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Smith Blackburn Homestead

LOCATION

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• Located in Lamont County
• East of Elk Island National Park
• Within the Beaver Hills UNESCO Biosphere Reserve & Dark Sky Reserve
• 74 Acres
• 62 km drive from central Edmonton

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@EdAreaLandTrust #EALThomestead

 
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In 1905 when she was 51, Mary Frances Averell travelled from northern Ontario to "prove up" the homestead claimed by her husband David in 1903, one year before his death.  She was accompanied by her daughter Ruth Smith, who was also a widow with six small children. Her second eldest son, Patrick Anson Smith, inherited the land and lived on it throughout his life, consciously caring for its plants, animals, birds and water. His niece Donna has donated the property in memory of her husband Cecil William Robert (Cec) Blackburn.

“Many years after my great -grandfather David Averell immigrated from Ireland, Cec left the small Irish farm where he had grown up to make his home in Edmonton. He provided leadership in many organizations and set an example of giving back to his community. He was always very proud of his Canadian citizenship and the multicultural identity of the country. He appreciated the challenges faced by newcomers and valued the contributions of people like the women and children who lived on this homestead.

Cec shared his love of walking in Alberta’s natural landscapes with his daughters, grandsons, extended family and friends. We are pleased that Cec will be remembered in association with this precious piece of land, and he would be pleased that it is being preserved so that present and future generations can walk here to learn the lessons of nature and experience the solace and inspiration that it affords.”
— Donna
Cecil Blackburn

Cecil Blackburn

 

Wildlife and Habitat

Just east of Elk Island National Park lies the Smith Blackburn Homestead in the Cooking Lake Moraine, a mosaic of wetlands and upland forest. It is considered important habitat for breeding, migratory waterfowl and other bird species.

This land is comprised of deciduous forest, dominated by Trembling Aspen and Balsam Poplar, and underlain with Raspberry and Beaked Hazelnut. The landscape is dotted with wetlands containing willows, asters and cattails. This ecosystem combination allows birds, such as Great Blue Herons, Soras, Common Loons and Common Yellowthroat, to nest, raise their young and thrive. Other species living in this space include Black Bear, Deer, Moose, Beaver, Wood Frogs, Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterflies and many more.


Importance

The Smith Blackburn Homestead is located in the Beaver Hills UNESCO Beaverhills Biosphere Reserve and in the middle of the Cooking Lake Moraine, the heart of multiple conservation plans. With close proximity to Elk Island National Park, the Cooking-Lake Blackfoot Recreation Area, and Beaverhill Lake (an Important Bird Area), the Smith Blackburn Homestead is part of a close network of conserved areas in this region, which provide a large area of connected habitats, wildlife corridors, and stepping stones for wildlife, in a region that is otherwise highly fragmented. The Smith Blackburn Homestead is an additional piece to this mosaic of natural areas that provides homes for breeding waterfowl and songbirds, large mammals, mesocarnivores, and plays an important overall role in maintaining biodiversity in this region.

Donation In Memory

The Smith Blackburn Homestead was donated to EALT by someone who visited the property frequently as a young person, as the land had been homesteaded by her grandmother, and lived on continuously by her uncle until 1989. When the land recently came onto the market, it seemed a unique opportunity to purchase the land for donation to EALT, in memory of her husband, and to honour her forebears’ legacy of land and wildlife stewardship. This land is an ecologically rich natural area that has been preserved, stewarded and appreciated by several generations of people.

Stewardship Highlights and Recent News

  • Installed 31 bird boxes on the property with the help of an elementary school class.

  • To provide more bat habitat, we put up two rocket bat boxes with the help of volunteers.

 

DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED SOON