Main Content
Support Important GBA Initiatives.
Support Important GBA Initiatives. Support GBA

Honourary Life Members


Honourary Life Members in the GBA are individuals who the Board of the GBA recognize as having made a meaningful contribution that has significantly advanced the work of the GBA. This contribution could be in the form of one significant deed or a series of actions that have collectively made a big difference. Recipients must have been a volunteer (“whether Board or otherwise”) for GBA and need not have been a former President.


Life Members can be nominated by the GBA Board of Directors or the Membership at large. All nominations will be considered by the Board. The GBA Board will have the final say on who will be awarded an Honourary Life Membership. New Life Members will be recognized at the ensuing Annual General Meeting of the organization.

Current and Past Honourary Life Members


John Birnbaum
John was a long-standing volunteer Director of the GBA before he was hired as GBA’s first paid Executive Director. John took on this role in 1992, at which time he was presented with the first Honourary Life Membership in the GBA in recognition of over 12 years of volunteer service. John was instrumental in evolving GBA from an alliance of local cottage associations to an organization that has successfully taken on large pan-Georgian Bay issues, winning the respect and trust of politicians and civil servants at all levels of government. John was also very involved with the establishment of two other Georgian Bay organizations, the GBA Foundation (now Georgian Bay Forever) and the Georgian Bay Land Trust. And under John’s watch the GBA was also involved in the establishment of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve and the Eastern Georgian Bay Stewardship Council.

Wally King
Wally is a Sans Souci cottager and a force to be reckoned with. Wally became politically involved at the time the province was considering the future of municipal governance in central and northern Ontario. He spearheaded the effort that resulted in the founding of the Township of the Archipelago. He has been a President of GBA (retiring in 1990) and headed up the committee that organized the celebration of GBA’s 75th anniversary. Wally was instrumental in the founding of the Georgian Bay Trust Foundation (now the GBLT) in April of 1991. And he continues to be a strong supporter of all things Georgian Bay.


Christopher Baines
A member of the Cognashene Cottagers Association, Chris Baines was an active member of the GBA Board of Directors since 1986, serving as President for three years and past President for two. During his Presidency, the Board completed many initiatives, including the launching of its newsletter, GBA UPDATE, a revised constitution, formalized long term planning, the Eastern Georgian Bay Conference, and a wonderful 75th anniversary celebration/art show.

John Hackett
…of Blackstone Lake, was a GBA Director for eight years, serving his last two as vice president. John’s achievements are many: helping organize the first Delawana Conference, chairing Land Use and Planning Committee, and representing GBA on the Massassauga Park planning committee. John’s work was instrumental in the Zoning By-law for the Township of Georgian Bay and the GBA response to the Township of the Archipelago’s Official Plan.


Frank Spangenberg
For ten years Frank has served this Board, for several of them as vice president. Frank was the “father” of the Grey Water cleanup thrust at GBA and of Georgian Bay Township, where he was the Chair of their Clean Water committee. As the principle representative of the Honey Harbour community, Frank has shared their initiatives around septic tank owner educational programs and self-help efforts. His excellent communication skills and his strong persuasive techniques are probably what encouraged more Honey Harbour residents to participate in the 1994 water and sediment testing program. For almost his entire time with GBA, Frank chaired the Environment committee.


Roy Schatz
Roy was named GBA’s sixth Honorary Life Member for over 10 years of outstanding service, including serving as GBA’s Secretary, chair of GBA’s The Township of the Archipelago liaison committee and 2 years as GBA President. Roy went on to found the GBA Foundation (now GBF) and was its first President.


Kathy Sutton
GBA vice president Kathy Sutton, a long-time communications chair, stepped down from the board of directors in 2001 after volunteering for nine years. In recognition of her extraordinary efforts, particularly for transforming GBA UPDATE into its present format, Cathy was named GBA’s seventh Honorary Life Member.


Hugh McLelland
Hugh McLelland, a past president of GBA, stepped down from the board in 2002 after serving as a director for 12 years. Hugh has a deep devotion to the Georgian Bay community and its precious environment. Hugh’s speech at the annual meeting in which he accepted his Honorary Life membership made a strong impression on those in the audience and helped persuade many to get involved in the organization and take up the cause. Hugh went on to be a Board member at GBA Foundation/GBF.


