Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

Why a Heritage Lake?

Hello, I'm Marj And I'm Barb. We are retirees, a teacher and a nurse respectively and we are committed to heritage preservation. 

Marj has a long history as a preservationist. She was president of the Weston and Etobicoke Historical Societies, and is Vice-President of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO): Simcoe County Branch.

Barb is the ACO Secretary.

Both of us summered for our entire lives on Lake Simcoe and have retired from the city to these cottage lands. Marj and her husband, Ron, donated their old cottage to the Simcoe County Museum as an example of cottage living in the post-Second World War period. 

Both of our families resided in the area. Marj's father came north by train to Innisfil and hiked to Cedar Harbour where he chose the cottage land. Barb's family settled here in the 1830s and her cottage views Innisfil Beach Park where her grandmother was born, on what was then the family farm. 

Marj served as a citizen on the Humber River Task Force and advocated for the Humber River to be named one of Canada's Heritage Rivers. The Humber River Task Force was told that only the pristine Northern Rivers would be designated, but their counter-argument was that some of the important history of Canada happened in the urban south and those stories need to be honoured as well. 

That same argument has driven us to advocate for Lake Simcoe and its watershed to be designated as a Heritage Lake. We believe that Lake Simcoe should be given the recognition that it deserves. 

There are currently 42 Heritage Rivers in Canada. The champions of each river have participated in a long and arduous collection of information about the river which was submitted to provincial, then federal Ministries. 

There are currently no Heritage Lakes in Canada. We would like Lake Simcoe to be the first. 

What precipitated this interest? Well, within the previous few years we had watched the demise of several outstanding farmhouses to make way for parking lots. In order to advocate more judiciously, we and our fellow heritage aficinados formed a chapter of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario: Simcoe County Branch. The more we investigated the history of the area and talked about advocacy and education, the more aware we became of the relevance of the Lake and its watershed rivers to the history and development of the area. 

When we investigated the benefits of heritage designation, it was clear that the major benefit was a heightened awareness about the Lake and it's history, which impacts on tourism in the watershed. Tourists go to heritage sites! In addition, the cumulated literature about the rivers that had been designated noted many other benefits to designation: 

  • celebrating and support the cultural connections of aboriginal people
  • telling the story of our nation building a sense of identity and pride
  • promoting environmental stewardship and citizen engagement in conservation
  • promoting adventure, travel and sustainable tourism
  • connecting urban Canadians to history and nature
  • advancing socio-economic benefits, increasing business and tourism opportunities
  • building spiritual connections to place
  • engaging new Canadians and youth in education, conservation and recreation

We believe that the benefits that Heritage Rivers saw, will have similar implications for a Heritage Lake!

We were approached by neighbours, and business owners asking if designation would affect their use of the Lake and impact on waterfront properties. So we asked! Lake Simcoe and the Watershed are protected by existing legislation — the Lake Simcoe Protection Act and by the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authourity. No further restrictions will emerge from designation. 

So what did we do? Well, stay tuned for the next blog.

What did we do?
The Gibson House


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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

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