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 of the trees were hundreds of years old.
One of the most important markets was the Royal Navy who used our tall pines for masts on their warships.
Once the Welland Canal was opened in the 1830’s, Eastern Canada and the United States became new accessible markets.
This is Norfolk county in the year 1908
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 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. The region's farmers were leaving; 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.
In The Interpretive Centre
Currently exhibiting the many sawmill locations that were operating in Norfolk County in the 19th century.
There are also a number of forestry related tools, that were invented here, on display.
While visiting us, learn about:
• A White Pine Trail Across an Ocean
• First Planting at St. Williams
• Seedlings Require Attention
• Inventory and Shipping
• Seed Extraction and Collection