Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve

Dysart et al, Ontario | C.1962

Photo Credit: Emily Stonehouse

The Ontario region has been home to groups of First Nations peoples for centuries – each with their own languages, customs, and territories. When Europeans arrived in Haliburton County in the 17th century they quickly felled the forests to build a slew of townships for incoming settlers. Today the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve is the first forest in Canada to be certified as sustainable, but it was a long journey to get here.

In 1865, politician Thomas Chandler Haliburton sold ten townships to the Canadian Land and Emigration Company, a British company responsible for selling parcels of land. But the expected land grab turned out to be more of a fumble. When it became obvious that the parceled land was unsuitable for agriculture, the Company abandoned their initial plans and turned to the logging industry. For the next forty years, large lumber companies purchased and harvested the white pine forests that populated the region. The aggressive logging practices eventually took their toll.

In 1960, nearly a century after the lands were sold, the remaining timber was rapidly declining and no longer viable. Two years later, the German Baron von Fuerstenberg acquired the lands and renamed the holding company the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve. The forest’s journey towards sustainability had begun.

Today, logging still happens on the Reserve, but only as a means to maintain the quality and health of the forest. Now an outdoor destination, visitors to the forests can explore rustic, historical cabins once inhabited by the loggers in the 19th century, camp among a pack of timber wolves, and experience all aspects of the forest wilderness. In some ways, the Reserve not only sustains the trees, but the natural wonders within Ontario.

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