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Kathleen’s Story

Gananoque Lake Nature Reserve © Caroline Schultz

For Nature Forever Circle

Kathleen Gillespie was born and raised in Petrolia, a small town near the Sydenham River in southwestern Ontario. Her passions were gardening and birds – she loved feeding them from her backyard which was full of wildflowers and native trees.

When Kathleen passed away at the age of 83, she left a gift designated to our Nature Reserves program. We are using her gift to support an ongoing restoration project at our Sydenham River Nature Reserve, only 30 kilometres as the crow flies from her home. This area is home to trees not found anywhere else in the province, like the Kentucky coffeetree, blue ash and tulip. During spring migration, the trees on the reserve teem with songbirds like scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, Blackburnian warblers and wood thrush.

Thanks to her generosity we are establishing native grassland and woodland habitat for Carolinian species, restoring the property to its natural state.


Her gift was also crucial to helping us acquire the new Gananoque Lake Nature Reserve, over 350 acres of mature hardwood forest and provincially significant wetland that provides habitat for a number of at-risk species.

Kathleen’s family shared with us that she would have been delighted to know that this habitat near her home will be protected for nature, forever. Thanks to her generosity, the many songbirds that she nurtured in her backyard will continue to find a refuge at our two newest nature reserves.

Gananoque Lake Nature Reserve © Smera Sukumar