William “Bill” Grant, who donated Grant’s Woods to the Couchiching Conservancy a decade ago, passed away in late May. Mr. Grant had been a resident at Birchmere Retirement Home but was in failing health for the past year.
Bill Grant’s parents purchased the 51 acres that they called “The Farm” in 1908, but the family lived in a house on Laclie Street in Orillia until 1958, when they added a stone addition to the existing old house and moved to this country property. Bill, who had some forestry training, stayed on the property to take care of his aging parents and to steward the woods.
That stewardship involved the removal of selected trees to use as firewood in the house, but no commercial logging. As a result, Grant’s Woods matured into the finest example of old-growth forest in our region. Mr. Grant understood the ecological significance of his forest, and generously offered the property to the Conservancy as a donation.
With the help of dozens of volunteers and many local contractors, we converted the house into office space, established several kilometers of walking and interpretive trails, and added an eco-gazebo and washrooms. Mr. Grant’s gift has become the showpiece for the conservation work of the Couchiching Conservancy. We remember him with fondness and admiration, for this modest man has created a legacy of truly lasting value.