Reception celebrates 50 years of Foley Mountain
WESTPORT, Sept. 29, 2023 – Foley Mountain Conservation Area officially marked its 50th anniversary with a community reception on Friday, Sept. 22 – in the very same spot it celebrated its official opening in 1973.
Past and present RVCA staff and board members, special guests, local residents and community partners gathered at the Interpretive Centre to reminisce about the conservation area’s long history in the community.
The 833-acre site, owned and operated by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA), was acquired in 1970 thanks to a donation from prominent Westport resident Harold Foley, who wished to see the property remain natural. Other land donations, purchases, land swaps and leases over the years completed the largely forested property. Today it boasts 10 kilometres of public trails, a swimming area, a group camping site and, of course, the famous Spy Rock lookout overlooking the village of Westport.
Since 1974, Foley Mountain has also developed a suite of popular outdoor education programs, which have inspired multiple generations of school children to better appreciate the natural world. The program began by offering school field trips and overnight camping, followed by the addition of popular day camps and forest school programs in more recent years.
The celebration on Sept. 22 focused on the site’s many successes and partnerships over the years, including support from the Friends of Foley Mountain, which was founded in 1996 to support the conservation area in the face of provincial cutbacks. It has since leveraged more than $300,000 in fundraising toward accessible infrastructure, bus and tuition subsidies and programming.
“50 years is an incredible milestone for an organization,” said Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, while addressing the crowd. “You can’t get to this level of success without tremendous staff, tremendous board members and tremendous volunteers. And that’s one of the real things that I think separates this area from many others, the fact that so many people work together.”
Rideau Lakes Mayor Arie Hoogenboom and Westport Mayor Robin Jones also offered their congratulations and noted the central role Foley Mountain plays in both their communities.
RVCA general manager Sommer Casgrain-Robertson said Foley Mountain wouldn’t be the success it is today without the support of the watershed’s 18 member municipalities, which have consistently recognized the value of conservation areas for their residents.
“We are so grateful for the ongoing support from Rideau Lakes, Westport and our other municipalities that enables Foley Mountain to continue to serve the community,” Casgrain-Robertson said. “This support has also played a critical role in protecting these lands for a healthier watershed today and into the future.”
Learn more about Foley Mountain and plan your visit at www.rvca.ca/conservation-areas.