Land donation from estate of Sir William Van Horne to NCC helps wild Atlantic salmon

Van-Horne-Property-St-Fintans-NL-Mike-Dembeck-small-bannerSt. John’s, NL – The Nature Conservancy of Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador has finalized a landmark project with interesting natural and historical significance.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador has finalized a landmark project with interesting natural and historical significance.

The not-for-profit, land conservation organization has officially conserved a 606 acre (245 hectare) site on the Crabbes River near the town of St. Fintan’s.

The land was donated by the descendents of Sir William C. Van Horne, who was featured in the photo of The Last Spike. The railway builder oversaw the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and was its president, leading the renowned Canadian railway during a time when it linked the nation from coast to coast. Van Horne acquired the property in 1900 and it was held within the family, until now.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada identified this area as a conservation priority for several reasons:

• Vast old growth forest; including white and yellow birch trees, white pine;
• Provides habitat for wild Atlantic salmon and buffers approximately two kilometres of a designated provincial salmon river;
• Habitat for a variety of rare plants along the Crabbes River shoreline, including the Long-styled rush, and the Clasping-leaf dogbane;
• Provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, such as black bear and beaver; and
• Forest and wetland support a diversity of migratory songbirds and waterfowl such as black ducks, American bittern, yellow warbler and redstarts.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada wishes to thank the Van Horne family for this generous land donation, along with organizations who made funding contributions to the project. They include: the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP), TD Bank Group, through the TD Forests program, Echo Foundation; Leo Power, Rob Crosbie, The Charles Johnson Family, Sam and Ruth Ann Horwood along with many other individual donors.


“Mangron Ltd. is very happy to announce that it is donating the Van Horne property to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Mangron, which represents descendants of Sir William Van Horne, is delighted that the Nature Conservancy will preserve the property in its natural state, for the benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador and for all Canadians,” said Mangron spokesperson Sally Hannon. “We think the Nature Conservancy of Canada will be the ideal steward of this unique piece of land and that William Van Horne would be as pleased as we are with the preservation of the property for future generations.”

“I express my sincere gratitude to the Van Horne family and our project partners in helping us preserve a key part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s natural heritage,” said Lanna Campbell, Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Program Manager.  “We are pleased to be protecting the watershed and in turn help protect the health of the salmon and trout. “An early river run, Crabbes River is home to some great salmon pools, populated by large in size, return spawners”.

“This landmark project marks another achievement under the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program and Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program,” said Senator David Wells. “This investment in the conservation of our natural heritage reinforces the recently announced National Conservation Plan and demonstrates the Government’s commitment to contribute to Canada’s long-term prosperity by conserving and restoring our lands and waters, and connecting Canadian families to our natural spaces.”

“Forests form the backdrop of our communities, where we live, work and play – and they perform an essential role in cleaning the air and moderating temperatures,” said Karen Clarke-Whistler, Chief Environment Officer, TD. Since 2012, TD Forests has worked the Nature Conservancy of Canada to help protect more than 25,000 acres of critical North American forest – from Douglas-fir forest in B.C. to this key site in western Newfoundland and Labrador along the Crabbes River we’re celebrating today.”


• The Crabbes River site will continue to be accessible for recreational purposes such as hiking, hunting, and salmon fishing.
• The abandoned Newfoundland railway bed, now the Newfoundland T’Railway recreational trail, runs along the western property boundary. A reconstructed railway bridge over the Crabbes River offers a spectacular view of the site and its beautiful forest and river habitats.

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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 2.7 million acres (over 1 million hectares), coast to coast. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we have conserved over 12,500  acres (over  hectares).

The Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership launched by the Government of Canada in 2007. Led and managed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), the program supports the accelerated pace of conservation of ecologically important private lands across southern Canada. Between 2007 and 2014, $245 million was invested in the NACP by the Government of Canada, with more than $400 million in matching contributions raised by NCC and its partners to secure our natural heritage.  An additional $100 million was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in May 2014 under the National Conservation Plan for the NCC to continue this program.

TD’s five-year contribution is the largest corporate commitment to NCC in the conservation organization’s more than 50-year history. With support from the TD Forests program, NCC will increase the amount of forested lands protected and cared for across Canada.

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