altAnyone who has ever sailed the waters of Georgian Bay is familiar with the iconic trees that line the shore and dot the islands. Sculpted by the prevailing west winds, they stand arched and graceful yet still solid and defiant and in their struggle with the harsh climate and sparse soil scattered amidst the prehistoric granite of the Canadian Shield.

The Georgian Bay Land Trust (GBLT) was founded in 1997 to help preserve not only the famed trees of Georgian Bay but also the entire ecology of the unique archipelago that makes up the Eastern Channel and North Shore. The Trust now stewards 450 acres of environmentally sensitive islands and marsh and is actively seeking out other lands that can help to make a stand against the increasing development on the Bay.

Over the next twenty years many are predicting that Georgian Bay will face unprecedented challenges and pressures from additions to existing properties, building of new subdivisions and increased recreation. It is important that this unique land and all of the ecosystems intertwined with it be treated with respect, care and intelligence.

Lands stewarded by the GBLT include the Sans Souci Hotel Reserve and Truax Island in Sans Souci, the Alexander Islands in Wah Wah Taysee, South-East Wooded Pine Island near Go Home Bay, The Lizard and Soouth Bone Island in the Cognashene area and Manitou Dock Island in Manitou. Each stewarded property goes through a rigourous environmental assessment and inventory and is closely watched and monitored to assure that the unique species and their habitats are preserved.

The goal of the Trust is probably best summed up in this note from a family whose property is now protected by the GBLT:

“This island was bought by my grandfather in the 20's as a fishing base. Our extended family has enjoyed picnicking on it for many, many years. Now we feel that the neighboring islanders would be more able to enjoy and look after it better than our family as we are a few kilometers away. Under the Land Trust stewardship we know that this lovely island will be preserved in perpetuity for others to enjoy."

As part of its fundraising efforts last year, the GBLT invited the public to submit photographs of trees along the shore to be selected for inclusion in a poster: "Preserving The Unique Trees of Georgian Bay". The submissions were open to amateur or professional photographers of any age, to photographs from any era, of a tree living or dead, captured in colour or black, digitally or on film.

The photos came from young and old, from Canadians and Americans, from people who had only visited the area once and been captivated by its beauty, and of course by people who have been enjoying Georgian Bay and all it has to offer for years, sometimes many generations.

Over 250 amazing photos were submitted and whittled down to a final 25 by a panel of recognized experts in photography, design and the environment. The final poster was unveiled at an immensely successful gala, sponsored by Payne Marine of Point au Baril, held at Toronto's Capitol Event theatre in November. In fact, Canadian Yachting was the media sponsor of the event.

GBLT is a volunteer driven association that also has real costs that need to be met in order to continue its work, for things like environmental inventory and monitoring, management planning and legal fees. The works of the GBLT are becoming increasingly necessary to ensure that all the people who appreciate the splendours of Georgian Bay – residents, cottagers, boaters and recreationalists alike – can continue to enjoy its pristine beauty and unique environment for generations to come.

Photo: This beautiful 19” x 24” poster is available for $20 by contacting the Georgian Bay Land Trust. All proceeds from sale of posters goes directly to the GBLT to be used in its stewardship, assessment and acquisition programs.

By Jeff Butler