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Stuart Mackenzie, Director, Strategic Assets at Birds Canada

Birds Canada is forever grateful for community volunteers across the country who have been instrumental in the organization having the national impact and international reach it has today. None have been quite so impactful as our relationship with Doug Tarry Sr. and Family.

Birds Canada’s connection to the Tarry Family began in the early 1980’s when, as the Long Point Bird Observatory (LPBO), we began two major infrastructure projects, building our research and education facilities at Long Point: The “Tip” and Old cut Research Stations.

Support from the St. Thomas Field Naturalists, volunteers, and in particular the interest and energy of Doug Tarry that got these projects off the ground and completed. Without a doubt these significant achievements for the organization would not have been possible without the early commitment, foresight, and hammer-strokes of Doug. There was an understanding among those involved in these early days, that they were building something special, not just the buildings, or the organization, but a legacy.

Doug Tarry Senior in the 1980s.
Doug Tarry Sr.

It quickly became apparent that for Doug, youth were a driving inspiration. Doug loved Long Point and believed strongly in the need to preserve it in its natural state. He also enjoyed children and saw their education as an essential aspect of LPBO’s program.

Four of the 1994 Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop participants
1991 Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop participants

Around 50 of them have returned for more advanced training at Long Point or other observatories as interns, and more than a dozen became staff, including existing senior staff at Birds Canada. Many others have pursued graduate programs, are professors, or professional consultants, and biologists and scientists with provincial and federal governments. Click here to review a summary of the 2023 Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop, and for a look at a video featuring the crew from 2022 visit this link.

LPBO began youth “Bird Study Workshops” in the late 1970’s, inviting teenagers to Long Point to provide them with comprehensive hands-on experience in ornithological, scientific, and natural history activities at Long Point alongside wonderful friendship-building, teambuilding, and career-building skills.

In 1991, the workshop was formally established as the Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop  when Doug left a generous gift of life insurance to LPBO to establish the Doug Tarry Natural History Fund in support of youth education at Long Point.  Since then, more than 175 youth of the country’s best and brightest young naturalists have been through the program.

Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop participants
2023 Doug Tarry Young Ornithologists’ Workshop participants

The Doug Tarry Workshop has since been emulated across the country at Beaverhill Bird Observatory in Alberta, Observatoire d’Oiseaux de Tadoussac in Quebec, and by the Ontario Field Ornithologists’ in Algonquin Park.

Birds Canada now hopes to expand this effort to reach more individuals in more communities. Our country has so many unique and spectacular landscapes, birds, and experiences to offer. It’s important that youth have access to valuable experience close to home, or have the opportunity to explore different regions of the country.  This is by far one of our highest impact programs at Birds Canada and one that we are incredibly proud of. We have no doubt that Doug would also be proud of our work today.  Doug’s inspiring foresight and legacy endowment gift of $260,000 has now grown to more than $2 million.

Further to these outstanding contributions, in 2021, the Tarry family again stepped up for our work in Long Point by generously donating their cottage property to Birds Canada. The funds from the sale of the cottage are helping to upgrade our existing facilities and education programming on Long Point.

Over the past 4 years we have been struggling to hold on to our existing infrastructure at the Tip of Long Point. Historic high water levels, storms, and erosion forced us to tear down our historical lighthouse keeper’s house and fog-horn building at the Tip. Our remaining cabin, built by Doug Tarry Sr., and others in 1987, was also left largely suspended over Lake Erie, but that’s not the end of the story.

The Tarry Family’s lasting legacy has allowed us to recover what remains and save the cabin that Doug built. Thanks to this support from the Tarry Family we were able to move our cabin to a safe location this fall. The new cabin location will serve as a base for the rebuilding of our research station at the Tip allowing us to work there for decades to come.

Doug Tarry hammers an overhead beam while building the Tip Point cabin in 1987.
Doug Tarry building the Tip Cabin 1987

Following on the Legacy that Doug and the Tarry family helped to establish, we are now entering another phase of rejuvenation as we reimagine the future of our LPBO and Birds Canada facilities. Long Point is our heritage, our home, and with the help of support from families like the Tarry’s, our future.

To learn more about how you could support the work of Birds Canada through a legacy gift please visit:

Doug Tarry and crew building the Tip Cabin 1987
The Cabin at the Tip of Long Point – built in 1987 and moved to a new location 2023
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