This history of our club appeared in the 50th Anniversary edition of our club publication the Blue Heron
I am indebted to the work of Betty Hill in compiling several scrapbooks from a collection of clippings and photos donated by Anastasia Hughes. Then Betty and her friends added to it. Without this collection, our history may well have been lost.
On January 28, 1951 a nomination meeting to bring in a slate of officers was set up by a group of interested people who met at the Community House with the aim of forming a field naturalists' club in Barrie. About 15 people attended and it was reported that at least another 20 were interested. The committee was comprised of William A. Bell, Chairman; Miss Anastasia Hughes, Russell Dingman, and Mrs. Fran Westman. Mr. Bell pointed out that things to be considered in the formation of the group are a name, objects and aims, membership, officers and meetings.
The constitution and name committee was comprised of Miss Hughes, Dr. E. G. Bilkey, Mr. A. Cockburn, and Mrs. R. S. Carmen. Harry Morgan suggested that children could be brought in later if they showed an interest in subjects related to nature studies.
February 1951 (the exact date is not recorded other than it was a Thursday) (Thursdays in February 1951 were the 1st, 8th, 15th and 22nd) the Brereton Field Naturalists' Club of Barrie was formed by thirty-five people meeting at the Community House. It was noted "that besides serving hobby and conservation purposes the club would perpetuate the memory and work of the late Dr. E. L. Brereton, distinguished Barrie naturalist, who gave encouragement to many of the members in their pursuit of this interest."
The first officers of the Club were as follows: Hon. President, Major Mark Robinson (long associated with Dr. Brereton and field studies in Algonquin Park) President - William A. Bell First Vice-President - Mrs. Fran Westman 2nd Vice-President - Dr. E. G. Bilkey Secretary-Treasurer - Miss Anastasia Hughes Directors - Mrs. R. S. Carmen, Mr. A. B. Cockburn, Mr. Russell G. Dingman, Mrs. J. H. Gable, and Mr. Harry Morren.
Meetings were to be held on the fourth Monday of each month. The annual dues were set at $1.00 per adult and 50 cents for juniors. It should be noted that Russell Dingman was one of the original twelve founders of the Toronto Field Naturalists' Club.
The new executive was quickly off the mark and scheduled the first field trip for Saturday March 24th leaving at 9 a.m. and returning at noon. Members were to meet at Queen's Park, at the intersection of Ross and Toronto Streets.
One regular excursion was to be held each month at 2 p.m. on the Saturday following the fourth Monday of each month.
With that we were up and running and have been for 50 years. Congratulations to all members past and present and an expression of gratitude to those original thirty-five individuals who had the foresight and enthusiasm to launch our organization.
It is interesting to note that on our 25th anniversary a listing of the Charter Members was compiled. They were able to record 25 names of the original 35. They were Wm. A. Bell, Mrs. R. S. Carmen, Alan Carmichael, Mr. & Mrs. A. B. Cockburn, Mrs. Jean Gable, Mrs. Eva Fisher, Miss Anastasia Hughes, Dr. R. E. Ives, Mrs. S. E. Lewis, Alf Mitchener, Mrs. J.Sheppard, Mrs. Fran Westman, Russell G. Dingman, Harry Morren, Dr. E. G. Bilkey, Harold Webb, A. D. Schneider, Miss E. Petch, Frank Munroe, Miss Edna West, Major Mark Robinson, Mrs. R. S. Rollis, Mr. P. Bingham, and Mr. J. Gilmore.