A Legacy of Conservation: Horticultural Society Leases 600 Acres of Land as Preserve

by Alita Battey-Pratt [an abridged version of this article appears in the September/October 2019 The Columbine newsletter]

The Kingston Horticultural Society was founded in 1889 and is one of the oldest members of the Ontario Horticultural Association. This is our 130th year of continuous operation and so we shall be using every opportunity to tell our members about events in the past that have made an impact on our community during our long history. One such event was reported on January 24th, 1948 in the Kingston Whig-Standard concerning the efforts of Professor J.F. Logan to secure the lease on 600 acres of land northwest of the rifle range on CFB Kingston. He wanted to turn this into a protective forest area and sanctuary for wild life.

The area is about two miles long and three quarters of a mile wide. The terrain varies from forest to swamp with some parts cleared for farming in the 19thcentury. Professor Logan worked for two years to gain the political support for the opportunity to reforest the land. He pointed out that the conservation and replanting of select native trees would be an example to spur conservation activities throughout the area. He argued that the Barriefield Protected Area would provide a natural habitat for wild game and birds. Also, he argued that cleared land is a poor retainer of moisture while forested land raises the water table for farms in the area.

With the full sanction of the Horticultural Society executive and the cooperation of President George Scott, Professor Logan negotiated for the 99-year lease. He had the support of Austin Peters, then president of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters and other leading members of the Kingston Rod and Gun Club. In August 1947, the lease was signed. Then the provincial government recognized the land as a Crown preserve. The general public was not permitted to trespass on the land and the single road running through the zone was shut off with gates. The long-term effort to reforest started in the spring of 1948 with the planting of 12,500 trees provided by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The trees selected included walnuts, elms, ash, maple, oak, black locust, black cherry, white and Scotch pines, larch and spruce trees. About 80 acres required reforestation.

In taking this action, the Horticultural Society was putting into practical action one of its main, though not well known, aims of fostering conservation. The Ontario Horticultural Association had a committee set up to do just this. It was headed by J.A. Carter of Guelph and Mrs. D.W. Boucher of Kingston was also a member. In this area, Professor Logan believed that trees, game, birds and flowers would flourish. The balance of nature would be restored in 10 to 15 years and the preserve would be a beautiful and refreshing place to visit. “Of key importance to the success of the project,” said Dr. Logan “was the wholehearted respect of the public for our aims. The public, we are sure, will assist us in keeping this a truly protected area.”

The area came to be known as the J.F. Logan Sanctuary. Children from area public schools participated during the 1950’s in many tree-planting exercises. In the spring of 1954, ten thousand trees were planted by 361 students over 25 acres. The children were instructed by members of the Land and Forest Department in tree planting, care and preservation of trees, wild life, and flowers. One report stated that 47,000 trees had been planted by 1955. During the Cold War period, military interest in resuming operations on the lands was a major factor in the reserve being restored to CFB Kingston for use as a potential rocket range. However, this never actually interfered with the growth of the trees. The land is still owned by the Department of National Defence and it can be used again, if necessary, for military practices and firing live ammunition.

It is interesting to realize that, in the past, the KHS has taken on very large community beautification projects and that the youth involvement was greater than it is today. The grounds of CFB Kingston are still forested and the addition of so many trees has greatly enhanced the entire residential region of Pittsburgh Township to this day.

4 upcoming events to help you turn your yard into an abundant ecological paradise – by Rideau 1000 Islands Master Gardeners

Get ready for Wildscaping! 4 upcoming events to help you turn your yard into an abundant ecological paradise – by Rideau 1000 Islands Master Gardeners:

#1 Regenerative Gardening: start with soil

Healthy Soil as a solution to the climate crisis and regenerative practices for becoming better gardeners and landscapers. Mon, August 12, 2019, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM at Central Library. Fee is $30. More info and register here.

#2 Wildscaping: An introduction to ecological plant-driven design 

Saturday September 7th 3:00-4:30  Fee $10 – More info and to register here.

