Family of Jean (Weir) and Nelson Maher
Nominated by: Clarke Birchard
The 2019 Saugeen Conservation Award recognize the efforts of 3 generations of Weir and Maher families in creating and preserving a priceless natural heritage for wildlife, and for the education, appreciation and enjoyment of current and future family members and visitors.
In June of 2018 Saugeen Nature enjoyed an outing to the rich and varied Maher family nature reserve in the Municipality of West Grey near Durham. Jean Maher and her family hosted the outing. Jean’s sons Brian and Clare led informative hikes including their renowned fern garden. Jean and other family members provided refreshments including elderberry wine based on the late Nels Maher’s traditional recipe, and they shared history of the property and family. Hosting and leading the outing was truly a family affair.
In the 1850s Adam and Jane Weir, parents of Jean Maher and her late brother John, settled on a 300-acre property in the former Glenelg Township, now West Grey. It was passed on to Jean in 1992. John Weir was an avid naturalist who created ponds, and planted many trees over more than 50 years to create wetlands and woodlands. Over the years the 300-acre farm was divided and various parcels passed on to others leaving the current 41-acre Maher private family nature reserve.
The late Nelson Maher and his wife Jean were active members of the Saugeen Field Naturalists from its founding in 1975 until the formation of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists in 1989. Jean always accompanied Nels on the numerous slide shows, speaking engagements and outings and hikes they led in Grey and Bruce. Jean and Nelson Maher and their family were and are ideal owners to carry on the naturalization and preservation of this portion of the Weir ancestral homeland. A Stewardship Plan for Natural Areas with OMNRF covers the property.
The Weir and Maher families have carried out and continue to carry out the following activities:
- creation and enhancement of wildlife habitat,
- reforestation of old agricultural fields,
- protection of habitat for many wildflower species, including orchids, ferns and including skunk cabbage that is uncommon in Grey County,
- creation and maintenance of a fern garden with a path and identification signs for many of the fern species found in Grey County plus others – a valuable, living reference collection often visited,
- development and maintenance of nature trails, and
- hosting visitors and groups, including members of Saugeen Nature and the Owen Sound Field Naturalists.
These objectives are exactly in line with the goals of the Saugeen Nature Conservation Award.
Jean Maher, son Brian, daughter Shannon Weitendorf and her husband Paul are here to accept the award.