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HCA Timeline

1938 - Grand River Conservation Commission is formed.  This is the precursor to Conservation Authorities.
  - Royal Botanical Gardens are formed by provincial act of parliament. Total size is 486 ha (now 1100)
1941 - Guelph Conference of Ontario environmental groups agree to the need for locally formed conservation/watershed management authorities
1942 - Shand Dam constructed by Grand River CA; first multi-purpose dam and reservoir in Canada.
1946 - Provincial government passes Conservation Authorities Act.
  - Ausable Bayfield and Etobicoke Creek are the first Conservation Authorities to be formed
1953 - Fanshawe Dam is constructed. It is the first dam constructed by an official Conservation Authority.
  - Flooding in Dundas
1954 - Hurricane Hazel kills 81 people and causes 20 million in damage (1954 dollars)
1958 - Townships of West Flamborough and Ancaster, with the Town of Dundas petitioned the province on the creation of a conservation authority body to deal with Spencer Creek watershed
  - Spencer Creek Conservation Authority formed. Meeting held in Greensville. Les Couldrey is the first chairman.  It's Ontario's smallest CA.
  - First series of projects undertaken by Spencer Creek Conservation Authority include: development of Crooks Hollow, Beverly Swamp Conservation Area, Reforestation Project, Valens Conservation Area, Christie Reservoir, Flood Management Control - Ancaster Creek, Copetown Bog (later renamed Summit Bog), Tew’s Falls Conservation Area
  - First land purchased by the SCCA  was the McDonaugh Farm in Beverly. Land contained stream, woods, fish and wildlife. 
  - In-depth surveys of the watershed to identify the significant lands begin. 
1959 - SCCA's budget for 1959 is $20,000
1960 - First fill regulation passed July 18, 1960. No dumping of fill below high water mark of any water body without permit or instruction from SCCA.  Three violations are noted from July 18 to Sept 10
  - SCCA issues its first report; recommends flood improvement along Spencer creek. 
1961 - SCCA's 1961 budget is $35,000
  - Tews and Valens schemes (master plans) are approved
  - Westfield Pioneer Village Association begins construction of village and sends out call for pioneer heritage buildings
  - Valens land purchase begins.  Five farms (or parts of) totalling 270 acres are purchased at a cost of $43,260
1962 - SCCA's 1962 budget is $36,550.  $22,000 applied to last year's Valens purchase, $4,000 for Beverly property, $2800 for Christie property, $250 for Tews land options, $7500 for expenses.
  - The birth of stewardship with tree planting services offered free on 2 acres or more (trees not included) and subsidization of small dam costs. 35,000 trees planted this year on private land, 35,000 on Authority land
  - Hamilton approached about joining SCCA in order to increase revenue and lower per capita levy. Hamilton is the only major city in Ontario not involved in watershed CA program.
  - SCCA's 1962 annual report is an in depth study of Red Hill Creek watershed. It's identified as most significant natural area in the City of Hamilton.
1963 - First stream gauges are installed in Spencer Creek
  - Red Hill Valley Parkway is part of traffic and transportation plan for Hamilton
  - The Bruce Trail opens
  - Copetown Bog scheme introduced.  Westfield Heritage Village is opened under the direction of Westfield Pioneer Village Association.
  - Public outreach and education identified as vital role, first programs initiated - logo competition amongst local high schools and essay competition in public schools.
  - James B Dewhurst, 12, wins SCCA's first essay contest
  - Valens opened to public a few cars at a time, with the provision that they didn't bother the farmers or litter.  An additional 140 acres are purchased for Valens.
  - SCCA uses powers of expropriation to prevent Copetown Bog (Muskeg Preserve) from being sold to peat miner. 
  - Stoney Creek and Saltfleet agree in principle to join SCCA.  
  - Dry summer (drought) causes peat fires in Beverly Swamp.  The provincial government and conservation authorities focus on water management.
1964 - Tom Beckett becomes chairman. 
  - Introduction of SCCA's Fish and Wildlife Advisory Board.
  - At this time there were no parks or conservation areas or any recreational area like Valens along Spencer Creek.  Webster's Park is the only one available and quite overcrowded at times.
