The Midhurst Tree Nursery creation story

Clear-cut logging had turned Simcoe county into a  sand dune by 1900.

E.C. Drury and Edmund Zavitz worked to make a huge difference.


In early October 1905 the newly appointed Provincial Forester, E.J. Zavitz had paid us a visit of several days duration at the farm. It was the first time I had met him, and I liked him at once and was very favourably impressed with him. We became friends and have so remained, though we have not been able to see each other often. We discussed the problem of reforestation in older Ontario very thoroughly, and with our horse and buggy drove over the pine plains at Angus (now Camp Borden) and Midhurst. At Orr Lake Zavitz told me of the plan to establish a forest nursery and demonstration area, and for that purpose he seemed to favour either Angus or Midhurst. Both areas were suitable, both had ample supplies of water, and both were easily accessible to the public. A year or two later a Provincial Forestry Station was established, but it was located in Norfork country in an area which, while otherwise suitable, was difficult of access, so that few people saw it, and some of its educational effect was lost. Some sand land was reforested and some seedlings were distributed. And there the matter of reforestation stood until years later Zavitz and I got together again. [See The Man who Planted a Billion Trees] p. 54-5.

Shortly after I took office [1919], E.J. Zavitz, the Provincial Forester, and I got together on the subject in which we were so interested: reforestry in older Ontario. After the establishment many years before of the first Provincial Forest Station at St. Williams in Norfolk County, the Government had lost interest in the matter and very little progress had been made. Zavitz and I laid plans to reinvigorate the project. We proposed to establish two more tree nurseries an demonstration areas, one at Orono, adjacent to the sand barrens of Durham County, and the other at Midhurst, in Simcoe County. We proposed also to try to stimulate the arrangement by which, when such land was acquired, the province would undertake to plant it and administer it for thirty years. At the end of that period the municipality would be given three choices: (1) it could pay the province what it had cost for planting and care, and take over the forest, (2) it could require the province to take over the forest, paying the municipality what the land had cost, or (3) it could go fifty-fifty with the province in the ownership of the plantation. It was too late in the season to do anything about the nurseries, but the next year, 1920, land was purchased at Midhurst and Orono and the nurseries were established. They have since produced many millions of trees for public and private planting. p. 99

– Farmer Premier: The Memoirs of E.C. Drury, E. C. Drury, McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1966.

Originally posted on on April 3, 2012.


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