The planting funded by the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority took place in October at Fifty Point CA which is the site of a planned wetland project.
The planting, which focused heavily on beachgrass and native shrubs has already begun to enhance the Conservation Area’s natural features along the Lake Ontario shoreline.
Further inland, a wetland has been planned for the west end of the Conservation Area. The project will divert a watercourse that was causing flooding concerns nearby and direct it through a newly constructed natural channel to the Conservation Area’s main pond. This will result in new spawning habitat for fish in both the channel and the pond boosting the productivity and sustainability of the Conservation Area’s natural areas.
Volunteers from the local equestrian community were saddened when the 2020 and 2021 annual campouts were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.
While they weren’t able to gather en masse, that didn’t stop them from supporting the Dundas Valley Trails Fund. Donations received through a Virtual Equestrian Campout in December helped to raise $1,850 for the Fund.
As a result, Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) crews will be able to conduct much-needed repairs to bridges on the 40km Dundas Valley trail system. Two bridges on the Main Loop and Sawmill Trail are set to be rebuilt as part of a larger “bridge blitz” planned for this summer and fall.
The Equestrian Campout has supported the Dundas Valley Trails Fund since the early 1990s. The Dundas Valley Equestrian Association, which organizes the event, has now raised over $200,000 for the trails and are a key reason why the trail system has become such an important part of the Ancaster and Dundas communities.
The multi-year Saltfleet CA Wetland Project continues to move forward as Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) seeks to dramatically improve the resilience of the east end of the Hamilton watershed.
The final plans for the project are expected from the design consultant in the coming days. These plans will allow HCA to send out a tender for construction of the first wetland, with a target start date of late fall or early winter. HCA continues to work with its design consultant to secure all approvals required for the project to proceed.
The design plans call for two wetland storage facilities. The work will involve site regrading, berms, outlet control structures, and constructed wetland areas. A channel will be constructed connecting the new wetlands to the existing creek channel using natural channel design techniques.
The wetland is expected to be the first of a number of projects along the Upper Stoney and Battlefield Creeks. This work is taking place in the new Saltfleet Conservation Area which was established on land purchased with funding from the Heritage Green Community Trust and City of Hamilton.
One of the few silver linings of this seemingly interminable pandemic is that people continue to get outdoors in record numbers.
The growing number of visitors to Hamilton’s conservation areas offers us an opportunity to connect with new people, new groups and new communities. More than ever before, our neighbours see the value in protecting our natural lands and making sure they are there when we need them.
I want to deliver a sincere thank you to all of our donors whose vision and generosity have protected so many of the beautiful and diverse spaces. Places like the Dundas Valley, the Eramosa Karst and Canal Park simply would not be here to help us through these difficult times if it wasn’t for our donors.
Your generosity gives me hope for the future and our growing capacity to meet the daunting challenges ahead. The Saltfleet Conservation Area Wetland Project will be a key part of that. Your support has already helped to protect the lands necessary to move this project forward.
Before we ask our growing community of conservationists to help build these new wetlands, I want to thank those of you who had the vision to get us here. Your support matters more than you could possibly know.
Ted and Madeleine Dwyer feel grateful for their family’s connection with the natural world that surrounds them. Living in the Dundas Valley, they are surrounded by some of the most diverse wildlife in Southern Ontario.
Their three children, Ethan, Asia and Mahalia, each connect with nature in their own ways. Asia is an avid runner and knows the Dundas Valley trails well while Ethan and Mahalia love taking the family dog out for long walks. Though the siblings sometimes roll their eyes when their parents prattle on about the importance of being in nature, they all enjoy their family hikes together.
