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In 1979, the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club celebrated the centennial of its founding. This year-long celebration got people thinking about the contributions of club members and how their accomplishments could be recognized. As a result, in 1981, Council approved the establishment of four awards: Member of the Year, Service, Conservation, and Naturalists'. Later that year, the Naturalists' Award was converted to the Anne Hanes Natural History Award; in 1991 the Service Award became the George McGee Service Award. A Conservation Award for non-members was added in 1992. These awards recognize outstanding work for the Club, for protecting natural areas and for research in natural history.

The official citations for award winners are published each year in The Canadian Field-Naturalist, with extensive descriptions of the winners' merits. Shorter versions usually appear in the annual accounts of the Soiree in Trail & Landscape and in the Awards Committee's annual report in The Canadian Field- Naturalist.

Over the years, many deserving people have received these awards, and the awards presentations are a high point of the annual Soiree. Since the establishment of these awards; however, the wording of some of the awards in articles and on the nomination form was simplified or changed and important concepts were lost. Consequently, some awards made in previous years did not fit the original criteria. To get things back on track, the present Awards Committee prepared a proposal so that the Council could consider all five awards together and approve an official wording for each of them. This Council did at its June meeting.

Here we present the official wording, along with some background and our comments on certain points that have been subject to misinterpretation, especially for the Anne Hanes Natural History Award. We've also included the list of winners.

As you read through the descriptions of the awards, we hope that you will think of people who meet these standards and nominate them for the appropriate awards. Except for Conservation Award — Non-member, all candidates must be members in good standing. [Note: A call for nominations is usually printed in the fall issue of Trail & Landscape. The Awards Committee deliberates during the winter months and awards are presented in April.]

MEMBER OF THE YEAR: In recognition of the member judged to have contributed the most to the Club in the previous year. (Members of the Executive are excluded from consideration.) Past winners

GEORGE MCGEE SERVICE AWARD: In recognition of a member (or members) who has (have) contributed significantly to the smooth running of the Club over several years. (Members of the Executive are excluded from consideration.)

This award commemorates George McGee, who for more than three decades actively devoted much of his spare time to teaching people about birds and natural history through his talks and numerous outings. In so doing, he attracted many new members to the club and influenced a whole generation to a greater appreciation of nature. He was a member of the council for a decade and was involved with most of its committees. He was the club president from 1964 to 1966. Past winners

CONSERVATION AWARD — MEMBER: In recognition of an outstanding contribution by a member (or group of members) in the cause of natural history conservation in the Ottawa Valley, with particular emphasis on activities within the Ottawa District. The Ottawa District is the area within 50 km of the Peace Tower in Ottawa. It was designated the official study area for the Club in 1895 and since then has been recognized as the area for which the Club has special responsibilities for conservation activities as well. Past winners

CONSERVATION AWARD — NON-MEMBER: In recognition of an outstanding contribution by a non-member (or group of non-members) in the cause of natural history conservation in the Ottawa Valley, with particular emphasis on activities within the Ottawa District. Past winners

ANNE HANES NATURAL HISTORY AWARD: In recognition of a member who, through independent study or investigation, has made a worthwhile contribution to our knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the natural history of the Ottawa Valley. The award is designed to recognize work that is done by amateur naturalists.

This award was established in December of 1981 to honour the memory of Anne Hanes, who was an active naturalist and the founding editor of Trail & Landscape. To quote Sheila Thomson, Anne "felt that amateurs could and should roll up their sleeves and contribute significantly to our scientific knowledge of local natural history." This award is intended to recognize naturalists who have sought out new scientific information about the natural history of the Ottawa Valley and who have reported their findings in appropriate publications. (Helping people enjoy nature is equally important, but that is not the purpose of this award. The "appreciation" in the designation means our increased perception of nature derived from the new scientific knowledge gained, not from casual observation.) Like Anne, successful candidates are expected to have done their investigations on their own time and not for pay.

The Anne Hanes Natural History Award is a very special award for special achievement in scientific investigation. It is not to be expected that such an award be made very often.

In 1981, funds were donated in Anne's memory to provide money for a special gift to be presented together with the certificate. Past winners

Acknowledgement: We thank Sheila Thomson for allowing us to quote her and use her thoughts in our explanation of the Anne Hanes Natural History Award.

PRESIDENT'S PRIZE: The President's own recognition of a member for unusual support of the Club and its aims. This award and any associated presentation is to be made, or not, at the sole discretion of the President. Past winners

MARY STUART EDUCATION AWARD: For members, non-members, or organizations, in recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of natural history education in the Ottawa Region. Potential recipients would include museum personnel (both professional and volunteer), biology teachers, talented and dedicated field trip leaders, authors popularizing local natural history, and other educators or children or adults. Past winners

In addition to the awards discussed above, there is the category of honorary membership in the Club. The wording for this exceptional honour is contained in the Constitution and is summarized here:

HONORARY MEMBER: This award is presented in recognition of outstanding contributions by a member or non-member to Canadian natural history or to the successful operation of the Club. Usually people awarded an honorary membership have made extensive contributions over many years. At the present time honorary membership is limited to 25 people. Honorary members

References for more information

  • Darbyshire, S. 1981. OFNC awards. Trail & Landscape 15(5): 228-229.
  • Darbyshire, S. 1982. Anne Hanes Natural History Award. Trail & Landscape 16(2): 75.
  • Brunton, D.F. and W.K. Gummer. 1987. The history of OFNC awards and the Awards Committee. Trail & Landscape 21(5): 236-243.
  • Gummer, [W.K.] 1992. A special tribute to George H. McGee. Trail & Landscape 26(2): 36-37.
  • Frankton, E. et al. 1993. The 1993 Soiree/Honorary membership and the 1992 OFNC awards. Trail & Landscape 27(3): 83-87.
  • Reddoch, J.M. 1995. The Ottawa District - a hundred years of knowledge gained. Trail & Landscape 29(4): 135-137.

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This page was revised 11 July 2011
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