Saugeen Field Naturalists – 40th Anniversary Celebrations!


The first official meeting of the Saugeen Field Naturalists was in September of 1975 where the first board of directors was chosen. Several of the founding members are still involved: Dave and Jean Schaus and Mac Campbell. Elsewhere in this newsletter we feature Jean’s excellent review of the early years of the club, as presented to those in attendance at the anniversary banquet.

The Anniversary committee, Linda Manchester, Val Droog, Joan Asling, chaired by Gertie Blake, wanted the celebrations to include, besides a banquet for members, an event for the public and a long term contribution to nature. The committee also made a recommendation that the club consider a name change to ‘Saugeen Nature’, in keeping with the changes at the provincial level and some other clubs. The change was voted on at the annual meeting in April, and passed.


Earlier in the year the club had heard from former member, Anne Range, about a program to support the Monarch butterfly. We were inspired to establish a Monarch Waystation in the meadow on the Kinghurst Forest nature reserve, with permission from Ontario Nature. As part of a large network of waystations, this site will help to provide suitable habitat to the Monarchs for egg laying and feeding, as traditional grounds are under pressure from development, agriculture and forestry. Seeds for common and swamp milkweed were gathered locally and from a supplier, and planted in the meadow and adjacent wetland. Over the coming years other nectar plants will be added to create a sustainable pollinator ‘garden’. Look for the official sign, posted on the wall of the cabin. Thank you to Val Droog for leading this project, Doug Lonsdale, Wanda Szabo and Ivan Blake for their help. There are plans to plant a memorial tree at Kinghurst as well. More on this as it happens.


The anniversary celebration weekend began with a self-directed car tour on Sept. 19 for the public to enjoy the natural gems of the Saugeen area. Each site on the tour has unique and interesting natural features. Sites included: Schmidt Lake, Saugeen Rotary Trail in Walkerton, Sulphur Spring, Allan Park, Kinghurst Forest, and Bell’s Lake. Several of these sites are Saugeen Conservation properties, and the club appreciates the support and co-operation of SVCA for the use of the sites in the tour. For each site our knowledgeable club members provided information on flora, fauna and special features to look for. This info was compiled into handouts and articles for the newspaper, as well as being posted on the club’s website: Thank you to webmaster, John Reaume, for these postings.

Unfortunately the tour day was the only day of nasty weather in the middle of two weeks of lovely late summer sun, so the public did not turn out as hoped. There were one or two visitors to most of the six sites, some from as far away as Orangeville and Thunder Bay who dropped in by co-incidence. But we got feedback from a number of people who read the promotional articles and some expressed interest in the club! The preparation work was not in vain, as the materials can be used for future outings. Many thanks go out to the stalwart volunteers* who sat in the rain and wind (or cars) for 5 hours, ready to talk to visitors.


The celebrations were topped off with an anniversary banquet, organized by Linda Manchester and chaired by President, Jerry Asling, on September 21, 2015 in Elmwood. It was a wonderful evening of great food, reminiscing, prizes and a most interesting guest speaker.

There were a number of displays, including: a slide show of over 400 images of club outings and Jr. Naturalist activities, prepared by John Reaume; scrapbooks courtesy of Grace Haug; historical artifacts, books of minutes and the papers of incorporation; as well as the excellent display used by the club for public functions and outdoor shows.

Joan Asling had invited our special guests and introduced them, including: MP, Larry Miller (who presented a congratulatory certificate); representatives of Saugeen Conservation, Wayne Brohman and Nancy Griffen; and a founding member who has moved away, Martin Parker and his wife, Kathy. Regrets were sent by Bill Walker, MPP, and Caroline Schultz, CEO of Ontario Nature. We were pleased to have Doug and Marnie Willsie join us for the evening, as they were president and treasurer around the time of the 30th anniversary celebration, which Marnie organized.

Following a delicious dinner we were transported back in time with sharing of memories and stories. The names of many members who are now deceased were mentioned with fond recollections. We especially enjoyed the presentation by Jean Schaus, who told of interesting characters, early outings and projects, and gave an overview of an active and dedicated group. Before heading upstairs to hear the guest speaker, tickets were drawn to hand out many, many door prizes. More than 20 lucky attendees took home great items, donated by club members and local businesses. Thank you to all who contributed to this portion of the evening!

The guest speaker was John Riley, author of The Once and Future Great Lakes Country. Rather than the usual review of the ice age in relation to the Great Lakes we were given insights into the historic relationship of humans and these bodies of water.

It was most interesting to learn that the water in this area was once much deeper, creating an island of the land that is now about 5 or 6 counties, known as Ontario Island. John discussed the original territories and travels of our Aboriginal Peoples, noting that they cleared land near bodies of water to grow food and reduce insect pests. So our pioneering forebears were mimicking practices that they might not even have been aware were already ancient traditions. He also noted that from the early introduction of small pox and other diseases, white man has been responsible for introducing many invasive species. John stayed after his presentation to sign copies of his book and chat with many individuals. Nine members of the public joined us to hear the guest speaker.


We appreciate the contribution made by all who worked so hard to make the

40th celebration a success!

*volunteers for the Saugeen Nature Gems Auto Tour were:

Schmidt Lake – Doug Lonsdale

Saugeen River trail in Walkerton – Dave and Jean Schaus

Sulphur Spring – Gertie Blake and Linda Manchester for the morning, and Kim Saunders and Nancy Griffen in the afternoon.

Allan Park – Jerry and Joan Asling.

A morning talk on the tall grass prairie plantation was presented by SVCA staff, Jo-Anne Harbinson and Donna Lacey

Kinghurst Nature Reserve – Angus Inksetter and Clarke Birchard

Bell’s Lake – Nikki May and Val Droog

Submitted by Gertie Blake, Chair, Anniversary Committee

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I the undersigned, wish to have my child
participate in the following activity
sponsored by the Saugeen Naturalists. As part of registering my child, I hereby agree as follows:
1. That I acknowledge that there are inherent risks associated with this activity and that my child could sustain personal injury through participation in this activity and I am hereby accepting to take that risk on behalf of myself or my child.

2. To save harmless and keep indemnified the Saugeen Naturalists and the Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority and their respective agents, official servants and representatives against all claims and actions, costs and expenses and demands, in respect of injury, loss or damage or death to myself or my child’s person.

3. That I acknowledge that in this situation volunteers are involved in supervising this activity and that I shall accept the responsibility of observing my child’s participation in this activity and should I have any objection to the manner in which my child or myself are being supervised or instructed, I accept the responsibility to remove myself or my child from this activity.

This agreement shall be binding upon myself, my heirs, executors and assigns.