  - With donation from West Hamilton Kiwanis Club and Provincial Government, 29 acres at Tews Falls is purchased.  A trail is built to Dundas Peak built and Spencer Gorge Wilderness Area is opened up to Hamilton residents.
  - John Coates hired as first paid employee of SCCA.  He is a technical planner working out of Halton since SCCA had no office yet. Meetings were held above a chinese restaurant in Hamilton
  - George Cook's 1840 two-storey log cabin (last in Hamilton area) restored and moved to Valens as historical museum
  - SCCA leases Dundas Dam (Crook's Hollow) from Dundas PUC for 50 years.
  - Christie Scheme introduced. SCCA lobbies hard for the next few months for the City of Hamilton to join them.
  - Sod Turning at Valens with Les Couldrey officiating.  SCCA also receives $2000 grant to study Christie Dam project
  - Purchase of Tiplady property at Webster's Falls
1965 - Valens Dam construction throughout the year
  - City of Hamilton approves joining SCCA.  They have additional representation on authority because of vast population differences and financial contributions.  There are 9 members from Hamilton, 9 members from Dundas, Puslinch, Ancaster, Flamboro, Beverly, Saltfleet, Stoney Creek, Binbrook, and 3 from the provincial government.
  - Christie Dam project is revised to protect Darnley Mill Ruins.
1966 - Ben Vanderbrug starts with SCCA as resource manager.  He will become general manager in 1970.
  - Spencer Story, written by Thomas M. Thompson, is published.
  - Provincial government approves Christie dam plans
  - Ontario legistlature passes bill to dissolve SCCA and create Hamilton Region Conservation Authority
  - Tax levy is $1 per capita.  HRCA's total budget is $400,000
  - Watershed covered 171 square miles with a population of 319,790
  - The last meeting of SCCA held, followed immediately by first meeting of HRCA.  This is the official formation of the Hamilton Region Conservation.  It's made up of the Spencer Creek Conservation Authority's watershed plus the City of Hamilton, Town of Stoney Creek, and portions of the Township of Saltfleet.
  - Watershed tour is held for new Hamilton membership. They visited watershed sites and Kelso to see what Valens would be one day.
  - Valens lake is filling up.  Wildlife are beginning to habitate the area.  The groundwater levels rise and dry wells in area begin free-flowing.
  - Beginning of stewardship programs.  HRCA holds first discussions on easements, building and zoning restrictions and engaging landowners to use land in a manner consistent with environmental protection.
  - Hamilton and Halton CAs begin talks with the provincial government on buying escarpment properties.  The project would be called a "Greenbelt".
  - Christie Dam plans presented to council.
1967 - Engineers are hired to build Christie Dam. Province approves project and provides 75% of land acquisition cost and construction.
  - Dundas Valley made an official scheme (master plan) to save valley lands
  - First public mention of Dundas Bypass (a proposed highway through the Dundas Valley).  Planners require objections to be registered by two weeks after announcement. 
  - Hamilton City Council votes 10 - 3 to oppose bypass.  It's also opposed by community groups and HRCA.
  - 3000 acre Dundas Valley plan approved by board
  - Spencer Gorge Wilderness Area officially opens.  It's the HRCA's first official opening of a conservation area. Canada Cut and Crushed Stone donates 24 acres to HRCA.
  - Authority buys Tiffany Falls (Bulmer Falls) from Mrs C. F. Bulmer.  They also purchase 99 acres in Beverly and 174 acres for Christie.
  - HRCA considers a hunting area for Valens and pollution in Cootes/Desjardins canal
1968 - Valens beach construction begins
  - Maplewood is purchased from the the Anglican Church.  The building will be restored and used as resource centre.  
  - Westfield is purchased by Wentworth County and renamed the Wentworth Pioneer Village.
  - Official opening ceremony for Valens is held.
  - Valens Conservation Area opens to the public.  It's 528 acres, parking fees are $1 per car, a season pass is $10.  Valens Fishing Derby is planned.  It will be the first official HRCA public event.
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 1,766 acres
1969 - HRCA acquires Darnley Mill site.
