Board of Directors for 2016
Dr. Norman D. Yan, Chair
Dr. Norman Yan completed his MSc and PhD dissertations on the effects of acid rain and metal pollution on Ontario lakes, then worked as a research scientist with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for 25 years. In 2000, he negotiated a 5 year partnership between the MOE and York University, accepting a position as Professor in York’s Biology Department, and conducting a body of research on the effects of multiple stressors on Ontario Lakes co-developed by Yan and collaborating government scientists. Given its success, this partnership was renewed twice, until Norman’s retirement in 2014. During this period, Norman taught in Toronto, but conducted most of his research in Muskoka.
Norman has co-authored over 200 publications on Canadian lakes, a body of work which is widely recognized. He is one of only four Canadians to receive both the K. Patalas award for research excellence in applied limnology (the study of lakes), and the F.H. Rigler Memorial Award from the Society of Canadian Limnology for his contributions to fundamental understanding in limnology. Dr. Yan received a Premier’s Research Excellence Award from the Ontario government, and has received visiting fellowships from the Australian and Italian governments. For his contributions to the understanding and wise management of Canadian lakes, he was inducted as a Fellow by the Royal Society of Canada in 2014.
Norman and his wife Sandy have also run a Bed and Breakfast in Bracebridge for over 20 years. They have entertained over 4000 visitors in their home. Norman has held every position on the board of the Muskoka Bed and Breakfast Association, a not-for-profit corporation.
Doug Clark, Vice-Chair
Doug lives in London, and he and his wife Patti, cottage on the Muskoka River. Doug, a certified Project Manager, retired from a 30+ year career as an IT & Operations professional in the Telecom industry, managing multi-million dollar budgets in the Technology, Marketing and Operations sectors. For 40 years, Doug has been involved with Camp Big Canoe, near Bracebridge, including the last 10 years as Chair of the Board of Directors. The Camp’s 280 acres, lake & wetlands have fueled Doug’s interest in the Muskoka Watershed. Doug provides daycare for his grand-daughters while also volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, The Children’s Aid Society of London/Middlesex, Mission Services of London and the Thames Valley District School Board. Doug has coached 48 youth sports teams over the years, and has served on several Boards. He will bring this expertise to FMW.
Brenda Buck, Secretary
Brenda has a life-long attachment to Muskoka, coming to the now century family cottage every year since infancy. Her childhood vacations in Muskoka led to her pursuit of a B.Sc. in Ecology from the University of Guelph. Subsequent world travels, including 8 years based in the UK with pan-European roles, during a 30-year career in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry has made her realize how fragile and under-appreciated freshwater lakes and wetlands are on the global stage. She is compelled to do her bit to assure their future. Grounded by an MBA from Queen’s, Brenda brings to the board a broad base of business skills including stints in HR, Marketing, Business Development, Sales and Services Delivery. Outside of her professional life, she helped to create and continues to support an annual pond hockey event that has raised over $1.3M for cancer research. She holds a certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility from the University of Toronto.
Now working as a Technical Services Delivery Manager for one of ICT’s heavy-hitters, Brenda spends as much time as possible at her Muskoka cottage.
Jacki Hart, Treasurer
Jacki has lived in Muskoka since 1990 and enjoys walking through our forests and canoeing our lakes and rivers. She is a 25 year veteran entrepreneur, the President of Consulting By Hart, and the retired president of Water’s Edge Landscaping in Bala. Jacki is the first woman in Canada to hold the North American Green Industry Business Management certification.
Debbie Vernon has a long family history in Muskoka that dates back to a time when her great-granddad came to settle on Lake Rosseau known as “Shennamere” following the passage of the Free Grants and Homesteads Act in 1868. She grew up on Brackenrig Bay near Port Carling where her grandfather operated Penney’s sawmill for several decades. Upon completion of her studies at Georgian College, Debbie worked for people with disabilities both in Alberta and Ontario before changing careers selling real estate in her home community of Muskoka in 1999. She is Past President (2006) of her real estate board and presently serves as a Director for Muskoka Haliburton & Orillia – The Lakelands Association of REALTORS®. She chairs the Political Action Committee for the real estate board and is a founding Director of Friends of the Muskoka Watershed. Debbie also serves as the Northeastern Regional Director for the Ontario REALTORs Care Foundation®.
During her down time, Debbie enjoys camping, paddling, photography and biking in various Provincial Parks.
My first professional writing job came while I was still a student at the University of Guelph. I was hired by the Office of Research to interview scientists and write press releases about their work, and for a year I wrote about such topics as the adoption habits of Canada geese, myrmechochory and wild ginger, and the mass defecation flights of Asian honeybees. I was hooked! Although I soon moved into the world of community journalism – first in Ottawa Valley towns like Barry’s Bay, Renfrew, Arnprior and Pembroke, and later in Muskoka – I often freelanced, particularly about science and nature. I produced mini documentaries for CBC Radio (recording frogs in a swamp on a rainy night was a highlight); I wrote news releases for the International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species; I was a contributing editor to Outdoor Canada.
