A Brief History of the Kingston Field Naturalists: 1949 to 1954
by Robert B. Stewart
On March 31, 1949, a group of 22 people interested in Natural History met in the Agricultural Board Room of the Ontario Government Bui1ding on Barrie St., at the invitation of Dr. George M. Stirrett. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the formation of a nature club. An interim committee was formed comprised of the following: Chairman, Dr. G.M. Stirrett; Secretary, Dr. R.G.S. Bidwell; members, Dr. H.W. Curran, Mr. W.G. Lamb, Mr. C.M. Crawford and Mrs. T. Boardman. At this meeting the committee agreed to form a constitution for the prospective club. A meeting was planned for the following autumn, as well as two intervening field trips. The first field trip held on April 23 at the Collins Bay marshes was not an auspicious beginning, with heavy rain and only five in attendance. The second field trip held on June 1 at Collins Lake was much more successful, with fifteen attending, and all looking forward to the first meeting in the fall.
This first regular meeting was held on Nov. 24, 1949 with an attendance of nine. The Chairman of the interim committee presented a constitution which was similar in many respects to that of the Kent Nature Club in Chatham, Ontario. The club was to be called the Kingston Nature Club and its purpose "to acquire, record and disseminate knowledge of Natural History; to stimulate public interest in Nature, and in the protection and preservation of wildlife." The election of officers was held over to the following meeting, when, it was hoped, there would be a larger attendance. This meeting took place on Dec. 6, and the first executive was elected: Pres., Dr. G.M. Stirrett; Vice-Pres., Mrs. T. Boardman; Sec.-Treas., Dr. R.G.S. Bidwell, with Mrs. W.G. Lamb, Mr. W.E. Edwards and Mr. L. Thornton serving as committee members.
The first annual meeting of the club was held on April 26, 1950, at which time a motion was unanimously carried to affiliate with the Federation of Ontario Naturalists. The Kingston Nature Club has been affiliated with the F.O.N. since this time. Two club members have served on the board of directors of the Federation, Dr. H.W. Curran was elected a member of the Board at the F.O.N. annual meeting held in Kingston on March 17 and 18, 1951, and Dr. George M. Stirrett was elected a member at the 1954 annual meeting. Mr. K.S. Clarke, also a member of our club, served as President of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters for 1951 and 1952. Thus the Kingston Nature Club has been well represented in Conservation organizations.
The activities of the Kingston Nature Club viewed in the light of the purpose of the club as defined in the constitution indicate, I think, a definite progress. The acquisition and recording of knowledge of Natural history has been well served in a weekly publication in the Kingston Whig-Standard, entitled "Local Notes on Natural History", edited by Dr. George M. Stirrett. This has since been increased to include a nature club bulletin which published its first number in March 1954. These two publications, we hope, will provide a permanent record of natural history in this area. The club meetings have always been held open to the public, and often attendance at these meetings has been double the club membership. The Club field activities have been limited to field trips including the Annual Christmas Bird Census, and assisting` in the mid-winter waterfowl inventory. Club members have participated in Chimney Swift and Gull banding and Wood Duck nesting boxes have been erected. The Club membership has increased from 16 in 1949-50 to about 50 in 1954, and it is sincerely to be hoped that, with over half of these members active in the field, more field projects can be successfully undertaken.