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History of the area surrounding BOEC

10 000 B.C.E.     
Glaciers retreat, exposing parts of the Bruce Peninsula and leaving other areas beneath post-glacial Lake Nipissing.
 
2 000 B.C.         
First Nations who occupy the valleys of the Saugeen and Sauble rivers establish a portage route across the base of the Bruce Peninsula between Wiarton and Oliphant.

1625-1650         
Jesuit missionaries visit the Lake Huron shore from their base near Midland.

1700's               
The portage route becomes a major link in the fur trade between the Lake Huron shoreline and Matchedash Bay in Simcoe County.

1854
The Chippewas of Saugeen and the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation sign Treaty 72 with the Crown in Canada for 500,000 acres on the Bruce Peninsula.  The details of this treaty remain disputed to present day.

1855                 
The peninsula is surveyed by Charles Rankin.

1870                 
Passenger pigeons are reported to be nesting "in abundance" west of Boat Lake.

1871                 
The first bridge is built across the Pike River (Rankin River) allowing settlement to proceed to the Lake Huron shore.

1873               
The Mason family acquires the property for $1.25 per acres.  They begin clearing land and planting an orchard. 

1874               
A log cabin, small barn and outbuildings are built on the north side of Bruce County Road #21.

1886                 
The original barn on the south side of the road is built.

1895                 
Passenger pigeons last reported near Sauble Falls.

1907               
All the present agricultural land has been cleared.  Spry Lake is visible from the house.  Present stone house is completed.  

1908                 
Sauble Falls sawmill burns and starts a fire that consumes the forests to the west of Boat Lake.  

1913               
A storm on Good Friday blows the roof off the 1886 barn, which is then expanded and re-roofed. 

1934               
A severe winter kills the original orchard.  The present orchard is set out the following spring.  

1971                 
The property know as the Mason Farm, comprising 130 ha between Boat Lake and Spry  Lake, is acquired by the Bruce County Board of Education as an outdoor education site.  

1973               
Programming begins on the site.

1976                 
Two portables are added as dormitories to allow year round residential programs.

1984                 
Two buildings from the Bruce Nuclear Power Development are moved to the outdoor education property to provide upgraded dormitory facilities.  

1997
The Bruce County Board of Education approves a plan to build a permanent dormitory, dining and instructional buildings.  

1998                 
The Bluewater District School Board endorses the IOEES "Growth Plan".  The building committee reviews plans for the new buildings and chooses a site on the ridge overlooking Boat Lake.  

2006
Completed entirely with funds raised by our community, the Bluewater Education Foundation and Bluewater District School Board celebrate the opening of the lodge (Dorm and Dining Facilities) at an October Grand Opening.  The first class to stay in the new dorm is the grade 6 class from Dufferin Elementary School, and their teacher, Wendy Kipp.

2007
The Bruce Power Environmental Learning Classrooms are completed and celebrated with a November Grand Opening.  Bruce Power donated $500,000 to this project. 

2008
Improvements are made to the Mason barn to secure the foundation and improve drainage around the building.  This work was sponsored by local Masons Clubs.

2011
The Bluewater Astronomical Society and the Bluewater Education Foundation celebrate the Grand Opening of the E.S. Fox Observatory.  The astronomy observatory is shared between students of Bluewater, and club members of BAS.  The funds were raised by community donations, and a donation from E.S. Fox Limited.  

2018
Updates to the Mason House are completed to remove asbestos and modernize the office and staff accommodations.  Historical elements like the old staircase are preserved.

2020
The Covid-19 pandemic hits, and schools are closed on March 13th.  The BOEC is mandated to close, but staff work from home to carry on with a digital education campaign, supporting teachers and students with at-home learning.  By September 2020, students and staff return, and the BOEC staff conduct programs on school playgrounds until a return to the BOEC site is possible.  
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