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The Huronia Woodland Owners Association (HWOA) was formed in 1971 by an enthusiastic group of landowners and land interest groups who wanted a forum for interested people to promote wise use of forest resources on private land. After more than 50 years of service to our membership our main purpose has not changed. We have a common interest in forestry and the wise long term use of the forest resources including as wildlife habitat, for recreation, and forest products.


In 2018, HWOA officially became the Huronia chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association (OWA). Chapter membership is included with your OWA membership. 

HWOA - 2024 Directors.JPG
2024 HWOA
Board of Directors
(Left to right in photo)

Cam Douglas

David Bowden

Sandy Agnew

Jack McFadden

David Hawke

John Crawford

Craig Drury

Doug Frost

Adam Parker

Grant Casbourne

Our Brief History

June 8, 1971 some woodland owners met with John Caston from the Ontario Dept. of Lands and Forests. Together they decided that an organization was needed to promote the good management of private land for sustainable forestry and wildlife habitat. John Caston became the driving force and the principal founding member. From the initial meeting, the Huronia Woodland Owners Association (HWOA) was formed and the first members’ meeting was held in Coldwater on Sept. 15, 1971. In 1999, the managers of the Simcoe County Forest, renamed Lot 3, Conc. 6, Springwater Township, as the “Caston Tract”, dedicating it to John Caston.

Over the years, HWOA has drawn members primarily from Simcoe County, but also from Dufferin County to the south and even more northern areas towards Bracebridge and Huntsville. Our area has mixed hardwood, sugar maple, red oak, white oak and white pine. We also have plantations of Red and White Pine. Our topography ranges from wetland, regenerating old field, tree plantations and long established forests.

Presently there are about 80 plus members who actively promote good forest management, taking onto consideration health and benefits to the environment so that future generations can enjoy the woodlands to the fullest. HWOA organizes seminars and field days for members and others interested in learning about healthy forests including flora and fauna. Regularly, 30 to 60 members attend these activities, along with family members.

One HWOA member, in particular, deserves special mention. Jack O’Hara designed our crest, a unique symbol of our association. On the crest are mature White Pine, recognizing our history; a Sugar Maple representing a strong hardwood market and maple syrup production; well-shaped trees representing Christmas trees and young conifers representing tree planting.

The HWOA awards the Jack O’Hara Forestry Scholarship annually. This $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a College or University student who has completed one year or 2 semesters in a Forestry Program or a program that impacts on Forestry. Applications must be submitted by December 31st. 

Each year the Huronia Woodland Owners Association also awards the “White Pine Award” to a person qualified for outstanding forest management and conservation efforts. 

The HWOA Field Days are held at members’ properties or an interesting off-site location on a Saturday in Spring and/or Fall. We also have evening meetings, such as our Forest Health meeting in the spring, where speakers are brought in to inform members and guests on a variety of interesting topics.The Forest Health Meetings have covered such topics as threats from the Asian Long Horned Beetle and the Emerald Ash Borer; forest health and economics; local conservation authorities involvement in reforestation; and medicinal use of common local plants.

Since 2018, HWOA membership has been included with membership in the Ontario Woodlot Association. The OWA offers extensive forest management resources to our members and holds an annual two-day spring conference.

Highlights through the years
  • In 1994, the Ontario Forestry Association and the HWOA sponsored the local awareness action against the cancellation of the Forest Tax Rebate program.

  • In 2000, the AGM held at Wye Marsh featured the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Review.

  • In 2003, the Ontario Forestry Association asked the HWOA to make a presentation to the OFA annual meeting. Five members, each with a different format, made presentations.

  • In 2006, the HWOA became an active participant in the Maple Tree Replacement Program. The HWOA heard about Maple Leaves Forever and contacted them about distributing maples. Over the following 9 years, 18,000 Sugar Maple trees were planted in our area as part of the Maple Tree Replacement Program.

  • Our Quarterly newsletter, “Through the Knothole”, which started in the fall of 1999, is now preparing its 77th issue. Prior to the publication of the “Knothole”, a letter was sent out quarterly by John Caston to all members (originally handwritten, later typed and mimeographed). Before that, our news was passed on by telephone chain.

  • In 2018, HWOA became the Simcoe County chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association. This provides all members with full OWA membership and access to its resources.

  • In 2021, HWOA marked its 50th anniversary virtually in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic.

  • In September 2021, HWOA held its first Fall Field Day "post-pandemic" at the McFadden property (also the first property to be harvested under the Huronia Community Forest Co-operative Pilot project). Graeme Davis from the Simcoe County Forestry Department presented a history of Simcoe Forests to mark their 100th anniversary. 

- Jim Marchand, Director Communications, editor “Through the Knothole”

Who We Are
Board of Directors
HWOA History
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