Bruce County for­est cel­e­brates 80 years

Wiarton Echo - - NEWS - STEVE CORNWELL

Around 60 peo­ple, in­clud­ing one spe­cial guest, gath­ered just off the Rankin Bridge Road in South Bruce Penin­sula to cel­e­brate the 80-year an­niver­sary of Bruce County forests on Sun­day, May 6.

Robert (Bobby) Craw­ford was also at the first an­niver­sary of the Bruce County for­est.

Craw­ford, now a Hanover res­i­dent, told those gath­ered he had perched on a tree stump and sang for the crowd at the open­ing of the first Bruce County For­est on May 6, 1938.

He re­mem­bers the ex­cite­ment at that first cer­e­mony, and that candy was shot from some kind of can­non into the crowd for the kids that day.

Craw­ford said the chil­dren chas­ing the candy was “just like watch­ing chick­ens af­ter some feed.”

Fast for­ward 80 years to the day, and Bruce County for­est has grown from 1,510 to around 13,000 acres, the cer­e­mo­nial candy has been re­placed by meat, cheese and veg­gie plat­ters and while Craw­ford’s voice has changed a lit­tle since he was child, he still shared a few songs to cel­e­brate the for­est be­com­ing an oc­to­ge­nar­ian.

“It’s im­pres­sive to think that peo­ple are so in­ter­ested in keep­ing the place green,” Craw­ford, who planted some of the first re­for­esta­tion trees 80 years ago, said. “And to see the fruits of the labour over the years, es­pe­cially the ini­tia­tives of our fore­fa­thers who started the whole thing off in the first days, it’s im­pres­sive.”

The first con­ser­va­tion and re­for­esta­tion com­mit­tee, whose mem­bers in­cluded Thomas Ephraim Evans, Mil­ton Ir­win Thede and oth­ers, was formed in 1937 when Bruce County had a dif­fer­ent look. Back then, years of log­ging, clear­ing and fires had turned formerly lush forests into sand in what was once the tra­di­tional ter­ri­to­ries of the Saugeen Ojib­way Na­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal his­to­rian Anne Judd, it wasn’t un­com­mon then to see sand drift­ing in the area like snow, and all but bury­ing power poles and ap­ple trees. Judd added that the 1937 plan - re­plant­ing trees, hold­ing the soil and al­low­ing other plants to move in - worked so well it might sur­prise the orig­i­nal com­mit­tee.

“They had high hopes for it, but I think that they would be over­whelmed at how suc­cess­ful it was,” Judd said.

At the cer­e­mony, event host Chris LaFor­est an­nounced Bruce County for­est’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as an Eastern On­tario Model For­est by the Rain­for­est Al­liance and the For­est Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil (FSC). Ac­cord­ing to the Eastern Model For­est web­site, forests are cer­ti­fied against a set of strict en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cial stan­dards, re­quire in­de­pen­dent FSC au­dits and must have fi­bres from the for­est tracked to the con­sumer.

Bill Walker, MPP from Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound, spoke at the an­niver­sary event and said that the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion al­lows for the for­est to con­trib­ute to Bruce County’s econ­omy while help­ing en­sure the for­est “will al­ways be a part of what we have for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

“See­ing peo­ple come out here with their fam­i­lies, hike, get ex­er­cise and just en­joy our great out­doors is a huge op­por­tu­nity and part of our tourism econ­omy, frankly,” Walker said. “But more im­por­tantly it’s just the health of peo­ple, to keep them ac­tive, healthy and keep them en­joy­ing the great out­doors, and I think that will be here for gen­er­a­tions to come.”


Hanover res­i­dent Robert (Bobby) Craw­ford, who sang at the launch of the Bruce County For­est, sang at the 80th an­niver­sary of the for­est in Sauble Beach, May 6.

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