John Osland settled on Lasqueti Island in 1948 after serving with the US Coast Guard during the Second World War. He found a piece of land near the base of Mount Trematon with ancient trees and green pastures that would support a quiet, simple life. After 62 years on the island, he and his property became well-known in his community. He lived lightly on the land and developed a great respect for the veteran old-growth firs he shared his property with.
John passed away at his homestead in 2010 at the age of 91. In his will, he left his 64 hectare property to the Islands Trust Conservancy to be protected as a nature reserve. He hoped people seeking the delights of nature would enjoy and care for it with as much love as he did.
Walking through his property, one is reminded of his legacy at the sight of some of the remnants of his life, including an old steam donkey, retaining walls at the site of his old homestead, and several apple trees that once stood at the foot of his porch. The John Osland Nature Reserve now protects a wetland pond with several streams and seepages. A riparian and maturing forest surround the pond, and rocky outcrops stand high over the property looking out to Mount Trematon and beyond. The protected property is an important wildlife corridor, bridging some of the divide between undeveloped Crown land to the south and nearby protected areas Mount Trematon Nature Reserve and the Lasqueti Island Ecological Reserve.
John Osland acquired this land and its homestead in 1948. Despite a timber boom during the 1950s, John saved much of his forest from logging. John lived lightly on the land, leaving only his bicycle tracks along his grassy driveway. After 62 years of living near the base of Mount Trematon, John passed away in 2010.
With the help of his friends and a lawyer, John made a plan for his property before he passed. He bequeathed the land in his will to the Islands Trust Conservancy, specifying that the land be protected as a nature reserve after he died. The property transferred to the Islands Trust Conservancy in 2012, becoming our 21st nature reserve. The Islands Trust Conservancy helped John's estate qualify for the Ecological Gifts Program, affording the estate income and capital gains tax benefits in exchange for his donation of land.
John hoped that once protected, his land would give people an opportunity to immerse themselves in nature, because he felt that is what the human mind desperately needs. The reserve is open to the community for walking and nature appreciation. His footpaths are unmarked and at times poorly defined, so when visiting, please take extra precautions to keep your bearings to avoid getting lost or venturing onto nearby private lands. Please stay on existing paths to avoid trampling and damaging vegetation and soils.
Camping and fires are prohibited on the John Osland Nature Reserve to protect surrounding properties, especially during the drier summer months.
John lived lightly on the land, disturbing very little of the ecosystems, but opportunities for ecological restoration still exist. Several restoration projects were initiated by John's neighbours and volunteers before the property was transferred to the Islands Trust Conservancy to prepare the property as a nature reserve. This included removing the homestead buildings and infilling the manmade ditches to begin restoring the natural hydrology of the land. A restored wetland now attracts many species of birds, and native trees have been planted to help return the portion of the property that was lived on to a more natural state. The Islands Trust Conservancy will continue to monitor the ecosystems as they transition from a human-influenced landscape to a thriving forest and wetland. The management plan for John Osland Nature Reserve can be viewed here.