George and Connie Taylor left a gift of nearly $1.1 Million directly to the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) in 2010.
With the exception of land donations, gifts are typically best made to HCA’s charitable partner, the Hamilton Conservation Foundation. This ensures that the donor’s wishes are honoured and the gift is fully celebrated. Regardless, the Taylor bequest has still had a huge impact.
Since the gift was received, HCA has been able to purchase conservation lands adjacent to Dundas Valley CA and Westfield Heritage Village and near Valens Lake CA with the donated funds. Without these funds, HCA would never have been able to secure, protect and nurture these lands for the benefit of future generations.
While the Taylors are no longer with us, their estate will continue to play a vital role for the natural world here in the Hamilton Watershed for years to come.
The program, supported by Dodsworth & Brown Funeral Home – Ancaster Chapel, recognizes those honoured with tribute gifts at the Beckett Living Forest in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area.
To date, the program has received tribute gifts honoring 43 individuals, generating over $15,000 in donations.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the plantings that will be enabled by these donations, they are planned for Fifty Point CA, Dundas Valley CA with additional events to come as the pandemic improves.
With a number of generous gifts over the last 15 years, the family has built the Dobson-McKee Family Environmental Education Endowment Fund. The fund, now worth over $700,000, ensures that future generations will be able to explore, understand and appreciate the beautiful diversity of the Dundas Valley.
Richard Dobson, son of Tom and Wilma Dobson, attended the Foundation’s Annual General Meeting in 2008 and gave a very moving speech on behalf of his sisters Ginny and Nancy, and his mother Wilma, all residents in Calgary, Alberta, and his uncle and aunt Bill and Donna Dobson of Ancaster. He talked warmly of his father’s adventures exploring the Valley; how his mother and father met and spent their early married life in Dundas, and what the Dundas Valley had come to mean to him.
Tom and Wilma Dobson “began their commitment to each other as teenagers in Dundas and remained together as a loving couple for over 65 years,” Rick’s sister Ginny told HCA staff back in 2008. “Through wise leadership and counsel, humour and compassion, they made a difference to many varied and widespread individuals and organizations. This endowment honours their cherished memories of family traditions in the Dundas area and their dedication to the importance of environmental education and preserving natural areas for public use.”
Hazel Awde paid tribute to her late husband with legacy gifts to many of the organizations he supported as a volunteer.
Hazel’s late husband Murray (d. Dec 23, 1998) served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors in the 1980s and early 1990s, serving as Chair of our Publicity Committee. His role in promoting conservation was invaluable at a time when the Foundation had no staff members and relied entirely on the skill sets of volunteers. Luckily for the Foundation, Murray sold advertising for CKOC before retiring and was a well-known figure among local media outlets, making him a perfect fit for the Publicity Committee.
Known by his colleagues and peers as “Mr. Volunteer,” Murray volunteered for dozens of local organizations. In addition to volunteering with the Foundation Board, he served as a canvasser for the Canadian Cancer Society for 30 years, chaired the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, volunteered with Wesley Urban Ministries, was honored for his volunteer service by the Sertoma Club of Hamilton and was active in the Ryerson United church congregation.
Murray’s late widow Hazel was equally involved in Ryerson United Church and chose to show her love of the wider Hamilton community through her estate.
Hazel left gifts in her estate to several of the charities Murray supported with his volunteerism, including the Foundation.
As we prepare this year’s report on 2019 activity, we find ourselves in very different times. The pandemic continues to disrupt our lives – but also provides a reason to be optimistic. Until things return to normal, we can still look forward to enjoying the many conservation areas and natural areas that your donations help to support.
As we reflect and report on the last year, it gives me the opportunity to thank you, our donors, for your continued support of conservation and helping us to ensure natural areas are preserved for now and the future.
This year’s report focuses on legacy – the lasting statements of your generosity that you are providing for future generations. Whether creating or contributing to an existing endowment fund to support a program, including the Foundation in your will, donating a gift of shares, or making the Foundation a beneficiary of a life insurance policy, these legacies will ensure that our natural areas are maintained forever, new natural spaces are protected, and future generations of children will continue to learn and be exposed to conservation through our education programming.
The importance of natural spaces has never been more important. To all of you, the donors who help create and maintain them, thank you!
If you’re a regular visitor to the Dundas Valley Conservation Area, chances are that you’ve crossed paths at some point with Chitra and Robbie Singh. Always cheerful and extraordinarily polite, the couple say they owe their cheerful disposition to the time they spend in nature.
“It’s so important for mental and physical wellbeing,” says Robbie. “That’s why we’re so keen to see it preserved for future generations.”
Chitra and Robbie have left a gift in their will to the Hamilton Conservation Foundation. They’re not shy about discussing their plans, either. “We’re not mega-rich philanthropists but every bit helps and we trust that our gift will have an impact.” The couple also recently had a bench placed in the Dundas Valley. “It’s no use to us to be commemorated after we’re gone!” remarks Chitra with a wry smile.
The long-time Ancaster residents each enjoy the Valley in their own ways. Robbie is a long-distance cyclist and year-round fitness enthusiast, often strapping on ice-cleats during the winter months. Chitra is an avid hiker and prefers to explore the trails during the warmer months. The couple can often be found on the Monarch Trail.
Chitra developed her love of nature at an early age. “We both grew up in Calcutta and were lucky enough to live in houses with large gardens. I was always climbing trees. Anytime my parents needed me, they would inevitably find me up in a tree at one of my friends’ houses,” she recalls with a laugh.
The couple came to Hamilton in 1975 and soon set their sights on the Ancaster neighbourhood they now call home. While they were always aware of the natural world that surrounded them, they began exploring it in earnest when Robbie began training for a long-distance hike along the Camino de Santiago between south-western France and Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in north-western Spain.
Chitra and Robbie have taken a number of other hiking trips to Spain but count themselves lucky to have access to so much of the natural world right here at home. “Between the Bruce Trail, Royal Botanical Gardens and Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA), we’re so lucky to have organizations that care for the environment here in Hamilton. There are tremendous mental and physical health benefits that come from access to the natural world,” explains Robbie.
Chitra recalls meeting now-retired long-time HCA General Manager, Ben Vanderbrug, when she served as President of the Ancaster Rotary Club in 1995. “People like Ben have long inspired us to support efforts to protect more land. It’s important that we have an impact, certainly in the Valley where we hike, but also throughout the entire ecosystem. The waterfalls are beautiful and spectacular but we also need grasslands, wetlands and spaces for the birds. All of the land is important.”
Knowing that they’re supporting that broader ecosystem gives Chitra and Robbie a great sense of satisfaction. Robbie explains: “If you buy a car, you’re sitting there in three months wondering whether or not you’ve made a wise decision with your purchase. If you plant a tree or make a gift, you know that, whatever happens, you’ve made the right choice. That’s a very powerful feeling.”
It’s no wonder Chitra and Robbie are always so cheerful. If you see them out on the trails, we hope you’ll smile too!