MICA Stewardship Champions

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Our MICA Island Champions are keeping their eyes on their assigned islands, conducting inspections, reporting back and helping with the general stewardship

We thank all our MICA Champs for accepting this responsibility

Our MICA Stewardship Champions

Originally from St. John’s Newfoundland, I moved to Nova Scotia in 2017 following my career as an airline pilot. After becoming introduced to sailing from friends living in Key Largo, FL, I decided with little experience to buy a 27ft sailboat which happened to be located in Mahone Bay. My original plan was to bring it back to Halifax, but I was told Mahone Bay was one of the most beautiful places to sail, so I decided to keep it located there, and it was from this experience and sailing with friends to the various islands that I became aware of MICA and their important objective in protecting and keeping beaches, islands, and other areas protected from development to maintain their natural beauty. I just recently moved to Mahone Bay to be close to my boat and the ocean and I look forward to being a volunteer this year especially as a Stewart for Andrew’s Island, and excited for future opportunities where I can help out to further preserve this beautiful area.

lacier which eroded and shaped a mixture of rocks, silt and clay at the glacier base. The half egg shaped hills ( called drumlins) seen in profile as you approach the island were sculpted by moving ice. After glacial retreat, sea levels were tens of metres lower and the Mahone Bay area was mostly a hilly landscape separated by small lakes and embayments. As water levels rose to the present coastline, waves eroded and reshaped the island shoreline. Storm induced waves washed the silts and clays from the island bluffs and moved boulders, gravel and sand along the shoreline to produce the beautiful beaches on Bachmans island. Large volumes of eroded sand and gravels were eroded from the northeastern end of the island and moved by the prevailing storm waves to build the biggest beach which connects the two drumlins. This bridge shaped feature is called a tombolo.

The current MICA champion for Backmans Island is Heiner Josenhans. Heiner worked as a marine geologist with the geological survey of Canada specializing in post glacial land formation. Heiner is happy to champion Backmans island because much of the beauty of the island is the result of mechanisms he spent a career studying.

I grew up in Halifax, but spent the entire summer every year from 6 to 18 at our family cottage on Second Peninsula, where my parents still live for half the year.

I attended Acadia University and moved to western Canada with my husband Rod Tremblay for almost a decade, where I stated my career as a professional biologist, specializing in wetlands. Rod and I moved back to Nova Scotia in 2011, shortly after we moved to Maders Cove, as we always had the goal of living on the south shore. We enjoy sailing and boating for most of the year in the area and have lots of fun on the islands, especially with our now 4-year-old daughter Pearl (and various dogs). As a biologist, I am interested in the island habitats and protection of them. They are such a great resource for the area.

As avid outdoors people, we have travelled around the world and across Canada seeking adventure and natural beauty. Whether hiking a mountain in Venezuela, exploring remote places in the Andes and India or back country camping in B.C. and Ontario, we love exploring nature and always make sure to leave only footprints behind. 

We came to Nova Scotia last year to start a new life. We explored the North Shore and Annapolis Valley and were awed by its natural beauty, but once we came to the South Shore, we knew we were home. The beautiful bays and beaches, all the well-maintained trails and public lands to explore and of course, the people – it was everything we had dreamed of.   

We settled in East Chester and immediately looked for ways to get involved in the community – to meet new people and to learn more about the area. We heard about MICA and the important work they do shortly after moving here and reached out to volunteer. As avid kayakers, we were excited to try sea kayaking and explore the surrounding ocean, so we jumped at the opportunity to become island stewards for Quaker and Birch islands. 

We hope to get more involved in MICA and other community organizations and will continue to explore the hidden treasures of the south shore. When we’re not out in our kayaks or fishing, you’ll see us out on the Chester Connection trail walking our dog Sneaky Pete, foraging for mushrooms and other edibles or at home tending to our vegetable garden.

Life on the Mahone Bay waters started for me in the late 50’s when my parents bought an old log cabin on Second Peninsula. Although it was only 5 miles from our house on Tower Hill to the cottage, we moved there lock, stock and barrel for July and August every year. Over the years I have hiked and camped on the islands, sailed out of the Lunenburg yacht club, paddled my canoe and hand lined all over the bay. In those days the mackerel, cod, haddock and sea catfish were plentiful with a few halibut thrown in for good measure. At that time, you didn’t have to go past Tancook to get a good catch although we use to go off Pearl and Cross Island as the fishing was good there as well.

I now own the property where the cottage was located and have replaced it with a year-round house. We were fortunate to have the property when our children were growing up so they also got to spend a great deal of time on the waters of Mahone Bay. Our property is directly across from Covey (known to some people as Meisner’s) island so I get up everyday and look at the island I am representing.

Over the years there have been many changes to the island and at this point it has mostly gone back to nature with the fields now overgrown. The bark beetle has killed many of the softwood trees and the winds have knocked them down so walking through much of the woods is a difficult task. However, the main concern with the island is the erosion that is taking place on many locations.

