Thanks to the generosity of some of Muskoka’s most recognized artists, Muskoka on the Edge 2016 was a huge success that will ensure Muskoka Conservancy can keep protecting space for nature in Muskoka. Susan Tremaine’s beautiful canvas Seven Pines at Sunset, Chris Cape’s sculpture Barred Owl, Pat Fairhead’s canvas Water#2, and Wendy Moses’ chair titled Sitting in the Garden were among the artworks most hotly pursued by the throng of auction bidders.
“Muskoka has an amazing arts community and it is perfectly clear how much it means to them that we continue working hard to protect Muskoka’s natural spaces,” says Scott Young, Executive Director of the Conservancy. “Artists really stepped up and we just can’t thank them enough for supporting us.”
Ken Black served as President of Muskoka Heritage Foundation from 2001 to 2004 and was the founder of Muskoka Watershed Council. Muskoka Conservancy will miss Ken’s kind friendship, wisdom, and straight talk. Our love and thoughts are with Beth and Ken’s family.
In 2015, Ken received The Wayland Drew Natural Heritage Award, which presented to individuals who consistently demonstrate environmental leadership by promoting stewardship, conservation, environmental education or awareness of Muskoka’s natural heritage.
Besides a stellar career in education (teacher, principal and superintendent) , politics (MPP and Minister of Tourism and Recreation), community service (Rotary, Historical Society, Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare board) and journalism (“In My View” for twenty years and Muskoka Magazine articles) Ken has made a noteworthy contribution in the environmental sphere over many years.
Ken is a fourth generation Muskokan who began his teaching career in Bracebridge. In his roles as a teacher, principal and superintendent, Ken vigorously supported the Out-Of–Classroom Education program to enable students to experience the natural history of the area. During his tenure as principal, Ken instituted a “Quest” program that allowed students to pursue projects in greater depth and at a higher level than would normally be attained in the regular curriculum. One such project resulted in a student carrying out a detailed four season study of a pond north of Bracebridge. This research became a valuable record for the local MNR.
Perhaps Ken’s greatest contribution to the Muskoka environmental scene was the conception and development of the Muskoka Watershed Council. He saw the need to somehow partner the District of Muskoka with a local environmental organization the Muskoka Conservancy (The Muskoka Heritage Foundation at the time) to attain a new level of environmental awareness. Ken used his role as president of the Muskoka Heritage Foundation (MHF) to facilitate this. With great perseverance and determination he was successful in achieving this goal. The Muskoka Watershed Council has grown to the status of a stand-alone organization that champions watershed health. Likewise during his presidency he shepherded the MHF organization to more financial stability which allowed the Muskoka Conservancy to develop into the significant land trust and stewardship organization that it is today. It was on Ken’s watch that the first native plant sale took place along with the Green Challenge for businesses to consider and implement more natural landscape plans.
Over the last almost twenty years, Ken has taken the torch and promoted the environmental protection in his weekly column “In My View”. He has often called to task poor policies and decisions by all levels of government but on the positive side he has heralded positive actions that might achieve sustainability for the planet.
In honour of Earth Day on April 22nd, a Youth Group from the Wellington Street Pentecostal Church in Bracebridge contacted us looking to help out and get their hands dirty! The Upjohn Nature Reserve has been in need of a roadside cleanup for the last few years, and we thought this would be a perfect project.
Within a couple of hours on Earth Day, the group, had hauled about 8 bags of garbage, in addition to mattresses, a freezer, tires, and other large items to the roadside for pickup. Talk about productive!
We registered our cleanup with the District of Muskoka and were able to take three full trailer loads of waste to the landfill at no cost.
We are so pleased to have this cleanup complete and to see the Upjohn Nature Reserve looking natural once again.
Thank you to the Youth Group for their wonderful initiative in helping us continue to protect natural spaces in Muskoka!