Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

 Keddy Nature Sanctuary


















photo Cathy Keddy

In late January, the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust Conservancy (MMLTC) finalized its newest conservation easement agreement with Paul and Cathy Keddy on their beautiful 530-acre property located in the northeastern corner of Drummond-North Elmsley Township.

The Keddys, both professional ecologists, first discovered this spectacular property back in the ’70s, long before the area was designated a Provincially Significant Wetland Complex. Here follows Cathy’s account about their decision to legally protect their property forever.

“One of the first decisions we made when preparing for marriage back in 1976, when we were still students at Dalhousie University in Halifax, was to buy our first 100 acres of forest in Lanark County. Many thought we were foolish. But we had walked that property and seen 30 pairs of Great Blue Herons nesting in a wetland. How better to celebrate a marriage than to protect these magnificent creatures. Over the years we camped and eventually built a small cabin where we spent many happy weekends. As we got to know the property better, we found a stream that flowed to the east, and a patch of wild orchids in a seepage area. We owned neither. But over time, these properties came on the market, and we added them to our debt load. Twice we could buy a property only after it had been logged. This was painful, but we knew that whatever the short term damage, the trees would eventually regrow and wildlife habitat would recover. The last property was the toughest, and we were able to buy it only after the landowner had quite deliberately increased the price and sold the logging rights, just to be spiteful. The skidders were already felling huge beech trees as we signed the mortgage papers. Paul’s parents very generously contributed $20,000 so we could buy out the logging company before it felled the 30 acres having the oldest trees. At this point we were the proud owners of a square mile.

Now there is a commitment. Not only were we responsible for protecting the forest, and for making our monthly payments, but at home we had two growing children, while on the land we had populations of salamanders and frogs and warblers and turkey vultures. What a family! When Paul became ill in the early ’90s, finances were stretched to the limit.

Eventually, our family moved to Louisiana for eight years where Paul earned enough money to pay off the accumulated debts. Now it was all ours! But there would be little point in protecting 120-year-old oaks or populations of wild orchids if the next owner would simply log them or create estate lots. We were determined to pass it on intact. The Nature Conservancy of Canada was interested, but by the time we returned from Louisiana there was a new local land conservancy on the scene, the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust. We were delighted that they agreed to become partners, and take over from us in the long run. And 999 years, renewable, is indeed a long-term arrangement! Each of us will die. We know that when that happens to us, all the wild creatures we have known over the past 50 years will be safe from developers and loggers. They will carry on their lives without us. The 120-year-old oaks and hemlocks will live several more centuries, and then, when they die, become homes for owls and hawks and tree frogs. Yes, we could have sold the land, and burned through the money on expensive cars and luxury cruises. But, we would have been no happier. And, as they say, you can’t take it with you. What about our sons and the issue of inheritance? The boys are thrilled that a property with so many happy memories will stay just the way they remember it. Moreover, the easement agreement we signed leaves each of them the option to someday live on the edge of the property and enjoy it with their own families. And the salamanders and frogs and warblers and turtles and all the rest of the innumerable inhabitants, while they may not speak our language or understand land trusts, will be left alone to carry on their lives in relative peace. We cannot think of a more satisfying conclusion to our lifetime project.”

The MMLTC is delighted with the choice the Keddys made and knows it will have untold benefits for generations to come. Paul and Cathy have already compiled an initial inventory of species on their property, including several species at risk. To add to this list, the Lanark County Stewardship Council will be hosting a 24-hour Bioblitz at the Keddy Nature Sanctuary on Friday, June 6 to Saturday, June 7. Species experts from area naturalist clubs will be invited to assist with this event.

Watch for more information coming soon on the MMLTC website at

Submitted by the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust Conservancy.


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MVFN Annual Autumn Walk & Dedication Ceremony for Michael McPhail Memorial at the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Have you ever taken the time to explore the natural features of the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area? This autumnal equinox, join our guided tour of its over 150 acres containing riparian habitats, woodlands, fields, and their ecotones. Not sure what an ecotone is? See you this coming Saturday!

The walk will conclude at the Mike McPhail Memorial Bench installed by MVFN this past summer to commemorate Mike’s service to nature conservation. A dedication ceremony will take place at this bench, located at the children’s playground near the Education Centre. After the ceremony you are invited to the Education Centre for a light snack.

Meet: At the Gatehouse parking lot, Mill of Kintail Conservation Area, 2854 Ramsay Concession 8, Mississippi Mills (north of Clayton Rd., west of Highway 29)

Time: Walk begins at 9:45 a.m.; ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m.

Bring: Binoculars, hat, camera, notebook, dress for the weather

Notes:  There may be a conservation area admission fee of $5 per car. If the weather is bad, only the dedication ceremony will take place, and it will be held at 11:30 a.m. Please call Cathy (613-257-3089) before 8:30 a.m. the day of the event to confirm the walk status if you are unsure.


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Meeting on proposed nature trail in Mississippi Mills

A public meeting of the Town of Mississippi Mills in conjunction with MVFN to discuss designation of an unopened road allowance on Ramsay 3B between Wolf Grove and Clayton Rd. as a nature trail.

7 pm at Mississippi Mills Council Chambers, Municipal Offices, 3131 Old Perth Road. For further information please contact Calvin Murphy, Town of Mississippi Mills at 613-256-1077 ext. 24 or MVFN’s Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013.

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OAFs Astronomy Night at the Mill of Kintail,  Friday, May 30, 2008 starting after 7:30 p.m. at the Gatehouse

On the day of the event, there will be a general announcement regarding the event being a ‘go’ or ‘no go’ and a description of the event at

The event is entirely dependent on sky conditions. We will be monitoring the Clear Sky Clock Note that the squares have to be blue for both cloud and transparency.

Pat Browne

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Public Astronomy Night at the Mill of Kintail,  

April 4, starting after 7:30 p.m. at the Gatehouse

On the day of the event, there will be a general announcement regarding the event being a ‘go’ or ‘no go’ and a description of the event at

The event is entirely dependent on sky conditions. We will be monitoring the Clear Sky Clock Note that the squares have to be blue for both cloud and transparency.

Pat Browne

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