Nature Booster: Janice McClelland

How the Erin resident transformed a passion for the outdoors into many fruitful years of volunteering for the Bruce Trail Conservancy.

November 29, 2021 | | Local Heroes

When Janice McClelland and her husband, Don Blok, moved to Erin in 1992, they were already seasoned hikers and members of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, the umbrella organization that guides the nine clubs responsible for stewarding sections of the trail. In fact, the pair had met on a Bruce Trail hike in 1986. So it’s no surprise that after a day of renovating their century-old farmhouse, they enjoyed heading out for a hike on the trail.

Nature Booster: Janice McClelland. Photo by Pete Paterson.

Janice McClelland. Photo by Pete Paterson.

“The healing powers of nature are incredible,” says Janice. “This was how we refocused. We were already committed to caring for the environment so future generations could enjoy it as we did, but those hikes gave us a new appreciation for the work of the Bruce Trail volunteers and the restorative power of nature.”

Janice’s passion for preservation motivated her to become a volunteer board member of the Caledon Hills Bruce Trail Club, which is responsible for the trail in the Credit River watershed. Since then she has played an integral role in the club, holding various positions including president, vice-president and director of fundraising. Fittingly, this past June, Janice’s dedication to the Caledon club and the conservancy was recognized when she received Credit Valley Conservation’s award for outstanding volunteer of the year.

“Receiving this award is an extreme honour. I had no idea I was being nominated,” she says. “It’s my understanding that one of the things that had an impact on the judges was the length of my tenure and the scope of it.”

Janice’s volunteer experiences have enhanced her life in unimaginable ways. “I have made lifelong friendships, learned so much about history and nature, and been a part of so many rewarding tasks,” she says.

One special memory: When the Caledon club was creating a side trail south of Forks of the Credit Road, Janice researched the history of a local lime kiln, which was used to create lime for early industrial and agricultural uses. The Ring Kiln Side Trail now leads to the massive stone ruins of a circular lime kiln near Belfountain. “When you encounter this kiln, built in the 1890s, it’s like discovering a Mayan ruin in a jungle of rock and cedar,” she says. “It was wonderful to learn so much about this historic landmark.”

Janice’s enthusiasm for the Bruce Trail is contagious. “The mission of the Bruce Trail Club is ‘preserving a ribbon of wilderness, for everyone, forever,’” she says. “For years, my husband and I consistently donated to the organization. The most recent contribution helped purchase over 500 acres at Cape Chin on the Bruce Peninsula.”

Janice remains a stalwart of the organization as a director at large, volunteer fundraiser and hike leader. She shares another extraordinary adventure that happened this fall when she guided a forest bathing hike. “I was inspired by the writings of Dr. Qing Li, a global expert on forest medicine. The hike was a slow and thoughtful one on a loop in the Mulmur hills. We took time to experience all the natural delights: the trees, the moss, the trails of mushrooms. It was a special experience for me and the hikers, and another example of how my volunteer work has enriched my life.”

About the Author More by Alison McGill

Alison McGill is a writer, editor and podcaster who lives in Limehouse.

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