About Ferguson Forest Centre
Ferguson Forest Centre is located on 1100 acres of multi-use green space in the Municipality of North Grenville, on the doorstep of downtown Kemptville, a short drive south of Ottawa, Canada.
Ferguson Forest Centre is governed by the not-for-profit Ferguson Forest Centre Corporation, which operates a 300-acre forest tree nursery on leased municipal land.
Profits from the nursery are used to manage and maintain the 740-acre Ferguson Forest and it’s 22 plus kilometers of public-use recreational trails through a land-use agreement with the provincial government, and also manage and maintain a smaller recreational green space which houses:
- a newly-created and still unfolding 25-acre arboretum,
- Anniversary Park, which offers a waterfront trail, Kinderwood children’s trail, a picnic shelter and a canoe, kayak and paddleboard launch dock on Kemptville Creek
- The Ferguson Forest Dog park, a 7.5-acre fully fenced off-leash facility with large grassed and forested areas and dedicated small dog area
- Veterans Way Memorial Park
The Ferguson Forest Centre is a non-profit corporation operating a social enterprise tree nursery and managing recreational and conservation lands in the Municipality of North Grenville.
The Ferguson Forest Centre’s mission is to operate the tree nursery and utilize its profits to:
- promote awareness of, and interest in, forestry (in particular, afforestation and sustainable forest management)
- maintain, enhance and promote the responsible use and stewardship of the recreation and conservation lands managed by the Ferguson Forest Centre for the benefit of the residents of North Grenville
Board of Directors
Municipal Council Representative
Governance and Staff
The volunteer board of directors provides direction and sets policy for the Ferguson Forest Centre.
The Ferguson Forest Centre consists of the Ferguson Tree Nursery, Veteran’s Way Memorial Park, Ferguson Forest Dog Park, the arboretum, Anniversary Park, Kinderwood and many nature trails that are found throughout the forested lands.
The Ferguson Tree Nursery is self-sustaining and all nursery revenues beyond expenses are reinvested into the Ferguson Forest Centre and its associated capital needs and activities.
The centre supports numerous organizations and community services, including the Friends of the Ferguson Forest Centre and the Giving Garden.
The Ferguson Forest Centre was first known as the Kemptville Nursery when the first seedlings where planted on farmland purchased by the Department of Lands and Forests in 1945.
The nursery retained this name until September of 1949, when the Premier of the day Leslie Frost changed it to the G. Howard Ferguson Forest Station to honour a past Premier of the province. G. Howard Ferguson was also a native son of Kemptville.
The Forest Station continued to be operated by the Government of Ontario first under the guidance of the Department of Lands and Forests then by the Ministry of Natural Resources after reorganization in the 1970’s until 1995. While under the control of the Government of Ontario the nursery produced in excess of 310,000,000 seedlings for plantings in Southern Ontario.
In 1995 it was determined that seedling production was no longer in the mandate of the government and over the next few years all Ontario provincial government nurseries were either closed, sold or leased.
The G. Howard Ferguson Forest Station stopped operating in 1995 and lay uncared for except for volunteer workers until the Township of Oxford on Rideau purchased it in the fall of 1997.
Between 1995 and 1997 there was a concerted effort by volunteer, local organization, local townships and the Eastern Ontario Model Forest to save the Forest Station. Volunteers tried to control weed conditions in the fields and meetings were held with government officials to determine if the station could be reopened or purchased. The local township had first option to purchase the property and they decided to do that in the fall of 1997. Since that time ownership reverted to the amalgamated Township of North Grenville.
During the winter of 1997/8 the township put a board of directors in place to reopen and operate the Forest Station and in February 1998 a contractor was hired to operate the Station under the direction of the board of directors.
The board of director’s mandate was to operate the station in such a way as to pay off the purchase debt while continuing to provide tree seedlings to sustain Community Forests in the Agroforestry Community.
In the fall of 2000 it was determined that the Forest Station would be better suited to operate separate from the township as a not-for-profit corporation. On November 7, 2000 the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations granted “Letters Patent” to the Ferguson Forest Centre Corporation as a not-for-profit corporation. Any profits that may be made by the Forest Centre would not go into the pockets of individuals but into local environmental education, recreational and conservation efforts. This corporation then entered a lease agreement with the Township of North Grenville to take over most of the lands and buildings for the operation of a nursery.
Since incorporation the Forest Centre has expanded its product lines to include: Bareroot Stock, Container Stock, Potted Stock and Small size Caliper Stock. The diversification has helped to improve the Centre’s ability to cover costs and deal with development expenses. The Centre has also become a recreational centre for outdoor enthusiasts that participate in everything from walking to cross country skiing and dog sledding. The Centre has taken on the management of surrounding forested lands and is re-establishing the trail system that ran through the nursery and adjacent lands. The Centre is also trying to establish an arboretum on its lands and is trying to promote educational opportunities.
The Ferguson Forest Centre plans to continue to produce a variety of high quality, cost effective nursery stock, for the enhancement of both the urban and rural forest environments well into the future.