Why We Must Continue to Secure Escarpment Lands

By Guest Blogger Ross McLean

In June 2017, the Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) received its largest land donation, 230 acres at Cape Dundas in the Bruce Peninsula.  The donor was invited to explain his rationale for this gift at the fall 2017 BTC Donors’ Night.

He began with a photo entitled “Pale Blue Dot”.  It was actually a series of pictures pasted together, taken from Voyager 1 in 1990 as it was about to leave the vicinity of Saturn.  The insignificant dot in the distance was “our little lifeboat.”  As the donor explained, all those vast forests we have experienced in the Canadian landscape do not seem so significant when we look from this vantage point in space.

“I have been asked”, he said, “to speak tonight about the reasons why we decided to donate our land near Wiarton to the Bruce Trail Conservancy.”  He told stories of the good use they had made of the land “with our young family and friends”, and the wonderful memories of evenings camped at the edge of the escarpment watching the moon rise over Barrier Island or seeing the constant flow of birds wing past our campsite during the Spring and Fall migrations.”

“We felt this jewel of land should be enjoyed by others” and “a handshake agreement was made to allow a loop of the Bruce Trail to pass through the property”.

He continued his story:  “A number of years ago we were privileged to be on one of Beth Gilhespy’s Geology Spring walks .  It was on this walk that I saw the real value of the Bruce Trail Association’s (BTA; now the BTC) connection to the property for the BTA was providing more than just a foot path, it was facilitating the understanding and appreciation of the world around us.  A learning experience for all.  Just can’t get the teacher out of me.

“I believe there is more to the Bruce Trail than just a foot path for walkers.  It is also an extremely important corridor for flora and fauna for they too need a path to survival.  Islands of forest leave animals and plants isolated. Much like a chain whose broken links make it all but useless, an unsecured Bruce Trail, open to the whims of new private land owners who may refuse passage, is not the best alternative.  Securing a continuous trail through donation and land acquisition should always be the ultimate goal of the BTC no matter how challenging.  Your individual donations can lead to this goal but your donations can also provide the funding for those educational walks as well.

“We must teach our young to appreciate this wonderful resource for only then will we feel some security in our pale blue lifeboat.”

At the July dedication of this property which secures the trail corridor around a beautiful headland in the Bruce Peninsula, a plaque was unveiled to recognize this gift. But the donor and his family humbly asked that their names not be included.  Instead it reads:

Walk with a cautious step

For we are not masters,

Only custodians.

There is much to be learned from this visionary speech.  I only hope that we are up to the challenge.


Start planning your winter hikes using the hike schedules available on our website!

2 thoughts on “Why We Must Continue to Secure Escarpment Lands”

  1. Excellent article Ross! I too attended the October 29, 2017 Donor Night and the huge land donation you mentioned and the “blue dot” presentation was truly inspiring. Thanks for adding this to our blog!


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