Rideau Roundtable

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Peter Au (Chair)

Peter Au has been involved with the Rideau Roundtable for a long time.

He was a member of the Community Advisory Groups of the Biodiversity Study of the Rideau - a million dollar three-year project of the Canadian Museum of Nature in that started 1998. Members of the community advisory groups decided to create an organization to continue to foster public interest in the conservation of the River. The Rideau River Roundtable was formed in 2000, and evolved to become the Rideau Roundtable in 2003 and its mandate was expanded to include the whole of the Rideau Waterway from Ottawa to Kingston.

Peter was on the Steering Committee that led to the formation of the Rideau River Roundtable. He has served as the president of the Rideau River Roundtable and Rideau Roundtable and participates actively in many of its projects. Peter is the driving force behind the Roundtable’s success.

Peter was involved with the nomination of the Rideau Waterway as a Canadian Heritage River and the Rideau Canal as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Prior to his activities for the Roundtable, Peter served on the board of the Science Teachers Association of Ontario, and was later involved as a member and then chair of its safety committee. He is a major player in a number of other organizations. He is on the board of the Rideau Environmental Action League (REAL) which conducts community-wide environmental projects and promotes environmental improvements within the town of Smiths Falls and in the Counties of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville. He served as its founding president from 1989 to 1997 and again as president from 2001 to 2007. Since 1979 he has been the chair of the Chinese and Canadian Heritage Cultural Association, a Canadian charity. He is involved with Trinity United Church, the Local Immigration Partnership in both Leeds and Grenville, the Evergreen Avenue Committee and numerous other community associations.

Just to name a few of his accolades, Peter has been recognized as Citizen of the Year in Smiths Falls, has received: the Ontario Bicentennial Award; the Canada 125 medal; the Life Time Achievement Award (from Green Communities of Canada); and the 20-year volunteer award (from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration).

Peter "has never met a project he didn't like" and excels in seeking linages and getting people of diverse backgrounds involved.

He lives with his wife Daisy in Rideau Lakes and has a grown son and two grandsons.

Don Gibson

The Rideau River flowed through Don’s childhood like an old friend – a magical place of discovery, wonder, memories and joy. Don grew up on the banks of the Rideau in Manotick where he learned to paddle, fish, swim and catch frogs. His early experience on the Rideau led him to follow an educational and professional path in conservation work.

Don studied Geography at Queens University receiving a Bachelor of Arts (Hon) in 1977 and a Master of Arts in Recreation and Leisure Studies from the University of Waterloo in 1981.

For almost thirty years, Don was the Manager of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System --- Canada’s national river conservation program. In this role, he coordinated the designation of thirty-eight Canadian Heritage Rivers, including the Rideau Waterway. He retired from the federal government in 2013 as Parks Canada’s Senior Advisor for International Programs. Don coordinated the interdepartmental team that organized Canada’s participation at the 2012 World Conservation Congress, the world’s most important conservation event.

Don’s work in natural and cultural heritage conservation has been recognized nationally and internationally with several awards including the 2013 Bill Mason Conservation Award and the 1996 Natural Resources Council of America, Book of the Year.

Max Finkelstein

Max had a 30-year career as a biologist, writer, park planner, interpreter for Canada's national parks. For the last 12 years of his tenure in Parks Canada, he navigated Canada’s only national river conservation program, the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (CHRS).

Max has had the good fortune to paddle many of Canada's wild rivers through his work with the CHRS, as well as partaking in his own months-long paddling expeditions. He has paddled more than 25,000 km throughout North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Australia, and was named in 2015 by the Royal Canadian Geographic as Society one of Canada's top 100 explorers. His articles and photographs appear regularly in paddling magazines, and he is a well-known figure on the national paddling scene.

Since his retirement from Parks Canada, Max has focused his energies on river conservation and getting people out on the rivers. To this end, he organizes educational canoe trips, paddling events and teaches paddling, particularly in Big Canoes. Max lives in Ottawa with his wife, wildlife biologist Connie Downes, and his son, Isaac, who is forging his own unique path in the paddling world.

Max won the 2017 Canadian Museum of Nature's Adult Nature Inspiration Award. See the video:

Paul Hamilton

Paul Hamilton received his M.Sc. in Freshwater Aquatic Biology from Waterloo University of Ontario in 1983 and undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Western Ontario.

Paul’s Arctic research has been focused on freshwater microscopic biodiversity and paleo-climate reconstructions using microscopic organisms as biodiversity and climate proxies. His projects in paleoclimate research extend back in time millions of years. Paul is also interested in the Water footprint and our impact on current global water resources. His research work has extended into looking at metals in aquatic environments.

Paul is currently working on freshwater biodiversity projects in North America, Russia, Bolivia, western India and Indonesia and initiated non-point source pollution reclamation studies in south central China.

He was a senior member of the team that completed the Canadian Museum of Nature’s two-year biodiversity study of the Rideau River. He has been involved with the Roundtable’s Research & Monitoring Team since its inception.

Paul has personal interests in history, specifically natural history, and a love of solo canoeing and kayaking. Paul has coauthored publications with the description of 52 new species and two new genera to science, coauthored five books on diatom taxonomy and ecology, has 5 species named in his honour and published 113 peer reviewed scientific papers.

Bill MacLean

Bill grew up in the Ottawa Valley and had been coming back to the Smiths Falls area to visit friends and family during the 31 years he was away teaching. He received his B Sc in chemistry and his B Ed from Queen’s University in the mid 1980s and spent an enjoyable career teaching mostly science and some math in high schools. He was also a vice principal for a few years during that time.

Bill has retired and moved back to the area. He enjoys flatwater paddling, hiking on local trails, local waterfront and other activities with family in the area. The ecological health and heritage of the Rideau watershed is key to the continued enjoyment of the area.

Last modified on: August 30, 2021

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