150 Years of Nature London in Fifteen Pictures

A brief pictorial summary of Nature London’s history appears below. More information may be found in the presentation Selected Highlights from Our History consisting of 58 slides (pictures and text). A detailed account appears in the 64-page compilation of well-illustrated articles An In-Depth History of Nature London.


William Saunders, a young pharmacist who had a great interest in natural history, and several of his contemporaries organized the London Branch of the Entomological Society of Canada.

William Saunders (1836-1914)


The Society formed four study groups or “Sections” in London:

  • Botanical Section
  • Geological Section
  • Microscopical Section
  • Ornithological Section

The Ornithological Section is the precursor of Nature London. The first chair of this section was W.E. Saunders, son of William Saunders.

During the 1890s, the society’s rooms were used for meetings and for storage of collections. Members of the Botanical Section are pictured here.


The Ornithological Section was renamed the McIlwraith Ornithological Club (MOC). The name honoured Thomas McIlwraith of Hamilton, noted ornithologist. McIlwraith was the author of Birds of Ontario first published in 1886.

Thomas McIlwraith (1824-1903)


After a pause in formal meetings of the study sections, the McIlwraith Ornithological Club was officially reorganized. Indoor meetings have taken place on a regular basis ever since.

May 24, 1915 Outing to Warbler Woods.


The club made its first proposal for establishment of a Bird Sanctuary at Westminster Ponds.

A group of teachers gathers to learn about Saunders Pond in 1925.


The McIlwraith Ornithological Club is one of the founding groups of the Federation of Ontario Naturalists (now called Ontario Nature). W.E. Saunders became the first President of the Federation.

MOC hosted a Regional Gathering for the Federation of Ontario
Naturalists at Wonnacott’s Farm, Komoka on May 30, 1936.


Flight Number 1 of The Cardinal, the McIlwraith Ornithological Club’s magazine, is published in April 1951. It has been published quarterly since.


The club changed its name from McIlwraith Ornithological Club to McIlwraith Field Naturalists’ Club (MFN).

McIlwraith Field Naturalists’ Club Crest


MFN purchased the first parcel of land for the Cedarcroft Nature Reserve. It was later expanded to 11 hectares in 1986.

The original 1982 Cedarcroft sign.


MFN launched the Birding Wing.

During a presentation to Birding Wing in 1993, wildlife rehabilitator Ross Snider introduced this Snowy Owl.


MFN played a key role in the founding of the Thames Talbot Land Trust, an organization that actively works to protect, conserve, and restore nature within Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford and Perth counties.

Mud Lake Nature Reserve, Oxford County. Photo by Dave Wavell.


The “Nature in the City” series started, in partnership with London Public Library. Six nature themed talks take place each winter.


London’s 100th Christmas Bird Count took place. The first count on December 23, 1909 was organized by two high school students. After the reorganization of the McIlwraith Ornithological Club in 1915, the group has coordinated the London count every year.




McIlwraith Field Naturalists adopted a new operating name Nature London.




Nature London celebrated its 150th anniversary.

(Unless otherwise noted, photos are from Nature London archives or the private collection of David Wake.)