a Major Milestone for the Meadow
A year ago February
the offer on the meadow went through. Last spring at this time we were
frantically scrambling for funds for the first quarterly mortgage payment.
Thanks to so many wonderful people who want to protect places for wildlife
on Planet Earth, we not only made that payment, but three others, coming
full circle through the seasons. Thank you all so much!!
The next mortgage payment, due May 2, will be a significant milestone
for the Thickson's Woods Nature Reserve. One year down and four to go!
Specifically, $95,311 paid off the mortgage and $331,563 to go, plus 7%
interest. Bottom line--we need to raise $9,000 every month. While
there's lots of work still to be done, we should each pause for a moment,
take a breath of sweet spring air and listen to all those birds singing.
What would the world be like without them?
Of all the beautiful natural moments in the meadow this year, one of the
highlights was having so many exuberant children running among the wildflowers
at the fall festival in September, hunting for birds and insects, releasing
butterflies, building bird houses, reveling in nature. The event netted
$7,000 toward the mortgage, but was worth way more than that! Passing
on values from generation to generation is the most important task in
any culture. Those children, hand in hand with the parents, grandparents,
uncles, aunts and neighbours who brought them to the meadow, were a joy
May 3 —Breakfast and Bobolinks
Come for a yummy pancake breakfast after birding in Thickson's Woods.
Free guided tours and a once in a lifetime chance to win an exciting
flight to Pelee Island and back for a day’s birding. Bake sale,
bucket raffle, silent auction, sweatshirts, T-shirts and birding gear.
Native plants for sale. Door prizes! From 9:00 till noon in the
meadow. Note: baked goods and nature-related items for the auction/raffle
Saturday, June 7—Pickering Naturalists Garage
All proceeds will be earmarked for the meadow. St. Elizabeth Seton School
parking lot, Rosebank and Stroud's Lane, about four lights north of
Kingston Road (Highway #2) in Pickering. 8:00 to 2:00. Yard sale stuff
wanted!! To donate items phone Heather Jessop
Saturday, September 13—Birds, Butterflies
For kids age one to a hundred. Explore the wonders of wildlife with
a helping hand from many experts. All-day nature programs, tours and
events, plus crafts, bake sale, harvest preserves, sausage-on-a-bun
lunch and more!! Fabulous door prizes. Don't miss it!
Sunday, October 19—Art Auction in Aid of
Wine and cheese reception 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Heydenshore Pavillion,
Whitby. Lots of wildlife art and lots of fun!
A benefit of leaving
something to charity in your will?
A study in Britain found that on average a person who
- dies without a will lives
to age 68
- dies with a will lives to
- dies with a will which leaves
something to charity lives to 78.
(Gives a whole new meaning to the term”life insurance.”
Why not consider remembering Thickson’s Woods in your will?)
Membership benefit most people don’t know about: People who join
organizations live longer and become wealthier. (Robert Putnam:
Bowling Alone, the Collapse and Revival of American Community Simon
& Schuster, 2000)
Study shows lands are more valuable when left in their natural state: According
to the journal Science (9 August 2002 Vol 297), it would cost the
world $45 billion to effectively protect threatened areas such as forests,
mangrove swamps, marshes and coral reefs. But in return, these
global reserves would supply humans with at least $4,400 billion in
goods and services, a cost benefit of
100 to 1.
Among the 300 cases studied were a Canadian marsh drained for agriculture,
a Philippine coral reef dynamited for fishing, a Cameroon forest converted
to small scale agriculture and plantations, and a mangrove swamp in
Malaysia turned to shrimp farming.
