Malcolm Kirk: Life Member

Mac Kirk was born in Toronto and educated at North Toronto Collegiate and U of T, where he completed a degree in Forestry from 1938 to 1942. He served in the military as a First Lieutenant in World War II, seeing action in the Netherlands in 1944-45.

Malcolm Kirk Life Member Owen Sound Filed NaturalistsIn 1946 Mac became zone forester for the Lindsay District with the Department of Lands and Forests. In 1957 he joined the newly formed Conservation Authorities Branch of the Ministry of Lands and Forests, as resources manager for the North Grey Region and Sauble Valley Conservation Authorities in Owen Sound. He held this position until 1973. Following it, he took a position for two years at the Kortright Waterfowl Centre in Guelph. His civil service career ended at the Environmental Approvals Branch of the Ministry of Environment in Toronto.

In the 16 years he spent at the North Grey Region and Sauble Valley Conservation Authorities, (later amalgamated as the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority), Mac pursued a course of Escarpment land acquisition unparalleled in the province. Tens of thousands of acres of valuable escarpment lands at more than 30 properties in Grey and Bruce were secured under his tenure, through innovative use of options with willing landowners and grants from private donor agencies such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Canadian National Sportsman Show.

Through other organizations like the Federation of Ontario Naturalists where he served as Chairman of the Nature Reserve Committee, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Mac has been the key individual in the preservation of many other significant and pristine natural areas. In 1962 Mac spearheaded the campaign to save Dorcas Bay on the Bruce Peninsula from cottage development. Its acquisition by the FON served to focus attention on the outstanding natural features of the Bruce which later led to the establishment of the Bruce Peninsula National Park in 1987. Mac’s lobbying led to the protection of other significant natural areas including the Petrel Point fen near Red Bay, Long Swamp near Owen Sound (now named the Malcolm Kirk Nature Preserve in his honour) and Walker Woods, an outstanding old growth (390 yr. +) coniferous forest in the middle of Sauble Beach cottage development.

In 1977 Mac and his wife Joan moved to Thornbury, where he began a new career in environmental consulting, biological inventories, landscaping and environmental activism. Mac is one of this area’s strongest voices for conservation. Through his involvement with the Senior League, the Grey Association for Better Planning and the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy, he has been a driving force in local conservation issues: land acquisition, lobbying for tighter escarpment control, woodlot protection, wetland protection, better planning, and most recently, water extraction.

Mac has worked tirelessly to protect important natural areas throughout Grey and Bruce. For his efforts he has won several awards, including:

  • Award for Good Citizenship ­ Province of Ontario (1994)
  • W.W. Gunn Conservation Trophy ­ Federation of Ontario Naturalists (1993)
  • Conservation Award ­ Sydenham Sportsman Club (1991)
  • Lifetime Membership ­ Federation of Ontario Naturalists (1977)
  • Lifetime Membership ­ Owen Sound Field Naturalists (1992)

The people of Grey and Bruce Counties owe a great deal to Malcolm Kirk. Thanks to him, we are all the owners of pristine woodlands, swamps, headwater regions for major rivers, gorges, fens, lakes, islands, waterfalls, bluffs, and caves. Grey and Bruce attract thousands of nature lovers each year. Much of their love of this area can be traced back to the efforts of one devoted conservationist – Malcolm Kirk.