North Harbour

North Harbour Conservation Easement, Nova Scotia – (Nova Scotia Nature Trust)

North Harbour is American Friends’ second Nova Scotia conservation easement. The property is owned by Bostonian Merloyd Lawrence, who previously donated the Little Annapolis Lake easement, one of the first gifts received by American Friends. It is part of a growing network of protected properties in Cape Breton. Bonnie Sutherland, the Executive Director of NSNT, said this easement is an important contribution to the Nature Trust’s efforts to protect ecologically significant coastal lands. This gift is especially valuable because it is in the Aspy Valley Natural Landscape, a small eco-region featuring rare Acadian forest.

St. David's Island

St. David’s Island Project, Georgian Bay, Georgian Bay Land Trust

The property is approximately 13.4 acres (5.42 hectares) in size and includes all of St. Davids Island.  There are no buildings, docks, boardwalks or other structures of any kind on the island.  St. Davids Island has been identified as a priority for conservation by the Georgian Bay Land Trust and as a Priority 1 property for land securement by the Nature Conservancy of Canada in its Eastern Georgian Bay Coast Natural Area Plan for Pointe au Baril.  The shoreline is irregular with several sheltered bays and includes small pockets of coastal meadow marsh.  St. Davids Island is rarely visited, and no formal inventories for species at risk have been conducted, but frequent occurrences of the eastern foxsnake (a federally endangered species) and sightings of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (a threatened species) have been reported on a neighboring island.

Evelyn Newell reports that she believes her great-grandfather bought St. Davids island from the Crown and gave it to her grandmother who shows up as the first person on the title in 1909. The property passed to Evelyn’s mother and aunt, who in turn deeded it to their children nearly 30 years ago. Those seven children now have their own grandchildren. As is the case for so many families who have had a relationship to a place for generations, it was deemed impractical to pass the island to the ever-expanding cadre of cousins and second cousins.

To protect the property from development, the Newell and Suter families transfered St Davids Island, in the Pointe au Baril area of Georgian Bay to American Friends. American Friends made it possible for the seven owners to protect land they genuinely love.

Photo Credit: Gary & Joanie McGuffin

Gargantua Islands Project (Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy)

The Gargantua Islands range in size from ½ acre to 54 acres. The largest and best known is named Devil’s Warehouse because of its dramatic rock formations. Peregrine falcons, a “species at risk” in Canada, nest on the cliffs of Devil’s Warehouse. Area naturalists have documented caribou swimming out to the islands to calve, seeking refuge from predators. The Gargantua Islands Archipelago is the first gift American Friends has received in Lake Superior.

Visitors to Lake Superior Provincial Park have assumed that the archipelago’s unique geologic formations, indigenous rock art, pocket beaches and wildlife habitat were already protected. However, an American family, originally from Detroit, has owned the islands since the early 1900’s. When the current generation of family members decided to dispose of the islands, LSWC arranged for them to donate their property to American Friends so their gift would be tax deductible in the United States. LWSC, with help from volunteers and park staff, will be responsible for stewardship of the islands.

Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy is one of the leaders of an effort to establish an international Lake Superior Heritage Coast Corridor. The designation would promote eco-tourism and advance preservation of the wild, scenic and pristine character of this beautiful area.