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Newletter 25
Spring 2005

Come Walk in the Woods on Winter Solstice

With the holidays approaching and the great season of giving in full swing, consider passing on a little bit of nature to your friends and loved ones. Planners predict there will be several million additional people moving to Durham Region in the next twenty years. Where will migrating birds stop to rest and refuel?  Saving a few metres of wildlife habitat in the fastest-urbanizing part of Canada might be the greatest gift you could give future generations.

Feeling extra generous? Have the tax receipts made out in their names.

Winter Solstice is also fast approaching. There's always a flurry of birders wandering through the nature reserve in early December, working on "winter lists," but then Thickson’s Woods is quiet again, except for the lisp of tree sparrows, the buzz of chickadees and the deep hooting of the great horned owls. It's a perfect place to go for a solitary ramble in nature—and find the great peace of this special season.

Treasurer's Corner
by Brian Steele

The third quarter was a great one, thanks to many people’s generosity and hard work, for we were able to make a payment of $35,000. After interest of $3,856.78, the mortgage was reduced by $31,143.22, so the total owing is now $187,447.94. There are nine payments remaining until the maturity date in February, 2007, and we are just behind schedule by $3,904.19.

The strong third quarter was sparked by the success of our fall festival and a great response to the last newsletter. Supporters of Thickson’s Woods always come through, and we want to thank everyone who sent donations to help get us back on track. The Birds, Beavers and Butterflies Festival had glorious weather and great attendance; our bake table sold out, the silent auction proceeds set a record and the sausages were gone almost before lunchtime. Gross from the event was about $10,000.

Thickson’s Woods Land Trust is a registered charity and we issue tax receipts for all donations over $5. Please remember that if you make a donation by the end of the year, you can use the receipt when you file your tax return next spring. When our current stock runs out – probably at the end of December – you will notice slight changes in the new receipts. On top you will find the web site address for Thickson’s Woods: www.thicksonswoods.com. If you have never visited our site, have a look! There’s lots of interesting information about the woods, its history and its flora and fauna.  Forms can be downloaded for making donations, and upcoming events are featured.

The bottom of the receipt will show the web site for the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), a new requirement for all charities. The site contains information on all charities and is updated annually. You can go to the web site to see a list of current directors of Thickson’s Woods Land Trust and the positions they hold, as well as summary information from our financial statements. You can learn what our purpose is, how much directors are compensated (nothing), if we use professional fundraisers (we don’t) and what type of events we run.  Several years’ worth of data is available on the web site. Last year’s has not yet been added, though the information was sent last summer.

I think our tax receipts look great. If you study them carefully you’ll see in the background some ancient white pines standing on the bluff overlooking the lake. That in a nutshell says what we are all about – the preservation of this unique place called Thickson’s Woods.

A Year's Worth of Thanks!

Lots and lots of people have helped carry on the effort of saving the meadow.  We wish we could list all donors by name, but the privacy laws prohibit it. Thank you all!!

We do want to mention the many volunteers who help with events and projects, including: Karin Barrie, Marc Barrie, Karen Barry, Barb Glass, Cathy & Lucas Brailsford, Holly Bruce, Judy & Ray Bryson, Carmen Duggan, Miriam Dunbar, Maggie Eaton, Jane Edwards, Gerry & June Ernest, Karin Fawthrop, Cristel & Joachim Floegel, Roger Frost, Cecil Galpin, Jennifer Ghantous, Derek Gillette, Gerry & Norma Gonveia, John Haas, Barb Haynes, Jerry Hegel, Mary Henrichs, Matt Holder, Shirley Horner, Heather Jessop, Barbara Kalthoff, James Kamstra, Elizabeth Kellog, Doug Lockrey, Jessica Martin, Rob Miller, David & Lois Oliver, Shirley Pautler, Dianne Pazaratz, Rick Pfinder, Ron Pittaway, Ed Poropat, Pat Preyde, Deb Reynolds, Edna & Ken Ridge, Carolyn Roe, Mike Roy, Alfheid Salamon, Jean & Les Sayer, Bill Scott, Sandy Sharples, Susan Smyth, Warren Toaze, Jenny Tyl, Joan Winearls, Norbert Woerns, Steve Wood, Alan Woods, Richard Woolger.
A Very Special Thank You to:

  • Phill Holder and the indefatigable crew from Lofthouse Brass: Jerry Birmingham, Jackie Gilkes, Jeff Glover, George Matthews, Kelly & Phil Reyenga & Al Wilson for providing a tent and tables, organizing and cooking  the food for the Pancake Breakfast and Fall Festival, and everything else they do!
  • Harvey Medland who created a fascinating and informative mushroom display by labeling specimens along trails in the woods.
  • Sara Houghton for selling more tickets for the quilt raffle than anyone else.
  • Anne Fox and Mary Lund for writing many thank yous to donors.

