Lake Simcoe lost one of its strongest champions, Tim Crooks, this past winter.
It is not what Tim accomplished in his life that is so moving and remarkable, but how he did it. His passing allows us to reflect on the under-celebrated importance of quiet, dogged work and determination. His story should put wind in the sails of the majority of people who want to be part of something meaningful but don’t want to take centre stage.
Tim was well known for his leadership in rallying his community and raising $600,000 to protect the 26-acre Church Woods in Shanty Bay, Oro-Medonte. But he was less well-known for his massive contributions to the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition (RLSC), which led the charge for the Lake Simcoe Protection Act and Plan. Tim did so much of the RLSC’s thankless grunt work: updating contact lists, phoning people to attend events, submitting tax returns, and tracking the financials. He did the mind-numbing tasks of running an organization; the very cornerstones of solvency.
It was Tim who held the cornerstones in place. And he did it with a spring in his step, a smile on his face, and always a willingness to step up and do more. Tim was not just a workhorse. He also identified core problems and solutions for Lake Simcoe.
Robert Eisenberg, founding chair of the RLSC says, “It was Tim’s idea to focus our campaign (that started off as a reaction to urban sprawl) on the lake. Everybody cares about the fate of the lake, so its recovery was a cause nobody could dismiss. It was Tim who conflated phosphorus with urban sprawl for me, and gave me the tool I needed to bring Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature to the table to form Campaign Lake Simcoe.”
The result of Campaign Lake Simcoe’s work was the Lake Simcoe Protection Act, 2008, which, among other things, sets higher environmental standards for new development. Tim was the financial lead of the RLSC, and one of its projects, the WAVE.
Annabel Slaight, co-founder of the Ladies of the Lake and the Ontario Water Centre, says, “It was in thinking about how to fund the WAVE, that the idea of Ladies of the Lake calendar came up in 2004. Tim was very cautious so we thought $20,000 was beyond our wildest dreams. But I think you can make the case that Tim was the founding uncle of that calendar that earned $250,000, and did so much more. The calendar included [his wife] Ros [tastefully nude] in a maple sugar bush with four other ladies on a freezing winter’s day. I can still hear Tim’s laugh about that to this day!
“Both Tim and Ros were at the very roots of the contagious grassroots movement that brought Lake Simcoe into public focus and helped make change possible…. He seemed to be everywhere where things were happening and was such a gentle presence you couldn’t help but love him! He touched so many people’s hearts.”
Tim supported the causes and the people he believed in with all his heart, and with a great deal of grit and determination. Lake Simcoe’s champions will not forget his boundless enthusiasm and selfless efforts.
May Tim rest in peace, in Shanty Bay, with no regrets, knowing that he has left a legacy of love, solidarity, and success.
A ‘Celebration of Life’ and reception will be held on Sat., June 17, 2017, in Shanty Bay at 2pm. Donations in Tim’s memory can be made to the Couchiching Conservancy.
Article by Claire Malcolmson. Claire is a former board member of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition and the former coordinator of Campaign Lake Simcoe. She is currently a member of the Lake Simcoe Coordinating Committee, and lives in Innisfil with her husband and two young boys.
Photo courtesy of Ros Crooks