The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) was formed in October 1946 under the Conservation Authorities Act and is one of the oldest conservation authorities in Ontario.
The GRCA has a distinguished history of being the first watershed in the Province of Ontario to be studied by a team under the leadership of A.H. Richardson, Chief Conservation Engineer, Department of Planning and Development. The study produced a report entitled The Ganaraska Watershed. Following Dr. Richardson’s retirement in 1961, he began writing the book Conservation by the People which was a history of the conservation movement in Ontario. In the book it was reported that "many compliments have been bestowed on the Ganaraska Report", which included recommendations to establish a 20,000 acre forest, to encourage sound forest management and agricultural practices, to initiate flood reduction programs, to establish recreational centres, to initiate tree planting, and to conduct surveys and research.
The Watersheds of the Ganaraska Region
The watersheds of the GRCA covers an area of 935 square kilometers from Wilmot Creek in Clarington to east of Cobourg from the south shore of Rice Lake down to Lake Ontario. This area includes seven municipalities in whole or in part: Township of Cavan-Monaghan, Town of Cobourg Township of Alnwick-Haldimand, Township of Hamilton, Municipality of Port Hope, City of Kawartha Lakes, Municipality of Clarington Click on the Map for enlarged view.
History of the Ganaraska Forest
Prior to the French fur traders in the 1600's, the Ganaraska region was inhabited by tribes of semi-nomadic native peoples. The Europeon influence began in the 1700's.
By 1793, Upper Canada had become part of the British Empire - an empire made possible by a superior navy. The naval fleet required lumber for ships and the forests of Upper Canada offered an unlimited supply.
A new concern arose about protecting the remaining forest and replanting cleared areas. In 1941, six organizations met to form the Guelph Conference on the Conservation of the Natural Resources in Ontario. The report issued in 1942 recommended an integrated resource management planning study of a watershed in Ontario.
A Report On The Ganaraska Watershed by A.H. Richardson was published in 1944, recommending formation of the Conservation Authorities of Ontario. The report also recommended reforestation of 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) in the northern section of the watershed. The Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority was created in 1946 in co-operation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and agreed to buy, reforest and manage degraded lands in the watershed.
In 1947, the first trees were planted on 640 hectares (1,580 acres). By 1991 the total amount of land acquired by GRCA was 4,200 hectares (10,400 acres). Reforestation was necessary on fifty per cent of this land. In April of 1997, the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority became completely responsible for the management of the Ganaraska Forest. Today, the forest is a living example of how the principles of integrated resource management can be used to balance many different uses of forested lands on a sustainable and ecologically sound basis.