Thunder Bay

Ontario's unique Experimental Lakes Area receives matching donation of up to $1M

A doctor and his family from Winnipeg announced they will be making a matching, dollar-for-dollar donation of up to $1,000,000 to IISD Experimental Lakes Area (IISD–ELA) in northwestern Ontario.

Gail Asper and husband Michael Paterson, the facility's senior researcher, announced initiative Thursday

Water-column enclosures known as mesocosms are used to conduct research into the environmental effects of selenium on Lake 239 in the Experimental Lakes Area. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

A philanthropic family from Winnipeg, Man., have announced they will make a matching, dollar-for-dollar donation of up to $1,000,000 to the International Institute for Sustainable Development's Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario.

This donation, when complete, will amount to a total of $2,000,000 that Gail Asper, her husband Michael Paterson, who is the facility's senior research scientist and their family have donated to support the freshwater laboratory made up of 58 small lakes and their watersheds. 

"This is an exceptionally generous gift from a family that has already shown so much public support for IISD Experimental Lake Area, and for that we thank them greatly," executive director, Matt McCandless said in a written release issued on Thursday. 

This matching grant is to celebrate the 50 years of research at IISD Experimental Lakes Area, and it will go toward establishing an endowment fund to secure the next 50 years.

"Like many Canadians, Mike, Gail and family are proud that Canada hosts an incredibly unique research facility that, over the last 50 years, has taught us everything from what causes algal blooms to the impact of mercury, acid rain and oil spills on freshwater lakes," McCandless said.

"This is great news for IISD Experimental Lakes Area, and what a wonderful way to mark its 50th year," said Greg Rickford, the Member of Ontario Provincial Parliament for Kenora - Rainy River and the Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines.