In 1984 the Schipper family purchased a 100- acre abandoned farm on the west shore of Pigeon Lake. The area was first farmed in the mid 1800s, which soon proved to be a poor idea, since much of the Kawartha's topography is composed of glacial till, primarily sand and gravel with a very thin layer of topsoil.
This particular farm slopes from west to east towards the lake. The prevailing wind is coming from the west. Within 50 years the cleared forests had lost their arable soil to wind and water erosion and was abandoned. Such farms were called "refuse farms". The Schipper family wanted to protect thisland from development.
The first step then was to allow the land to revert to its natural state, as it would have been when indigenous peoples lived here. With the guidance of local environmental organizations, planting stock provided by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the help of local scouting organizations, family, friends and other volunteers, hundreds of native trees were planted on the property.
The planting programs were repeated for a few years until a good mix of native trees were established and natural succession could occur. When the property was sufficiently forested, about 10 km of trails were cut for hiking, skiing, horseback riding and for nature walks under a tree canopy. Indigenous fauna are continually re-populating the area. Many including foxes, porcupines, deer, and other animals are seen now.
Of course, with our location beside the water and with 30 acres of an ANSI (Area of Natural and Scientific Interest) and provincially significant wetland, regularly many animals that spend time in the water and on land are seen: frogs and toads are abundant, and often signs of beaver, mink, otters and other semi-aquatic mammals are found. While this habitat rehabilitation was occurring, the property was placed in a Land Trust which will ensure that it would be protected as a conservation area.
The Schippers opened it up to the public, so the community could enjoy the natural habitat in perpetuity, no matter who owned the property. In fact, this was the first gift to the Kawartha Heritage Conservancy, a regional Land Trust, helping to launch that organization.
Next, with the Pigeon Lake Environmental Association Ms. Schipper established Gamiing Nature Centre as a separate, charitable organization with a Board of Directors to guide the activities on the property. Gamiing, pronounced gaa-'ming which is Ojibwa meaning "at the shore". That name was chosen to honour those who lived on the land before us and to indicate that the organization works on shoreline projects.