#3 The Wildscaping Workshop: Planting Design 

Join the New Perennialist, Tony Spencer in this workshop exploring the new fundamentals of naturalistic planting design. Tony will guide us through the design work of leading figures like Piet Oudolf, Roy Diblik, and Cassian Schmidt to show the evolution of plant-driven landscape design. 

Sunday September 8th 10:00-1:00 pm  $40 per person

Includes light lunch!  More info and to register here.

#4 Interested in wildscaping your front yard?

Sat, October 5, 2019. 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM More info and register here.

Hidden Treasures Garden Tour – Sunday, July 14

The warmer weather has finally arrived! There should be lots of colour to witness on Sunday afternoon as you stroll through the variety of gardens with their textures and colours leading you to their hidden treasures; a downtown community garden showcasing the concept of “Grow A Row”, and a historical property highlighting a 4 square Victorian Kitchen garden. 

Tickets are available at our designated businesses till Saturday July 13, and on Sunday afternoon July 14 at these gardens: 112 Dundas St., 196 Willingdon Ave., 105 Livingston Ave. and at The Spire on Sydenham St.

Invite a friend and follow the signs. Fill in your ticket for a chance to win a fabulous door prize.

Don’t miss out on an enjoyable afternoon in your Kingston neighbourhoods.

Healthy Soil: one-day conference July 20 in Woodville, ON

This summer…

The Glen Road Organics is hosting a one-day conference on a critical ecological topic: Healthy Soil. Healthy soil impacts multiple ecosystem functions: from the soil microbiome, to air and water quality, soil nutrient cycling, soil carbon sequestering, pollinator diversity and populations, and plant growth. Urban and Rural growing systems are dependent on resilient soils.    

You need to be here.

We are inviting you to join us, at the height of our Canadian summer, in challenging presentations and discussion on innovative approaches to regenerating and protecting our soils. The topics for the day are about integrating native plants, cover crop diversity, and organic matter into any growing regime.  

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Elaine Ingham of the Soil Foodweb Inc. 

World renowned soil biologist, Dr. Elaine Ingham will be linking soil organic matter to sustainable and profitable growing. The Soil Foodweb approach has been used on over 5 million acres worldwide, helping farmers, growers, and landscape professionals reduce their input costs and increase their yields by as much as 300%. Dr. Ingham is a leader in soil health working with people like us. Come and find out the why-and-how of soil organic matter, how to make it work for you, and ask your questions.  

Join the discussion…

Your host for the day is John Montague of the Glen Road Organics (GRO), a teaching/research farm that produces composts and potting mixes approved for certified organic operations. GRO consults in regenerative agriculture, on-site thermal composting, erosion control, and soil biology.   

Visit GRO to register online for our full-day July 20th conference in Woodville, Ontario.  For more information please email GRO at: theglenroadinfo@gmail.com.

Rideshare: Visit 4 gardens on the 5th Annual 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Garden Trail – Wednesday, July 24

Visit 4 gardens on the 5th Annual 1000 Islands and Rideau Canal Garden Trail
Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Leave between 9:00 and 9:30 am from the Canadian Tire, 59 Bath Road, Kingston. Free parking in the Canadian Tire lot. Use centre of parking lot near Gas Bar and Garden Centre. Do not park along Bath Road.

Guided tours arranged for us at the following locations and times:

  • Maitland Garden of Hope, 1 Jones Court, Maitland, ON: 10:30 am
  • Van Berlo Gardens, 1357 County Road 2, Maitland, ON: 11:30 am
  • Garden of Hope and Faith Walk, 3545 Centennial Road, County Road 27, Lyn, ON: 2:30 pm
  • Chillane Gardens, 10 Junetown Road, Mallorytown, ON: 3:15 pm

(See brochure at gardentrail.1000islandsandrideaucanal.com for details. All gardens are free, some accept donations for charity)

We will be ridesharing. Drivers please arrange to carry 2-3 passengers. Lunch is on your own. We suggest downtown Brockville near Blockhouse Island which provides parking, washrooms, a Visitor Information Centre and souvenir shop. Numerous restaurants in area.


Contact: Nalini Stiemerling nalini40@gmail.com if you have any questions. Please let us know by July 14, 2019 if you are participating.