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2012 Honorary Member: Peter W. Hall


Peter Hall is an outstanding naturalist, whose interests range far and wide, encompassing in particular, birds and butterflies. It is the study of the latter which has occupied a good deal of his time, and he is certainly best known for his expert knowledge on butterflies and their conservation, about which he has spoken and written widely. Peter is very generous with his time, always willing to help with questions about butterflies, and to share his knowledge with others.

Peter was employed for many years by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), first as a communications writer, editor, and later as Acting Director General, then as a senior executive in the areas of communications, publishing, strategic planning, and administration. However, conservation has always been central to Peter's life, and in 1999 he began a decade of working exclusively in this area. From 1999 to 2000, he was the National Director of the Canadian Environmental Network in Ottawa, the umbrella group for 600 Canadian environmental NGOs. Between 2000 and 2004, Peter was Executive Director of the Federal Biodiversity Information Partnership, coordinating biodiversity information management in Canada. From 2004 to 2006, he was Director, Biodiversity Information Services and a member of the Management Committee at the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, in Cambridge, UK, where he represented the UN at international fora on biodiversity and biological research issues. Returning to Canada, he spent several years as Senior Advisor, Biodiversity, at AAFC, focusing on long-term maintenance of the Canadian National Collection (CANACOL) of insects and plants, before retiring in 2008. A published report, Canadian Taxonomy: Exploring Biodiversity, Creating Opportunity, grew out of his role as Member of the Expert Panel on the State and Trends of Biodiversity Sciences of the Council of Canadian Academies.

Peter is co-author (with Ross Layberry and Don Lafontaine) of the first truly comprehensive guide to Canadian butterflies, The Butterflies of Canada (1998), a seminal work that helped generate fresh interest in Canadian butterflies by providing a means of identification for all Canadian species. Long before this publication, Peter was author, or co-author, of many other articles on butterflies. Of particular interest to an Ottawa audience is the article in the 1982 issue of Trail & Landscape on Butterflies of the Ottawa District, written with the same two co-authors noted above, and the 1996 Checklist of Butterflies of the Ottawa District. More recently, Peter authored a very essential report, Sentinels on the Wing: The Status and Conservation of Butterflies in Canada on behalf of NatureServe Canada. At present, he is working on a Royal Ontario Museum field guide to butterflies of Ontario, a publication eagerly awaited by many.

Peter continues his research on butterflies and their conservation, as an Honorary Research Associate at CANACOL, AAFC, where he curates the Lepidoptera Collection. Furthermore, he is frequently called upon to give public lectures about various aspects of butterflies; in 2011, he was invited by the Toronto Entomologists' Association to give the inaugural lecture for the Quimby F. Hess annual lecture series. Peter spoke about butterfly conservation, population status, and how our butterflies can be protected.

In addition to Peter's many accomplishments in the world of Lepidoptera, he has also been intimately involved with The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club for over 30 years. He was a long-serving Associate Editor of Trail & Landscape (1981-1993). He has been a member of OFNC Council as well as various committees. He has led many club walks over the years, most recently summer excursions to look for butterflies in Larose Forest.

As well as the butterfly-focussed articles above, Peter has written on topics as varied as otters, mosquitoes, and the Central Experimental Farm, for Trail & Landscape. Peter has also published widely in journals as diverse as Biodiversity: Journal of Life on Earth and the Canadian Journal of Zoology.

One of the most enduring projects of the OFNC, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, is the brainchild of Peter, who along with his wife, Judy, conceived the idea of a wildlife garden to celebrate Wildlife '87. As noted in a press release from the Canadian Wildlife Service at the time, "The focus of Wildlife '87 is on conservation of wildlife and its habitat." Peter took that theme and flew with it, and by the summer of 1990, the Fletcher Wildlife Garden held its grand dedication ceremony, to which over 1,400 people came. The thriving garden is now a well-known entity amongst many in the city, and beyond. It is a fitting legacy for someone who has spent his life watching and protecting butterflies, for the garden has become a haven for a diversity of butterflies, as well as a myriad of other wildlife. Peter is also active with the Monarch Waystation at the garden, providing leadership and guidance for the project.

For all of these reasons, it is a pleasure and privilege to bestow upon Peter W. Hall, an Honorary Membership in the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club.

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This page was created 21 July 2013
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