Priddis resident protects scenic piece of nature

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 09, 2014 08:23 am

Heather MacEwan Foran and her husband Max Foran stand on the MacEwan family land in Priddis on Monday. The couple is protecting the land from future development by donating it to the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society.
Heather MacEwan Foran and her husband Max Foran stand on the MacEwan family land in Priddis on Monday. The couple is protecting the land from future development by donating it to the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society.
Phillip Currie/OWW

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The daughter of a late iconic leader in Alberta is ensuring a part of her family’s legacy remains untouched.

Heather MacEwan Foran, daughter of Grant MacEwan, who served as a MLA, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and Calgary’s mayor, signed an agreement with the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society (SALTS) to protect her family’s 320-acre home east of the hamlet of Priddis.

The agreement restricts further development on the property and makes SALTS responsible for ensuring the land remains a wild land conservation refuge.

“I’ve always loved this land and I think that having a piece of land doesn’t entitle you to own it, it entitles you to look after it for the birds and the animals and the trees that live here and to be able to pass it on intact to the next generation,” said MacEwan Foran.

The 74-year-old woman, who lives on the property with her husband Max Foran, an author and history professor at the University of Calgary, was recently diagnosed with non-smoker’s lung cancer.

MacEwan Foran said the decision to preserve the land was one she made years ago, but knew it was now time to make the move.

“It’s a stunning piece of property, totally natural,” she said. “We are very conscious of leaving the land as it is.”

Her parents were strong advocates for keeping the land natural, preserving the property’s spruce forest, aspen woodland, native grasslands and the ravine running into the Fish Creek. It was something MacEwan Foran instilled in her own daughters Fiona and Lynwyn and her grandchildren.

The land is not only a home to the Forans, but also deer, coyotes, foxes, bears, cougars, moose, elk, porcupine, lynx, bobcats and numerous species of birds.

“We’ve got all the normal animals that would live in this area because much of it is virgin wilderness,” she said. “It’s never been tampered with in any way.”

MacEwan purchased the property in 1940 while living in Saskatchewan with his wife Phyllis and daughter. Four years later, Phyllis’ brother John Grant built a log cabin on the property, with the help of a man from the Sarcee Reserve (now Tsuu T’ina Nation) and lived there for years.

MacEwan Foran first saw the property at age 11 and fell in love with it. Even before then, she felt a fondness for it when hearing her parents talk about it.

“I had known all my life I wanted to live here,” she said. “There was something magical about the idea of living here even though I hadn’t seen it.”

When the MacEwans moved to Calgary in the 1950s the property became their summer retreat.

It was two decades later when MacEwan Foran and her husband built a house on the north end of the property and moved there with their two young daughters.

MacEwan Foran felt it was time to ensure the land is protected for generations to come. It’s a decision she knows her father would respect.

“I think he would be very pleased, and my mother, too, at the fact the land is now protected,” she said. “It’s so important that we all take care of the land. We have to be more careful with the natural world.”

MacEwan Foran, who worked with various animal wildlife groups including the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation, said more people should do the same.

“The original prairie grassland is becoming less and less because of cultivation,” she said. “There is less and less virgin forest in this whole area. We need to protect our land.”

SALTS executive director Alan Gardner said the local charitable non-profit society is the largest land trust in Alberta with 13,000 acres under easements from Red Deer south. Of those 13,000 acres, almost 2,000 are in the MD of Foothills under five conservation easements, he said.


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