With their energy and enthusiasm, student volunteers helped make the fall festival a great success:

  • Ashling Amato and all her friends from the Lindsay Campus of Sir Sandford Fleming College;
  • Scott Brady, Courtney Brown, Danielle Henne, Tim Lew, Ashleigh Lowe & Rachel Parfitt from Courtice Secondary School Environmental Science class;
  • Spencer Dawson and Christine Dorie from All Saints School;
  • Katy Brailsford, Melanie Daw, Kristin Etter, Julia & Doug Haynes, Jessica Irvine, Vickie Marsh, Samantha Mead and Brenna & Tyler Savery from Anderson Collegiate Vocational Institute;
  • Stephen Cosgrove & Cameron Farmer from Fr Leo J. Austin Catholic Secondary School.
Businesses and Groups Helping Out:
Aim Trimark
Bicycles Plus
Buckingham Meat Market
CKDO 1350
Durham Region Astronomical Association
Durham Region Field Naturalists
Hands on Health Care
Here’s the Scoop  (Brooklin)
Home Depot
IBM Canada
John Weiss Hair Design
Laidlaw Foundation
Lofthouse Brass
Marigold Ford Lincoln
Metro Toronto Zoo
Mitchell Brothers Lumber
Noah’s Watch & Clock Repair
Office Depot
Pebblestone Multi-services
Pickering Naturalists
Swarovski Optics
The Linen Co.

If we forgot your name, sorry!  Let us know and we’ll print it next spring!

We were reminded recently that many of our supporters don’t know how Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve, or the land trust, came to be. In an attempt to correct that oversight, here is the story:
Thickson’s Woods Land Trust – a brief history
by Dennis Barry

“These pines are reserved for masts for His Majesty’s Navy!” state the early deeds of landowners at Corbett Point, the original name of Thickson’s Point. By the time William Stephensen was training spies at Camp “X” across Corbett Creek Marsh in the early 1940s, warships no longer were powered by sails. Many of the white pines in Thickson’s Woods were already more than 100 feet tall and over 100 years old. On a bright May morning in the early 1960s, when I first visited Thickson’s Woods on an Oshawa Naturalists’ Club outing, the trees were alive with a myriad of colourful warblers.

In 1967 the Club had the chance to purchase the woods for $7,000.  Sounds like a golden opportunity missed, but to put things in perspective, a comfortable house could have been purchased that year for about $20,000. Besides, back then, most of us thought our favourite birding spots would always be there to welcome us. Why worry?

Then in September of 1983 tragedy struck. The developer who owned Thickson’s Woods sold the logging rights. For four days the earth shook as one huge towering white pine after another crashed to the ground. By the time the naturalist community was galvanized into action, 66 ancient pines had fallen.

Thus Thickson’s Woods Heritage Foundation was born. A small group of naturalists dipped into their savings to raise the $30,000 down payment to purchase the 16+ acres that encompass the woods, the lakefront, and the western portion of Corbett Creek Marsh. The remaining $60,000 mortgage, plus interest, was paid off over the next five years. Funds were raised through yard sales, an art raffle, and birdathons, as well as a grant from the McLean Foundation. But most of the money came from donations from many hundreds of concerned folks who loved wild spaces, and were devastated as many of their favourite haunts were destroyed.

Back then the fields to the west were planted to corn, canola and tomatoes, while the meadow to the north was a cow pasture. Staff from the Corbett Creek Pollution Control Plant cooperated in the planting of evergreens along the north side of the road leading to their facility. Some white pine seedlings sprouted on their own after the giants were felled, while others were planted.

After the mortgage was paid off, board members breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed a little. By this time, however, the cattle had disappeared from the pasture, and rumours persisted about plans for development on those lands. Numerous attempts were made over the next dozen years to discuss with the owners the possibility of buying the meadow, but these were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the pollution control plant underwent an expansion,  which included a new entrance off Wentworth Street. The Waterfront Trail became a reality, utilizing the old entrance road along the north border of the woods as part of its route through Whitby. As more and more of the open fields around Thickson’s Woods were converted to factories, warehouses and truck depots, it became obvious that it was only a matter of time until the meadow was paved over. Norman Schipper, one of our directors, pointed out how the very things that make Thickson’s Woods so specialwould be compromised if that happened. Its value as a refuge for humans and wildlife alike, as they sought respite from the hectic pace of an increasingly urban environment, would be severely diminished.

It seemed like a daunting task, but the TWLT board of directors felt we had no choice but to tryto buy the meadow. A deal was agreed upon, with a purchase price of $531,000 for two parcels totaling 81⁄2 acres. We asked for a six month delay before closing to allow time to raise the $100,000 down payment. Our thinking was that if we could raise that much in six months, then raising the remaining  $431,000, plus interest, over the next five years should be possible. 

Not only did you rise to the challenge, but your generosity meant that we were able to pay down the mortgage by an additional $23,000 when the meadow was added to the Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve on February 2, 2001. As of November 2, 2004, the mortgage has been reduced to $187, 448.

In 2002 we applied for a change in zoning from M1 Industrial to Open Space, in keeping with our goals. This also reduced our tax burden substantially.

