Environment Committee

2002 Calypso Orchid Environmental Award

Margaret Reed, the 2002 recipient of the Calypso Orchid Award, has spent more than 30 years crusading for the protection of the Cave Springs area of the Niagara Escarpment. In 1970 she serendipitously landed in Beamsville and began her great adventure, or as she calls it, “an attention-getting soap opera”. Evidence of prehistoric Indians, “health-giving spring water” and an Ice Cave on the bench of the escarpment have made the area for at least 12,000 years. Her stay in what began as a temporary rent-free emergency haven become a crusade which has spanned 33 years and resulted in a unique portion of the Niagara Escarpment, Cave Springs, deemed a Nature Reserve.

Ms. Reed initially undertook the job as “unpaid caretaker” of the property that today comprises Cave Spring Farm. In her words, “The surrounding land was piled with abandoned vehicles, rusty tractors and other unused materials.”The “rotting barn” which is her home today had “no insulation, indoor plumbing or modern heating”. Soon after she acquired the property she began to have problems with the Town of Lincoln and neighboring landowners who, for generations, had used the property. Her attempts to restrict encroachment and abuse of the property led to court and many municipal hearings.

In 1980 she agreed to a life tenancy and full control of the property and became the “attendant”, authorized to conduct organized and supervised tours. In addition to voluntarily conducting historical walking tours of the area for schools, the BTC and other interested parties, Margaret has written six books on Cave Springs including Tempest in a Teapot, Secrets of Cave Spring; The Cave Spring Mystique (1 and 2); Great Horned Owls at Cave Springs; and The Carolinian Forest at Cave Springs. All of these activities have served to educate people about our history on the land, and the importance of preserving the ecology of the Niagara Escarpment.  Today Cave Springs, like the Bruce Trail, is part of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve.

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