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That's right by
Ivor - the Birdman of Mississauga & Bernice Inman-Emery - the Birdwoman of
Mississauga News - Jan. 28, 2009 - pg.# - By Robin Farr,
I first met Roy Ivor in 1968, at Winding Lane, to propose he
write a book on his life and observations at the wild bird sanctuary he had
Although he was 88 at the time, he willingly undertook the task of writing
I Live With Birds, and we began planning a book filled with anecdotes
from his life with wild birds and resonating with the pure joy of the life he
had lived among them. The book was published in 1968, and Roy’s spirit
shows through on every page.
Forty-one years ago, Winding Lane Sanctuary throbbed with activity from hundreds
of wild birds and streams of visitors. Schoolchildren were Roy's special
interest. Outdoor education was a new field at that time and Winding Lane
fostered this interest.
Roy was a quiet man who typified that strength of character possessed by those
who passionately dedicate their lives to a purpose.
He and his sanctuary were gaining an international reputation. I
Live With Birds would provide a wider audience for his work as well as
an enduring memorial to him. Foreign rights were negotiated in the U.S.
and the United Kingdom. I recently undertook a search and found copies of
the book still being offered in those countries as well as places as distant as
South Africa and Australia. Roy’s dream remains alive in many countries,
but not, it seems, in Mississauga.
Roy's abiding interest was in the birds living around him. Winding Lane
was not meant to be a specialized sanctuary, devoted to certain species.
Roy’s world was native wild birds we see every day: chickadees, thrushes,
bluebirds, jays, robins, cardinals, orioles, grosbeaks, nuthatches, woodpeckers,
hawks, wrens, scarlet tanagers.
Reading his book, we come to understand what motivated him. We find him
dangling at the top of an extension ladder to repair the insecure nest of a
Baltimore Oriole, or feeding a three-year-old catbird overcome with the fear of
a wild creature, but finally accepting food and displaying its gratitude by
holding Roy’s finger gently in its beak. We find him releasing a terrified
loon from a fish trap on the Miramichi River, a bird possessing a beak so
powerful it could have driven it through his hand.
We learn how Roy rehabilitated a starving red-tailed hawk, a feared predator
that became so dependent on Roy’s care that it contentedly shared a feeding
table with chickadees, as well as suet with downy woodpeckers.
My favourite memory is Roy attending a damaged and starving cardinal on a harsh
winter day, a bird so terrified that it scratched and bit his hand as he picked
it up. Roy realized the bird was totally blind. As he repaired the
injured eyes, the bird came to cock its head to receive the healing ointment.
A sanctuary serves the best purposes of wildlife preservation, but it also
provides a place to which humans may retreat to find quiet and peace and the
opportunity for renewal of the human spirit. In the end, this might be the
most essential aspect of the decision that a busy urban centre such as
Mississauga faces in deciding the fate of Winding Lane Sanctuary.
Roy would be astonished, in his quiet fashion, if he knew his sanctuary was
fighting for survival against cement development. When he died, in 1974,
 he surely felt he had secured its future. His
assistant, Bernice Inman-Emery, took over, managing the sanctuary for 25 years.
Now this unique wildlife preserve has dwindled into a derelict state.
Winding Lane has become a lonely place and Roy Ivor’s dream, which had once
attracted international attention, has faded into ruin.
Robin Farr is a Lorne Park resident. He was
director of publishing at Ryerson Press, which published I Live With Birds in
It will make a difference!
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[COMMENTS BY DON B. -
1 - Roy Ivor actually died in 1979. ]