Cavan Bog, Ontario, NCC's first property (Photo by NCC)

Cavan Bog, Ontario, NCC's first property (Photo by NCC)

Our Story

1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s


Birth of the Nature Conservancy of Canada

Dr. J. Bruce Falls, Richard Pough, Aird Lewis and Dave Fowle, first exploratory meeting for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, 1961

1962 • Toronto, Ontario
In the early 1960s a plucky band of naturalists based in Ontario had a bold idea. Stung by the damage to the natural world they saw all around them, they launched a program to take direct, private action to protect natural spaces and promote conservation. At the time it was an audacious plan. It was also the birth of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

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Securement of NCC's first project: Cavan Swamp and Bog

Cavan Swamp, ON (Photo by NCC)

1968 • Cavan, Ontario
NCC's first project was Cavan Swamp and Bog in Ontario — an exceptional complex of bogs and other wetlands covering about 3,400 acres (1,340 hectares). The site is now the Cavan Swamp Wildlife Area and shelters an abundance of wildlife, including 22 species of orchids.

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First property in Atlantic Canada: Sight Point

Sight Point, NS (Photo by NCC)

1971 • Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
The 1970s saw our work expanding across the country, with a donation of land at Sight Point, Cape Breton Island — our first project outside of Ontario, and the first in Atlantic Canada.

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First property in British Columbia: Mud Bay

American Bittern, BC (Photo by NCC)

1974 • Surrey, British Columbia
NCC began working on the Mud Bay project — NCC's first conservation site in British Columbia. Today, the property is an Important Bird Area on the Pacific Flyway, with invertebrate-rich mudflats and eel-grass beds that are well used by large numbers of migrating shorebirds and waterfowl.

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First project in Quebec: Un fleuve, Un parc

Un fleuve, Un parc, QC (Photo by Mark Tomalty)

1978 • Montreal, Quebec
By 1978, NCC had established a formal presence in Quebec as the Société canadienne pour la conservation de la nature. The "Un fleuve, Un parc" project, which aimed to conserve islands along a 70-kilometre stretch of the St. Lawrence River east of Montreal, became a model for NCC's landscape-scale approach to conservation.

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First property in Manitoba: Brokenhead River Ecological Reserve

Ram's-head lady's slipper (Photo by John Neufeld)

1978 • Brokenhead Ojibway National Reserve, Manitoba
NCC began working on the Brokenhead River Ecological Reserve — our first project in Manitoba. Located northeast of Winnipeg and just south of and draining into Lake Winnipeg, this project conserved 158 acres (64 hectares) of rare floodplain mixed-wood forest dominated by ash, elm, oak and spruce, with a rich understory of wildflowers.

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First property in Saskatchewan: Qu'Appelle Coulee

Qu'Appelle Coulee, SK (Photo by NCC)

1982 • Wolseley, Saskatchewan
In the early 1980s, NCC helped to secure a property known as the Qu'Appelle Coulee — our first project in Saskatchewan. This
157-acre (64-hectare) site near the town of Wolseley now conserves a fabulous steep-walled canyon, or coulee, up to 75 metres deep that was formed by erosion.

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First project in Canada's North: Coal River Springs Ecological Reserve

Coal River Springs, YT (Photo by NCC)

1989 • Coal River Springs, Yukon
The decade was rounded out with NCC's first project in Canada's North: Coal River Springs Territorial Park, a protected area of 3,952 acres (1,600 hectares) in the southeastern portion of the province.

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Work begins in The Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, Manitoba

Chantal Fortney on the tall grass prairie with a western prairie fringed orchid (Photo by Gene Fortney)

1992 • Gardenton, Manitoba
Today's Manitoba Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, an ongoing land assembly, is a result of decades of conservation partnerships established in the early 1990s, which aimed to conserve the largest surviving tracts of tall-grass prairie in Canada — an ecological community that supports a diverse suite of species at risk that depend on its rare habitats.

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First property in Newfoundland & Labrador: King George IV Ecological Reserve

King George IV Ecological Reserve, NL (Photo by NCC)

King George IV Ecological Reserve, NL (Photo by NCC)

1996 • Newfoundland & Labrador
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has a rich history in helping conserve unique landscapes for future generations in Newfoundland and Labrador. NCC’s first land securement in the province was in 1996, with the King George IV Ecological Reserve, a 4,693-acre (1,899-hectare) project to see timber and mineral rights relinquished.

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Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area, Saskatchewan

Old Man on His Back Ranch, SK (Photo by Branimir Gjetvaj)

1996 • Southwestern Saskatchewan
For a century, the Old Man on His Back property had been owned by the Butala family, who had carefully managed its natural values, maintaining almost all of it as native mixedgrass prairie. NCC officially took control of the property in 2001.

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2001 • More than 1,000 properties conserved, from coast to coast.

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Johnson's Mills Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre, New Brunswick

Semipalmated sandpipers at Johnson's Mills, NB (Photo by Mike Dembeck)

2000 • Johnson's Mills, New Brunswick
We also continued to diversify our conservation work with new initiatives such as our first public education and ecotourism centre at Johnson's Mills, New Brunswick — one of North America's most important stopovers for semipalmated sandpipers — allowing Canadians access to the annual migratory extravaganza while protecting habitat.