for Our Volunteers
So many people,
in so many unique ways, have donated time, talents and creativity toward
the meadow project--from Gilbert Brown, age 81, building bird
houses, to Julia Haynes, age 15, painting butterflies on kids faces
at the festival, and her "big" brother, Douglas, 14, running
around in the beaver costume. To everyone who contributed, thank you
Many local businesses and groups helped make the fall festival a success,
Marigold Ford Lincoln Sales
Wm Medland & Sons
Metro Toronto Zoo
Mitchell Brothers Lumber
Waterfront Regeneration Trust
Volunteers worthy of special mention:
Esther and Bob Allin, Carol Apperson, Gordon Bellerby, Carla
Brechin, Cathy, Katie, Lucas and Warren Brailsford, Paul and Evelyn
Bridges, Gilbert Brown, Holly Bruce, Judy Bryson, Linda Cole, Marg Daniels,
Julie Ditta, Jeane Ennif, June and Gerry Ernest, Karin Fawthrop, Jackie
Gilkes, Barb Glass, Geraldine Goodwin, Norma Gouveia, John Haas,
Matt Holder, Sue Holder, Aileen Howes, Andrea Kingsley, Doug Lockrey,
Mary Lund, Annette and Dan MacDonald, George, Amber and Richard Matthews,
Bonnie and Ian McQuarrie, Don Moore, Lois and David Oliver, Dianne Pazaratz,
Hugh Peacock, Pat Preyde, Debbie Reynolds, Edna and Ken Ridge,
Ron Scovell, David Shilman, Bob Short, Alfie Salomon, Susan
Pat Tozer, Ellen Vogel, Alan Woods.
In each of our recent
newsletters you’ve read about unique ideas and challenges thought
up by our creative readers. Now it’s your turn. Come up with an
idea or challenge for raising money to help protect the meadow. Better
yet, think of several ideas. Best of all, when you come up with
a good idea, take the initiative. Make it happen and tell everyone
Don’t forget to share your ideas with us by e-mail, phone or letter.
Last year, Rayfield Pye decided to downgrade his holiday trip to a less
expensive one and donate the difference to Thickson’s Woods. As
a challenge for birders, what if you donate the cost of a birding trip?
Say a trip to Point Pelee to see a cave swallow, or even just a trip
to Thickson’s Woods and back. Or for golfers, how about donating
the cost of a round of golf? Remember to include all of the costs associated
with the event such as car expenses (for 2001, Revenue Canada allowed
35 cents per kilometre,) refreshments, equipment expenses, etc.
For collectors, how about donating the price of an item you’ve
just added, or would like to add to your collection?
Or how about an unexpected windfall? A couple of years back the Ontario
government sent tax rebate cheques for $200 to residents. Norm
Schipper promptly sent a cheque for the same amount to Thickson’s
We are very aware that many of you have donated much more to Thickson’s
Woods than any of these ideas would generate. Thank You!! Thank
you!! Thank you!!
This is simply a challenge to the rest of us, a way to spread the burden
more widely and equitably.
by Brians Steele
In September 2001
Thickson’s Woods Land Trust started a drive to come up with the
down payment in order to purchase the “Missing Link” meadow.
By February 2002 we had raised enough money so that, when combined with
funds already on hand, we were able to close the purchase. Since
then the fundraising has continued as we whittle away at the mortgage.
At this time I would like to share with the supporters of the woods
just how we have been doing.
The final cost of the meadow was $540,394 including land transfer taxes,
registration fees and legal expenses. The mortgage given by the vendor
was $407,875. It is due in 5 years and we may pay off principal every
quarter after covering the interest. In order to meet our 5-year deadline
we must pay off approximately $20,000 of princpal every quarter. After
making our February 2003 payment, the mortgage stands at $331,563. This
means we have paid $76,312 in the last year, which is slightly behind
our schedule. Interest runs at $63.59 per day. While we have
had an excellent beginning to our campaign, it is a long haul to reach
our goal and the challenge is to keep up the enthusiasm of our supporters
so that at the end of 5 years we can all say, “We did it.”
As someone who sees all of the donations come in and the accompanying
letters, I have noted that several supporters have specifically requested
that their names not be given out. I would like to assure everyone that
Board policy is that no names are shared beyond the members of the Board.
Our donor list is not for sale and is not given to anyone – including
Recently, the Toronto Star ran a series of articles pointing out the
questionable practices of some registered charities. These practices
included spending very little on the charitable works, using most of
their donations to attract more donations and paying high salaries to
executives. The Board of the Thickson’s Woods Land Trust wishes
to assure our supporters that we deplore these practices and feel it
is a misuse of public trust. As was pointed out in a prior newsletter,
the Board members of Thickson’s Woods receive no monetary compensation.