Sharing that experience with other families is a big part of why they donate to the Foundation’s Step Into Nature Fund. Their donations support educational programming for Elementary and Secondary students. Madeleine, who came to Canada from the Philippines with her family as a young child, sees the value in connecting young people with nature: “Lots of newcomers face many challenges and are just trying to survive when they get here,” she explains. “They don’t always have time to explore what makes this place special. With the outdoor education program, students from Hamilton’s diverse communities learn about the value and the beauty of these spaces which may be totally new to them. With any luck, they bring their families back to the conservation area on their own. Making that connection can be the beginning of something really special.”
As for their own family’s connection with nature, much of that was forged close to their old family home in Westdale. They spent plenty of time exploring the Royal Botanical Gardens’ lands around Cootes Paradise when the kids were young.
Madeleine was also familiar with the Dundas Valley CA. As a teacher at a school in Hamilton’s north-end she took a number of classes to Hamilton Conservation Authority’s education programs in the Valley. “I had students who were used to being surrounded by concrete. The big, beautiful forest was a really exciting adventure for them,” she recalled. The family’s own adventures took them to Europe and after a few years in Belgium and the Netherlands, they were ready to return home. When it was time to find a place to live, they were eager to settle in the Valley. They recently did major renovations on the home they chose almost ten years ago now. These included a number of measures to mitigate their footprint including solar panels and a geothermal system. Seeking a permit from HCA was a learning experience in and of itself. “We didn’t realize there were species at risk right here in the Valley when we started this process,” Madeleine explains. “For example, preparations for our renos involved taking steps to protect the habitat of the Jefferson Salamander. Now that we are more aware, we have even more reasons to appreciate and care for what surrounds us.”
The family wanted to do more, though, and got in touch with the Foundation to see how they could support the Valley. After meeting with Foundation Executive Director, Grace Correia, they decided to make a donation to the Step Into Nature Fund. It was important to try and help instill a love and respect for nature, particularly the Valley, through supporting outdoor education programs.
Madeleine and Ted want to do what they can for the community where they make a home. Though they have indicated that they plan to support the Foundation through a gift in their will, they’re eager to see that impact now, too.
They have supported the Step Into Nature Fund for two years now, helping HCA’s education programs weather the storm of the ongoing pandemic. Thanks to their generosity, the programs are able to connect with students remotely and will be ready to welcome classes back to the Dundas Valley CA as soon as it is safe to do so, helping to inspire a new generation of families to forge their own connections with nature.
Recognize your student’s teacher at the end of the school year or another significant occasion with a donation to the Hamilton Conservation Foundation’s Step Into Nature Fund.
The Step Into Nature Fund provides financial support for Hamilton Conservation Authority’s award-winning Environmental Education Program. The program focuses on hands-on outdoor environmental education experiences that meet overall student learning expectations. With some adapting this year, HCA’s education staff have been able to bring the outdoors to the students virtually and continue to inspire an appreciation and respect for nature and conservation with the students. It is hoped that we can host the students back in Dundas Valley and closer to nature this fall.
Make a donation of $35 or more to the Foundation’s Step Into Nature Fund to recognize a teacher and an acknowledgement of your tribute will be emailed directly to the teacher being honoured. A charitable receipt will also be provided for your contribution.
As students returned to remote learning with the pandemic’s third wave, Hamilton Conservation Authority’s Environmental Education team were ready for anything. Having launched the Exceptional Youth Explore (E.Y.E. Wonder) virtual learning program in December, Education staff found the key to making lessons come alive, was to give everyone their chance to ask a question, no matter how silly it may seem. Through the E.Y.E. Wonder program, staff have answered questions ranging from “How does climate impact local habitats?” to “Where do deer go in the winter?” These questions quickly become the jumping-off point for an animated discussion.
While we can’t wait to welcome students back to the Dundas Valley CA for in-person learning, these programs have been a huge success in their own right. One teacher thanked staff for adding “a bit of spice to the online learning experience!” With hundreds of questions asked, every lesson seems to bring up something that hasn’t been asked before.
What else do students want to know?
‘Why are butterfly wings so delicate?’
‘Why do owls hunt at night?’
