Ganaraske (Fr.) c. 1650 -
"History matters to us as individuals because it
locates us in time and place and gives meaning to our lives. It matters to us as
citizens because through an ordering of the past into discernible patterns, we
can better understand how past choices have present day consequences. What we
remember, what we stress as significant, what we omit from our past, and what we
don’t know or understand about the stories of our fellow inhabitants, is
critical to our ability to endure as a collectivity... The past is part of our
present and thereby part of our future…"
Thomas S. Axworthy, 1997
Ganaraska - History 2
The survey work was conducted in the Fall of 1942 and Spring of 1943:
Verschoyle B. Blake (and the Interdepartmental Committee) were of great assistance..." (A.H. Richardson (1974) p. 16)
The first edition of the Ganaraska report was published in 1943.
A shorter abridged version of The Ganaraska Watershed report for public use followed and in 1944 was published by the Ontario Ministry of Planning and Development in two editions.
unlike any other ever produced by the Ontario government, and represented a significant departure from the way in which resources were traditionally regarded in Ontario." (Steve Jobbitt, (2001) p.74)
The Ganaraska survey was seen as an example of conservation study for all of Canada. The content of the Ganaraska Study was seen by Dr. R.C. Wallace of Queen’s University as:
of all our resources throughout Canada." (A. H. Richardson, Conservation by the People: The History of the Conservation Movement in Ontario to 1970, (1974)
As the first test pilot area in Ontario, Ganaraska led the way for the development of watershed conservation policies and conservation authorities in Ontario.
model for future conservation studies throughout the Province of Ontario." (John C. Carter, Ontario Conservation Authorities: Their Heritage Resources and Museums, Ontario History/Volume XCIV, No. 1, Spring 2002)
The Ganaraska Report (1944) identified a number of projects which should be undertaken. In addition to the above noted recommendation for reforestation of 8,100 hectares (20,000 acres), other recommendations included:
the use of natural, rather than political boundaries was one of the most significant innovations of the Ganaraska study.
formation of conservation authorities
combine "the best features of the Grand River Conservation Commission and the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District so that municipalities in any part of Ontario may undertake a similar conservation programme." (Richardson, A. H. 1944, The Ganaraska Watershed, King's Printer, Toronto. p xviii).
Grounded in history
The Ganaraska Report
(1943) opened with a chapter
on the history of the area.
Its inclusion was
controversial at the time
because history was
considered by many technical
men to have little if
anything to do with
(Dr. R.C. Wallace served as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University from 1936 to 1951 and was President of the Royal Society of Canada in 1941. During the war he was active in the re-establishment of returning veterans, their education and employment in the expanding development of the natural resources of the country through the Federal Committee on Reconstruction.)
The Ganaraska report established that human heritage would be considered a resource from which lessons could be learned and applied, and that it would be included in the mandate of conservation authorities.
James H. Marsh, Conservation Chap. 5 p.75 The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, 2000
Creation of Ganaraska Forest
The recommendations of the Ganaraska report quickly led to the establishment of Ganaraska Forest.
In 1947, the first trees of Ganaraska Forest were planted on 640 hectares (1,580 acres). By 1991, the total amount of land acquired by GRCA was 4,200 hectares (10,400 acres).
The Ganaraska Forest was the first large-scale conservation program on the Oak Ridges Moraine.
As the first test pilot area in Ontario, Ganaraska also led the way for the development of watershed conservation policies and studies in other watersheds throughout Ontario and across Canada.
Department of Planning and Development
Responding to the recommendations of the Ganaraska Survey, in 1944 the Provincial government established the Department of Planning and Development
A watershed-based and an integrated approach to conservation planning quickly followed with the establishment of the Conservation Branch (later the Conservation Authorities Branch) within the Department.
Office space was at such a premium during wartime years, the branch was originally housed in the former butler's pantry at the rear of the dining room at 15 Queen's Park Crescent in Toronto.
The Conservation Branch of the Department of Planning and Development became the Conservation Authorities Branch in 1962 under the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests (now Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources).
Conservation Authorities Act (1946)
Following up on the recommendations of the Ganaraska Survey, in 1946 the Ontario government passed the Conservation Authorities Act (CCA) which led to the creation of 36 conservation authorities across the province.
The Ontario government had to look south of the border for its model.
Mitchell and Shrubsole, 1992; Statues of Ontario, C. 11, 1946
Based largely on similar U.S. legislation, the purpose of the CCA was to provide a foundation for a comprehensive conservation strategy for Ontario's heavily-populated river basins. The legislation was broad in scope and dealt with issues pertaining to flood control, reforestation, woodlot management, underground water supplies, wildlife and recreation. Significantly,
the Land: Conservation and
Tree Planters at work in eroded Ganaraska
on May 14, 1947
Following up on the recommendations made in the Ganaraska report (1944), massive restoration through reforestation and other conservation measures were undertaken to control erosion and downstream flooding problems associated with the deforested sandy soils.
The plan for rehabilitation of the watershed included reforestation of approximately 8,100 hectares (20,000 acres) - particularly on the Oak Ridges Moraine in the northern section of the watershed (including water retention ponds and improved agricultural practices).
Critical Review of
Historical and Current Tree Planting Programs on
In 1947, the first trees of Ganaraska Forest were planted on 640 hectares (1,580 acres). By 1991, the total area of land acquired by GRCA was 4,200 hectares (10,400 acres).
First Conservation area (Garden Hill)
The Province of Ontario did not support the creation of recreation areas until the mid 1950’s, when the CA Act was amended to enable the payment of grants for development of facilities with Conservation Authority lands (known as Conservation Areas):
(CAA, R.S.O. 1950, Ch.62)
Acquired on June 3, 1956 on 53 acres of land, Garden Hill Conservation Area was the first conservation area to be owned and managed by Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority. Today, there are nine conservation areas within the Ganaraska region.
Spring-fed pond on the Oak Ridges Moraine
Ganaraska Forest is very important for the following reasons:
the site of Ontario's first large-scale conservation program on the Oak Ridges Moraine;
the initial test area in Ontario to demonstrate the benefits of conservation;
first watershed to demonstrate new concepts like the ecosystem approach and watershed planning (where land-use planning borders were based on the use of natural boundaries, rather than political boundaries);
reforestation and other conservation measures especially on the Oak Ridges Moraine has controlled flooding downstream, particularly in Port Hope where Cameco (formerly Eldorado), the world's largest uranium refinery is located;
Today, the Conservation Authorities of Ontario are composed of about 38 conservation authorities in charge of over 400 conservation areas.
The Conservation Authorities of Ontario are
also amongst Canada's largest public landowners.
Conservation Authorities own and protect
approximately 144,000 hectares (355,800 acres), including
forests, wetlands, areas of natural & scientific
interest, recreational lands, natural heritage
and cultural sites as well as land for flood and
A.H. Richardson,Conservation by the People: The History
of the Conservation Movement in Ontario to 1970, (1974)