Although I have lived away from the South Shore virtually my whole life, I was born in Bridgewater and my parents have lived in Mahone Bay for more than 30 years.  My fondness for the waters of Mahone Bay and surrounding islands have developed over the years during annual visits to Mahone Bay with my partner and two daughters. 

For the last 20 years, my family has spent significant time on the waters of Mahone Bay, both sailing and power boating. Visiting and spending time on various islands is always the highlight of any summer. We love how each island is a bit unique and has a little something different to offer.  Islands we are particularly fond of are Goat, Covey, and the Masons Island lots. We have spent many summers at Goat Island soaking up the sun, building ‘aquariums’ when the girls were little and filling them with hermit crabs and watching many sailboat regattas from the shore.  Covey Island has always been a great place to swim and picnic with family.  We also love to anchor at Masons Island and socialize with fellow boaters.  

In 2021, we purchased our own home in Mahone Bay and have replaced my parent’s aging boat with a new Robalo R202EX.  I am very excited to get to know the Ernst and Zwicker Island Lots. 

We have been long time supporters of MICA and believe very strongly in the Mission. I am absolutely delighted to be participating as a MICA Island Champion

As a couple and then a family, we have been exploring the islands and waters of Mahone Bay since 1984 in sea kayaks, small sailboats, and motorboats.

We now enjoy daysailing in our trimaran “AquaKnot” which we launched in 2015 after Gary completed its construction. If there is no wind, we take our small motorboat out for an island picnic and swim.

Goat Island is one of our favourite places to visit. We enjoy it’s quiet sandy beach and snorkelling around the island. It is a more suitable place for small boats and kayaks. We are proud to be the MICA stewardship champions for Goat Island.

We have been members and supporters of MICA since its inception and we are very grateful for MICA’s success of conserving many of the beautiful Mahone Bay Islands for people to enjoy recreationally in their natural state.

Gary has carved many folk art fish to raise funds at the MiCA auctions while Krista is now a MICA director and co-chairs the Gala Dinner and Auction Committee.

The water and ocean have always been a large part of my life. While I was brought up in Halifax, I worked out of Chester Basin through my university years for what was then Dragon Port Marine Ltd. (now Gold River Marina). I was the sole employee at the time working for the owner and became the IOR measurer (International Offshore Racing Rule for handicapping purposes) for the Maritime Provinces. In these roles, I was privileged to spend a great deal of time on the water throughout Mahone Bay over those years.

While my career in the aluminum industry took my wife, Pam, and I away from Nova Scotia and all around North America over the next 40 years, our intention was always to retire somewhere on Mahone Bay. In 1999, we were fortunate to acquire a property on the Second Peninsula where we built a permanent home and have resided since retiring in 2013.

We are sailors and have a Beneteau 34 on which we spend 30-40 days a year touring Mahone Bay. Through my history and experiences working on Mahone Bay, and reinforced once we moved here permanently, we recognize the huge privilege and benefit the accessibility to the beautiful and preserved islands around our Bay is for the public. This recognition was well aligned with MICA’s mandate and prompted us to become Life Members when we moved here permanently 7 years ago.

One of our favourite hangouts and anchorages is the protected area between Long Island and Dry, Center and Snipe Islands. It therefore feels very natural for us to pay special attention to the LIPS Islands as part of MICA’s Island Champion program.

I have been around the Mahone Bay islands as far back as I remember, starting in the mid 1950s. My family had a summer cottage on Second Peninsula opposite Covey Island that we enjoyed in the summers starting in 1957.

Things have changed. Loye Island was locally known as Varlands and Covey Island as Meisners back then, and a sighting of a seal was a rare occurrence.

The islands and shorelines have changed as well since then with erosion, seawater rise, development on some islands and on the shoreline and increased activity on the water. Hobsons Nose was a substantial island back then, but now is nothing but a rockpile.

The usage of the islands has escalated in recent years, with many more pleasure boats around the bay. In addition, life on the bottom has changed with once abundant species like sea urchins, flatfish, sculpins, rockfish, skates, sand dollars, red and white jellyfish, and mussels essentially disappearing. Once scarce, seals and green crab are now abundant. The bay has certainly changed over the years.

The Mahone Conservation Area is very important to protect this wonderful resource for current and future generations, and my wife Janet and I are both pleased to have been involved with the organization since its beginnings, with John as a founding MICA Director.

Janet has enjoyed the islands with me since the late 1960s and our family including my two daughters has enjoyed many of the Mahone Bay islands and especially Masons Island (both big cove and northern point) since the mid 1980s as a favourite for a picnic and a swim even though the voyage out and back from Mahone Bay was an event in the small, slow, open boats we used to have. We are now proud to share this wonderful legacy with our grandson.