‘What is that red bird that comes into my backyard … the one with the pointy head?’
The program has reached dozens of classes at the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, mostly in the Kindergarten to Grade 8 range. It was successfully adapted for classroom learning while schools were re-opened from January to March and resumed its previous format as students returned to remote learning. Despite the ongoing state of flux, students remain as eager and curious as ever.
HCA’s Environmental Education programming is made possible by wonderful people like you who support the Foundation’s Step Into Nature Fund. For making this work possible, we cannot thank you enough!
While events such as our Earth Day group cleanup on the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail have been unable to go forward, individual volunteers have been stepping up on their own time to help keep our trails clean. Dozens of individual volunteers have completed self-directed cleanups in our watershed’s Conservation Areas. Volunteers at Confederation Beach Park have been especially helpful this Spring with more and more visitors enjoying the Breezeway Trail.
Volunteers can register and coordinate their activities with HCA by visiting their Volunteer Opportunities page and getting in touch. That way we can track the impact of your efforts, connect you with extra resources and ensure your volunteering has the maximum possible benefit to the Hamilton watershed.
One of the few silver linings Covid-19 pandemic has been the extraordinary increase in visitors throughout the Hamilton watershed’s natural areas. It’s not hard to see why so many people are getting outdoors. With lockdowns, uncertainty and social isolation taking their toll, time spent in nature provides a vital tool in managing mental health. In order to keep up with this increased use, some work needs to be done. Trail improvements are being planned across the watershed, funded in part by your generous donations to the Foundation’s Trail Development Fund.
Valens Lake CA, Fletcher Creek Ecological Preserve and the Lafarge 2000 Trail will see some of the first improvements. As donations come in, Valens Lake will see an improved trailhead at its iconic fishing bridge, have mown grass trails developed into formalized stone dust trails and see some of its beautiful lakeside boardwalks restored to their former glory. Trail work is also planned for the nearby Fletcher Creek Ecological Preserve where some existing pathways will be developed into formalized trails and existing trails upgraded. An improved trailhead kiosk is also planned to help new users find their way to the beautifully restored former quarry site. The Lafarge 2000 Trail will also see erosion hotspots repaired and restoration work throughout. This work has an estimated price tag of $220,000 and will proceed as donations come in.
Those aren’t the only properties seeing improvements either! Trail work is also underway in the Dundas Valley where horse-friendly bridges continue to see improvements thanks to the Equestrian Campout Fundraiser which has continued to raise money for the Valley’s trails despite being unable to hold their annual event in person. Westfield Heritage Village is also looking to develop trails on recently acquired natural lands behind the beloved Heritage Village, which has seen more and more visitors dropping by to explore the existing trail loop.
With your support, these projects will help to ensure that our conservation lands are able to help a new generation of visitors. We’ve seen just how far that work can go to build a stronger, healthier community and we’re so thankful for all of the generous donors who make this possible.
While the beginning of the pandemic wasn’t an ideal time to launch a new volunteer program, staff from the Hamilton Watershed Stewardship Program were still keen to get the community involved any way they could. Buoyed by a grant from the Hamilton Community Foundation’s Field of Interest Funds, Stewardship staff launched the EcoCise Program. The program sought to pair enthusiastic volunteers with a series of events removing invasive species and cleaning up garbage in the watershed’s natural areas. The pandemic certainly changed those plans but it didn’t stop them.
Despite all of the challenges, volunteers appreciated the opportunity to work outdoors. One email to staff captured that sentiment perfectly: “Thanks for hosting and organizing the event this morning! As a student whose semester is entirely online it’s nice to have these opportunities to still get outside and socialize while having fun with like minded people.” wrote volunteer, Melissa Martins.