  - First year of active land acquisition for the HRCA.  They acquire 633 acres in Beverly Swamp, 167 acres for Christie project, 142 acres on the lake (Fifty Point), 200 acres in Dundas Valley, 156 acres at Borer's Falls and lands in the Red Hill Valley (Mt Albion Conservation Area), and the Devil's Punchbowl.
  - Crook's Hollow Conservation Area opens.
  - Tiffany Falls Conservation Area opens
  - Completion of Crook's Hollow Dam restoration.
  - Property in Dundas Valley is acquired from the Anglican Church for $25/acre.  A substantial education program begins.
  - Copetown Muskeg Preserve's name is changed to Summit Muskeg Preserve.  
  - Ontario government announces a $31 million Niagara Escarpment Plan.  There is a 75% subsidy on escarpment lands.
  - Department of Lands and Forests authorizes HRCA to engage in wildlife management.  Gertler Commission reports on Niagara Escarpment lands is a road block for the Dundas Bypass.  The Niagara Escarpment Commission is proposed.  
  - Niagara Escarpment Conservation Area (now Borer's Falls) opens
  - Plans for the Dundas Bypass are put on the shelf after two years of studies, alternate routes, costs, opposition, public meetings and objections.  The project is not revived.
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 2836 acres.  They acquired 1070 acres in 1969 .
1970 - Dundas Valley Conservation Area is opened
  - Christie Dam construction begins at a cost of $750,000.
  - There is a growing movement to protect Escarpment lands and lakefront properties from developers, quarries and private interests.  The pollution in Cootes and Hamilton Harbour become hot topics.  Society begins to take note of vast pollution issues
  - Bill Powell becomes Chairman.
  - Valens campsites developed
  - The inception of the Students’ Park Fund. Over the next 10 years, they raise $60,000 for 300 acres of land, Cootes Cleanup, wood duck boxes and trail cleanups.  the group won acclaim and awards and inspired student and school environmental support across the province.  Their purchases include areas in the Dundas Valley (36 acres near Martin's Road, 53 acres near Cramer Road and 36 acres on McNeilly Road.  With the provincial subsidies of 75% for escarpment lands, their $70,000 turned into $280,000 of buying power.
  - Woodend, the administrative Headquarters for HRCA, is donated by George Donald.  
  - Initial developments at Fifty Point Conservation Area begin.  There is an acquisition of 142 acres
  - Resource Management Centre officially opens
1971 - Devil's Punchbowl Conservation Area opens.
  - Christie Dam is completed and testing begins.  The flood controls are effective for that year's spring runoff.
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 3800 acres
  - Environmental Protection Act passed
  - HRCA announces their five-year plan to acquire 12,000 acres.
  - Rechannelization/erosion improvements to Sydenham, Ancaster, Ann Street, Lower Spencer, and Stoney creeks are studied.
  - Felker's Falls Plan approved
1972 - Christie Lake Conservation Area plan is set in place and development begins.
  - Red Hill Creek Conservation Area (later Mount Albion Conservation Area) is officially opened
  - The first campsites open at Valens.
  - A swimming curtain that will allow chlorination of the swimming area is tested at Valens.  It is the first like it in Canada and is patented by John Coates.
  - Crooks Hollow Historical Area interpretation completed
  - HRCA gets right to enforce and monitor fill regulations for Hamilton Harbour.
  - Board of Education leases area at Christie for outdoor education.  An education centre is established.
  - Offical opening of Woodend as HRCA administrative office.  
  - The Conservation Assistance Program provides assistance to landowners with reforestation, erosion control, habitat improvement and conservation ponds
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 4063 acres 
1973 - Construction of major trail system in Dundas Valley begins.
  - HRCA successfully lobbies for diversion of the Highway 52 plan around the Copetown Bog.  The bog is 15-18,000 years old and was formed by glacier fragment.  It features rare wildlife and unique geology.  
  - Jurisdiction of Conservation Authorities is transferred from the Ministry of the Environment to the Ministry of Natural Resources.  There is a 2% cutback on funding.
  - Sport fishing facilities are increased substantially at Valens and Crooks Hollow Conservaion Areas.