There are no salaries, no fees, and no honorariums. We do not engage
fund-raising professionals. Since our meadow campaign began in September
2001, through the end of January 2003, we have received donations of
$209,000. During that same period we paid $133,000 for the land at closing, $76,000
against the mortgage and $26,000 for mortgage interest. In fact we have
paid more against the meadow than we have raised because we used the
sustaining fund that was on hand and have also raised money through
the spring pancake breakfast and the fall Birds, Beavers & Butterflies
festival. Virtually all money donated to Thickson’s Woods is going
right back out to preserving the environment and we are very proud of
There are many companies that have programs where they match employee
donations to registered charities. As well some employers offer payroll
deductions as a way to spread your charitable contributions over the
year. We have several supporters who are taking advantage of this to
the benefit of Thickson’s Woods. IBM is one such company. Ask
your employer if they have a similar program. If they do not, then ask
if they would consider adding Thickson’s Woods to the list of
charities that they contribute to.
Finally, please remember that Thickson’s Woods Land Trust is a
registered charity and as such we issue tax-deductible receipts for
all donations. Depending on your individual tax rate, you may recover
almost half the cost of your donation through reduced income tax payable
when you file your tax return. It is almost as if the government is
a Thickson’s Woods supporter!
from the Front Lines
There's quite a
tale behind the beautiful quilt featured in last year's raffle for the
meadow, ticket sales of which raised $2,000. Catherine Schuler
of Toronto, a fine quilter herself, approached the York Heritage Quilter's
Guild, which, through their Community Quilt Project, donates to worthy
causes lovely pieces made by their members. In an amazing stroke of
luck, when the winning ticket was drawn the afternoon of the fall festival,
Catherine won it! She cheerfully donated it to another good cause,
the Parkinson's Foundation, and was delighted that a friend of hers
won it and has it hanging in her living room.
The story gets even better. Catherine is donating another quilt this
year--a beautiful maple-leaf mélange of autumncolours on a dramatic
black background, called "A Dance in the Woods." She pieced
it and quilted it herself--with blocks she won in a quilters' draw!
For books of raffle tickets to sell to your friends and colleagues,
phone Judy Bryson, (905) 576-0492. Second and third prizes are,
once again, wildlife prints donated by Aileen Howes.
In the tradition of Gordon Bellerby's Seniors' Challenge to retirees,
Nancy Melcher has put forward her own challenge to
everyone gainfully employed: Donate one day's pay toward the meadow
project. "You decide that TODAY is the day for the meadow,"
Nancy writes. "You take your favourite photo, or one of the drawings
from the newsletter, with you to work, and prop it up at your work station
or on your desk, to remind you how lovely the meadow is, and how important
it is to preserve it forever." Thank you, Nancy, for a great idea
and for your hard-earned donation! And thanks to your dad—Gordon
Bellerby—for his inspiration.
Members of the Pickering Naturalists Club have adopted
the meadow project—taken it "under their wing." At each
monthly meeting they hold a silent auction of donated items, raising
more than $500 to date. On Saturday June 13 this energetic group will
be holding a garage sale for the meadow—see information above.
by Dennis Barry
seem to have rebounded from the disastrous freeze last winter in the
mountains of Mexico. Substantial numbers moved through Thickson’s
into early October, with many roosting in the woods awaiting favourable
weather to continue their journey westward along the Lake Ontario shore.
Mourning cloaks remained active later as they prepared to spend the
winter in some sheltered spot in the woods.
Cottontail rabbit numbers have exploded, providing excellent hunting
for local great horned owls and red-tailed hawks. Fresh snow on the
ice of Corbett Creek Marsh in February revealed the tracks of several
mink of varying sizes, as well as a possible otter. Just as the snow
began to melt in March, a star-nosed mole appeared above ground, perhaps
trapped there by a layer of ice until it found refuge beneath a brush
In November a group of some half dozen long-eared owls were roosting
in the row of trees along the northeast edge of the meadow bordering
the beaver pond. In February and early March up to four long-eareds
could be found most days roosting along the south side of the Waterfront
Trail at the west edge of the old meadow just west of the bird feeder.
They were quite tame, allowing excellent looks if approached cautiously.
A flock of greater scaup spent most of the winter in the bay in front
of the woods, often roosting in the shelter of the bluff very near the
shore. Numbering several hundred, they were accompanied by a few male
redheads. Low water levels allowed wave action to clear sand off the
rocks on the lake bottom, providing a place for zebra mussels to thrive.
At least one juvenile bald eagle patrolled the shore during the winter
in search of carrion.
Woods Land Trust Recognized for its Acheivements
to all supporters of Thickson’s Woods. Your hard work and generous
financial contributions are truly appreciated and have been widely recognized
in a number of ways.
