After 104 years, the Ferrier family is letting go of the family farm and donating it to the Nature Conservancy of Canada(NCC) in its natural state. The Nature Conservancy of
Canada, the Government of Alberta, and the Government of Canada announced four new major wetlands properties across the country, including one by Gough Lake, a body of water located directly east of Big Valley on Friday, February 2, for World Wetlands Day. The property contains rich family history as it has been owned by the same family since 1904. The Ferrier family settled there from Scotland, raising their young family through the Great Depression
and both world wars. “The Ferrier family cared for the land and the wildlife there until the last surviving grandchild
recently passed away and left the site to the Nature Conservancy of Canada in her will,” said Carys Richards,
communications coordinator for Nature Conservancy of Canada, in an email.
The Gough Lake property is in close proximity to other conservation lands, including the provincially protected Rumsey Ecological Reserve and Natural Area which contains 23,620 acres of land. The other properties announced are located in Spring Creek, Saskatchewan, île de Grâce near Sorel, Québec and in Lobster Bay, Nova Scotia. In August 2017, the NCC launched a new program called Nature Destinations which is a program that showcases the nations natural areas. Horseshoe Canyon made the top 20 initial destinations. In the next few years, the organization hopes to add 50 more
destinations to this program. One third of the land consists of native grassland. Due to high rates of land conversion for agricultural and human development, less than five per cent of native fescue grasslands remain in Canada; as a result, every opportunity to secure the habitat has been vital to the organization. The lakeside establishment is home to species at risk like the Baird’s sparrow and the Sprague’s pipit. It also contains a combined 256 acres of wetlands and shoreline habitat that is considered essential for deer, small mammals, grassland birds, shorebirds and waterfowl that live in and migrate through the region.
Deer roam the Ferrier property in the summer months. Photo courtesy of Brent Calver
Richards stressed the importance of wetland areas in any ecosystem. “In the settled areas of Alberta,64 per cent of the slough and marsh wetlands have disappeared," said Richards. The family has taken great pride in their late relative Agnes Isabelle (Nancy) Ferrier’s decision. “The family is absolutely delighted,”
said Sylvia Walters, Ferrier family member. “John and Nancy, the children of John Ferrier that settled here
from Scotland, never had any children of their own, so this
was their wish. This property has come full circle, from being homesteaded in 1904, to going back to nature the way it was in 1904.