Recent inspections show the island is being very well respected by users and is being left in its natural state except for mooring balls in the big cove and off the northern point.

‘Recent inspections show the island is being very well respected by users. THANK YOU.’

I moved to Mahone Bay in 1983 to work for a “little while”, to pay off my student loan, and I have never left. My very first purchase, after a car, was a canoe to transport me to the islands. I did some island camping and exploring in Queens County as a teenager and was eager to explore the many islands so visible from Mahone Bay. After starting a family, we acquired a sailboat which we have now replaced with kayaks and we love to explore, picnic, swim, snorkel and camp on MICA islands.

I have travelled and explored many parts of the world and I find the coastline and islands of Mahone Bay to be unique and quite spectacular and I feel we need to protect and conserve this area for future generations. The unspoiled, natural beauty and slow pace provide a much needed rest from the busy, often chaotic world we have created.

It is rather miraculous that the small group that gathered in 2001 has succeeded in conserving 18 islands and parts of islands. The hard work, passion and determination of past and present MICA directors gives me hope that anything is possible and so I’m happy to have joined as a director in 2017. I would like to encourage everyone to become a MICA member.

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.” Henry David Thoreau

A kind and understanding father gave me a 14′ sailboat in about grade 5 followed by a Bluenose (B-9) in grade 7. My friends and I would explore the bay and islands all day long on every day that was remotely fit to sail.

Sandy and I returned from McGill in 1969 and bought several used boats starting with a Paceship Eastwind and ending with our beloved Whitby 42. Once the children started appearing they just kept coming, hence the need for bigger boats. For most of the childrens’ formative years we had a major sailing cruise every summer, ranging from the St John River to Iles de la Madeleine to part way up the Labrador and several trips to the south coast of Newfoundland. Between trips we explored more local territory, especially Mahone Bay.

I was promoted from a local group saving Chester Islands to the MICA Board in about 2012 and am now secretary to the Board.

My islands of Quaker, Lynch and Snake are special to me as they form part of a beautiful necklace around my home town of Chester. How different Chester would be without that necklace! These three islands were purchased in a block by the Nature Conservancy of Canada from Sir Christopher Ondaatje with significant help from John Risley and MICA.

Quaker was named after Quaker whalers who had to leave Nantucket after the War of Independence when Britain drastically increased the tariff on whale oil imported from the USA. It is not known if they settled Quaker for a short time or looked at it and immediately moved on to Dartmouth where they set up an outrageously successful whale processing industry. If you ever have time in Dartmouth a visit to the Quaker House Museum on Octerloney Street is highly recommended. It’s an original home of one of the Quaker whalers! My childhood memories of Quaker include Chester farmers barging their cattle to and from Quaker each summer. Quaker had a manned lighthouse for years and there are many stories of hair raising trips back and forth by the keepers and their families, some tragic.

Lynch had no trees when I was a child, sort of a mini Quaker. One previous owner also owned the Haddon Hill Hotel and built a small wharf and tea house so her guests could picnic on the island. Sir Christopher Ondaatje had these removed.

Snake is a little known island on the Aspotogan side of Saddle Island. It has a cobble beach with some finer pebbles on the northwest corner. Snake is a good spot to get away from the madding crowd.

David Hansen:
I grew up in Lunenburg and my parents had a cottage on the end of first peninsula; the road was so bad that Dad bought a boat to get back and forth; we often kept it moored off Frankie Vienotte’s farm and travelled across the bay to camp.

We were always going in the boat and one of my first recollections of Sacrifice was going a shore and visiting Mr. and Mrs. Owen Smeltzer, who had a camp on the island; Owen ran a small store on Pelham Street but they never missed a week end on the island.

My parents built a cottage on Heckman’s island in 1966; and we had boats and travelled most of Mahone Bay and beyond. Many Saturday nights were spent leaving the Sawpit at midnight and steaming to camp after the local dance.

In 1988 Selina and I purchased a piece of land on Heckman’s; built a cottage and transformed it into our permanent home in 1998.

The waters around Sacrifice and Little Duck are very special to me as both were part of my youth. I have fished around Little Duck and continue to do so; it is a rough spot and has to be treated with caution.

Sacrifice is becoming a victim of erosion and persistent South Westerly winds as the SW sandbar has lost most of its vegetation. There is only one mooring of the western beach; and there were two campsites there today.

Very few people camp on Little Duck as it is tough spot to get on and off; I have been on a few times duck hunting but it is not recommended.

Snipe Island still has the camp and it is tough to see from the water; we attempted to have Lands and Forestry remove same when we had our joint Stewardship Committee.

This has been a very good experience and re-kindled my interest in the bay.

Keep up the good work.

