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Opening comments:  More at the end.

That's right by Robin Farr.

    The Roy Ivor - the Birdman of Mississauga & Bernice Inman-Emery - the Birdwoman of Mississauga Web-page.

Mississauga News - Jan. 28, 2009 - pg.#  - By Robin Farr, Guest Column

Birdman's legacy

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 founded.

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, [1] 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 1968.

It will make a difference!
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1 - Roy Ivor actually died in 1979.        ]

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