Pat Northey
Pat Northey was President of GBA twice, the fist time in 1993-94 and the second in 1999-2001. When he wasn’t dealing with the myriad of challenges facing the GBA, Pat volunteered his time on a GBA Foundation project pulling together an application to secure Biosphere Reserve status with UNESCO for our East Georgian Bay Littoral zone. Pat became the first (and long standing) President of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve.


John Pepperell
After serving as president of SSCA, John joined the GBA Board in 2001 and took on a new role as VP Corporate Development which aimed to develop corporate support and secure long-term funding for the GBA. He also saw a need for the GBA to become better at communicating our achievements. By the time John stepped down as President of GBA in 2005 GBA had evolved its newsletter, GBA UPDATE, into a first-class publication with growing corporate advertising support. John later became a councillor for the Township of the Archipelago.


Peter Kelk
Peter has a foot in both 12 Mile Bay and Manitou but came to the Board of the GBA in 1989 as a Director from the former. He served as the Treasurer for GBA and then as a Vice President retiring from the Board in 1997. Peter focussed much of his efforts on First Nation affairs and clean water initiatives. He also played an active role in many area groups including GBA, 12 Mile Bay Association (as President), GBA Foundation and the Georgian Bay Trust Foundation. And last but not least he graciously allowed GBA to hold its Board meetings and other special meetings in his board room at Kelk Industries.


Dr. D. J. Gibb Wishart (Madawaska Club at Go Home Bay)

Dr. Wishart was the founding President of the GBA and continued as President for 18 years until his death in 1934. His passion and hands on involvement in the early years of the Association were so impactful that the Board seriously questioned whether or not the Association could carry on after his sudden death in 1934.

T Urquart Fairlie (Point au Baril)

Mr. Fairlie joined the GBA Board in 1936, was appointed as Chair of the Fisheries Committee in 1938 and served as its President from 1944 until 1954. Under his Presidency the GBA took the initiative to complete a commemoration of Champlain’s 1615 voyage along the eastern shore of Georgian Bay. By 1954 monuments and brass plaques had been installed at the mouth of the French River, Pointe au Baril, Sans Souci, Cognashene and Honey Harbour.

Birnie Hodgetts (Camp Hurontario)

Birnie Hodgetts served as a long term Director of the GBA, was  President from 1961  to1966 and remained a Director until 1976. During his tenure the GBA evolved from a relatively sleepy organization that met once per year on average to one that formed working committees, especially the Land Use Planning Committee. His term as President culminated in a successful 50th anniversary celebration for the organization at which he said: “We holiday in one of the most beautiful and unique areas in the world. Let’s get together and do more to preserve it before it is too late!”

A.Y. Jackson

A.Y. Jackson was a member of the Group of Seven and frequent visitor to many of the communities that make up the GBA. His art embodies what we all love most about the Bay – its rugged and beautiful landscape. Mr. Jackson was the guest of honour at the GBA’s 50th anniversary in 1965 at which he was elected an Honourary Life Member of the Georgian Bay Association (prior to the current iteration of HLM classifications).

M.C. (Morley) Patterson (Sans Souci and Copperhead)

Morley Patterson joined the GBA Board in 1963 and served as President from 1966 – 1973. This period of time was challenging for the GBA as member interest waned, reflected by the fact that no one was prepared to step up to replace Mr. Patterson when he wished to step down in 1971. Mr. Patterson stayed on to “keep a watch over events concerning the Bay that might affect members” until the Association regrouped in 1974. At the 1974 AGM, Dr. Leuty past Vice-President, spoke of “the many years of tireless and often thankless effort Morley Patterson had put in for the Georgian Bay Association.”

A.J. (Tony) Ormsby (Bayfield-Nares)

Tony Ormsby stepped up to join the GBA Board and become its President in 1974. Under his leadership the GBA was organized into committees and a succession plan was put in place so that the organization would not fall into a suspended state again. Specifically, Tony worked with Ross Gray, Doug Martin and Wally King to initiate a study to support the establishment of the Township of the Archipelago. In the short two years that Tony was President this study was completed, considerable lobbying was executed, and the Township of the Archipelago was well along the way to being formed.

