Ian Akiwenzie, of the Chippewas of Nawash, sings a welcome song during a ceremony held on Saturday June 9, 2012 at Bruce Peninsula National Park near Tobermory to recognize Marjorie LeDrew who bequeathed $1,000,000 to the park.
Credits: JAMES MASTERS/QMI AGENCY
Now scores of others will have the opportunity to kindle a similar passion after the money was used to develop and construct a yurt campground on Cyprus Lake in Bruce Peninsula National Park in Ontario.
"Her dedication to camping has been for a long time," said LeDrew's sister Marjorie Hunter, who was present for the official opening of the 10-yurt campground on Saturday where a commemorative sign in LeDrew's honour was unveiled. "She loved it. She loved the people aspect of it and she loved the campfire. She loved to be around that."
The LeDrew gift, the largest donation to Parks Canada in its 100-year history, was used to purchase and construct the yurts, but also to develop the area of the park they are located in, including a comfort station with showers, water and wastewater treatment systems, a parking area and landscaping.
"This is what she wanted to do and I am happy to carry out what she wanted to do," said Hunter. "I think she would have been well pleased with what they have done here with the yurts because it is zeroing in on maybe the zoomers and people who like to camp but are at the other end of getting down on the ground to sleep.
"I think it offers a great deal and seems to be very popular. It's going to really catch on."
Hunter was in charge of making the decision of where the money would be donated and feels her sister would have been happy with where the money has gone.
"I made the decision based on my sister and her thoughts," said Hunter, who was executer of her sister's will. "I did look at the Georgian Bay Islands but you could not take RVs over there being an island. Although I felt they were certainly deserving of being developed I felt my sister would prefer this campsite. I think she would be very pleased with what they have done."
Park Superintendent Frank Burrows said the yurts are great as a way to ease people into the camping experience.
He said he is grateful to receive such a donation.
"The family has obviously been so generous, but so kind and supportive and certainly I think they are very pleased," said Burrows. "It has been amazing. It really moves the park into the modern age and keeping us connected to our visitor. Times change and visitor interest change and there is a clear demand for stuff like this."
Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MP Larry Miller said the donation is phenomenal, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of gift.
"Next to agriculture, tourism is our biggest industry here in Grey and Bruce and this is going to help to draw even more people here," said Miller.