BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HURONIA WOODLAND OWNERS’ ASSOCIATION (HWOA)
Chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA)
June 8, 1971 some woodland owners met with John Caston from the Ontario Dept. of Lands and Forests. Together they decided that an organization was needed to promote the good management of private land for sustainable forestry and wildlife habitat. John Caston became the driving force and the principal founding member. From the initial meeting, the Huronia Woodland Owners Association (HWOA) was formed and the first members’ meeting was held in Coldwater on Sept. 15, 1971. In 1999, the managers of the Simcoe County Forest, renamed Lot 3, Conc. 6, Springwater Township, as the “Caston Tract”, dedicating it to John Caston.
Over the years, HWOA has drawn members primarily from Simcoe County, but also from Dufferin County to the south and even more northern areas towards Bracebridge and Huntsville. Our area has mixed hardwood, sugar maple, red oak, white oak and white pine. We also have plantations of Red and White Pine. Our topography ranges from wetland, regenerating old field, tree plantations and long established forests.
Presently there are about 80 plus members who actively promote good forest management, taking onto consideration health and benefits to the environment so that future generations can enjoy the woodlands to the fullest. HWOA organizes seminars and field days for members and others interested in learning about healthy forests including flora and fauna. Regularly, 30 to 60 members attend these activities, along with family members.
One HWOA member, in particular, deserves special mention. Jack O’Hara designed our crest, a unique symbol of our association. On the crest are mature White Pine, recognizing our history; a Sugar Maple representing a strong hardwood market and maple syrup production; well-shaped trees representing Christmas trees and young conifers representing tree planting.
The HWOA awards the Jack O’Hara Forestry Scholarship annually. This $500 scholarship is awarded to a College or University student who has completed one year or 2 semesters in a Forestry Program or a program that impacts on Forestry. Applications must be submitted by December 31st.
Each year the Huronia Woodland Owners Association also awards the “White Pine Award” to a person qualified for outstanding forest management and conservation efforts.
The HWOA Field Days are held at members’ properties or an interesting off-site location on a Saturday in Spring and/or Fall. We also have evening meetings, such as our Forest Health meeting in the spring, where speakers are brought in to inform members and guests on a variety of interesting topics.The Forest Health Meetings have covered such topics as threats from the Asian Long Horned Beetle and the Emerald Ash Borer; forest health and economics; local conservation authorities involvement in reforestation; and medicinal use of common local plants.
Highlights through the years:
In 1994, the Ontario Forestry Association and the HWOA sponsored the local awareness action against the cancellation of the Forest Tax Rebate program.
In 2000, the AGM held at Wye Marsh featured the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Review.
In 2003, the Ontario Forestry Association asked the HWOA to make a presentation to the OFA annual meeting. Five members, each with a different format, made presentations.
In 2006, the HWOA became an active participant in the Maple Tree Replacement Program. The HWOA heard about Maple Leaves Forever and contacted them about distributing maples. Over the following 9 years, 18,000 Sugar Maple trees were planted in our area as part of the Maple Tree Replacement Program.
2018: In the Fall of 2018 "Huronia Woodland Owners Association" became a Chapter of the OWA (as Huronia Chapter)
2021: Huronia Chapter began the Pilot Project - "Huronia Community Forest Owners' Cooperative"
Our Quarterly newsletter, “Through the Knothole”, which started in the fall of 1999, is now preparing its 77th issue. Prior to the publication of the “Knothole”, a letter was sent out quarterly by John Caston to all members (originally handwritten, later typed and mimeographed). Before that, our news was passed on by telephone chain.
Many thanks to the members of the HWOA who have assisted in helping to compile a small bit of our rich history to share on this web page.
Jim Marchand, Director Communications, editor “Through the Knothole”