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.