World-renowned conservationist celebrated in Westlake

Jack Miner's story forever links the Sister Cities of Westlake and Kingsville, Ontario, Canada together. Each year, the Westlake Historical Society celebrates April as Jack Miner Month.

Jack Miner was born April 10, 1865, and lived in a small weather-beaten home on Dover Center Road near Westown Boulevard. Young Jack was one of 11 children, whose father made a meager living in the brickyard across from their home. As a boy, Jack was not fond of school and preferred to explore the natural setting around him instead of attending school.

At age 12, Jack returned to school at the urging of his friends, and felt a sense of belonging when his teacher, Miss Minnie Chubb, gave him the job of starting and tending the stove in the schoolroom. He learned a few reading skills in school, but did not truly learn to read until he was 35 years old. Jack spent hours in and around Cahoon Creek near his home studying the lessons of nature.

The creek was both laboratory and play-yard. He learned about bird life that formed a foundation for his life’s work. When Jack was 13 years old, the Miner family reluctantly decided to move the family to Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. Although it was difficult leaving friends like Mr. and Mrs. John Cooley and the Pease family, the move provided a new income for the family and supplied new wildlife for Jack.

Jack went on to become a great conservationist (once named the fifth-best-known person in North America) and conceived the idea of reforestation and a sanctuary to protect wildlife. He began the practice of banding Canada geese to study their migration habits and turned his sprawling farm into one of North America’s first bird sanctuaries, earning him the nickname “Wild Goose Jack.” He also lectured throughout the United States and Canada.

Auto pioneer Henry Ford once said, “Jack Miner’s companionship with the birds and his service to them have made his work well known and have warmed the hearts of good people everywhere. He has taught us all that there is always something to do for one who looks for something to do.”

In Jack’s autobiography, he wrote, “It must be remembered that I was born, and spent my innocent boyhood days, in that dear old Dover Centre, Ohio; and I love the descendants of the men who were kind to me in my barefoot days.”

Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough recently said, ”Jack Miner was one of the few men who recognized the importance of being a conservationist even though he was a hunter in his youth. His efforts helped to preserve wildlife not only in Kingsville, Ontario, Canada but throughout the world. We are very proud of the fact that Jack Miner spent his childhood here and had a true love and appreciation for nature’s wildlife, especially that of Canadian geese and their migratory patterns.”

Lysa Stanton

I am a fan of the history of Westlake!! Westlake Historical Society

Read More on Local History
Volume 5, Issue 8, Posted 10:50 AM, 04.16.2013