Cultivating an appreciation of nature through learning and action
York-Simcoe Naturalists was formed in 1999 by a small group of individuals who had a strong interest in the environment and who wanted to share this interest with other people. The Club has operated continuously since 1999 and has grown from its small beginnings to a membership of over 60 individuals. It is run by an elected executive who is responsible for the various aspects of the operation.
The Club provides a venue for York Region and Simcoe County residents who have a special interest in outdoor recreation and natural history to get together and share ideas, expertise, community projects and local natural history. The Club also serves as a unified voice to constructively influence municipal planning, environmental awareness and environmental protection, particularly locally. In view of the integrated nature of the environment, the Club is also concerned with developments and changes in the natural environment in other areas.
Members of the Club benefit through:
- friendships formed with others of like interest
- exchange of local sightings of fauna and fauna
- knowledge gained from unique guest speakers
- social activities such as the annual wine and cheese
Although York Simcoe Naturalists is an independent club, it is a member of Ontario Nature's 150-plus Nature Network, Neighbourhood Network, Lake Simcoe Stewardship Group and Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. For more information on these organizations, go to Links.
Aims and objectives of York-Simcoe Naturalists:
- To promote public awareness of the natural environment within the Region of York and the County of Simcoe
- To identify and encourage the protection and preservation of the natural environment to maintain and enhance biodiversity
- To educate and inform club members about environmental and natural heritage matters through speakers, outings and related activities
- To develop and maintain collaborative working relationships with Ontario Nature and other environmentally focused groups
The Club achieves its goals through a variety of member-focused activities as described in the following sections.
Members meet the second Tuesday of every month from September to June. Each meeting features a guest speaker who informs and educates members on a variety of topics related to the environment. These topics have included:
- Monarch butterfly
- Turtles of Ontario
- Chimney swift
- Endangered Species Act
- Costa Rica – Flora and fauna
As well as a guest speaker, each meeting includes a sharing of local observations of flora and fauna, a discussion of local issues and events, and refreshments. The meetings typically end about 9 p.m.
See Events page for upcoming speakers.
Every year the club initiates a special project for which money is raised through donations. This year, the special project is to raise money to send a young person to the Ontario Nature Youth Summit. The Summit is a weekend experience for about 100 youths to learn about nature and network with others of like interest. In the past, special projects included the following:
- The Owl Foundation
- Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre
- Shades of Hope Wildlife Refuge
- Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve
At various times over the year the Club organizes nature walks for members and friends. These walks not only provide an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, but also an opportunity to learn about nature as members share their specific skill, be it flowers, birds, trees, butterflies and more. In the past, our walks have been at:
- Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve
- Scanlon Creek Conservation Area
- Parts of the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail
- Parts of the Nokiidaa Trail
- Seneca College King Campus
The Club provides opportunities for members to participate in Citizen Science. Some of the surveys in which members have participated include:
- Christmas Bird Count
- Swift Watch
- Baillie Birdathon
- Invasive Species Inventory at Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve
- Bioblitz at Scanlon Creek Conservation Area
- Backyard frog count
From time to time, the Club is asked to provide volunteers for various rehabilitation projects. Some of the projects for which members have volunteered include:
- Tree planting at Cawthra Mulock
- Clean-up of stream in Holland Landing
- Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup in East Gwillimbury
York-Simcoe Naturalists provide comments on specific projects and legislation as pertinent to the natural heritage of not only the northern portion of York Region and the southern part of Simcoe County, but also other areas of the Province when relevant. Undertakings for which comments were provided include:
- Bathurst Street widening north of Green Lane
- York Durham Sewer Proposal
- Ontario Government Integrated 5 Year Review of 4 Provincial Planning Acts
- Highway 404 Extension in conjunction with South Lake Simcoe Naturalists
- Endangered Species Act
- Rouge National Park
Communication with members and with the public is an important part of the Club’s activities. Some of the ways in which communication is conducted include:
- The Heron, which is the newsletter of the Club published approximately every four months. See the Archive link for past copies
- Display panels used at various events, including local farmers’ markets.
York-Simcoe Naturalists is the steward of the Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve. The Club has held this responsibility since 2007 under various agreements with Ontario Nature, the owner of the land.
The Reserve is located between Bathurst and Dufferin streets just north of Miller Sideroad in the Township of King. This 108 hectare property was donated by Mrs. Julyan Mulock and the Cawthra Mulock Foundation to Ontario Nature in 2003 to ensure that the property would be protected in perpetuity. Ontario Nature owns the Reserve in fee simple and the Ontario Heritage Trust holds a conservation easement of the land.
The terrain within the Reserve is flat to undulating except for steeper banks on the northern most watercourse which traverses the property. There is another watercourse toward the southeastern portion of the property. These watercourses, which flow perennially, are tributaries of the Holland River. There is a diversity of ecosites on the property. The dominant ecosites are mineral cultural meadow and Hemlock mixed forest with smaller areas of coniferous plantation, White Birch and Sugar Maple deciduous forest and open aquatic. There is a wetland in the south western portion of the property which is part of the Ansnorveldt wetland complex. A wide variety of plants, birds, animals and insects make this property home both seasonally and year round.
As stewards of the Reserve the York-Simcoe Naturalists have worked with Ontario Nature on many projects including the following:
- Trail maintenance and monitoring
- Vegetation plantings
- Groundwater monitoring
- Invasive species inventory
- Amphibian monitoring
Become a member
We invite you to come out to one of the monthly meetings if what you have read is of interest. For details, see the Events link. Also, you can help us share the word about the club and foster community interest in the natural world around us.
- Jeanne Bénéteau
- Doug Jagger
- Judy Ritchie
- Recording secretary
- Rick Berry
- Linda Gilkes
- Membership secretary
- Sheila Gick
Appointed volunteer positions
- Conservation director, speakers
- Sylvia Bowman
- Linda Gilkes
- Internet director
- Jay Gutteridge
- Advertising director
- Melissa Rosato
- Flo Sparling
- Newsletter editor
- Janet Thompson
- Stewardship liaison to Ontario Nature
- Mike van den Tillaart
YSN serves Aurora, Bradford West Gwillimbury, King Township, East Gwillimbury and Newmarket.
The black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) is the bird pictured in the club's logo.
For more information please contact us.