From Private Retreat to Protected Public Resource

Decades ago, on one of their first trips from Ann Arbor MI to Canada, Sue and John Lillie fell in love with the stunning beauty of the Niagara Escarpment of Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula. The Peninsula attracts more than 400,000 visitors each year to this ecologically unique part of Lake Huron.

The Lillies felt blessed when they were able to purchase a 94-acre property that became their haven on the peninsula. They built a basic cabin, to which they and their children, would retreat in all seasons, for most of their lives. The Lillies’ land featured wetlands that were judged to be provincially-significant, sensitive habitat for plants and animals and spectacular cliff-top views of Georgian Bay. It also was a missing piece in the renowned 840 km Bruce Trail – the oldest and longest marked hiking trail in Canada. Sue and John were happy to allow hikers to pass through and enjoy their haven, but knew it was important to make a permanent arrangement for the trail corridor.

When the Lillies reached an age where they could no longer make the trip or enjoy the rustic sanctuary they loved so much, they and their now-grown children looked for a financially realistic way to protect the natural and recreational values of their property.

Working with the Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC), American Friends structured a donation from the Lillie family. It was one of American Friends’ first completed transactions. Their gift was tax deductible in the US and not subject to Canadian capital gains. BTC managed the Lillie property for several years before American Friends transferred title to it for perpetual care. Today, hikers from around the world enjoy the outcome of the Lillies’ commitment to the future of their land, and American Friends’ capacity to make their dream a reality.

We are thrilled that the Lillie property is conserved, and that we were able to accomplish it in such an innovative way by working with American Friends that  benefits the Lillies and allows the land to be care for by the BTC in perpetuity. It is an absolutely lovely property – ecologically and aesthetically!”  

Beth Gillaspie, Executive Director, Bruce Trail Conservancy

Read the original article from Bruce Trail Magazine, VOL. 49, NO.4, FALL 2012