The details are a little vague now - hey, it was 35 years ago! - but I still remember Inkerman dairy farmer Norm Tinkler as one of the forces to be reckoned with in the push to channelize the saucer-bottomed South Nation River from Oak Valley all the way to Chesterville.
Seasonal and random flooding had wreaked havoc in the valley for as long as anyone could remember.
, Anna Smail and others were determined to rectify the situation and they eventually did just that.
The flood waters receded and farming in Oak Valley became a fairly typical pursuit; Norm
family continue to operate a successful enterprise there today.
Here's the interesting part which brings us up to today: Rather than souring his
relationship with the authority, the experience made Tinkler
a champion of its programs and policies.
At the end of the project, Norm
didn't simply go on about his
For the past three decades, he has worked hand-in-hand with what's now known as South Nation Conservation, serving on its board of directors, on its most important committees, acting as a clean water field representative and providing a location on his property for a data-collecting water level station.
In other words, he never severed his ties with the agency and became a devout conservationist.
was justifiably singled out for his
"Of all the candidates nominated for the annual award, none strikes me as more deserving and qualified than Norm Tinkler," Dundas Federation of Agriculture president Jacqueline Kelly-Pemberton wrote in submitting his name.
In addition to the dredging project initiated those 35 years ago when Norm had more hair and mine was a different colour, his biggest contribution has been his work from the outset with the South Nation Clean Water Committee launched in 1993 to co-fund projects intended to help landowners protect surface and ground water quality.
Since its inception, the program has dispensed close to $2 million in grants, helping complete some 600 projects.
All along, Tinkler has extended his work with the committee by serving as one of its field representatives, visiting applicants' sites to explain grants and their guidelines while assisting with applications and presenting proposed projects for review.
He has also sat on the SNC Fish & Wildlife Committee and a decade ago, authorized reattachment of an ox bow on his property to the main South Nation River channel in order to provide habitat for juvenile pike and other wildlife.
keeps the site well treed which helps maintain cooler water temperatures in the summer.
All in all, it's been an interesting 35 years, eh Norm?