Margarete Cameron recently retired from a forty year career in education which ended with a nine year appointment as an Education Officer at the Ministry of Education. She is the second generation of her family to reside on Stewart Lake near Foot’s Bay, and she and her husband became full-time residents in 2011.
Margarete has been active on the Stewart Lake Association Board of Directors for three years, and has focused her work in that capacity on member education and environmental initiatives. She is particularly proud of the annual “Buckeye BBQ Silent Auction” that she started which raises the funds the Association uses to support these endeavours.
Margarete answered a few questions from Christy Doyle, MWC's Director of Environmental and Watershed Programs.
What drew you to volunteer with MWC?
One of my personal mantras is “Think globally; act locally”. I am passionate about preserving the natural environment for future generations, and constantly think about the type of world I want my grandchildren to be able to experience. When the opportunity of volunteering with MWC presented itself, I saw it as an opportunity to bring together my personal interests and act on a local and regional level, and in some small way address some of the pressing environmental global issues of our day.
What MWC projects are you involved in?
I’m serving as a member of the Communications Committee and in that role, am attending the meetings of the Report Card Working Group. I will also be collating MWC resources that can be supplied to Lake and Cottage associations for inclusion in their newsletters, at key points throughout the year. Most recently, I represented MWC at the Children’s Water Festival that was held on Sept. 26 and 17 at the Kinark Outdoor Centre located near Carnarvon.
Tell us about the Stewart Lake renaturalization project.
The village of MacTier sits on the north shore of Stewart Lake, and the District constructed a water treatment plant in the town about six years ago. When construction was completed vegetation was not restored and the resulting lawn was quite out of character with the natural shoreline that borders most of the lake.
The Stewart Lake Association was able to collaborate with the District and MWC and, together, renaturalized this stretch of shoreline. The District provided the funding and staff assistance, MWC provided landscaping expertise and project leadership and the Association provided the volunteer labour to get the job done. Northway Gardeners provided the native vegetation and expertise. Together, we all transformed the shoreline of the treatment plant – on one of the hottest days in June! We planted a total of 96 trees, shrubs and wildflowers and then Stewart Lake assumed responsibility for watering the new plantings throughout the remainder of the summer.
We now have a model of renaturalizing shorelines that interested shoreline residents can use as a starting point for their own projects, and at the same time have provided an enhanced environment for wildlife and pollinators in the Stewart Lake area.
What is your favourite part of living in Muskoka?
I love living by the lake full-time and being able to witness and enjoy the seasons in a very personal way. Kayaking during the early mornings and sunsets of the summer; observing the gradual changes in the foliage and hiking during the fall; making the first snowshoe tracks and feeding the birds in the winter; and enjoying the many shades of green as the forest wakes up once more in the spring. It really doesn’t get much better than that!