Over the last century, Nature Manitoba has made several significant contributions to conserving Manitoba’s natural history. It would be nearly impossible to put together a comprehensive list of all the efforts made my NM members and committees over the last 100 years, and there are likely many stories and projects which haven’t been preserved in our written history or have been lost through the decades.
Did you know NM helped create the Mantario hiking trail? Or that it was a group of Nature Manitoba members that helped establish Manitoba’s Natural History Museum? Or that NM has been giving away a modest scholarship to University of Manitoba students for decades?
Nature Manitoba has also lent its voice and its collective wealth of knowledge to many causes that weren’t our own. We have always boasted a membership of extremely capable individuals and groups who have accomplished great things, and we are honoured to have had the opportunity to support these people in their work for one hundred years!
What you will find below is not complete list of all projects NM has supported, nor is it a list of the biggest or best projects. These are just a cross-section of examples of the type of work Nature Manitoba has done over the years. Some categories, such as birds and botany, have been purposely omitted because they will be touched upon separately in subsequent months. Whenever additional information is available on any of these subjects it will be added to our digital history as we continue to work throughout the year. If you have items to add to this list or to our historical timeline, please contact our office!
Above: Citizen Science takes place out in Manitoba's natural spaces - from NM archives
In 1964 the Manitoba government asked Nature Manitoba to compile a list of areas suitable for preservation as Heritage areas, both for Natural History and Human History.
In 1969 Nature Manitoba joins in the fight to stop the hydroelectric project at Southern Indian Lake. NM provided a brief during the 1969 hearings, and also published detailed records of these events to keep members well-informed about what was happening with this matter.
In 1975 Nature Manitoba receives a grant to help establish the Atikaki Provincial Park. The majority of money from this grant was to subsidise the expenses of Mark Wermage, who traveled the area to connect with local people. This was the first in many steps toward helping establish this park. Nature Manitoba fundraised and lobbied government along with other groups in the Atikaki Coalition, and a decade later the Atikaki Provincial Park was officially established.
In 1979 Nature Manitoba member, Ken Stewart, helped save the snakes at Narcisse. A gravel operation was set to destroy the snakes’ winter hibernation pasture, but Stewart recognized the value of the snakes and contacted the government departments involved. The gravel removal site was moved elsewhere, and now Narcisse is a popular Manitoba tourist spot.
Above: Visit to Narcisse in 1986 - from NM archives
In 1984 Nature Manitoba gets funding for Action on Marsh |Habitats Conservation |Project, which created 4 jobs at Oak Hammock Marsh and helped develop the field station there.
IN 1984 NM gets funding for Naturally Clean Rivers, which produced a “how to” kit for riverbank clean up. This project eventually morphed and helped create Save our Seine and Bois Des Esprits.
In 1984 Nature Manitoba sends vital information about monarchs to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which leads to the purchase and preservation of a tract of land in Mexico to be used as a sanctuary for monarchs in their wintering grounds.
In 1985 Nature Manitoba sets up the Habitat Conservation Committee, which begins the first ever inventory of tall grass prairie in Manitoba. This leads to tall grass prairie being recognized as an important ecosystem, and the eventual protection of thousands of acres of native prairie in Manitoba.
Above: Tall grass prairie - from NM Archives
In 1985 Nature Manitoba signs a Heritage Marsh Agreement.
In 1988 Winnipeg’s Bluestem Nature Park near Omand’s Creek opens. This area had been used as a dump site during the construction of Polo Park mall but was believed to have great ecological value for wildlife. Along with some residents and other organizations, Nature Manitoba helped fight for the area to be protected from immanent development, for a massive clean up and an inventory of the species in the area to be done, as well as for the land to be protected long-term.
In 1993 NM joins the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Committee in fighting for a northern Interlake site for the Manitoba Lowland National Park. This eventually led to the province designating Little Limestone Lake a park reserve in 2007.
Above: Little Limestone Lake - from NM archives
In 2001 Nature Manitoba enters into an agreement with the Department of National Defense (DND) and the World Wildlife Fund to protect the remnant tall grass prairie on the St. Charles Ranges. This agreement ensures the DND can continue to use the land as a military training area (as they have done since 1911), but that they will also ensure that conservationists will have input into future land use.
In 2016 Nature Manitoba fights to prevent drainage of Whitewater Lake, one of Manitoba’s last wetlands.
Conservation isn't usually at the forefront of Nature Manitoba’s mission as a naturalist society, and there has always been an ebb and flow to our conservation work. However, Nature Manitoba’s mandates have always been closely tied to environmental action. Engaging in nature through study, citizen science, and outdoor activities undoubtedly leads to a desire to protect these spaces and their inhabitants. The very first line of Nature Manitoba’s first mission statement in 1920 reads, “to foster an acquaintance with and love for nature”. Isn’t loving nature the foundation for becoming an environmentalist?
We hope that Nature Manitoba can continue to be a strong voice for nature and provide opportunities for people to get acquainted with nature for another hundred years!