Conservation Pioneers

The Conservation Pioneer Award honours individuals who have contributed significantly to the conservation movement in Ontario. These prestigious awards are presented annually to five deserving individuals at the A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium, held in November of each year.

To learn more about the Conservation Pioneer Awards please visit

Otonabee Conservation is pleased to recognize the late Mrs. Christine Nornabell, Mr. Hal Hooke and Mr. Ron Scott as Conservation Pioneers.

Mrs. Christine Nornabell


Mrs. Christine Nornabell was the first women to receive the Conservation Pioneer Award, presented by Conservation Ontario, in 1999. Mrs. Nornabell is remembered as a visionary whose lifelong dedication to conservation has had a profound influence in the Otonabee Region watershed community and beyond.


In 1953 she organized the first public meeting in Peterborough seeking to beautify and preserve the banks of the Otonabee River and Jackson Creek that had long been abused through industrial use. She was appointed to the City of Peterborough’s first Parks Board in 1959. During that time, the group had also started investigating the Conservation Authorities program, which they learned was designed to address environmental issues
on a watershed basis.

On July 9, 1959, Dr. A.H. Richardson of the Conservation Authorities Branch in Toronto chaired the inaugural meeting of the Otonabee Valley Conservation Authority. Mrs. Nornabell was elected Chair, an office she held until 1971. Many of those early Board of Directors meetings were held in the library of her Peterborough County home. Mrs. Nornabell continued to serve on the Authority Board as a Provincial Appointee until 1982. She chaired the Authority’s Historic Sites Advisory Board from 1971 to 1981.

In 1961, Mrs. Nornabell was elected to the Executive of the Committee of Conservation Authority Chairmen, and served in this capacity until 1971. In 1964, Mrs. Nornabell was appointed Eastern Ontario’s representative to the Conservation Authority Council. In 1968, she chaired the Biennial Conference of the 38 Conservation Authorities.

In 1968 Mrs. Nornabell organized the formation of the Otonabee Region Conservation Foundation, which she chaired from 1972 to 1986 and was an active member of the Board until 1992. The Otonabee Region Conservation Foundation continues today supporting conservation through fund-raising and community involvement. In 1998, the Foundation established the Nornabell Conservation Trust to support conservation education for youth and the acquisition of environmentally significant lands in the watershed community.

Mrs. Nornabell was instrumental in the acquisition and preservation of close to 10,000 acres of environmentally significant lands in the Otonabee region watershed between 1962 and 1989. The lands are held in public trust by
the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority.

The late Mr. Charles Sauriol, of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, credits the success of the Conservancy’s land acquisition program to the matching grants formula conceived by Mrs. Nornabell. In his book, Green Footsteps, Mr. Sauriol names Christine Nornabell the “Lady of the Hour”, recalling that memorable day in 1968 when she first suggested the matching grants formula as a means to securing significant sections of the world renowned Cavan Swamp.

“Christine had discovered the formula, the modus operandi, the open sesame, the approach which was to shape the Conservancy’s future and my own. How utterly simple. That meeting was perhaps the most important single meeting of my 21 years with the Conservancy.” – Charles Sauriol.

Mrs. Christine Nornabell was very involved in community affairs and received several awards of distinction, including the Julian Crandall Award, Conservation Pioneer Award, Peter Robinson Award and the Order of Canada.

Mrs. Christine Nornabell passed away January 21, 2007 in her 95th year.

Harry (Hal) G. Hooke

Hal Hooke, former General Manager of the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority, was awarded the prestigious Conservation Pioneer Award by Conservation Ontario in 2002.

Hal grew up in rural Ontario and early on developed a passion and appreciation for the out of doors and respect for the natural environment around him. His post-secondary studies earned him a professional designation from the Faculty of Forestry of the University of Toronto in 1954.

Hal worked with several Conservation Authorities including the Lower Thames, Catfish, Saugeen, Ausable and Maitland before moving to Peterborough, with his wife Kathy and their three children, in 1963. Hal was responsible for planning and development within the Ouse and Ganaraska watersheds along with his primary position of Field Officer with the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority.

In 1965, Hal was seconded to the provincial government’s Select Committee on Conservation Authorities. When the report was duly presented to the legislature in 1967, Hal chose to stay in Peterborough rather than move his family to Toronto. Hal then spent nine years in the position of Director of Part-Time Studies at Trent University.

In 1977, Hal returned to the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority as General Manager, a position he held until his retirement in 1992. During that time, Hal guided the Authority in its advancements in conservation through programs and services such as tree planting and forest management, flood and erosion control, floodplain management, wetland conservation, recreation and outdoor education. Hal is respected for his knowledge of the conservation field, his integrity and his skill in listening to all sides before making a decision. Hal honors the grassroots principles that established the conservation authorities program in Ontario. He loved his work, for he knew that, by and large, the results were what the people wanted.

Sadly, Hal Hooke passed away in 2013 ~ Hal will be remembered as a gentleman conservationist.

Ronald Scott

Ron Scott received the Conservation Pioneer Award by Conservation Ontario in 2003, during the A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium. Ron has provided 21 years of service to conservation in the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority watershed.

His involvement has included several positions within the Authority, including:

  • Member of the Water Management Advisory Board from 1986-1993
  • Chair of the Water Management Advisory Board from 1987-1989
  • Member of the Board of Directors from 1986 until 1992, holding both Chair and Vice-Chair positions.

Ron was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Otonabee Region Conservation Foundation in 1991 serving as Chair of the Board from 1999 to 2006.

For the past several years, Ron has also been actively involved with the A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium, participating on the Steering Committee and assuming responsibility for the Silent Auction.

A teacher (just recently retired) Ron was instrumental in the establishment and ongoing activities of the Norwood Young Conservationists Club. He is also well known for creating the “Scott Model” for watershed management; this model was further developed and became the Trent Conservation Coalition, the partnership of five Conservation Authorities (Crowe Valley, Ganaraska Region, Kawartha, Lower Trent and Otonabee Conservation Authorities) working together to assist in the development of local source water protection plans.

In addition to his conservation activities, Ron has served as President of the Norwood Lions Club, Associate Director of the Norwood Agricultural Fair and is a Charter Member of the Norwood and District Horticultural Society.

In his “spare” time, Ron plays the Bag Pipes, plays the bass with the Donegal Fiddlers, loves to travel, enjoys fishing and gardening and spending time with his grandchildren.