Winston Park resident receives Ontario Heritage Award
By Kristian Partington
The passion Craig Campbell feels for the natural landscapes and diverse ecosystems spread across the province of Ontario shines through clearly when I speak with him on a bright spring day at his home at the Village of Winston Park in Kitchener. It was this passion, dedication and extensive knowledge that brought Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, to the village a month before to present Craig with an Ontario Heritage Award.
When she learned that Craig’s health would preclude him from attending the award ceremony at Queen’s Park, Her Honour chose to bring the ceremony to him, recognizing the exceptional contributions he has made to conservation, biodiversity and environmental sustainability in the province.
Craig is a humble man, more inclined to feel comfort documenting turtle species in a sprawling wetland than he is to accept accolades from the province’s Head of State, yet he was proud to host her in his home where, alongside his wife, Jane, he received recognition for a lifetime of devotion to environmental stewardship and awareness.
“She was a very gracious woman,” Jane says of Her Honour. “Just wonderful,” adds Craig, noting that he was nervous the day of the ceremony at the village. Once they met, however, he and the Lieutenant Governor were able to share their collective passion for the preservation of the natural heritage that far too many people tend to take for granted.
Craig was never one of those people, coming as he did from a long line of environmentally conscious stewards. Though he officially studied the humanities with a focus on English and History, Craig was perfectly at home alongside some of the world’s most renowned environmental biologists. It was quite common while presenting at various conferences related to the subject to be asked where he earned his doctorate and he would often shock people when he replied that his knowledge was almost entirely self-taught.
He followed his passion to satisfy his own curiosity and with Jane’s support, he was instrumental in halting a proposed dam at the Elora Gorge while helping to identify which sites in the Waterloo Region would become municipally-designated Environmentally Sensitive Policy Areas in 1976, the first of their kind in Canada.
His paintings of the natural world have been shared across Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum is blessed to have much of Craig’s life’s work housed in its regional archives.
Craig and Jane live their lives with conviction and determination, and they hope that the young people of today will continue to fight for the conservation of our natural heritage with the same passion and vigor that defined much of their life’s work.