My wife, Sharon, and I moved to Bracebridge in 2000 to be closer to her parents while raising our three children. I became editor of The Muskokan newspaper, and later took over the Muskoka Sun as well, and launched Muskoka Life. I left Metroland in 2013 and joined Dockside Publishing, first as a writer, then editor, then CEO. I have written or contributed to half a dozen books, mainly about Muskoka.
I love paddling canoe and kayak (or being on the water in just about anything else). I enjoy theatre and music – I play guitar and banjo with equal mediocrity. I hope one day to finish building our house on Cedar Lane.
Starting off his career as a corporate lawyer in private practice, Peter soon found himself in an in-house counsel role which led to becoming President of GE Commercial Distribution Finance. Upon leaving GE in 2007, he successfully co-founded TCF Inventory Finance, now a $2.7 billion subsidiary of TCF Bank.
Peter is a proud father of two: Peter Jr., currently living in Toronto and Sarah, who is attending school in Muskoka. Peter not only fell in love with Muskoka but also with Valerie Duke, a 6th-generation Port Carling native and they have been together for 25 years.
When he is not out sailing, tinkering at home or at the cottage, you may see him driving through town in his vintage 1934 Ford Roadster.
Neil Hutchinson, Ph.D.
Neil brings a broad environmental perspective, technical knowledge of water quality and practical experience to the FMW Board.
Neil completed an Honours B.Sc. in Ecology at the University of Guelph in 1978 (where Gord Miller was one of his instructors) and his Ph.D. in Zoology (Aquatic Toxicology) at Guelph in 1985. He came to the Dorset Research Centre of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment in 1984 and completed 2 1/2 years of post doctoral research on acid rain toxicology before gaining employment as a scientist with the Inland Lakes Program of the Ministry the of Environment (MOE, now MECP), working alongside Norm Yan, with a focus on nutrient management and policy development. He left MOE for the private sector in 1998 and worked for 11 years across the country as the Senior Aquatic Scientist at Gartner Lee Limited.
In November 2009 he formed Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Ltd. as a consulting firm specializing in aquatic science, technical facilitation and peer review services. He maintains 10 staff with offices in Bracebridge and Kitchener, ON and his clients include municipal, provincial and federal governments and Boards, First Nations, Inuit Organizations and private sector developers, industry and mining companies. His work spans the country from Muskoka to Nunavut and includes 20 years advising the District of Muskoka on their Lake System Health Program. His major career highlight was being introduced as “The Mick Jagger of Lake Management” several years back.
Neil has served on the Board of the Muskoka Heritage Foundation, served three, three-year terms as a reviewer of research and scholarship applications for NSERC, was a founding member of the Muskoka Watershed Council, is Chair of the Science Committee for Georgian Bay Forever and a member of the Rotary Club of Bracebridge.
When not at work, Neil lives on the shore of a small lake outside of Bracebridge, in a home which he shares with his wife Barb (their three daughters have all left Muskoka), a happy dog and too many blackflies in June. Hobbies include making music (recording and performing his original folk songs and playing flute in the Muskoka Concert Band), canoeing, kayaking, skiing and sailing.
Gord Miller is an ecologist and environmental policy analyst with many years of experience. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Guelph and has worked in the manufacturing industry and consulting business as well as in academia as a professor. Most of his career, however, has been spent in the public sector starting as a scientist with the Ministry of the Environment and concluding his career by serving three five year terms as Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner. In that role, Gord was an independent Officer of the Legislative Assembly overseeing and critically evaluating government decision-making on the environment, climate change and energy conservation. Gord retired from that role in May of 2015. He now does public speaking on environment and energy topics and occasional consulting projects. He also chairs the Board of Directors for Earthroots the environmental group and the Public Advisory Board of the Canadian Electricity Association.
Brian McElwain is from Toronto and has a B.A. majoring in mathematics and a post graduate diploma in computer science at the University of Toronto. Brian and his wife, Sheila, have 4 children. He is a real estate sales agent for Johnston and Daniel Rushbrooke Realty Brokerage in Port Carling.
The family first started cottaging on Bass Lake near Orillia in 1973. Then, in 1991, they sold their cottage and bought a cottage property on Lake Rosseau where they spend much of their time today. Brian spent 40 years in the hi-tech business world working in executive positions for companies such as Honeywell Information Systems and ATI Technologies.
Brian is the past president (2009 – 2012) of the Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA). Plus, he is an alternate member on the Minett Policy Steering Committee. As well, he is on the board of the Windermere Golf and Country Club and on the Finance Committee for 2 churches in Muskoka.
Brian’s outside interests include golfing, fishing, skiing, and playing Bridge.