These are three of the five Macoun Club leaders
you and your child will come to know

The other two are Peggy Leger and Ian Byerly. Leaders of the Macoun Field Club are volunteers from the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club (OFNC). The OFNC also provides a meeting place (the Fletcher Wildlife Garden building), and funding. The leaders are members of the OFNC’s Macoun Club Committee, which reports both monthly and annually to the larger organization. The annual reports are published each year in the OFNC’s scientific journal, The Canadian Field-Naturalist.


Photos of the Macoun Field Club's three long-time leaders (Rob Lee, since 1985; Barbara Gaertner, since 1989; and Diane Kitching, since 1994

The Macoun Club’s three long-time leaders


  • Rob Lee is the Chairman of the OFNC’s Macoun Club Committee. He is one of the primary contact people for the Macoun Club. Since the mid-1980s, he has taken charge of hundreds of all-day field trips, and dozens of Macoun Club camping trips.
    Photo of Rob Lee and several Macoun Club members oudtoors

    Rob Lee pointing out relevant material in our Study Area nature-journal

    Rob was a member himself from ages 9 to 18. In those days he was a rock collector and birdwatcher. He has been keeping field notes since he was 11 and is the main writer for the Macoun Club’s nature-journal about our study area (shown here being discussed in the field). He created most of the Club’s web pages.In the years between being a member and coming back as a leader, Rob studied wildlife biology at the University of Guelph and then began a series of solitary Arctic expeditions. Through all the years he continued to visit both the Macoun Club’s nature-study area in Ottawa’s western greenbelt and Gerry Lee’s lands in the Pakenham Hills. These remain the Macoun Club’s principal field-trip destinations, and have thus become home ground to generations of Macoun members. Rob has worked as a scientific editor and writer for the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and on his own he studies a wide range of natural phenomena. In 2016, he was made an Honorary Member of the OFNC.


  • Photo of Barbara Gaertner instructing Macoun Club member in use of a hand lens

    Barbara Gaernter instructing boy in the use of a 10x hand lens

    Barbara Gaertner grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and so was compelled to grow up without the Macoun Club. When her two boys joined in the 1980s, she found herself envious of their experiences and sought a way to take part on her own account: she had to become a leader. There have been hundreds of meetings and field trips since then, and she hardly ever misses one. She plays a major role in Macoun Club camping trips, too. For years Barbara also served as the Macoun Club’s official representative on OFNC Council.Barbara majored in French literature at Brown University, and taught elementary school in Philadelphia and Chicago. (She is shown here instructing a Macoun member in the proper use of a 10x hand lens.)

    Her parents fostered a strong feeling for the outdoors, and in Macoun Club she has taken advantage of every opportunity to develop a deep knowledge of natural history. She sets out to learn one thing after another, seeking out important books, collecting specimens, and taking part in every research opportunity that comes her way. She took the group’s idea of having a “study tree” very seriously, and has been keeping tabs on four of them for 28 years.

  • Photo of Diane Kitching burdened with snowshoes

    Diane Kitching burdened with snowshoes given up by weary kids

    Diane Kitching’s evolution as a Macoun Club leader parallels Barbara’s. Her two children — a boy and a girl — drew her into the activities, and soon she was “hooked.” She is in charge of almost every meeting and rarely misses a field trip. Most families find themselves talking with Diane regularly because she is the one they call to register for field trips; she has been doing this since 1996. She is always there to help children who lag behind through sore feet or weariness; here she has been laden down with four pairs of snowshoes when the going in wet snow became too heavy. Diane has been the Macoun Club representative on OFNC council since 2005. Spending her childhood close to the wild places in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. made the great outdoors an important part of Diane’s life, including a lasting interest in mushrooms that her grandfather instilled in her. A passion for gardening and backyard birding that developed over seven years in England, has, through Macoun Club, become an interest in all plants and animals, and ecology generally. She took History and English at McGill University, and War Studies at London University.For their dedication to the Macoun Club Diane and Barbara were the joint recipients of the OFNC’s “George McGee Service Award” in 2011. (Rob says he remembers George from OFNC birding trips in the late 1960s).

  • All photos donated or provided by members and leaders, past and present. Updated June 17, 2016.