All told, the EcoCise program was able to hold 8 physically-distanced, limited-capacity volunteer events during 2020, engaging 55 wonderful volunteers. The volunteers removed invasive species on 4.8 acres of land at different sites including Eramosa Karst CA and Borer’s Falls CA. Species targeted included Common Buckthorn, Multiflora Rose, Invasive Honeysuckle, Common Privet, Manitoba Maple, Invasive Barberry, Norway Maple, Japanese Knotweed and English Ivy.
The program is set to continue into 2021 though events will likely be scheduled later in the season as the pandemic continues to evolve.
With their popular in-person fundraising events on-hold for the time being, the Friends of Westfield have been hard at work finding new ways to raise funds for Westfield Heritage Village. The normally bustling Westfield Heritage Village usually hosts a spring plant sale, Chinese Dinner and all sorts of creative one-off events through the year. Of course, these were all put on hold.
Physical-distancing efforts allowed the volunteer-run gift shop to remain open with limited capacity but volunteers were eager to do more. Volunteers launched an online holiday art auction featuring local artist Barbara Galway which turned out to be a huge success! Several online fundraisers have followed with more planned for the months to come! Future auctions will be held on the Friends of Westfield’s page on 32auctions.com.
As a result of all of their hard work and creativity, The Friends of Westfield were able to end their year with a $10,000 donation to the Hamilton Conservation Foundation in support of Westfield Heritage Village. We can’t possibly thank them enough for this incredible support!
Westfield’s iconic locomotive has charmed visitors for decades, instantly bringing them a warm sense of old-world charm at the heart of the Heritage Village. Decades of exposure to the elements have left the locomotive needing major maintenance beyond what the Village’s kind-hearted volunteers can offer. An initial estimate pegs the cost of these repairs at $50,000.
The Toronto Hamilton & Buffalo #103 locomotive was built in 1910 in Montreal. This Class “G” consolidated type steam locomotive is one of only two of its kind to be preserved. It was retired and moved in 1956 and placed in Gage Park in Hamilton. It was again moved to Westfield in 1977 to join the Jerseyville station, section tool house and caboose.
Volunteers have provided much needed repair and restoration over the years. The locomotive tender, however, is quickly deteriorating from exposure to the elements and its restoration is a big project that requires specialized equipment and facilities. Left to rust, the tender would eventually fall apart and collapse. The engine also needs some repair and a new paint job to slow down further deterioration.
The TH & B “#103” is an integral part of Westfield’s historical railway display and a unique and important part of Canada’s heritage.
While children are once again stuck indoors with virtual learning, HCA Environmental Education Team is working hard to adapt and make sure the magic of nature can still find its way into the virtual classroom.While nothing can replace the experience of being outdoors, the Environmental Education Team has developed unique, interactive, curriculum-linked programs which will help keep students connected. So far, they’ve developed three different programs to share with Hamilton’s students.
Livestream Virtual Sessions are 45-minute sessions directly linked to grade levels of study and curriculum requirements. Many of these sessions include worksheet materials which reflect the study session, often including experiment ideas and discussion points.
E.Y.E. (Exceptional Youth Explore) Wonder Sessions are 15- to 30-minute interactive series, allowing students and teachers to ask questions and provide input on conservation themes. In this series, Environmental Education Team members chat directly with students to unravel the myths and mysteries of our natural world.
HCA Conservation Clips are pre-recorded clips where naturalists record some of the key features and interest points found within the Hamilton watershed’s Conservation Areas. These clips will be available in the late spring.
These efforts follow a successful pre-lockdown fall term where the Environmental Education Team was able to lead sessions outdoors on school grounds. One enthusiastic teacher from Dundas Central School had assumed the highlight of the week was going to be shooting a rocket on the school grounds. To his surprise, his students were far more excited about the red wrigglers they set up in vermiculture kits for a soil and plant study!
If you’ve ever sat down during one of your trips to an HCA Conservation Area, chances are you’ve sat down on one of the over 200 tribute benches donated through the Foundation. These benches are often dedicated in honour or memory of someone special.