Chip Veinotte:
My personal interest in the area is that I grew up here and used the islands a lot as a young fellow for recreational purposes. Later on I was employed by DFO to do patrols by boat in the area and later on became a fish habitat biologist doing habitat assessments. My wife and I live in the area and have a waterfront property which we enjoy to the utmost. The Mahone Bay Islands are special places and it is so great that many have been returned to public use through the efforts of this group. Great work MICA.

I ought to start out that I enjoyed reading about the background of the membership involved in this project as many of you I have yet to meet, and look forward to doing so as we return to “normal” life.

I grew up in Dartmouth, and now live in Maders Cove with my wife Grace Mitchell and our nearly two year old daughter, Pearl.

After several years working in Western Canada, we relocated to the South Shore full time. We spend as much time on the water as possible in the summer months throughout the Bay, although our favorite spots include Long Island and the Andrews Island / Whynachts Cove area. We recently sold our Bayfield 29 and are actively on the hunt for another sailboat with a bit more room for Pearl.

I have been following MICA for a number of years and I think that the work that MICA has done, and continues to do to preserve the islands, is important to both conservation and recreation in Mahone Bay. I am excited for the opportunity to be involved and help out any way I can.

In a previous life I was general manager / lead guide for a whitewater rafting company in Canmore, AB and worked in ski area operations for a number of years, often operating within or near Provincial or National Parks in Alberta and BC. I hope my personal and professional experience in how these areas are managed in Canada, the US, and internationally, can be of some assistance to MICA in future.

My family come from Lunenburg arriving in 1753 from Halifax on the Pearl out of Germany. My father fished lobster and his father captained fishing schooners.

My first visit to the islands in Mahone Bay was in 1958 with my uncle William. He had a boat and boat house in Lunenburg back harbour. He and his friends built two cabins on islands in Mahone Bay. As I grew older my job was to run the boat from Back Harbour to take my uncle to the islands with his friends to the cabins to play cards, fish and other social activities. At this time camping in a tent was not common. I met and worked with the LIPS group once they purchased the group of islands of Snipe, Long, Dry and Chain. Currently I visit these islands often to clean up and explore with my family. We have a huge beach glass, rock and shell collection.

We spend time on many of the islands in Mahone Bay with friends and family. When my children were born my wife and I started to tent on the islands around Mahone Bay. This past week the family completed our week on Shag Island camping making it 33 years in a row we have done this.

My family continue to travel to these islands and spend many happy times exploring and talking to people about MICA and the good work being done by this organization. I am a life member of MICA. I currently have seven grandchildren who love camping on the MICA islands.

I used my uncle’s boat for many years until it died of dry rot. I now have a wooden cape island boat built in 1974 in Oakland by Ernest Langille. My family use this boat for our camping trips. If you see a large tarp set up on Shag stop for a visit.

When Patti I moved here back in ’91, the first thing we did was buy a 16ft wooden punt which we kept in Lunenburg Back Harbour.

We travelled everywhere but loved the runs up through Tanners Pass and the beaches on the back side of Heckman’s Island before the development came. Both our children grew up around the punt till we got a little faster speed boat in 2001 which now takes us as far as Deep Cove and Tancook for lunch.

Our favorite island by far is the pure tranquility of Long Island, we take all new visitors to show them a little piece of heaven. Next on our list is Squid, just based on the fact it is off the beaten path for most people. But we have spent time on pretty much every MICA island.

My children as well now enjoy the islands, kayaking and camping when they come home for the weekends.

As far as MICA goes I was involved from the early days with cleanups (including my whole family), stewardship committee and since 2010 a Director of Membership and now Stewardship.

Also as a result of the GDA we are now a proud owner of a Herreshoff Golden Eye sailboat.14.

MICA Champions at Large

A Lifetime MICA member and active board member since 2010, Martin started his MICA career in November 2004 as a member of the stewardship committee. Following the first year on the board, he became the Stewardships Committee chair for 7 years supporting islands cleanups, signage, promotions and education of the MICA Conservation area. In 2018, he moved to Chair of the Public Relations Committee where he continues to focus on communications, surveys and IT for the group.

Anne and I moved to Nova Scotia about 16 years ago following stays in Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal and Oakville/Toronto.

I grew up on the East coast of England and was always attracted to the sea and boats, hence why we chose Nova Scotia as a place to retire.

Thanks to its many islands, Mahone Bay offers one of the most attractive sailing and boating areas in the world. It followed that I became a willing volunteer to help MICA preserve this beautiful area for all to enjoy. Over the past several years I have been the Stewardship Chair and presently the Association Vice Chair. This has involved numerous interactions with municipal and provincial governments.

The journey continues with the support of many.

Georg is a founding director and currently serves as Treasurer. He has been sailing and boating in the waters of Mahone Bay for most of his life. He has sailed in other areas, but appreciates the beauty of Mahone Bay every time he’s on the water.

Do you care about the islands of Mahone Bay like we do? Get involved!