Clarence and Alice McEwen Nature Reserve (Photo by NCC)

Clarence and Alice McEwen Nature Reserve (Photo by NCC)

Nature Conservancy of Canada receives land donation of key sand dunes, shore frontage on Prince Edward Island

August 7, 2015
St. Peters Harbour, PEI


Land was owned by family for 200 years

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has announced it has received a legacy gift of land that includes a favourite stretch of beach for locals and visitors on Prince Edward Island.

The over 11 hectare (28 acre) site, named the Clarence and Alice McEwen Nature Reserve, was unveiled today at St. Peter’s Harbour, about 25 kilometres east of Charlottetown.

Located on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the lands were donated by siblings in memory of their late parents. The wetland, sand dune and shore frontage property belonged to the McEwen family for 200 years.

Popular among a number of species other than just humans, the coast, dunes, and surrounding wetland are home to many different plants and animals. Shorebirds, including semipalmated plovers, greater yellowlegs, black-bellied plovers, ruddy turnstones, semipalmated sandpipers and sanderlings use the sandy beach for feeding during migration.

There are less than 6000 nationally endangered piping plovers remaining in the world. Individuals have been recorded nesting along the coast in this area, which has also been identified as critical habitat for this bird.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada wishes to acknowledge and thank the following organizations who contributed funding towards the project costs of this conservation site: Sandy Beach Farms Ltd, The PEI Wildlife Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.


"In memory of Clarence and Alice McEwen, the McEwen family is pleased to have donated the environmentally sensitive sand dune and marsh land area of their farm property to the Nature Conservancy of Canada,” said Don MacEwen on behalf of the family. “We would like to thank Julie Vasseur from the Nature Conservancy of Canada for facilitating all of the arrangements, the paper work and the permanent sign erected in honour of our parents.  We were inspired to make this donation by the family of Errol MacEwen who had donated similar adjacent land to the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Errol’s memory."

“The Nature Conservancy of Canada is pleased to receive a donation of over 28 acres of land from the McEwen family,” says Julie Vasseur, PEI Program Director for NCC. “Not only is the donation a beautiful dedication to the family’s parents, but the beaches and dunes provide crucial staging and migrating habitat to shorebirds. This is a wonderful example of how conserving land for future generations can also memorialize our past.”


• Located close to several other NCC properties, this donation brings the total protected land up to 149 hectares (369 acres) in the immediate area. St. Peter’s Harbour was historically the most populated township in Prince Edward Island during the colonization of the French Europeans.

• Frequent use of the beach area has trampled down the seas of marram grass whose roots hold the sand dunes together and prevent further erosion in the ecosystem. The Nature Conservancy of Canada recently planted over 2,000 marram grass plant plugs in the area with the help of 30 volunteers.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading 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 (over 2.7 million acres), coast to coast. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has helped conserve over 1,902 hectares (4,700 acres) in Prince Edward Island.

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