  - There is a major storm event with flooding and erosion on the lakeshore across Ontario.  Landowners lost up to 30 feet of shoreline in some areas.  The issue becomes provincial project under the Ministry of Natural Resources.
  - First Conservation Skills Camp is offered at Resource Management Centre
  - A bill is introduced to form the Niagara Escarpment Commision
  - Alan Stacey is appointed to HRCA board
  - Valens swimming curtain is installed.  
  - The idea of a foundation is researched and presented to the board.  
  - Plans are introduced to open path from the Gatehouse Museum to the Hermitage Ruins and for the protection of the Ruins.  The Dundas Valley trail system established.  It is  20 km in total.  
  - Rechannelization of Spencer Creek, Ann Street and Sydenham Creeks through Dundas begins.  
  - Development of Christie Conservation Area is well underway.
  - Vinemount Consevation Area opens.  The property is location on the escarpment edge of the west side of McNeilly Road.  
  - Niagara Escarpment Commission is officially formed.
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 4492.7 acres.  There are 24 permanent staff members and 14 conservation areas.
1974 - Red Hill Valley Property is renamed Mount Albion Conservation Area.
  - Christie Lake Conservation Area opens.  Admission is $2 per vehicle and 50¢ to walk in, $10 per busload ($15 on weekends) or $20 for a season pass.  An old-fashioned sawmill is a major attraction.
  - Fifty Point's pond opened to trout fishermen.
  - Hermitage Ruins are capped and repointed
  - Hamilton-Wentworth Waterfront Study completed
  - Pleasant Valley land is donated. Land acquisition continues in all areas. 
  - The Plans for Sulphur Springs Station (Trail Centre) at the Dundas Valley are introduced.
  - Dundas Valley is now 1,300 acres.  The goal is 3,000 total.
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 4982 acres
1975 - Educational programming begins at the Merrick Field Centre (Dundas Valley).
  - Provincial grants are cut, delaying the development of Fifty Point.  The budget goes from $2 million to $1.1 million with an additional 20% reduction in the municipal levy. Some other capital projects are delayed.
  - Mount Albion Community Gardens are opened.
  - Hermitage Gatehouse interpretive centre is opened
  - The Conservation Foundation of the Hamilton Region, the fundraising arm of the HRCA, is formed.
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 5205 acres. 
  - The official signing ceremony/application for incorporation is held for the Conservation Foundation of the Hamilton Region.
  - 38 acres are purchased for Felker's Falls.
  - Governor's Road Conservation Area is absorbed into Dundas Valley CA
1976 - Additional funding from government allows Fifty Point plans to go ahead.  Valens gets chlorination in swimming area.
  - Sensitive Areas Study identifies the Dundas Valley as the most unique among all Niagara Escarpment areas.  There are 31,000 acres identified in the Hamilton Region.
  - Construction begins on Dundas Valley Trail Centre
  - A storm half the strength of Hurricase Hazel hits the area.  The Christie Dam and rechannelization efforts prevent major flooding in Dundas.
  - HRCA offers steam locomotive trip from Hamilton to Brantford with a stop and ceremony at Sulphur Springs Station (not yet complete).
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 5325 acres
1977 - Construction of Fifty Point landspit begins.  It extends 400 feet out into Lake Ontario.  
  - HRCA gets its first computer, linked to McMaster University's.  
  - First Valens Ice Cutting Festival goes ahead, cutting ice for the Westfield Icehouse. 
  - Dundas Valley now has 20 miles of trails open to public
  - Plans for the expansion of the Woodend office are announced.
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 5439 acres. Escarpment land subsidy is cut from 75% to 50%
1978 - Acquistion of Puslinch Wetlands Reserve
  - Expansion plans for Woodend (HCA administration office) are approved
  - Dundas Valley Trail Centre (Sulphur Springs Station) is officially opened
  - Merrick Orchard opens.
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 5547 acres
1979 - Negotiations begin with City of Hamilton for the operation of Confederation Park.  An agreement is made and the HRCA takes over its management.
  - First Dundas Valley photo contest is held.