President Margaret Bain and vice-president Susan Morgan accepted a special
recognition award on your behalf from the Central Lake Ontario
Conservation Authority last fall, for work in saving wildlife
habitat in the region.
And on April 14 Whitby Council will be conferring the Ontario Heritage
Foundation’s Community Recognition Program Certificate of Achievement—on
TV! We’re proud to be partners in protecting nature.
Last August members of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust
cycled the Waterfront Trail through Whitby and stopped briefly to visit
the woods and the meadow. Reporter Kate Harris (Toronto Star, August
“ In sharp contrast to the foot-draggers of whatever political
persuasion are the Friends of Thickson’s Woods, who in 1982 purchased
a 6.5 hectare old-growth forest for $150,000 to stop it from being developed.
Now the Whitby group has done it again, anteing up a $100,000 down payment
this year for a 3.4 hectare meadow north of their nature reserve that
was zoned for industrial development .”
And from Marlaine Koehler, Project Director, Waterfront Regeneration
“Your organization is an incredibly gutsy outfit, showing everyone
that we can make a difference. And what a contribution your difference
is!! Thickson’s Woods is one of the pieces of paradise along the
Lake Ontario waterfront. So much work goes into creating the spirit,
energy and success that is now Thickson’s Woods Land Trust.
On behalf of all the Waterfront Trail users who tell us that a natural
waterfront is what they love most along the trail, I offer my heartfelt
gratitude for all you have accomplished and continue to do.”
Good Old Days!"
by Dennis Barry
I remember birding
in Thickson’s Woods in the early 1960’s. We didn’t
know who owned the woods. I wouldn’t say we didn’t care,
because probably we didn’t even think about it. When it came up
for sale in 1967, the Oshawa Naturalists’ Club could have bought
it for $7000. But why bother? It would always be there.
When huge Thickson’s Woods pines shook the earth as they fell
before the chainsawsin September, 1983, reality set in. The wakeup
call couldn’t have come in more dramatic fashion.
I suppose we should have seen the signs of things to come. When farm
fields along Garrard Road north of Rossland were no longer cultivated,
they grew up to long grass, and western meadowlarks and Henslow’s
sparrows moved in. “Great birding spot!” we thought,
but that’s as deep as our thinking went. We didn’t realize
that the reason these fields had become fallow was that they had already
been sold to someone who planned to build houses there some time in
the future. If you drive along that portion of Garrard Road today, you’ll
discover that the future has arrived.
Even when the cows disappeared from the pasture north of Thickson’s
Woods we didn’t give it much thought, until a “For Sale”
As woodlots and wetlands disappeared before the wave of urbanization
just as conservation authorities had their land acquisition budgets
slashed, it became apparent that the only sure way to protect some of
our favourite natural areas was to buy them. Thus Thickson’s Woods
Heritage Foundation was born.
More recently the Land Trust movement came into being in the province
as an offshoot of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists. This
network of groups is doing wonders to protect wild spaces across Ontario.
Thickson’s Woods became the first reserve on their roster of special
the Meadow 2002 raised over $4000, thanks to the efforts of the birders
who participated and the generosity of their sponsors. This year our
goal is to have twice as many participants and raise three times as
much money to help pay off the mortgage on the meadow. In order to do
that we need your help.
All the folks who did a May-rathon in 2002 are keen to do one again.
Unfortunately, our president, Margaret Bain, isn’t able to lead
the way as she did last year. She is recovering from hip
surgery and is under doctor’s orders to take it easy. It’s
up to the rest of us to take up the slack. While hers are difficult
“Wellies” to fill, we’ll do our best until Margaret
is able to join us again next year.
“What is a May-rathon?” you ask. The traditional one, which
has been conducted off and on at Thickson’s since the early '80's,
involves trying to see how many birds you can spot within one mile of
Thickson’s Woods during the month of May. Friends and acquaintances
agree to sponsor you, either for so much per bird, or for a set amount.
At the end of the month you would write a report to your sponsors listing
the birds you saw and mentioning some of the highlights of your adventures.
You would then collect the money and send it in. Tax receipts will be
issued by our treasurer for all donations.
However, you can decide to do a May-rathon anywhere and anytime you
choose. Some people choose to see how many birds they can spot in one
day. Some choose their yard or their neighbourhood as their location.
