Bob Hunter Memorial Park Declared in Ontario Honors Environmental Leader

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada, October 12, 2005 (ENS) - Ontario will create a new park to honor the late environmental journalist and Greenpeace co-founder Bob Hunter, the provincial government announced today.

In his throne speech officially opening the new legislative session, Ontario Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman said, "To symbolize the value we place on our natural environment, and the power of people to make a positive difference, your government will be creating a new park in the Rouge Valley - the Bob Hunter Memorial Park."

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1941, Hunter passed away May 2, 2005 after losing his battle with cancer.

Bobbi Hunter and their son Will were in the legislative gallery for the throne speech.

"To his children and his wife Bobbi, we say: Bob's passionate defence of the environment blazed a trail and left a legacy. It will not be forgotten," Bartleman said.

All the MPs applauded the announcement and Bobbi rose in acknowlegement.

The new memorial park will be on 500 forested acres in the Toronto suburb of Markham, north of the city.

It will be bordered by the Rouge River, along which Bob Hunter canoed - the stretch of river about which he reported development pressure while he worked as an ecology specialist for the CityPulse show on Toronto's CITY TV.

“For him to have a portion of this planet named after him, he would say there’s no greater honor,” his wife Bobbi told CITY TV. “Bob always looked at the trees as being sort of the lungs of the planet."


Canadian journalist and broadcaster Bob Hunter, circa 1980. (Photo credit unknown, Wikipedia)
“What he didn’t like when he looked around was all the dirty air that they had to breath and I think that we have to start respecting that," she said.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was a personal friend of the late environmentalist, and spoke at his memorial service, which was broadcast nationally. In his eulogy, the premier said Hunter was one of his mentors on environmental issues.

The premier said Bob was instrumental in influencing the government’s approach to seeking alternative energy and cutting back on the use of coal in power plants.

In the throne speech today, the government promised to pass a law that will phase out coal-fired power plants.

Lt. Gov. Bartleman declared, "Your government is determined to protect Ontarians' health by cleaning up the air they breathe and protecting the water they drink," "It will replace coal-fired electricity generation with cleaner forms of energy, with the last coal-fired plant slated to close in early 2009."

Bob Hunter was aboard the first Greenpeace ship that sailed from Vancouver to Alaska to protest a U.S. nuclear weapons test beneath the island of Amchitka. He became president of the Greenpeace Foundation in 1973, and served in that post until 1977.

From the Pacific Ocean where he stood between Russian harpoons and the whales they were hunting, to the pack ice of Newfoundland, where he dyed the white coats of harp seal pups to make them commercially worthless, Hunter forged a new brand of personal environmental activism based on engaging the media.

Hunter wrote a newspaper columm for years, and authored numerous books about the environment. He started at the "Winnipeg Tribune" and moved to the "Vancouver Sun" where he authored a widely read column all during the 1970s. His freelance articles have appeared in the "Toronto Star," the "Montreal Gazette," as well as "Saturday Night" magazine, "Eye Weekly," the "Edmonton Journal" and the "Victoria Times-Colonist." Hunter

This photograph of Bob Hunter in front of his caricature portrait by Mendelson Joe was taken in the Hunter home. September 2002. (Photo by Dorothy Cutting)
Books include "Erebus, The Enemies Of Anarchy;" "The Storming Of The Mind;" "Greenpeace;" "Greenpeace III: Journey Into The Bomb;" "To Save The Whale;" "Warriors Of The Rainbow;" "The Greenpeace Chronicle;" "Cry Wolf;" "On The Sky: Zen And The Art Of International Freeloading," and his latest work, "2030 : Confronting Thermageddon in Our Lifetime." Hunter was honored with a Governor General's Award in 1991 for his work "Occupied Canada: A Young White Man Discovers His Unsuspected Past." He also wrote 10 episodes of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's widely syndicated series "Beachcombers."

Hunter joined CITY-TV as ecology specialist in 1988. He has won five Western Magazine Awards, a Canadian Environmental Award from the Government of Canada and a CanPro Award for his News Special "Eco War on the Grand Banks."

The Rouge Valley forest that will become the Bob Hunter Memorial Park will honor his determination to educate and inspire people to preserve the rivers, the lands, the animals and have respect for the entire Earth.