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 5612 acres
1980 - Archie McCoy is appointed HRCA Chairman. Bill Powell is elected Mayor of Hamilton.
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 5885 acres.  Part of the future Fletcher Creek property is purchased as well as additions to existing areas.
1981 - Wentworth Pioneer Village is renamed Wentworth Heritage Village
  - Student Park Fund is now 10 years old. They have raised more than $60,000 and purchased 300 acres of Escarpment Lands through HRCA.
  - Budgets slashed by 24%, set back to 1975 level.
  - Development of marina at Fifty Point
  - HRCA takes over Webster's Falls Park management from the City of Hamilton.
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 6433 acres
1982 - Development of day-use beachfront area at Confederation Park begins.
  - The concept for a wave action pool at Confederation Park is approved.
  - Park admission fees are raised.  Admission to Valens is now $4 a car.
  - Farmer Property (now Fieldcote Museum) is donated to HRCA
  - Wave pool construction begins.
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 6540 acres
1983 - Budget cut by 30%
  - Ollie the Otter is introduced as mascot for WWW
  - Fifty Point Marina opens
  - Official opening of Wild Waterworks.      
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 6553 acres
1984 - An expanded marina building with a food concession area is built at Christie.
  - Official opening of Fifty Point Conservation Area.
  - Official opening of wheelchair-accessible Peter Street trail at Felker's Falls.  
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 6595.25 acres
1985 - President of China visits Confederation Park
  - First Christie Lake Float Fly, where radio controlled airplanes land and take off from the lake.
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 6596.23 acres
1986 - Powell pavilion at Valens Conservation Area constructed
  - HRCA owns/manages/leases 6998.39 acres
1987 - Official opening of Fieldcote Museum 
  - All flood-susceptible areas in Hamilton are identified. 
  - Wheelchair accessible fishing pond is created at Christie Lake
  - Fletcher Creek quarry area is purchased from Steeley Quarries.
1988 - HCA purchases Griffin House property
  - Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area opened
  - Little Squirt Works opens at Wild Waterworks
  - HRCA assumes management responsibilities for Wentworth Heritage Village  
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 7487.97 acres
1989 - The Beach House at Valens undergoes improvements
  - The Griffin House is identified as important historically and architecturally, especially in terms of black history. 
  - Landing Restaurant at Fifty Point Conservation Area opens.
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 7503.39 acres
1990 - Alan Stacy is elected Chairman.
  - Niagara Escarpment is declared a UNESCO world biosphere reserve. 
  - Completion of expansion at Woodend, HRCA headquarters.  The building is now 8,000+ sq. ft.
  - Adventure Village opens at Confederation Park.
  - Wentworth Heritage Village reopens
  - HRCA acquires an abandoned T.H. & B. railway line that runs from west Hamilton to Jerseyville.
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 8172 acres
1991 - Wentworth Heritage Village is renamed Westfield Heritage Village
  - 25th anniversary of HRCA
  - Fletcher Creek is designated a nature sanctuary/ecological preserve
  - Funding cutbacks begin with NDP government
  - HRCA now owns/manages/leases 8509 acres
  - Gypsy Moths become problem as invasive species
  - Ancaster High School and HRCA enter into a lifetime agreement to help preserve the environment.
1992 - HCA gets partial funding from Ministry of Culture and Communications to restore the Griffin House
  - Recycling programs are initiated at Conservation Areas.
  - Hamilton Board of Education withdraws funding for environmental education programs at Resource Management Centre
1993 - NDP further cuts budget of Conservation Authorities
  - Dedication of first km of Jerseyville Rail Trail (later the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail)
1994 - Plans unveiled for Trans Canada Trail
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 8614 acres
1995 - 70 landowners have now joined in Hamilton Harbour Watershed Stewardship programs.  Stewardship signs are introduced.
  - Griffin House officially opens to public.
  - A rare wasp found in Copetown Bog - only ever before found in Virginia.  
  - Opening of Hamilton Harbour Waterfront Trail
  - 70% budget cuts to Conservation Authorities.
  - Valens goes "dry". Alcohol is now prohibited.
