donated 200 acres on Eileen Gowan Island as a nature reserve,” Clement said. “In addition, 15 acres on McVittie Island has been donated for a Delta Nature Reserve at the mouth of the Muskoka River. This area includes a base for a sailing club. Don also serves on a management committee for the Delta Reserve.”
Outside of Muskoka, McVittie also supports the New Hunting and Fishing Heritage Centre in Peterborough – a 7,000-square-foot natural wildlife habitat.
“Here you can find exhibits showcasing the natural habitat of some of the world’s most impressive wildlife, and many of Don’s remarkable collection have also been donated as exhibits,” said Clement.
Bracebridge’s community recognition advisory committee accepts submissions on an annual basis for provincial award nominations. Those selected are then forwarded onto the province for recognition at a special ceremony each spring at the Rene Caisse Theatre.
Nominations for the 2013 volunteer awards are currently open until April 1. Nomination packages are available at the Bracebridge Sportsplex, or online at bracebridge.ca.