During the almost twenty-five years from the creation of our volunteer organization, we have focused our efforts in a number of different ways to help the Park and its hundreds of thousands of visitors who enjoy this magical area.
Yesterday and in the Past
For several years we furnished and ran the Jacques Cottage rental in the Park.
That facility is now operated by the Park and available for family rentals.
In 1993, as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Ontario Provincial Parks, we organized a relay run across Prince Edward County. Over the years, that event transformed into the annual
Sandbanks Fall Getaway Fun Run
that attracts runners from across the province.
We have produced booklets on birding, trails guides and other nature publications specific to the Park that are available in our Nature Shop.
In 2008, with the help of Park Staff and environmental students from Prince Edward Collegiate Institute (PECI) we began a five year tree-planting program.
Our tree-planting initiatives continue annually, with the
addition of butternut trees in two deer-protected plantings on West Point. To date we have planted almost 10,000 trees!
- In 2010 we helped fund the creation of the popular Dunes Trail at the Dunes Beach Day Use Area.
Over the years we have helped the Park in purchasing two beach wheelchairs, mobility surfaces (Mobi-Mat®) for beach access, park benches, bicycle racks, interpretive signage and trail construction and maintenance.
We have contributed to improving and re-surfacing the bicycle and pedestrian path that runs parallel to the main road running the length of Outlet Beach.
We contribute annually to the Park's Natural Heritage Education Program (NHE) that helps support summer student positions at Sandbanks Provincial Park.
- In 2012 we produced our popular book "Sandscapes: Exploring the Dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park".
Edited by well-known local Park Naturalist Yvette Bree, this publication explores the complex story of the geology, history,
settlement and unique flora and fauna of this popular area, as well as the challenges faced by the Park in protecting such a popular natural spot in the face of over 750,000 annual visitors.
- In 2014 we hosted the very successful Circle of Friends Conference, where volunteer groups similar to ours from Ontario Provincial Parks met to discuss common strategies for our counterpart organizations.
- In 2016 we purchased three infra-red trail counters for the Park. These allow Park management to monitor trail usage and determine where to invest in visitor improvements.
Today and Toward the Future
- Staffed by volunteers and with the help of NHE students, we operate a Nature Shop within the Park's Visitor Centre.
- We continue to help the Park in the planting of trees across the Park. Now that almost two hundred years of settlers' cultivation is winding down on the former MacDonald farmlands,
there are large field areas on West Point that will be reforested and returned to an earlier pre-European settlement state over the next few years.
- In 2016 we initiated a County Digitization Day to help preserve the rich photographic history of Prince Edward County.
Old photographs were copied by our professional photographer and contributors received a DVD with high-resolution digital images.
A master copy of all images was donated to the Prince Edward County Archives.
Preserving County history in this important area is a key historical part of our mandate.
A related part of this historical preservation has been the compilation of family genealogies for the original settler families in Block H, West Point, as well as Quaker families from
New York state. Through these compilations we hope to broaden our search for historic photographs, first-person stories and original documents relating to the early 19th century history of this area throughout North America.
- We sponsor an annual paddleboard (or similar) raffle. In 2016, all 1000 tickets were sold out in record time for our popular
In conjunction with the Park, we host our annual family-friendly and non-competitive Sandfest Sand Sculpture event, and participate with information points and volunteers for other Park events,
including the Mother's Day Nature Walk,
Theatre in the Park,
Lakeshore Lodge Day,
the Sandbanks Fall Getaway Fun Run
and other great family events.
- In 2017 to commemorate Canada's 150th Birthday, we helped organize the planting of 150 Sugar Maple trees along the Woodlands Trail near the new West Lake Campground. Many thanks to our long-time member Penny Sipkes for organizing this great event!