The Nature Trust of British Columbia was established in 1971 with a $4.5 million grant from the Federal Government in honour of BC’s centennial.
The idea for the organization came from a meeting of four people: Jack Davis (the first Minister of the newly formed Federal Ministry of Environment), Len Marchand (Member of Parliament for Kamloops), Dr. Alastair McLean (research scientist) and Ralph Shaw (elementary school principal and avid outdoorsman). They met for breakfast in Kamloops and discussed the merits of setting aside natural wild places where people could get to know nature.
One key factor in selecting sites was that they should be based on solid scientific information and need. There was also a sense of urgency in getting the projects underway because BC was experiencing a period of rapid growth and industrial development. That is how The National Second Century Fund of British Columbia, later to be called The Nature Trust of British Columbia, was born. It was founded to help set aside ecologically suitable natural places for future generations of British Columbians.
The first chairman was Bert Hoffmeister, one of the most decorated Canadian soldiers of the Second World War, a retired forestry executive, and conservationist. In the spring of 1971, retired Major General Hoffmeister was riding near Pavilion, BC, when he was told Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was calling him. Trudeau said he had a grant to finance a unique conservation project in BC. Bert Hoffmeister was the Chair of the organization for 20 years and worked with a dedicated volunteer Board including business people and scientists such as Dr. Alastair McLean, Dr. Bert Brink, Dr. Ian McTaggart-Cowan and Roderick Haig-Brown.
“Bert Hoffmeister, my father, was able to transition during his life from soldier to forestry executive to environmentalist. It was this last role that I know he would like to be most remembered. I cannot think of a better legacy to my father than the land, flora and fauna that The Nature Trust has helped to conserve.”