Since Thickson’s Woods Heritage Foundation was created in 1984, the Ontario Land Trust Alliance came into being, with groups forming all across the province dedicated to keeping land in its natural state forever. Thickson’s Woods became the first property listed on the Ontario Land Trust Alliance registry of protected areas.  In 2001, we adopted “Thickson’s Woods Land Trust” as our working name.

Now the Waterfront Trail runs through the heart of Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve. An attractive sign designed and erected by Phill Holder and his staff at Lofthouse Brass stands at the southeast corner of the meadow to welcome everyone.

Changes in the meadow are ones we can now embrace:
  • leaves on the white birches turning to gold against an azure sky filled with circling kettles of migrating hawks;
  • tiny footprints of meadow voles and tree sparrows in new-fallen snow where they harvested weed seeds in the shelter of a clump of scarlet-stemmed dogwoods;
  • the noisy chatter of a flock of diminutive golden-crowned kinglets busily devouring tiny insects among the opening leaves of chokecherry;
  • a newly emerged bright orange and black monarch butterfly drying its wings before beginning to sip nectar from yellow goldenrod.

This is how the meadow should change. Come share and appreciate what you’ve helped create.

Stories from the Front Lines

It was like Christmas morning—peering into the open envelope and finding a whole pack of tax receipts to be sent out. What’s this? I wondered, then read the letter: “To whom it may concern…”

Staff at Henry Street High School in Whitby apparently have an option about where their “Friday dress down money” is donated, and 19 of them wanted to help save the meadow at the Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve!  Totally unexpected, the news—and the $420 cheque—was a huge surprise that put a golden glow in my day.

Teachers who love nature pass on that love to their students, the future stewards of wildlife habitat in southern Ontario and across the planet. This was such a wonderful story we had to share it!

In the great glowing web of life we’re all interconnected. My heart was touched by a letter from Don Smith, past president of a conservation club in the Sarnia area. “You are doing a truly amazing job paying off a $531,250 purchase for this valuable property,” he wrote. “I know how hard it is, since Lambton Wildlife Inc. has made several land acquisitions and I’ve been deeply involved in two of them.”

The chief reason Don was writing was to send a personal donation in memory of Diane Haselmayer, another past president and a “truly exceptional person who loved the natural world and traveled in it all her life.” Diane was birding in Peru recently when she passed away.

Don felt that my poem “Reflections”, about Edge Pegg, printed in our newsletter last winter, so accurately described Diane’s life that he wished to run it in their club’s newsletter as a memorial tribute to his friend. I was deeply honoured. Edge would be pleased, as well!

Corbett Creek Marsh to be Designated an ANSI

We have just learned that the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is about to designate Corbett Creek Marsh and the barrier beach separating it from Lake Ontario as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. This provides official recognition of the unique natural attributes of this special area. Although the boundaries have not been announced, at least the marsh portion of Thickson’s Woods Nature Reserve will be included. We hope the woods and meadow will be as well.

Circle These Dates!!

May 7, 2005  Pancake Breakfast in the Meadow
September 17, 2005  Fall Nature Festival

You could be a winner!

To encourage end-of-the-year donations, Gallery Brougham is once again offering an irresistible incentive. Send a donation by year’s end and your name will be entered in a draw to win a Marc Barrie print. If you noticed the door prize donated by Marc for our fall festival, you know what a truly creative and talented artist he is.

This holiday season give a gift that will last forever – a piece of “The Meadow”

10 square metres -$150
05 square metres - $75
02 square metres - $30
01 square metre - $15

(Or for that very special person – 1 acre $62,500


Recent donations have been made in memory of many special people:

Dagmar Borchert
Mary Graham
William Robert Hambly
Diane Haselmayer
Janet Hawco
Jan Hughes
Anne Isabel Macdonald
Bill Malone
Stanislaw Mosek
Non Roffey
Barrie V. Thomas

We join their families and friends in mourning their passing, and acknowledge their unique contribution to the rich web of life on planet earth.

On our website we recognize all past donations made in memory of friends and loved ones.

Gifts That Will Last Forever

Many metres of the meadow have been saved in the name of: Brendan Cunneen; Renate Cunneen; Marjorie Cooper; Robert Hambly Senior; Mr. & Mrs. J. C. Marston; Carsten McQuade; Mark Melcher; Diane Peter; Alfheid Salamon; Owen, Martha, & Ian Spira; Dr. Summer Syed. 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, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day 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, 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.

Additional copies may be downloaded from our website, or we will send you extras. Just let us know how many you need.

Rides to Thickson’s Woods

Some Thickson’s Woods supporters who used to look forward to birding in the woods can no longer enjoy that experience because they’re unable to drive, or no longer have birding companions to accompany them. We wonder if it’s possible to connect people who are in that situation with others who could occasionally provide someone from their area with a ride to Thickson’s for a morning’s birding. If you would like to take advantage of such an opportunity, or if you would be willing to help out, let us know and we’ll see if we can organize something.


Gift Certificate
In Memorium Form
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