In April 2021, the Manitoba government announced it will be naming eight Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) after prominent Manitobans who have been instrumental to enhancing Manitoba’s wildlife resources. One of these Manitobans is the late Dr. Frank Baldwin, who was—and continues to be—a highly respected member of DUC’s conservation community.
This new recognition comes almost 10 years after Baldwin’s passing in May 2011.
A long history of conservation and education
Lake Francis WMA, to be renamed Dr. Frank Baldwin WMA, includes Lake Francis and the surrounding uplands at the south east edge of Lake Manitoba, between the communities of St. Ambroise and St. Laurent.
“For his family and friends, this is a wonderful and fitting tribute to Frank,” says DUC CEO Karla Guyn. “His favourite waterfowling areas were the ‘diver’ marshlands surrounding Manitoba’s great lakes, so to see an area he was so attached to be named for him now is particularly special.”
Baldwin’s contributions to DUC, wetlands and waterfowl spanned more than 30 years. In 1979, he was a founding member of the Saskatoon committee, one of the first DUC volunteer-led fundraising committees in Canada. Through his international contacts, he helped establish Wetland Care Australia, a sister organization to DUC. In 1991, Baldwin joined the DUC board of directors and in 1996 became the founding chair of the education committee, a position he held for many years. Baldwin retired from a career in medical research and teaching in 1994, but his work with DUC continued for years afterward. During this time, he directed his efforts towards conservation and education initiatives. Following his retirement from the DUC board in 2005, Baldwin served as an emeritus director until his death. He also served on the advisory board for the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre (now the Harry J. Enns Wetland Discovery Centre).
For his family and friends, this is a wonderful and fitting tribute to Frank. His favourite waterfowling areas were the ‘diver’ marshlands surrounding Manitoba’s great lakes, so to see an area he was so attached to be named for him now is particularly special.
Early experiences with wetlands and wildlife spark passion for conservation
Baldwin traced the roots of his conservation ethic to his youth. He grew up in England where his father, a hunter and angler, impressed on him the importance of stewardship of the land. At age 11, Baldwin studied the ecological resurrection of a Second World War bomb crater into a living pond with vegetation, frogs, fish and waterfowl.
That early fascination with wildlife and wetlands drove Baldwin’s passion for youth education. In a 2004 interview, he said “the future of conservation in this country is to a large effort dependent on young people understanding the value of conservation and wildlife.” DUC’s former Greenwing youth program and other national and local education initiatives grew exponentially under Baldwin’s leadership.
In 2003, DUC recognized Dr. Frank Baldwin’s volunteer work and dedication by presenting him with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal at a ceremony attended by his family, friends and colleagues.
Cooking for conservation
From the outset, Baldwin and his family were a big part of DUC’s summer adventure camp and mentored hunt days. While mentoring waterfowling students, it seemed logical to teach the new hunters how to properly prepare their birds. Ideas for cooking lessons and a cookbook were hatched.
The recipes and stories for the cookbook rolled off Baldwin’s pen, and the manuscript was all but completed just prior to his passing. The original idea for the manuscript was to provide copies to hunting students, but as the project progressed the vision for a published version grew. The book included stories and lessons as well as recipes, and illustrated with artwork; some created by Baldwin himself.
Baldwin’s family ensured the book was published after his death. “This is a healing project for our family,” said his wife Ali, in 2012. “We’re committed to having Frank’s book be something unique that Frank would have been thrilled to see in its final version. When completed, this waterfowling legacy book will reflect Frank’s passion for the marsh, for waterfowl and the feast they provide, and hopefully engender that same sort of passion in waterfowlers of the future.”
From the Marsh to the Table – A Waterfowling Legacy by Dr. Frank Baldwin was published in 2012, with all proceeds supporting DUC’s education, research and habitat conservation programs
Remembering a conservation legacy
“In addition to the many contributions Frank made as a conservationist, I’ll remember him most vividly as an avid waterfowler, breeding Labrador retrievers, carving and painting his own working decoys, and building wooden hunting boats,” says Guyn.
“I hope that when others see his name associated with the WMA, they’ll think about Frank and the legacy he’s left to all Manitobans.”