Cobequid Hills (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Cobequid Hills (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

Cook family to donate 904-acre forest in northern Nova Scotia for conservation

December 15, 2017
Truro, NS


Three brothers from Truro will donate 904 acres (366 hectares) of mature hardwood forest in Colchester County to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) for long-term conservation. Dr. Steven Cook of Truro, along with two of his brothers, Dr. Laurie Cook and Dr. David Cook, have agreed to donate the property to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. NCC is currently raising funds to cover costs associated with conserving the large property.

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada would like to thank the Cook family for this incredibly generous gift. It’s not only a rare example of mature and intact hardwood forest, it’s an outstanding wildlife habitat in a region with very few protected areas,” says Craig Smith, Nova Scotia program director for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “We invite Nova Scotian nature lovers to add to the Cook brothers’ generosity and help us raise the final $90,000 needed to complete this very special conservation project.” 

Located in the Cobequid Hills, about halfway between Truro and Tatamagouche, the property was once the site of a large maple sugar operation. Most of the 904 acres (366 hectares) is made up of sugar maple trees, which provide habitat for bear, bobcat and Nova Scotia’s endangered mainland moose, as well as several species of at-risk birds.

“My brothers and I have had offers to buy the property, but some of those buyers intended to take every stick of wood off the land and we didn’t want that to happen,” says Steven, who, along with his brothers, acquired the property from their father, the late Dr. George Cook. “Our father bought the property in the 1970s, and at one point was tapping 25,000 sugar maple trees for his Maple Ridge Farm business. We decided to donate the land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada to honour our father, who put many years and a lot of care into this land and would want to see it always remain in its natural state.”

George Cook grew up in Urbania, Nova Scotia, and as a young man loved working on his family’s woodlot. He served as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War, and went to medical school when he returned home. He later bought the forested property so he could enjoy working in the woods again. Although just a sideline from his work as a surgeon, Cook took a hands-on role in the business, and often personally delivered his maple syrup to stores all over mainland Nova Scotia, even stocking the shelves. He wrapped up the business in 2006.

“The maple syrup business was a labour of love for our father, and so was taking care of the sugar maple trees,” says Steven. “My brothers are living in BC, and we all agree we want the property managed in a sustainable way, so we decided the best thing to do is to donate it to a group that can take care of it, and that’s the Nature Conservancy of Canada.” 

Although the property is being donated, the Nature Conservancy of Canada must fundraise to cover associated costs of protecting it, which include legal costs, the cost of removing a large sugar shack and plastic piping, and the cost of establishing an endowment to provide for long-term care and maintenance. As a charitable land trust, the Nature Conservancy of Canada can access matching funds: for every dollar donated by individuals to conserve this site, NCC is able to secure three dollars from foundations, businesses and the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program. 

All donations to the Nature Conservancy of Canada are eligible for a charitable tax receipt. To donate call 1-877-231-4400 or go online:


The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is the nation’s leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast to coast. To learn more, visit

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Media Contact:

Kathryn Morse
Director of Communications - Atlantic Provinces

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