E.D.K (Douglas) Martin (Bayfield-Nares)

Douglas Martin joined the GBA Board in 1963. He took on the role of Land Use Planning Committee Chair in 1966 and Secretary Treasurer in 1974. Early on, wearing his land use planning hat, he was very engaged with the Province as the Province deliberated on the future use of Crown Lands and then regional governance. He was instrumental in working with Norman Pearson on the latter’s seminal report calling for the creation of an island township on Georgian Bay.

Norman Pearson

Professor Norm Pearson advised the Province on the establishment of the North Georgian Bay Recreation Reserve in the early 1960s. On the strength of that work and his intimate knowledge of coastal Georgian Bay, the Sans Souci and Copperhead Association hired Professor Pearson to advise them on local government within the District of Parry Sound. This engagement resulted in the reports titled: “The Georgian Bay Archipelago, Environmental Control, Planning and Local Government”. This report was adopted by GBA in 1975 as “being a proper setting for the course of action which GBA believes should be taken…” and became a major building block toward the founding of the Township of the Archipelago. Professor Pearson continued to advise GBA on planning matters for many years.

Tom Martin (Bayfield-Nares)

Tom joined the GBA Board in 1990 and was an active Board member for 13 years. While he Chaired a long-range planning committee for part of this time, his main contribution was as a member and long time Chair of GBA’s Boating Committee. During his tenure that Committee worked with government and other stakeholders to establish Canada wide boating regulations, an outer boat channel on the Bay and the first Cottagers-Boaters Code of Conduct.

Mary Muter (Wah-Wah-Taysee)

Mary joined the GBA Board in 1996. She became involved in water quality
issues and working with Dr. Karl Schiefer coordinated the Township of Georgian Bay’s Water Quality Monitoring Project, which delivered a comprehensive report in 1999. In 2000 Mary coordinated the first of many “Get Ready for the Bay Days” which invited members to a symposium on environmental issues facing the Bay to learn what GBA was doing about them.
In 2001 Mary was appointed as Vice President and Chair of GBA’s Air and Water Environment Committee, a position she held until 2009.  For the first time Mary was able to get both the Ontario and Federal Government Ministries of Environment to begin to monitor Georgian Bay’s water and air quality.

Mary first identified the water levels concerns especially for Georgian Bay wetlands and working with GBA Foundation coordinated the relevant research by McMaster U’s Prof. Pat Chow-Fraser and Dr. Rob Nairn on water levels. That led to GBF’s now famous Baird Report.

Her work then led to the IJC’s International Upper Great Lakes Study and Mary was a member of the Public Interest Advisory Group for 3 years.

Mary is now Chair of the Georgian Bay Great Lakes Foundation.

Bill Davis (Cognashene)

Bill is a long-time supporter and friend of GBA. While never holding a position with GBA, he has always made himself available to provide his counsel, even during the busy times when he was an MPP and then Premier.

Karl Schiefer (formerly of Cognashene)

Karl’s involvement with GBA started in the late 1990’s when he volunteered as an expert advisor on fisheries and water quality issues. In 1999 he helped design the first water test protocol for bacteria for GBA that was subsequently used by both the Township of the Archipelago and the Township of Georgian Bay. Early on he advised GBA’s Fisheries Committee, as they engaged the government on revising recreational fish policies. He then joined the GBA Aquaculture Committee to help get that industry to lessen its environmental impact on the Bay. When water levels bottomed out Karl spoke on the impact of low water levels on aquatic ecosystems. Karl was a guest speaker at numerous GBA workshops, including our AGM in 2000 and our 100th Anniversary Symposium. He passed away in September of 2019 and is greatly missed.


More News
View past eUpdate issues

SIGN UP TO OUR Email newsletter eUpdate

Email address format is incorrect.
Please select your nearest association.

Please provide name of other association.

You can unsubscribe at anytime