The Essex Region Conservation Foundation
When Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded this area in 1702, he noted that the area was teeming with trees, meadows and wildlife. In fact, he referred to this area as “so temperate, so fertile and so beautiful, that it may justly be called the earthly paradise of North America”.
Three hundred years of development has significantly compromised the environment of this region. For the past three decades, the Essex Region Conservation Foundation has been dedicated to restoring it to a healthy and sustainable state. Progress can only be made with the continued support of the community. We continue to be grateful to the generous donors who have helped make three decades of success possible, and look forward to continuing to work with you to create a future of sustainability for this region.
The Foundation’s Mission is to create opportunities for every member of the community to invest in the environment of our region to create a natural legacy for future generations. In keeping with this mandate, the Foundation works to improve the human, economic and environmental health of the Essex region by raising money for projects undertaken by the Essex Region Conservation Authority.
Since 1977, the Foundation has supported the Essex Region Conservation Authority by raising the funds required to reforest and green the Essex region, protect those significant natural areas that remain, plant new forests in strategic locations, restore wetlands, protect cultural heritage, and increase green connections through acquiring and developing trails.
The Foundation will be launching a new strategic plan and fundraising priorities. The Foundation’s goals will continue to be the protection and restore the critical natural resources of the Essex Region, the preservation of our human heritage through resources like the John R. Park Homestead and Kingsville Train Station, and supporting healthy communities through greenways and trails.
The Essex Region Conservation Foundation continues to raise funds to protect and improve our local environment and water quality. Protecting existing natural areas, planting trees and building trails is some of the success the Foundation has realized over the past three decades.
Click on the tabs below to read more about our past accomplishments:
The restoration and acquisition of artifacts for the John R. Park Homestead, a 1842 home which is the only living farmhouse museum west of London. Today, it has been beautifully restored and is used extensively for education programs and to interpret the lives of our ancestors.
Recognizing the importance of ‘greening our region’, in 1989, thanks to the innovative idea of Dave and Paul Janisse, a unique partnership was established with community funeral homes to create Heritage Forests. This program allows select tracts of land to be developed into natural woodlots while honouring those who have passed away, and since its inception, three new forests have been created.
The largest single donation to the Foundation came in 1994 from Mr. Cliff Hatch. A true community leader, Mr. Hatch donated a significant property to the Foundation, and encouraged us to sell the assets and use the funds for the protection and restoration of our natural environment. It was also Mr. Hatch who provided the inspiration to move forward with the acquisition and development of the Chrysler Canada Greenway, which since its opening in 2000, has been a resource enjoyed by thousands of residents of and visitors to this community.
It’s Our Nature Campaign, which was launched in 1995, experienced many successes, including;
- The acquisition of the Greenway, thanks to a generous donation of $250,000 from Chrysler Canada.
- Protection of LaSalle Woods, part of an area which contains a greater diversity of prairie habitats than any other place in Canada, thanks to a lead donation of $100,000 from the Rotary Club of Windsor-Roseland.
- Acquisition of important tracts of land within Cedar Creek, identified as one of the most important natural areas in the region and one of the best examples of Carolinian Forests in Ontario
- The 1999 commitment of $250,000 from Casino Windsor Cares, to close the campaign, making them a Partner in the Environment
In the year 2000, wanting to ensure that their 118 acre woodlot would be protected in perpetuity, the Zuliani family donated their wooded properties to the Foundation so that the Windsor -Essex community could enjoy their environmental benefits in for generations to come. A few months later, the Dobrich/Dragecevich families followed suit and donated their 26 acre woodlot located in the Canard River watershed to the Foundation, once again, ensuring that its significant natural features will be protected.
- In 2001, thanks in part to the financial contributions of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation, the Detroit River was officially designated as a Canadian Heritage River and became the first and only river in North America with both Canadian and American Heritage River designations. This designation has acted as a catalyst in stimulating additional environmental cleanup and restoration in the river, which is truly one of our community’s greatest natural resources.
In 2002 because of the success the Foundation achieved with the Chrysler Canada Greenway, CN/CP donated an additional 26 kilometres of abandoned rail line extending from Amherstburg to the urban centre of Essex, and intersecting with the existing Chrysler Canada Greenway. The first kilometre of this section was opened in 2007, with an additional four kilometres opening in 2010. The Foundation continues to raise the funds that will be needed to undertake trail development, bringing our vision of a region connected by trails one step closer to reality.
As part of this transaction with CN/CP in 2002, 2,600 feet of shoreline property located in the Town of Amherstburg was also donated to the Foundation. This property will become the Detroit River Heritage Lookout and provide public access to the river.
- In partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada, along with a $100,000 contribution from Family Tradition Foods Incorporated and the generous donations of several organisations and individuals, 87 acres of unique habitat was restored to create the Hillman Marsh Shorebird Habitat in 2003. This managed habitat complements the original 950 acre Conservation Area and is visited by people from around the world wanting to observe migrating shorebirds, songbirds and waterfowl during the spring months.
- Also in 2003, the Essex Region Conservation Foundation celebrated the restoration of the historically and architecturally significant Kingsville Train Station. Built in 1889 by Hiram Walker, the station was designed by famed architects Mason and Rice, and was acquired as part of the Chrysler Canada Greenway. Thanks to the many partners including Human Resources Development Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Kingsville Train Station Committee and others, the original masonry work has been repaired, the roof has been rebuilt with slate, and copper eaves troughs have been installed. Its magnificence has surpassed the highest of expectations.
- In 2007, the Foundation was the recipient of two significant bequests. Ms. Arlie Joswick bequeathed her entire estate, resulting in a generous donation to the Foundation of $326,000. Her Will specified that the donation was to be utilized for ‘purchase of nature land within the jurisdiction of the Essex Region Conservation Authority’. $250,000 of this donation was directed toward the protection of the Spring Garden Complex in the City of Windsor. As well, an anonymous donor bequeathed $220,000 to the Essex Region Conservation Foundation’s Islands of Green Endowment Fund for the protection of significant natural areas. The interest from this account will be used to help purchase important, threatened natural areas.
- In 2009, nearly 200 runners dressed in Santa suits and stormed the streets of Amherstburg at the Foundation’s first Super Santa Run. All proceeds from this event went towards the Foundation’s fundraising priorities. The run is expected to become an annual event, attracting an increasing number of families and runners taking part.
In 2009 the Foundation created a new brand to emphasize the Foundation’s goal to create a green, healthy and sustainable environment, and a lasting green legacy for the region.
Walter Barron, a longtime supporter of our Foundation, passed away in 2009. In his passing, he generously bequeathed us his home, which was significantly renovated and was sold with proceeds to the Foundation to be used towards creating a future of sustainability of this region.
- The Foundation was delighted to welcome President Bill Clinton as the keynote speaker for the region’s first Enviro-Expo in April 2010. The Expo hosted more than 60 exhibitors to demonstrate avenues to ‘greening our lives’.