New Chapter for the Most Storied of Marshes
By Charles S. Potter Jr./McGraw
Photo by Dominic Sherony/flickr
Arguably the world's most famous waterfowl marsh is Delta, on the southern shore of Canada's Lake Manitoba. It became famous more than a century ago, when the duke of York -- later King George V of England hunted there. Subsequently, sportswriter Jimmy Robinson opened his Sports Afield camp on the marsh and hosted luminaries such as Clark Gable and John Wayne. The Delta Marsh also inspired some of the world's best known wildlife artists, including Ogden Pleissner, Sir Peter Scott and David Maass.
For almost 100 years the Bell family of Minneapolis has owned the property known as the York Lodge on the north shore of this vast marsh. James Ford Bell, the founder of General Mills, came to Delta in search of canvasback ducks after his home hunting grounds -- Heron Lake in Minnesota -- had seen its population wither. The internationally renowned Delta Waterfowl research station later opened on the property under Bell's sponsorship.
Now another seminal conservationist -- John Childs, a great friend of the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation -- has acquired the Delta Marsh property. As was the case with Bell, Childs is driven in the quest to see large concentrations of canvasback, and he also is determined to provide scientific research and habitat improvement on the marsh.
A century ago, Bell committed to putting two ducks back for every one shot. John Childs' goal is to exceed this -- he would like to see the canvasback population double to exceed 1 million birds and for the Delta Marsh to serve as a living laboratory for this work.
Both of these men have been giants in waterfowl conservation and drivers of industry. It is exciting to know that one of the greatest marshes will continue to be overseen by committed individuals who cherish the heritage and look to an ever-brighter future for the king of ducks, the canvasback.