Norah’s Island is a 22-acre Island on Kennisis Lake in Haliburton County in the Municipality of Dysart. It was donated through Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program. Norah’s Island is one of the “last vestige of intact representative wilderness” on Kennisis Lake, one of Haliburton County’s major cottage lakes, and lies about 1,000 feet from the nearest mainland point. Picnickers have used the south shore of the island for years as a dense undergrowth of ground hemlock discourages visitors to the interior. A low wet area in the interior has several rare species of orchids, including the round-leafed orchid. Other plant species include bearberry, clubmoss, goldthread, honeysuckle, bracken fern, lady fern, lichens, painted trillium, pale corydalis, pipsissewa, red-berried elder, saskatoon berry, starflower and wintergreen.
Norah and Bruce Carruthers used to visit the lake to see their friends, the Kerr Family. In the 1970s they were visiting when they found out that a large island across from the Kerr cottage was for sale. They bought it planning to perhaps build on it one day, but content to leave it be until they made up their minds. In the meantime, Norah inherited her family cottage on Georgian Bay and it was at that lakeside retreat that the Carruthers family would gather. Apart from their visits to their friends at Kennisis Lake, they seldom saw their island and after the Kerr’s place changed hands, the Carruthers seldom visited. Bruce commented “Once they (The Kerr’s) moved away, it kind of broke the connection to the lake,” said Bruce. The Carruthers owned the island for 32-years before Bruce donated the island in 2007 to the Land Trust.
Norah’s Island was donated by Bruce Carruthers to the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust to honour the memory of his late wife, Norah in 2007. Environment Canada certified the island as ecologically sensitive, a key step in the donation process. The Ontario Land Trust Assistance Program (OLTAP), an Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources initiative to conserve Ontario’s biodiversity, assisted the Land Trust with the land acquisition expenses associated with the donation of the island.
The Norah’s Island Management Committee (NIMC) was formed through a partnership with the Kennisis Lake Cottage Owners’ Association (KLCOA.) At anytime, 3 members (including one board representative) represent the Land Trust and 3 members represent the KLCOA.
The NIMC will oversee management plans including signage and guidelines for the island. It is also be responsible for ongoing plans to install a commemorative plaque on Norah’s Island recognizing the Carruther’s donation as well as the many generous donors to the Kennissis Lake Endowment Fund.
The Norah’s Island Management Committee (NIMC):
Jeff Pinkney, chair of NIMC and representative of KLCIA, Andi Rodgers of KLCOA, Shirlee Weeks of KLCOA, Janis Parker, Land Trust board representative, Ian Daniel, former chair of the Land Trust, and Brent Wootten, former board member of the Land Trust.
Held by the Land Trust, the Endowment Fund for Norah’s Island has exceeded the set goal of $50,000 to provide secure funds in perpetuity.