They can also be found in very different states of repair. Some benches have been exposed to the elements for over 30 years while others were installed as recently as a few months ago. Efforts are made to flag required maintenance but it usually falls to the donor to get in touch with the Foundation if attention is needed. This means some benches are left in a state of repair that doesn’t reflect the care and sentiment with which they were originally dedicated.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has given Foundation staff a chance to hire two students through the Federal Government’s Canada Summer Jobs program to help improve our bench program. While winter is a strange time to have summer students out in our Conservation Areas, it seemed wholly appropriate in this topsy-turvy time.
Two students, Laura Culp and Laura Lisso, have spent the last several weeks working tirelessly to catalogue over 200 benches. They’ve travelled from the Jerseyville end of the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail all the way out to Fifty Point CA and everywhere in between. They’ve done it in all kinds of weather, too! Having finished their field work well ahead of schedule, they set to work developing their data into a map and database. Now, armed with up to date information thanks to hard work of students, Foundation staff are set to start reaching out to original donors and prioritizing repairs.
While the Foundation only guarantees the repair of a bench for 10 years after it is donated, the Foundation will always be happy to work with donors past that point to ensure that benches continue to reflect the spirit in which they were donated. To learn more about the Foundation’s bench program or other tribute giving options, please visit our Tribute Giving page here.
Hamilton Conservation Foundation has joined with more than 80 charities, financial advisors and legal services from across the Hamilton-Oakville-Niagara Region to show Canadians the power they have to create positive change through a gift in their Will to charity. Will Power™ is a public education effort aimed at empowering more Canadians to leave a charitable gift in their Will, which could raise as much as $40 billion dollars to advance the causes Canadians care about. Imagine the impact we could all make!
Wills are more than a legal means to distribute your personal assets; they are powerful tools for social change. And it’s not an either/or proposition – you can leave a gift in your Will to charity while still taking care of those you love.
The gift you make in your will can fund a specific program area or support the Foundation’s highest-priority needs at the time your gift comes to fruition. This can include acquiring, protecting, and restoring natural areas; connecting future generations with nature and educating them about the importance of conservation; or maintaining and improving the trails that provide public access to our area’s most spectacular natural spaces, all tasks that are not funded by government funds.
Regardless of the size of your legacy gift, it can be made as an outright gift for immediate impact, or endowed to allow for annual contributions. We welcome an opportunity to discuss the many ways you can leave a legacy and encourage you to contact us to learn how your future gift will make a difference at Hamilton Conservation Foundation.
The past school year started off like any other with schools from all over Hamilton and even schools outside of Hamilton looking to visit the Dundas Valley Conservation Area for our unique and amazing outdoor education programs.
This school year, however, was not like any other, and our programs were greatly impacted, first by the work-to-rule action of Ontario teachers and their negotiations at the end of November, and later when Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in March that resulted in the closure of all schools.
However, our Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) Education staff was able to quickly adapt and put new programming in place.
To deal with the work-to-rule action, the Education team quickly devised specific programming that could be mobile for some of the booked classes – Habitat Study for Grades 2 to 6, and Invasive Species for Grade 9. They were able to provide a number of schools with this option, utilizing their classroom space and transitioning it into a Field Centre, complete with artifacts and sensory activities.
When Covid-19 closed the schools in March, Education Staff once again adapted and, in collaboration with the HCA Marketing team, were able to develop and provide a mixture of learning resources, activities and games for teachers, parents and students to access on the HCA website through a new Nature at Home program.
This school year has been unique in many ways and the education program has had to adapt to the varying changes encountered. Whether going into schools to provide programming or creating online materials for families to do at home, the education program has excelled at providing these opportunities and will continue to do so. We are very much looking forward into getting students back into nature in the coming school year.
We are appreciative of our donors that continue to support the Foundation’s Step Into Nature Fund allowing the education program to adapt and continue to bring nature to students in a variety of ways.
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.