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Newsletter 20

Celebrating 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 to witness. 

Circle These Dates

Saturday, 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 welcome!!
Saturday, June 7—Pickering Naturalists Garage Sale

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
(905) 837-1775.

Saturday, September 13Birds, Butterflies and Beavers
Nature Festival

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 19Art Auction in Aid of the Meadow
Wine and cheese reception 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Heydenshore Pavillion, Whitby. Lots of wildlife art and lots of fun!

Food for Thought

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 72
       - 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.

Cheers 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 so much!

Many local businesses and groups helped make the fall festival a success, including:

Johnson Controls
Kent Farms
Lofthouse Brass
Marigold Ford Lincoln Sales
Wm Medland & Sons
Metro Toronto Zoo
Mitchell Brothers Lumber
Seaflight Hydrofoils
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 Smyth,
Pat Tozer, Ellen Vogel, Alan Woods. 

Fundraising Ideas

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 about it.

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 Woods.

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.

Treasurer's Corner
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 other charities.

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 that!

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!

Meadow Mortgage

Balance Owing

Balance Owing


Balance Owing

Balance Owing


Balance Owing


Stories 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

Nature Notes
by Dennis Barry

Monarch butterflies 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 pile.

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.

Thickson's Woods Land Trust Recognized for its Acheivements

Congratulations 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 19) wrote:

“ 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 Trust:

“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.”

"The 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” sign appeared.

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 protected places.

May-rathon 2003

May-rathon for 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 here)

As we go to press the following people have declared their intention to do a May-rathon this year.

David Shilman
Frank Pinilla
Ken & Mary Lund
Jim Fairchild
Linda Cole
Margaret Carney
Dennis Barry

In Memorium

Donations have been made in memory of many special people:

John Jefferson Brooks
Dorothy & Jack Brown
Bill Carrick
Dr. Guy Debenham
Jennifer Evanshen
Barbara Fallis
Norm Fidler
William G. Girling
Don Hocking
Jo Ann James
Evelyn Kelly
Gordon Lick
Joseph McPhee
Edna Moran
Anthony Pengally
Art Richardson
Mac Smith
Vic Wotton
Helen Weatherbee

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.

Bill McKibben


Thanks to Our Corporate and Community Donors!

Since our last newsletter, many community groups and businesses have responded to the save-the-meadow appeal, with donations from $50 to $5000. 

Aim Funds Management
Altitude Aluminum
Auto Workers Credit Union
Brooklin District Lions Club
Durham Region Field Naturalists
George Metcalf Foundation,
with special thanks to
John Lounds.
Gerdau Ameristeel
IBM Canada
Laureate Gamma Iota
Lofthouse Brass
Niagara Falls Nature Club
Peninsula Field Naturalists
Phercon Consulting
Pickering Field Naturalists
Shanklin Investments Ltd.
Town of Whitby, Mayor’s Community
Development Fund

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!

May-rathons Time Again!

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

Gifts 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!

Meadow Gift Forms

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 need

Thickson’s 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.
Gift Certificate
In Memorium Form
Contact Us
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