Others choose to count any species seen in the whole province. Basically,
you make up your own rules. Just be sure you let your sponsors know
when they sign up the approximate number of birds you think you are
likely to see.
As an example, someone birding fairly frequently in Thickson’s
for the whole month of May could expect to see or hear at least 150
different kinds of birds, while someone birding for a just one day in
their own neighborhood might see only one third that many.
Why is a May-rathon a good way to raise funds to pay off the mortgage?
First of all, it’s fun. Secondly, it spreads the financial
burden of paying off the mortgage over a larger number of people, folks
who might not otherwise be asked to contribute.
So get involved. There’s always a friendly rivalry among
May-rathoners, yet they help one another for the common good.
If you can’t do a May-rathon yourself, at least consider sponsoring
one of the participants listed below. Even better, use this May-rathon
sheet to collect sponsors for them. (To view a pdf of the sheet click
As we go to press the following people have declared their intention
to do a May-rathon this year.
Ken & Mary Lund
been made in memory of many special people:
Dorothy & Jack Brown
Dr. Guy Debenham
William G. Girling
Jo Ann James
We join their families and friends in mourning their passing, and acknowledge
their unique contribution to the rich web of life on planet earth.
We canonize old
growth, but new wilderness is just as awesome—it testifies both
to the beauty of Eden and the chance of redemption.
to Our Corporate and Community Donors!
our last newsletter, many community groups and businesses have responded
to the save-the-meadow appeal, with donations from $50 to $5000.
Auto Workers Credit Union
Brooklin District Lions Club
Durham Region Field Naturalists
George Metcalf Foundation, with special thanks to
Laureate Gamma Iota
Niagara Falls Nature Club
Peninsula Field Naturalists
Pickering Field Naturalists
Shanklin Investments Ltd.
Town of Whitby, Mayor’s Community
A very special thank-you
to Andrea Kingsley and Diana Banville
for the use of their fabulous illustrations in this newsletter.
And especially to the late George A. Scott.
We miss you, George!
Last spring a number
of happy birders raised more than $4000 for the meadow by collecting
pledges from sponsors for each species of bird they saw during the month
of May. Let's do it again!
For a pdf copy of
the May-rathon sponsor sheet click here
That Will Last Forever
Many metres of the
meadow have been saved in the name of: Carol & John Blankestyn, Amanda,
Erica & Maureen Brugel, Bob & Joyce Castor, Lila &
Joseph Chamberlain, Jean C. Downing, Kati Englert, Judy
& Paul Feheley, Lorna Hocking, Shirley Horner, Alan
Roberts, Margaret & Roger Horton, TeressaJacenty,
Brendan Jones, Deborah Ledon, Duncan & Graeme McDougall,
Aline McGuey, Sarah Nichol, Jean Payne, Betty Pegg, Edge Pegg, Nancy
Purcell, Mike Roy, Barbara Salamon, Tina Salamon, Yasmin Skirrow,
Jim Smith, June Smith, Mary E. Smith, Nancy & Jim
Smith, Lancey & Tory Williams !!!
Thank you to everyone
who gave a friend or loved one a share in this living legacy—a
gift that will last forever!
In response to many
requests, we are once again including with this newsletter a copy of
the Meadow Gift certificate. Many people have used it to give a gift
of lasting significance to family members and friends. It has been used
for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, holidays, and
just to say “Thank you!” or “I’m thinking of
you.” Put it aside until the right moment, then fill it out and
send it to that special person with your personalized sentiments, and
mail us a cheque for the amount you choose. ($15 per square metre) We
will recognize them in our next newsletter, on our website, and in some
more permanent manner in the future. (If someone gave you a Meadow Gift,
they’d probably be thrilled to receive one in return.)
Additional copies may be downloaded from our website (click
here), or we will send you extras. Just let us know how many you
Woods Designated by Birdathoners Raising Funds for Bird Studies Canada
A very special thank-you to Jack Alvo, Barb Glass and Judith Nancekivell
for naming Thickson’s Woods Land Trust as the group to receive
25% of the money they raised through the Baillie Birdathon last year.
Tours and Outings
Once again we'd like to invite clubs and individuals who are supporters
of Thickson's Woods to contact us if you would like a guided tour of the
woods or meadow. Write, send an e-mail or phone to make arrangements.