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Ontario Nature's 86th Annual Gathering

June 2 – 4, 2017

Kempenfelt Conference Centre, Innisfil

Registration is now closed.


For more information about the weekend’s activities, please see our Program at a Glance.

Registration Packages

Accommodation Packages

What’s included?

Weekend Package

Meals and accommodations for two nights, two workshops, wine and cheese reception, dinner banquet, keynote presentation and one field trip with lunch

Saturday Night Package

Meals and accommodations for one night, two workshops, wine and cheese reception, dinner banquet and keynote presentation

Non-accommodation packages

What's included?

Saturday Workshop Package

Lunch, refreshments and your choice of two Saturday workshops

Saturday Evening Package

Dinner banquet and keynote presentation

Field Trip Package

One field trip and lunch


The Annual General Meeting, Conservation Awards Ceremony and wine and cheese reception are included in all of the registration packages. Please let us know if you'll be attending.

Please see below for more details regarding the accommodations, field trips, workshops and presenters.   

Workshop & Field Trip Descriptions

Nature Workshops run twice on Saturday, June 3rd, so you will have the opportunity to participate in two workshops. The morning session runs from 10:00 to 11:45 a.m. and the afternoon session runs from 1:15 to 3:00 p.m.



How You Can Help Win the War Against Invasive Plants

How to deal with invasive plant species can be a widely debated topic, as suggested plans range from “do nothing and see what happens” to “all hands on deck”. This presentation will look at the methods used by the Couchiching Conservancy Land Trust as they become entangled with invasive plants. From garlic mustard, dog-strangling vine and phragmites reed, learn how to successfully manage these pesky plants. Workshop leader, David Hawke, is the Stewardship Program Manager with the Couchiching Conservancy land trust.

Difficulty level: Low

What Lies Beneath the Waves? Dipping into Lake Simcoe to Find Fish, Mollusks and Arthropods

We'll wade into the shallows of Lake Simcoe to search for small fish and invertebrate life - the tremendously important small animals that sustain birds, mammals, turtles and larger fish. Captured creatures will be gently brought to shore and placed in aquariums and containers for closer inspection and identification, before being returned to their homes. If you plan to be part of the collecting team, please wear boots or shoes you don't mind getting wet. Don Scallen, a life-long naturalist and President of the Halton/North Peel Naturalist Club, will be leading this workshop.

Difficulty level: Low

Retire Your Lawnmower! Learn to Garden with Native Mosses

Bryophytes, a category that includes mosses, liverworts and other non-vascular plants, are an ideal choice for Ontario gardens. They are extraordinarily resilient and can survive in both extreme cold, extreme hot and dry weather. Join naturalist Bob Bowles to learn about how moss gardens can be a low-maintenance, environmentally-friendly alternative to grass lawns. During the session you will also learn about the Ontario Master Naturalists Program where Bob teaches participants the ecological value of mosses and how to incorporate them into landscaping.

Difficulty level: Low

Dive into the Fascinating World of Freshwater Mussels

Workshop leader Dr. Todd J. Morris will provide an overview of this fascinating yet often overlooked group. Through the use of underwater video footage we will explore the world of one of North America’s most endangered groups and learn about what makes them work, what role they play in aquatic ecosystems and why they are rapidly disappearing across the continent.  Special emphasis will be placed on the complex reproductive strategies which have evolved in this group to facilitate their requisite parasitic life history. Learn about the morphological characters used to identify these animals in the field and practice your ID skills on a collection of Ontario species.

Difficulty level: Low

Reptiles and Amphibians of South Lake Simcoe

Join Ontario Nature conservation staff and discover the frogs, turtles, snakes and salamanders that call the south Lake Simcoe area home. During your explorations, you'll learn about the importance of amphibians as indicator species for ecosystem health. You'll also learn about the Ontario Reptile & Amphibian Atlas and ways you can contribute wildlife data to it.

Difficulty level: Low

Back to Nature: Learn About Natural Restoration Projects in Barrie

This workshop will run from 10:30am to 2:30pm and will be offered only once.

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority is restoring natural areas in and around Barrie, and they invite you to see some of their work. This session is an off site workshop that will showcase a number of restoration initiatives in Innisfil and an urban naturalization project in Barrie. The workshop will start in Centennial Park in Innisfil where participants will see a series of newly-created habitat features along a restored section of Lovers Creek. After lunch in the park, the group will travel to Unity Christian High School which has had a significant portion of its pavement replaced with green space and native gardens. Ontario Nature will provide lunch and transportation to and from the restoration sites.

Difficulty level: Low


Field trips run on Sunday, June 4th from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Participants will be picked up and dropped off at Kempenfelt Conference Centre.

Field Trips


Hike the Minesing Wetland - now full-

Join the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority for a hiking tour of the internationally significant Minesing Wetlands. The hike will start along the Mad River as it enters the Minesing Wetlands.  From a lookout tower, participants will have views of farm fields, the wetland, a habitat creation project and the Mad River diversion project. The tour will continue through the historic Fort Willow onto the Trans Canada Trail to the Minesing Wetlands lookout featuring an incredible view of the wetland. Time permitting, participants will also tour the Meadow Mouse Trail near a popular canoe launch location.

Difficulty level: Low to moderate

Discover the Plovers of Wasaga Beach

Wasaga Beach is a haven for endangered piping plovers. After an exceptional year in 2016 (14 chicks fledged) the plovers are back and Wasaga Beach’s Plover Guardians are hard at work ensuring another successful year for the birds. Come out and learn about these vulnerable and endearing shorebirds, the threats they face and the work that’s being done to protect them. You will get to view adult plovers and their nesting sites from a safe distance while learning about how park staff balances the needs of the birds with the recreational activities of park visitors.