  - Carp barier installed in Cootes
1996 - Merrick Field Centre is closed due to budget cutbacks. 
  - User fees are implemented in Dundas Valley.  Cost is $2 per hiker, $3 per car, $6 per horse and rider.
  - Education programs are reduced from five days a week to three.  They move to Dundas Valley Trail Centre.
  - Season's pass is now $75
  - Red Hill Valley Trail opens
  - 14 km Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail opens
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 8645 acres
1997 - HRCA website and 888 number launched
  - Lincoln Alexander Parkway opens
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 8830 acres 
1998 - First John Burns Memorial Fishing Derby at held at Valens.
  - Russ Powers appointed Chairman
  - HRCA owns/leases/manages 8995.74 acres 
1999 - HCA assumes some responsibilities from MNR under the Fisheries Act. HCA is the first of 22 CA's to sign.
  - The Tom Beckett Living Forest, located in the Dundas Valley, is officially opened.
2000 - Webster's Falls area is acquired from Town of Dundas.  HRCA now owns and manages area.
  - The drought of 1999 spurs the province to initiate a $6 million ground water testing program. Ground water stations are installed throughout HRCA's watershed.
  - Greensville Optimists restore the cobblestone bridge at Webster's as a Millenium Project
2001 - Outdoor Environmental Education is reintroduced in the Dundas Valley.
  - The City of Hamilton is amalgamated.  The number of Full Authority Board Members drops from 20 to 11.
  Mark Shurvin is appointed Chairman
  - Chris Firth Eagland becomes a board member.
  - The Resource Management Centre is renamed Maplewood and used primarily as rental facility.  It's a popular wedding spot.
  - The Lafarge 2000 and Dofasco 2000 Trails are opened.  They are the HRCA's two Millenium Projects.
  - HRCA's positioning statement, "Healthy Streams? Healthy Communities" is created.
  - HRCA is renamed the Hamilton Conservation Authority.
2002 - An outdoor education centre at Mount Albion Conservation Authority is proposed.
  - Dedication of the Stacey Meadow in Dundas Valley in honour of Alan Stacey.
  - Founding employees Ben Vanderbrug and John Coates retire. Scott Konkle, Director of Watershed Planning and Engineering takes over as HCA's 2nd GM.
  - HRCA now owns/leases/manages 9600 acres with a goal of 11,000 in next 5 years
2003 - Meadowlands Conservation Area (now Tiffany Creek Conservation Area) opens.
  - Scott Konkle steps down and Bruce Duncan becomes the 3rd GM of the HCA.
  - Property adjacent to Crooks' Hollow and Christie Lake opens as Greensville Optimist Park.
2004 - Major maintenance is carried out on Christie Dam
  - Second Outdoor Environmental Education centre opens at Mount Albion Conservation Area 
  - Chris Firth Eagland replaces Mark Shurvin as Chairman
  - Fletcher quarry is restored to  to return area to natural state
2005 - Lakeland Centre officially opens.
  - Events in their first year include Films in the Forest, Westfield's Ice Cream Festival and Dundas Valley's Equestrian Trailathon.  First edition of Cascades and Waterfalls of Hamilton brochure is printed. 
  - Fletcher Creek Ecological Preserve officially re-opened
2006 - Ontario Realty Corporation transfers the Eramosa Karst Lands to HCA.
  - The Heritage Green Community Trust donates $1.5 million dollars to development and maintenance of Eramosa Karst Conservation Area.
  - HCA GM Bruce Duncan passes away after a car accident.  
2007 - Steve Miazga becomes HCA's 4th GM
  - HCA renames a section of trail between Tews Falls and the Dundas Peak “The Shurvin Mile” in honour of Mark Shurvin, former Chairman 
  - Equestrian Trailathon raises more than $14,000 for trail maintenance and bridges in the Dundas Valley.
  - Plans for the East Mountain Trail Loop project are announced and fundraising begins.
  - HCA takes a proactive approach to ensure the sustainability of the Valley by beginning to develop a Fifty Year Vision and Strategy for the area.

50th anniversary of the Hamilton Conservation Authority.  HCA now owns/manages 10,900 acres.

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