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NCC Magazine - Spring 2017


CLOSE ENCOUNTERS Lake of Dreams By Stuart McLean, writer and broadcaster and NCC ambassador The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) was saddened to learn of the passing of Stuart McLean on February 15, 2017. He was a great ambassador for NCC. In fact, NCC staff were thrilled when McLean, one of Canada’s most recognizable voices, agreed to record the voiceover for NCC’s public service announcement. He also kindly agreed to write and present a story (excerpted here) at our 50 th anniversary gala. READ THE FULL STORY stuart-mclean In the late 1960s Eric and Doris were living in Edmonton. They were modest people of modest means. Eric had already retired from his job at the Co-op. Doris was still working as a teacher. They were an outdoorsy couple. They had always enjoyed hiking and skiing and birding. And they were dreamers. They dreamed of having a place in the country. But they had never been able to afford one. So in November of 1971, when they were out for one of their drives, and they saw a small sign on a country road advertising land for sale, they stopped and read it. The sign said the wooded land they were looking at was owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway and was up for sale by public tender. Eric and Doris parked their car and walked through the bush to see what the land looked like. On their hike, they came across a beautiful and completely undeveloped lake. It was the lake of their dreams. Their golden pond. They went home and, with absolutely no hope of success, they cobbled together what they could and submitted a tender. When the bidding was done, it turned out Eric and Doris were the only bidders. It turned out they were now the owners of 320 acres of wooded wilderness: a quarter section of uncleared land that was home to elk, deer, moose and waterfowl. And a piece of Coyote Lake. They erected a little pre-fab house on the edge of the lake. For three decades, they lived there together. It became the place the family would gather: for family visits, for birthdays, to show off babies, to bring new partners or spouses for Christmas. The place where young and old would go hiking and skiing along the trails, canoeing on the lake, skating on the lake, bird watching beside the lake and star gazing. In other words, it became the family home. They thought, “It is so beautiful here. It should always be like this.” But there was a problem. Right across from their little house, there was a point of land that jutted into the lake. The point was owned by a man who lived in Calgary. Eric and Doris began to worry about what he might do to that point one day. So, Eric and Doris found their way to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. They suggested if the conservancy bought the point, it would mean the lake would be protected forever. The people from the conservancy explained that they would love to do that, but it would not mean the lake would be protected forever. It would mean half the lake would be protected forever. Eric and Doris said, “You are right.” And then they said, “If you will buy the point across the lake, we will give you our land, and then the whole lake will be protected. Forever.” It was like saying, “If you buy the point across from us, we will give you everything we have in the world.” The conservancy bought the point across the lake. And Doris and Eric were good to their word.1 ILLUSTRATION: JACQUI OAKLEY. PHOTO: ILIA HORSBURGH. 18 SPRING 2017

Your passion for Canada’s natural spaces defines your life; now it can define your legacy. With a gift in your Will to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, no matter the size, you can help protect our most vulnerable habitats and the wildlife that live there. For today, for tomorrow and for generations to come. Learn more about leaving a gift in your Will at or 1-800-465-0029