The Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary is 348 acres of protected marshland, open meadow, aspen parkland and pine forest just a short distance from the U of A Botanical Gardens North of Devon.
Clifford E. Lee was an Albertan with a deeply felt commitment to humanitarian and environmental concerns. Born on a farm in what is now Edmonton’s Hardisty district, he taught school for ten years before becoming a pharmacist and owning several pharmaceutical outlets in Edmonton. Always interested in politics, he was long active in the CCF, predecessor to the New Democratic Party, serving several terms as its Alberta president and writing regular columns for its newspaper, People’s Weekly.
Seeing the need for affordable housing following World War II, Lee applied his business acumen to starting up a home-building company, which thrived, eventually becoming NuWest Development Corporation, once one of the biggest housing development companies in North America. When the company he founded became a public corporation in the late 1960’s, he transferred the bulk of his personal fortune into a foundation. The Clifford E. Lee Foundation was thus established in 1969 to make funds available to worthwhile philanthropic endeavours in a variety of fields.
Although Clifford E. Lee died three years later, the Foundation, under a board of Directors, has continued to provide grants to a wide assortment of projects in the performing arts, social services, wildlife conservation, native concerns, and international development. The Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary was one of the largest projects funded by the Foundation, and one in which Lee himself would have taken great pleasure.
We have been here several times in recent years under varying conditions. Needing a destination on Easter Sunday, we went back again and found the place bustling with parents and young children. A few birds were about, but a lot of songbirds have not yet returned. We could see that the trees and shrubs were just starting to get their “Spring” on and will return again. We are particularly interested in returning once the wild roses are out, provided the mosquitoes are not also in abundance.
I will leave you with a few pix from the walk. It is not a strenuous or long hike. We likely walked 3-3.5 km this day.