John Grandy and Meg Salter © John Grandy

John Grandy and Meg Salter

For years, Meg Salter and her husband, John Grandy, traipsed across Ontario Nature’s Petrel Point Nature Reserve, located along the Lake Huron shoreline, north of Wiarton. The couple routinely escaped to this tranquil 24-hectare reserve, a peaceful respite from the noise and business of city life in Toronto. The Grandy family has been living in the area since the 1800s. And, despite their jobs in the city, Meg and John are part of a tightly knit community that is determined to protect this small nature reserve, where you can find blue jays, common grackles and the globally rare massasauga rattlesnake.

So the couple was understandably dismayed when the property bordering the Petrel Point reserve was zoned for the development of 15 cottages and put up for sale. The development would threaten both a significant stretch of unspoiled Lake Huron shoreline and a buffer of nine hectares of undisturbed habitat. More people and less nature, let alone the threat of development to at-risk species, they reasoned, was not a recipe for a healthy environment. Deciding what to do did not take long: Meg and John would buy the property and protect it forever by donating the land to Ontario Nature.

“You don’t have to be a naturalist to see that protecting the land makes good sense,” says Meg. “We have met people from as far away as Chicago who come just to see the rare orchids. Donating this property to Ontario Nature was the only sensible solution.”

Because of Meg and John’s generous donation – which is in memory of Meg’s aunt, Jane Champagne (a wellknown artist), and John’s parents, Jim and Alex Grandy – Ontario Nature can add the Grandy-Salter tract to the Petrel Point Nature Reserve, increasing its size by 40 percent. The reserve encompasses a broad collection of plant communities, including globally rare Great Lakes coastal meadow marshes. “These marshes provide essential habitat for a number of rare and threatened species, including tuberous Indian plantain, beaked spike rush, slenderleaf sundew and dwarf lake iris. There is nowhere else like it in world,” explains Mark Carabetta, manager of conservation science at Ontario Nature. “Nearby cottage development is a major threat to the ecological integrity of the marshes and the rare species they support. By adding to the reserve, we’re ensuring an adequate buffer of undeveloped land protects the meadow marshes.”

Now, thanks to Meg and John, when you hike along the boardwalks of Ontario’s Petrel Point Nature Reserve in late spring or early summer, you can still see a carpet of wildflowers in bloom, including 16 species of orchids. Ontario Nature thanks Meg and John for their commitment to the conservation of wildlife and wild places and for leaving a legacy for the future.

In memory of Jane Champagne: nature reserve gets a painter’s corner

An accomplished writer, editor and artist, Jane Champagne lived in Southhampton, Ontario, where she taught studio and outdoor painting, and was the founder of the Ontario Outdoor Painting Society, based at the Southhampton Art School. As requested by Meg Salter and John Grandy, who generously donated additional land to our Petrel Point Nature Reserve, Ontario Nature will create a painter’s corner in the reserve in memory of Jane and establish an endowment in her name to ensure the ongoing care and stewardship of this spectacular nature reserve.

Jane Champagne © Ontario Nature

Jane Champagne © Ontario Nature

The Ministry of Natural Resources supported this project financially through the Ontario Land Trust Assistance Program, which the Ontario Land Trust Alliance oversees. Mountain Equipment Co-op, the Canadian Land Trust Alliance and many individuals in the local community also provided generous support. Ontario Nature has now raised $34,000 toward our goal of $45,000 for the Jane Champagne endowment fund. If you would like to honour the work of an extraordinary artist,please consider getting involved in this project by making a donation to the Jane Champagne memorial campaign or contacting Kirsten Dahl, Ontario Nature’s Manager of Major and Planned Giving, at or 416-444-8419, ext. 235.