Some areas undoubtedly merit protection. In Peterborough County (Treaty 20), the lands and waters surrounding Jack Lake (also known locally as Jack’s Lake) are highly valued by First Nations and the local community. Now, mineral exploration and quarrying threaten this ecologically and culturally significant site, which emerged as a priority candidate for protection at community workshops hosted by Ontario Nature. It should be off limits to industrial activity.
Located in “The Land Between”, a transitional area between the Canadian Shield and the mixedwood plains of southern Ontario, the landscape around Jack Lake is teeming with flora and fauna. The wetlands and forests safeguard the exceptional water quality found in this headwater lake while also providing important habitat for wildlife, including threatened and endangered species like eastern whip-poor-will and Blanding’s turtle.
Located near Petroglyphs Provincial Park, this site holds immense cultural value for the Williams Treaties First Nations, as expressed by Dr.Julie Kapyrka, Lands and Resources Consultation Liaison at Curve Lake First Nation:
“The Jack’s Lake area is extremely significant to the citizens of Curve Lake First Nation and to other Michi Saagiig communities. The lands surrounding the lake have been used for hunting, gathering, and harvesting by Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg for thousands of years. These lands are not only culturally significant in terms of the Michi Saagiig ways of life and the continuation and transference of cultural practices, but also to cultural heritage. There are registered archaeological sites in the area and some trappers speak of petroglyphs along their traplines. These lands are rich in biodiversity including wetlands and woodlots and culturally rich in terms of ancient sites and sacred landscapes. Conserving and protecting these lands is of great importance to the citizens of Curve Lake First Nation and is vital to ensure that Michi Saagiig cultural traditions thrive for generations to come.”
Jack Lake has been a site for research and recreation for decades. Community members in the Jack’s Lake Association (JLA) have been advocating for nature protection, documenting the natural history and contributing to citizen science, from loon counts to water sampling, for many years. The JLA has spearheaded wetland evaluations (two designated as provincially significant) and species at risk studies (over 30 species identified) to demonstrate the area’s significant ecological value and bring it to the attention of local elected officials. The association has generated the support of 1,600 local residents and eight organizations against mineral exploration and quarrying. It also opposes logging due to habitat destruction and harm to species at risk.
“We’ve got the science. We’ve done evaluations and almost every citizen science project out there. We think this is an area that should just be set aside from future resource extraction and development that would harm the existing status,” says Steve Kerr, Director of Environment at the JLA and retired fisheries biologist.
Jackie started with Ontario Nature in 2012 as a member of the Youth Council and rejoined in 2020 in her current role as Protected Places Assistant. She graduated in 2019 with a B.A. in integrative biology from Harvard College. Growing up in Toronto, Jackie’s love for nature grew from frequent visits to the zoo and family road trips around Southern Ontario. Her hobbies include skating, baking and exploring trails.