Difficulty level: Low

The Butterflies of Carden Alvar

The Carden Alvar is an outstanding example of globally-threatened alvar habitat, and has been identified as a key biodiversity area within the Great Lakes. Join seasoned naturalist Bob Bowles to discover the many butterfly species that live in this unique landscape, including the rare mottled duskywing. During the excursion, you will learn about the native plants that various butterflies feed on and some of the dragonfly species that call the Carden Alvar home.

Difficulty level: Low

In Search of Trumpeter Swans at Wye Marsh

Come out to Wye Marsh to learn about their successful trumpeter swan reintroduction program that has been running for more than 25 years. Trumpeter swans lived in the Wye Valley before their extirpation from eastern Ontario 200 years ago. The day will start with a voyageur-style canoe trip though the marsh to try and see these magnificent birds up close. The canoe tour will be followed by a guided hike along the marsh boardwalk to view some of the other wildlife that calls the marsh home and to learn about Wye Marsh’s other stewardship work.

Difficulty level: Moderate

Bruce Trail Interpretive Hike

Join Ontario Nature to explore part of Dufferin Hi-Lands section that runs between Mono Centre and Lavender. Hardwood forests dominate the Dufferin Hi-Land section of the world-famous Bruce Trail and it also has an abundance of rare ferns. Along the way you’ll learn about the natural history of the area, and the diverse species and habitats that can be found in the surrounding fields and forest.

Difficulty level: High



The Kempenfelt Conference Centre is located just 45 minutes north of Toronto on beautiful Kempenfelt Bay, Lake Simcoe. The 20-acre property features 11,500-square-feet of meeting space, 1,400 feet of private shoreline and an abundance of natural woodland.

All accommodations are on-site. Both single and double occupancy accommodations are available (please note: single occupancy is limited and we encourage double occupancy if possible). All guest rooms are equipped with coffee/tea maker, hair dryer, iron, ironing board, phone and alarm clock radio.

Kempenfelt Conference Centre has a number of facilities that are available for your use including a hot tub, eight-seat sauna, pool tables, dart boards, shuffleboards, tennis court, basketball & volleyball courts, swimming, golf driving nets and more.



Keynote Presentations

Dr. Martyn Obbard will be delivering the Saturday night keynote presentation. Dr. Obbard was a research scientist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and is an adjunct professor in the Environmental and Life Sciences graduate program at Trent University. He earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Western Ontario, followed by his M.Sc. and Ph.D. at the University of Guelph. Dr. Obbard's research focuses on population dynamics, habitat use, movement patterns and the effects of climate change on polar bears in the Hudson Bay Lowlands of Ontario. He is one of the Canadian members of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group and is a Chair of the Canadian Federal/Provincial/ Territorial Polar Bear Technical Committee. Dr. Obbard became interested in the North in 1967 when he had the opportunity to work as a summer assistant studying Canada Geese and Snow Geese, 45km south of the village of Arviat (previously Eskimo Point) in Nunavut, formerly the Northwest Territories.

Julee Boan will be delivering a keynote presentation before the workshops begin on Saturday June 3rd. Julee leads Ontario Nature’s Boreal Program and will be delivering a presentation before workshops begin on Saturday. She works collaboratively with First Nations, industry and local conservation groups to seek environmentally responsible approaches to economic development in northern Ontario. She completed a Ph.D. in forest sciences with research focused on mitigating timber harvesting impacts on woodland caribou. For the past nine years, Julee has also served as a board member of Environment North. She sat on Thunder Bay's Climate Change Adaptation Working Group, and co-chaired the Forest and Freshwater Food committee for the Thunder Bay Food Strategy. When she isn't pounding the pavement advocating for environmental sustainability, she putters at her hobby farm and shares her love of the outdoors in northern Ontario with her son Simon Sweetwater.

*Speaker presentation descriptions are TBA

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to contact Kempenfelt Conference Centre to book accommodations, or will Ontario Nature do this on my behalf?
A: Ontario Nature has booked all of the accommodations at Kempenfelt Conference Centre. If you have registered for one of our accommodation packages, Ontario Nature will assign your room(s) depending on what you have chosen for your accommodation.

Q: Are only Ontario Nature members welcome to attend the Annual General Meeting on Saturday, June 3rd at 3:30 p.m.?
A: Both Ontario Nature members and non-members are welcome to join this meeting, however only Ontario Nature members are allowed to vote at the meeting. If you are interested in becoming a member of Ontario Nature, please visit our membership page here, or feel free to contact us at 1-800-440-2366 ext. 233. Our Member Relations Coordinator, Portia Mohlmann, would be happy to assist you.

Q: I would only like to attend the Annual General Meeting. Can I register for only this part of the weekend?
A: Yes, you can register for only this part of the weekend. Please call our Administrative Assistant, Christine Ambre, at 1-800-440-2366 ext. 234.

Q: Is it possible to customize my registration?
A: We will try our best to accommodate your needs. Please call Jaklynn Nimec at 1-800-440-2366 ext. 271 or email at jaklynn@ontarionature.org.

Q: I do not drive or have access to a car. Are there any other transportation options for getting to and back from the event venue?
A: Where possible, please try to arrange a carpool with others. If this is not possible, please call Jaklynn Nimec at 1-800-440-2366 ext. 271 to be put on a list for a potential shuttle or carpool. We will try our very best to accommodate your needs.

For any other questions or concerns please contact Jaklynn Nimec at jaklynn@ontarionature.org or 1-800-440-2366, 416-444-8419 ext. 271

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to receive more updates about our 86th Annual Gathering.

To learn about past annual gatherings, please click here.


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