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Generous donation protects significant creek and creates lasting local legacy

A 67-acre farm between Bayfield and Goderich on the shores of Lake Huron will be protected for future generations thanks to the altruistic donation to the Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy (HTLTC) by Ilse Elliott and her late husband William Elliott.

In late February, Ilse donated Woodburne Farm to the Land Trust and included a stewardship endowment fund to help conserve the property. “We have had a good living in Canada and this is an opportunity for us to contribute to the people of Canada,” Ilse said.

The farm means a lot to the family and when it became surplus to her needs, she started to think about what she would like to have happen with the property. Ilse  connected with the Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy to see how the work of protecting the land and water could continue.

“We did our best to protect Naftel’s Creek by planting trees and I wanted to make sure the land would be well looked after for many years to come,” she said.

Ilse met with representatives from the Land Trust several times to discuss her goals for the farm and how her vision fit with the Land Trust’s conservation mandate. A staff advisor prepared a draft management plan that outlined actions that would protect soil and water health as well as natural heritage.

The name Woodburne comes from the Scottish words for trees and creek. Naftel’s Creek is one of hundreds of streams that flow directly into Lake Huron. It has coldwater fish species including several species of trout.

The Elliotts’ legacy of tree planting continues this springtime when the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority will plant nearly 12,000 seedling trees on the agricultural land. Although not a requirement of receiving the land from Elliott, the Land Trust is pleased that this can be started this year.

Tree cover is low in the county and planting trees on Woodburne Farm is significant for soil and water conservation as well as wildlife habitat and clean air.

“We are thrilled to receive this generous donation and will work to continue the legacy of caring for the land and water,” said Roger Lewington, Chairman of the HTLTC.

The Land Trust Conservancy already owns two smaller properties – Mayhew Tract near Holmesville and Bayfield River Flats at Bayfield. Woodburne Farm is the largest parcel and has key environmental benefits, particularly to the health of Lake Huron.

The HTLTC was formed in 2011, by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation, a registered Canadian charity, and the land trust serves the area of the historic Huron Tract from the early days of settlement. The HTLTC is a volunteer organization with a separate board of directors and is a member of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance.

The Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy accepts donations and bequests of land and gives people in the Huron Tract area a way to make a positive difference by helping protect and restore land, water, and nature.

For more information on the Land Trust Conservancy, please call 1-888-286-2610 or visit

Local land trust conservancy welcomes two new board members to build on lasting protection of nature areas

Mayhew Tract, Bayfield River Flats have received lasting protection through Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy (HTLTC); Two new members join Board of Directors

The Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy (HTLTC) provides lasting protection to important natural areas, such as the Bayfield River Flats and the Mayhew Tract, thanks to donations that have been made by the public. The land trust for the historic area of the Huron Tract has announced that two active volunteers have joined the Board of Directors.

The two newest board members of the Land Trust Conservancy are Max Morden, of Grand Bend, and Paul Spittal, of Bayfield. The two men have been active in their communities.

“We are very pleased to welcome two new directors who combine years of professional experience and knowledge with active public service in their own communities,” said Roger Lewington, Chair of the Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy. “They will be very valuable to the work of the land trust and people of this area as we strive to continue our recent momentum towards lasting protection of natural areas in this historic part of Ontario.”

Morden has been co-owner of Morden Communications Inc. since 1994. Before that he worked as a lawyer between 1973 and 1994 in London.

Spittal, now retired, was an educator with the Avon Maitland District School Board, and the former Huron County Board of Education, between 1972 and 2003.

Max Morden
Max Morden

Max Morden said we are all trustees and stewards of the natural world around us. The concept of a land trust is a simple yet powerful tool to convey this vision of trusteeship and stewardship, he said. The Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy gives landowners a practical way to leave a lasting local land legacy, according to the new director. The Grand Bend man has been very active in his community, serving as a member of the Rotary Club of Grand Bend since 2005, currently as Secretary. He served with the Grand Bend Area Community Health Centre from 2007 to 2013, having served as Chair from 2010 to 2012. He served as Co-Chair of the Lakeshore Eco-Network when it began in 2014 and he continues his service with them as a director.

Paul Spittal
Paul Spittal

Paul Spittal has served as a president of the Goderich and Seaforth Lions Clubs. He is a former Tuckersmith Township councillor, prior to its amalgamation into Huron East. He and his wife Joan restored a heritage farm property near Egmondville by planting more than 10,000 trees to reduce erosion into the Bayfield River and to help enrich the farmland there. He said he enjoys seeing how those trees have grown today. He said he is looking forward to working with people in the historic area of the Huron Tract to permanently protect important natural areas. The new director has been very active in his community, having served as a member of a number of community organizations including: Community Living Central Huron; Goderich and Seaforth Lions Clubs; Huron East Recreation Board; Huron East Heritage Committee; and on Parish Council of Trinity Anglican Church Bayfield.

The Board of Directors works with the community to preserve local habitat for future generations through permanent custodianship. The Chairman of the Land Trust thanked past directors Tom McLaughlin and David Kemp, who recently retired from the Board after years of dedicated service since the land trust’s formation in 2011. “I would like to thank Tom and David for their years of service,” the Chair said. “Two very good people have retired from the board and two very good people have joined the board. We have been able to retain and add a lot of experience around the table and it will serve the Huron Tract area well.”

Current members of the HTLTC Board of Directors are Roger Lewington, of Bayfield; Steve Boles, of Exeter; Steve Bowers, of Brussels; Don Farwell, of Stratford; Burkhard Metzger, of Clinton; Peter Twynstra, of Ailsa Craig; Philip Walden, of Thedford; Paul Spittal, of Bayfield; and Max Morden, of Grand Bend.

Land trusts or land conservancies are independent, charitable organizations that work with private landowners to preserve open space and nature. A land trust can permanently protect land to preserve its natural, environmental, recreational, scenic, historical, or agricultural importance. Land trusts accept donations and bequests of land and conservation agreements and, in some cases, may purchase land or conservation agreements. The land is then protected from that time on. Acquisition of properties is subject to board approval and negotiation of management agreements.

The Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy gets its name and geographic boundaries from the days of early settlement in this part of Ontario. The Huron Tract was purchased by the Canada Company, an agent of the British government, to be distributed to colonial settlers of Upper Canada. The Canada Company bought one million acres (4,000 km) of land, west of the then London district, and called it the Huron Tract. The Canada Company was the administrative agent for the Huron Tract.

The Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy gives people in the historic Huron Tract area a safe, reliable, long-term way to leave financial contributions or bequests of real property for the protection of land, water, and habitat for generations to come. If you would like to donate to the work of the Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy, or leave a lasting local land legacy for protection, please visit, phone 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610 or speak with one of the community members on the land trust’s Board of Directors.

To learn more visit the land trust website at

Changes to website

In order to keep this website and content current the Huron Tract Land Trust Conservancy (HTLTC) is currently working on upgrading the website. Thanks for visiting – if there is information you can’t find here please contact one of the Directors or staff. Phone 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.