Willisville Mountain Update.
NOTE: Since the June 22 event described in this update, the Manitoulin Expositor has written a piece about the event, available at: https://www.manitoulin.ca/ebc-takes-ownership-of-willisville-mountain/
The purchase is moving ahead. We are at the edge of the final strokes. Vale has asked for minor adjustments to the survey lines that describe the Willisville Road right of way. That work is with the surveyor. When those are done, (likely after the snow is gone in two or three weeks) EBC will pay Vale and title to the Mountain will be registered in favour of Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy.
To mark the occasion, EBC is planning an opening celebration the afternoon of Saturday June 22. We will arrange for parking in Whitefish Falls and shuttle folks to the base of the trail and back. (So parking is not a problem) The feature will be a walk to the top and back with refreshments at the top. And ‘Thank you’s’ to the many who helped. A modest sign unveiling at/near the bottom. All of BICA is invited. (Rough plan is: Meet at the Community Hall in Whitefish Falls at 1:45. Shuttle people to the base of the walk, Start the walk 2:20, at the top 3:00 ‘til 3:40. Back down about 4:30 or 5:00. Shuttle people back to Whitefish Falls by 5:30.
From EBC’s first meeting with Vale and the people who tipped us about the sale, ‘til the opening event, it will be a bit shy of three years, in all about 1,040 days and 25 plus meetings, over 200 donors, talks to nature clubs, letters and newsletters, fifty or a hundred chats with lawyers and surveyors (all friendly and professional). And most importantly support from friends and neighbours in Bay of Islands, Toronto, Manitoulin, Sudbury, the Sault and in Vale and on Frood and Charlton Lakes and McGregor Bay. Ian Tamblyn the musician who waived his performance fee and turned over his CD sales for the Mountain. Jon Butler, John Stopciati, Sarah Furchner, Doug England and Mark Zelinski; the artists who gave their time and work to help. (They are all on the web. Their work is worth seeing.) Finding a Group of Seven painting of the Mountain in a gallery. (The price for the painting was almost exactly the price of the Mountain.) So much happened and so many people, all these and many more pitched in. People who dedicated donations to friends and family who loved the Mountain. Birthday gifts. It has been a wonderful journey meeting and working with people of such good will and generous spirit at every turn.
The opening certainly is not an end. It will mark a new beginning for a mountain that is already older than we can imagine. It had new beginnings with the shoving of the continental plates that pushed the La Cloche range up and repeatedly with the start and end of each ice age. And as different waves of people came. First Nations, European missionaries, traders, and others. This should be a better beginning than the clear cutting or the gold mining of the last century. Willisville Mountain will be conserved. And the people of Bay of Islands will have done more for this than anyone else. For me, their help with this makes the Bay that much more special, that much more endearing and enduring.
(For the hike June 22: shoes with good soles, a full water bottle, a camera. The steep parts can get me (71 and over-weight) huffing and puffing, but the trail is doable by the generally healthy and the view from the top takes in McGregor Bay, Bay of Islands, over to Manitoulin, north to Espanola and east into Killarney)