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NCC Magazine - Spring 2017


FORCE FOR NATURE Family values Richard Ivey’s love for nature and passion for conservation over four decades have inspired a natural legacy for his family and for countless Canadians JOEL KIMMEL. 16 SPRING 2017

On December 31, 1947, a family dream became a reality when Richard Ivey and his father established The Richard Ivey Foundation. Now known as the Ivey Foundation, this private, charitable foundation focuses on improving the well-being of Canadians and supports charitable organizations in areas such as the environment and climate change. SUZANNE COOK. Many people may not realize the importance of that initial collaboration, but today when you visit protected areas in Ontario, such as on Pelee Island, hike trails in Algonquin Provincial Park or go birding at Clear Creek Forest, much of these places are now conserved and available thanks to a family with a passion for nature. “Our family cottage was just north of Muskoka, along the Magnetawan River system, in an area surrounded by forest,” recalls Richard Ivey. “We spent several summers there in my youth. It was an excellent teacher of nature.” From those summers spent along the banks of the river, Ivey’s appreciation for nature grew and inspired a lifetime of work dedicated, in part, to protecting significant Canadian landscapes. “Throughout the 1970s we turned our attention to environmental grants, first to the Nature Conservancy of Canada,” wrote Ivey in his 2014 memoir, A Meaningful Life. “[My wife,] Beryl, was particularly drawn to the environment, and we started working with the Nature Conservancy [of Canada], helping them acquire and preserve unique properties in Ontario. One gentleman from the organization, Mr. Charles Sauriol, took us on tours of beautiful properties that the conservancy wanted to protect.” Charles Sauriol was the first director of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), from 1966 to 1987. Sauriol built a fond relationship with the Iveys and grew to know them well, says John Riley, former NCC chief science officer and current board member of NCC’s Ontario Region. Ivey’s time at the family cottage sparked an appreciation for nature and inspired a lifetime of work dedicated, in part, to protecting significant Canadian landscapes. “Charles once shared the story of how, in 1970, he took the train from Toronto to London and walked north to the Ivey home to introduce himself to Richard,” recalls Riley. “Richard and Beryl’s interest in the spectacular cliffs and waterfalls along the Niagara Escarpment, one of the conservation causes of the day, was stimulated as a result.” Richard Ivey and his family’s contribution through the Ivey Foundation were essential in helping NCC secure and protect vulnerable lands in Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment region. “With help from the Iveys, NCC started buying land immediately, but soon came up with the idea of a personal visit to John Robarts, Ontario’s premier at the time, to make a proposition,” says Riley. “Would the province fund land securement along the Niagara Escarpment on the basis of a match of $3 of public funding for each $1 of Ivey funding?” Richard and Beryl on safari in Kenya, 1974 By 1983, more than 5,000 acres (2,020 hectares) were conserved under this agreement, including in such familiar Ontario destinations as Spirit Rock, Fishing Islands, Cave Springs, Silver Creek, Hilton Falls, Crawford Lake and Inglis Falls. The Iveys had a particular interest in protecting these lands, having shared a long-time connection with the area. “I could see the falls from the Ridley College campus, in St. Catharines, where I went to school,” remembers Ivey. “Shortly after we got married, my wife began acting in plays at the Grand Theatre and then became involved in the Shaw Festival, at Niagara-on-the-Lake. The area just became a part of our life together.” Ivey and his late wife, Beryl, have been particularly supportive of NCC’s work to conserve lands in southwestern Ontario. Together with their foundation, the Iveys have contributed millions of dollars to support land conservation in areas such as Pelee Island, Clear Creek Forest, Norfolk County and countless others. “This was the first of many great partnerships, over the years, thanks to which NCC has helped realize the conservation dreams of its supporters,” reflects Riley. “The Ivey family’s leadership, which Richard Ivey continues to this day, has inspired conservation across Canada.”1 SPRING 2017 17