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Reintroduction of plains bison to historic grazing grounds, Saskatchewan

Plains bison, Old Man on His Back, SK (Photo by Karol Dabbs)

2003 • Old Man on His Back, Saskatchewan
In 2003, NCC reintroduced 50 plains bison to the 13,000-acre (5,300 hectare) mixed grass prairie at Old Man on His Back.

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Conservation of the Waterton Park Front, Alberta

Prairie crocuses at Waterton, AB (Photo by Karol Dabbs)

2004 • Waterton, Alberta
We announced a significant private conservation initiative, in partnership with local ranchers and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and the Poole Family: the 27,000-acre (11,000-hectare) Waterton Park Front Project in Alberta.

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Launch of the Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program

Hikers in Happy Valley Forest, ON (Photo by NCC)

March 7, 2007 • Happy Valley Forest, Ontario
We announced the largest commitment by any Canadian government to conserve private lands. Through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, the Government of Canada set aside $225 million for the protection of natural areas. Under the program, $185 million were directly invested in NCC's conservation program.

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2008 • More than 2 million acres (800,000 hectares) conserved


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The largest single private conservation initiative in Canadian history: Darkwoods

South Selkirk Mountains, BC (Photo by M. A. Beaucher)

2008 • Darkwoods, British Columbia
We announced the largest single private conservation initiative in Canadian history: the spectacular Darkwoods in British Columbia. The 136,000-acre (55,000-hectare) property shelters a wide abundance of wildlife, including one of the last herds of mountain caribou in the world. Pristine water from alpine lakes feeds into 17 separate watersheds. Forests whose diversity rivals any in British Columbia thrive here.

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Second year of Natural Areas Conservation Program

Basinhead Dunes, PEI (Photo by Douglas Leitch)

March 2009
As of March 2009, under this program nearly 340 properties totalling more than 256,150 acres (103,660 hectares) had been acquired.


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Largest carbon credit program in North America

Western larch, Darkwoods, BC (Photo by Bruce Kirkby)

2011 • Darkwoods, British Columbia
We announce the largest forest carbon project to date in North America. Developed through a rigorous procedure involving numerous advisors, and meeting international standards, this sale of carbon credits is raising the bar for conservation in Canada and contributes in excess of $4 million for NCC's conservation work.

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Announcement of NCC's partnership to help conserve the Flathead River Valley

Flathead River Valley (Photo by Garth Lenz)

2011 • Flathead River Valley, British Columbia
NCC and The Nature Conservancy (U.S.) announce a multi-million dollar funding commitment to help remove major threats to British Columbia's Flathead River Valley — a spectacular wilderness area that straddles the Canada-U.S. border. The Flathead supports 70 mammal species (16 carnivores), 270 bird species, 25 fish species and 1,200 species of vascular plants.

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50th anniversary celebrations

Célébrations du 50e anniversaire

From coast to coast, NCC celebrated 50 years of conservation successes, along with our partners and supporters.

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Launch of the Moose Sex Project

Moose and her calf (Photo courtesy of Wild for Wildlife and Nature)

We launched our Moose Sex Project, which aims to protect habitat along the Chignecto Isthmus — a narrow band of land that connects Nova Scotia to the rest of Canada. Since species also cross borders and we are all interconnected, NCC is committed to conserving the long-term viability of wildlife populations not only in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia but across eastern Canada and the United States.

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Renewal of the Natural Areas Conservation Program

White trilliums in Happy Valley Forest, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

On May 15, 2014, the Government of Canada committed to renewing the Natural Areas Conservation Program for another five years, with an additional $100-million investment.

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Mapping the Big Land

Namaycush Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador (Photo by Jon Feldgajer)
Namaycush Lake, Newfoundland and Labrador (Photo by Jon Feldgajer)

After several years of collaboration, NCC and partners finished the Labrador Nature Atlas — a “one-stop biodiversity hub” for exploring, accessing and sharing information about Newfoundland and Labrador’s unique landscapes, plants and animals.

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The Waldron Conservation Project

Waldron, AB (Photo by Kyle Marquardt,

Many partners came together to conserve a provincial treasure for generations to come and help preserve Alberta's ranching heritage. The Waldron will continue to be prime habitat for numerous species, and an iconic landscape.

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Conservation of the Kenauk Property

Kenauk, QC (Photo by Kenauk Nature)

NCC and Kenauk Nature announced a partnership for the conservation of the vast 260-square-kilometre Kenauk property. The property once belonged to the famous Louis-Joseph Papineau.

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Conserving the Waldron (Photo by NCC)
Waldron, AB (Photo by NCC)

2016 • 2.8 million acres (more than 1.1 million hectares) conserved

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Waldron shareholders at the King Ranch (Photo by Karol Dabbs)
King Ranch, AB (Photo by Karol Dabbs)

Conservation of the historic King Ranch


NCC assisted the Waldron Grazing Co-operative in adding the very historic King Ranch to the largest conservation agreement in Canadian history. The conservation agreement on this significant stretch of working native grassland prevents further development in the area and will assist in the conservation of water quality, flood mitigation, and the maintenance of important watershed along Alberta’s southern foothills. It is also a wildlife corridor that facilitates the movement of large carnivores such as bears and cougars.

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Lancaster Sound

Walruses, Lancaster Sound (Photo by Mario Cyr)
Walruses, Lancaster Sound (Photo by Mario Cyr)


On June 8, 2016, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) announced a new collaboration that will help accelerate a marine conservation initiative of global significance.

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