In 1963, the Kingston Nature Club purchased 200 acres of land from the Gananoque Power and Light Corporation. This land in shield habitat along the Frontenac axis became the Otter Lake sanctuary. To own this land, the club became incorporated and changed its name to the Kingston Field Naturalists (KFN).
The mission of the Otter Lake Sanctuary was to preserve the land as nearly as possible in the same condition as it was found. In 1967, a further 100 acres were purchased and many of the trails we use now were established. Several are named for past members of the club: Roland Beschel trail, Art Bell trail, Betty Hughes trail and Faith Avis trail.
In 1981, a further 190 acres were acquired and in 1990, Vanluven Point became the last piece of the current sanctuary. Three more trails refer to features of the landscape: Boundary trail, Porcupine trail and Vanluven Point trail.
On June 11th 1995, the sanctuary was renamed the Helen Quilliam Sanctuary (HQS) in honour of Helen Quilliam, who guided the KFN for 40 years.
Three Bioblitzes(2000, 2002 and 2018) and numerous field trips have been conducted at the sanctuary over the years. Every year in April, approximately twenty volunteers gather at the quarry former site and conduct a clean-up of our trails. There are several Wood Duck boxes on the Sanctuary. They are monitored in late winter every year.
The sanctuary, now over 500 acres, consists of several areas : Mixed forest, Wetland, Rocky outcrop and Oak/Pine woodland. It is a managed forest.
Use of the Sanctuary is restricted to members and their guests exclusively.