BELOW: Kim in the 1990s in one of the caves she and Jack discovered in Manitoba's Interlake.
Writen by: Roger Turenne
For three decades, Kim Monson was an influential, passionate and totally dedicated volunteer with Nature Manitoba. She was a trip leader, workshop and Discovery Evening presenter, board member, president, researcher, environmental advocate, mentor, role model and friend.
I first met Kim in the spring of 1991 at the founding meeting of the Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). I opened my big mouth at that meeting and emerged as president. Kim opened her big heart and emerged as vice president, launching many years of joint efforts to protect Manitoba's natural areas. Three years later, we traded places, with her becoming president of the CPAWS chapter. Board meetings then moved from my living room to hers, with the added bonus that there were always generous servings of Kim's wonderful baking.
Volunteering for one environmental organization was not enough for Kim, so she also joined the Nature Manitoba board, becoming President in the late 1990's, and looked after the Indoor Program for a few years after that.
As a geologist, Kim was instrumental in launching a major campaign to establish a national park in the Manitoba Lowlands (the Interlake), a campaign still ongoing. With her knowledge of geology, Kim had an important role in the establishment of Little Limestone Lake Provincial Park, especially by connecting us with Dr. Derek Ford, the world's foremost authority on karst landscapes.
Caving played a very important part in Kim's life. She and her husband Jack (current president of Nature Manitoba) were both founding members of the Manitoba Speleological Society, where they first fell in love during bat banding expeditions. Together with other members of that group, Kim and Jack discovered dozens of new caves in the province, and Kim co-edited the book Caves and Karst in Manitoba's Interlake Region. Kim was also a prime mover in the establishment of the Walter Cook Ecological Reserve north of Grand Rapids, as well as the St. George Ecological Reserve set aside in 1999 in the area north of Hodgson. In recognition of those efforts, she received the Nature Manitoba Prairie Crocus Award in 2002. Among my most cherished memories are those of Kim and Jack taking me underground in their secret wonderland to photograph their discoveries.
Kim also had a degree in botany and for 10 years coordinated Nature Manitoba's PlantWatch program. Along with Jack, she took part in the Winnipeg Christmas Bird Count, covering the same area for over 20 years. As a volunteer, Kim also prepared the food for many of the remote northern field trips for the Manitoba Breeding Bird Atlas.
Over many summers, Kim and Jack headed north to a place they both fell in love with: Churchill. Kim had accompanied Jack as a guide on polar bear tours, and later they both gave courses on whales and wildflowers at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre. From that base, Kim also did research on fire history and succession in the forest tundra for her Master of Science degree.
Kim had an abiding love of wild places and a passion for canoeing. Her unfailing good humor no matter what the challenges, as well as her generosity of spirit, ensured that a canoe trip with Kim would be a memorable one. Having had the privilege of traveling with her on the north shore of Lake Superior and down the Green River in Utah, I can attest to that. Others have accompanied Kim on numerous other paddling adventures on the north basin of Lake Winnipeg, down the Hayes and Owl rivers in Northern Manitoba, into Lake Athabasca in Northern Saskatchewan, and many other destinations. Add to that: trekking in India, cycling across Scotland, camel riding in Morocco, and many other international adventures.
Kim was passionate about passing on her love of nature to future generations and would regularly volunteer for Family Week at Mantario.
She was the very embodiment of our slogan People Passionate about Nature. While she leaves a huge gap in Manitoba’s environmental landscape, Kim’s legacy will endure, her life will inspire, and her love will linger and bring comfort. Jack, a thousand naturalists grieve with you.