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President's Report 2017

By Judith Mills, Vice-President

Once again, we can report that we have had a good year with a further land acquisition and a number of great programs. We have also engaged more people in the community in our cause for heritage protection. At one of our winter nature events, a participant asked me ‘what is the difference between LBHF and the Muskoka Conservancy?’ The answer is expressed in our Vision and Mission statements developed in our 2014 strategic planning sessions. Our vision is of a Lake of Bays community that is engaged in the protection of its natural, built and cultural legacy for the enjoyment and benefit of current and future generations. Our mission as a Foundation is to provide the leadership and to mobilize the necessary resources to deliver the conservation, stewardship and education programs needed to protect the natural, built and cultural heritage of the Lake of Bays region. The Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation is all about the Lake of Bays region. All donations received by the Foundation are put to good use in the Lake of Bays and surrounding areas…for the purchase and preservation of land, hiring local naturalists, documenting local histories or creating educational programs for the community. We pride ourselves in being a volunteer-based organization with little overhead. We have a very active, hands-on board that is backed by a growing number of volunteers. We now have 44 active volunteers who share the vision and are helping to make it happen. This is more people than ever before. You should also know that we have a record high number of members at 657.

A major accomplishment in late 2016 was the additional purchase of land on the Lower Oxtongue River. This comparatively small riverfront property was completely surrounded by Foundation land and was accessed by a right of way which will now be reforested. With this acquisition the Foundation now owns 140  acres of contiguous land on the Lower Oxtongue River, and an uninterrupted 6.5 km of shoreline. We raised well over $250,000 in our 2017 fiscal year, which allowed us to significantly reduce the original mortgage on our Marsh’s Falls property and to provide a healthy down payment on the new property. We were also able to increase our Weaver Trust bursaries awarded to two local graduating students to $700 each. We have moved ahead with our key measures of success: donations, memberships and volunteers. Some people support with their time, others with a donation. Growth in these indicators show the community agrees with and supports what we are doing.

Other highlights of our work over the past year include:

  • Expanded our committee structure with a greater number of volunteers and greater collaboration.
  • Recognized the efforts of our volunteers and large donors with a celebration at Marsh’s Falls.
  • Increased our Permanent Membership to 174 by the addition of 14 new Life Members.
  • Increased our  total membership to 657 by the addition of 125 regular members
  • Participated as one of five land trusts chosen by the Ontario Land Trust Alliance in a land acquisition priority initiative. Based on specific criteria, the outcome was a digital map showing areas of potential interest for conservation and preservation that complements the work of our natural heritage group.
  • Supported, through a donation, a township initiative to have an Ontario Heritage Trust plaque erected to commemorate our indigenous heritage.
  • Re-established the portage around Marsh’s Falls enabling paddlers to reach Lake of Bays from Algonquin Park.
  • Reached over 425 Facebook ‘Likes’ and over 100 followers on Twitter.
  • Published over five e-newsletters reaching the majority of our members.
  • Organized seven nature walks and species counts lead by local naturalists.
  • Organized the annual Silent Boat Rally on the Lower Oxtongue River.
  • Undertook many projects to restore the Marsh’s Falls property to a natural state. Salvageable material was donated locally.
  • Hosted a nature day for a grade 3 class from Irwin Memorial Public


The hottest topic on the lake this year was the status of two large islands: Langmaid’s and Fairview.

Together with LOBA we are monitoring the situation and will respond as needed to development plans. Fortunately the developer’s planner has been encouraged to reach out to interested groups and the Foundation has held initial discussions. We are encouraging the planner to undertake public engagement and consultation. The Township’s Official Plan has a special section on Langmaid’s Island and it is designated as a Muskoka Heritage Area by the District. However, these are early days and we can’t tell what will happen.

In a similar vein, we are monitoring plans for the sale of Fairview Island.  The purchase agreement is conditional on the Town of Huntsville agreeing to a zoning change from residential to commercial allowing for the development of a corporate retreat.  Public meetings have revealed major opposition to the change in zoning.  The Foundation and LOBA are strongly opposing that change.  We anticipate that the request will be presented to the Huntsville Planning Committee in September.  We plan to be there to speak at the meeting and are grateful to LOBA and an active group of cottagers and local residents for their efforts to protect the heritage qualities of Fairview Island.

We expect an active and productive year ahead. Elected to serve on the board for 2017-18 are Ian Beverley, Jim Cade, Margaret Casey, Mike Kaptein, Tracey Macey, Mark McLean, Simon Miles, Rob Milligan, Judith Mills, Kathy Newby, Brian Simpson, Penny Thomas and Gloria Woodside.

Thank you for continuing to support heritage in our community. To learn more about volunteering, or other questions, please email infor@lakeofbaysheritage.ca

Our Results
  • Acquired over 50 per cent of the Lower Oxtongue River for permanent protection, including 6.5 km of shoreline.
  • Preserved one mile of natural shoreline and 47-acres of forest at Port Cunnington.
  • Partnered with the Ontario Heritage Trust to be the steward of the 100-acre Pyke property near Brown's Brae.
  • Recognized more than 30 building owners with plaques for heritage property protection.
  • Encouraged the Township to create a Heritage Committee of Council to encourage protection.
  • Rescued the Bigwin ferry from a sunken mooring in 1991 and conducted feasibility studies to transfer to the current Navigation Society for restoration.
  • Established the Harriet T. Weaver Memorial Trust which funds two bursaries each year to assist one student from each of Bracebridge and Huntsville high schools to help pay for their first year of university or college.
Dr. Cathy Charles Stay-at-home Spring Bird Count, weekend of May 9
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The wherever-you-are butterfly, damselfly & dragonfly challenge, July 11 weekend
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Annual General Meeting of Members - by Zoom, Wednesday August 19 5:00pm
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Contact Us

Lake of Bays Heritage Foundation
P.O. Box 81
Baysville, Ontario
P0B 1A0