The Beginning

Our pioneer forefathers were surrounded with deeply forested land when they arrived.

Their Land Grants specified they had to clear so many acres and build a cabin.  So, their first job was to cut down the magnificent forest. Some trees were hundreds of years old.

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Can you imagine doing this day after day, month after month?

After the Welland Canal was opened in the 1830’s, they were able to ship timber to the markets in Eastern Canada and the U.S. One of the most important markets was the Royal Navy. They used our tall pines for masts on the warships. Between forestry and farming the land was stripped of its forest cover. The sandy topsoil of this region, without the forest roots to hold the moisture, blew away, year by year until parts of Norfolk County were desert.

This is Norfolk county in the year 1908

This is How and Why We Started

In 1908, two local business men, Lt. Col. Arthur C. Pratt, and Walter F. McCall approached Dr. Edmund J. Zavitz, a professor at the Ontario Agriculture College in Guelph, with their concerns for the region's farmers, they were leaving because the soil could no longer support agriculture.  Dr. Zavitz convinced the Ontario government that soil conservation was critical, and reforestation was the way to achieve it.

 

This is what we started with:

One Hundred Years Later

Under the leadership of Frank Newman, the St. Williams Forestry Station became the model reforestation and tree seedling production site in the province. It became a showcase and teaching facility as well as a 4,000 acre demonstration forest. From 1909 to 1990 there were 10 different superintendents.

Our Exhibits

A number of forestry related tools were invented here:   We have the actual ones on display.  You can see the way trees are grown; from seed to seedling.

Visit us to learn about:

• A White Pine Trail Across an Ocean

• First Planting at St. Williams

• Seedlings Require Attention

• Transplanting

• Inventory and Shipping

• Seed Extraction and Collection

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