About the Field Naturalists by Bob Whittam
The MPFNC began in 1961 with a few local individuals lead by Midland Secondary School (MSS) teachers Warren Jacklin and Ed Cable. They began a tradition of meeting once a month to discuss natural history and to learn more about the natural world. The first meetings were held in the old YMCA building in downtown Midland and they are still meeting on a regular basis.
One of the most important contributions of the MPFNC was to secure the development of the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in negotiations with the Canadian Wildlife Service in 1967-68. Local entrepreneur Bill Cranston and Warren Jacklin met with Dr. Dave Munroe, Director or the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) to encourage him to make Wye Marsh the first wildlife interpretation centre in Canada. They were successful and the centre was opened officially in 1970 by future Prime Minister, Jean Chretien who was then a young Minister.
It was the beginning of a series of trans Canada ecology centres and Wye Marsh quickly became the home for the MPFNC. It has been the venue for hundreds of public lectures on Natural History ever since.
The MPFNC was also instrumental in lobbying the government in 1984-85 when the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre was closed due to government cutbacks. The MPFNC helped to lead the charge against this bureaucratic decision and was a key factor in the Friends of Wye Marsh taking over the operation of the centre.
There have been many dedicated members of the MPFNC and one of these exemplifies the kind of personality that makes the club so special. Fran Westman was called the Mother of the Marsh. She was an avid naturalist who lived in Tay Township and she mentored many naturalists such as Tony Reznicek now one of North Americas leading botanists. She was an avid birdwatcher and an active wildflower gardener and she was always ready to share her knowledge of nature with others.
The MPFNC is still affiliated with the FON, now Ontario Nature and meets regularly at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre on the 3rd Thursday of the month from September until June.