Tegan Legge Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve’s general manager tourism and recreation shows off the Sustainable Tourism Award at the Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence Gala on Wednesday Oct. 24 at the Caesars Windsor. Legge accepted the provincial tourism award with the Forest’s managing director Malcolm Cockwell. The award recognizes a viable and maintainable contribution to the practice and promotion of sustainable tourism in Ontario. /DARREN LUM Staff

Haliburton Forest wins tourism award

By Darren Lum

Published Oct. 30 2018

Tegan Legge was honoured and excited to go on stage to accept the Sustainable Tourism Award on behalf of Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve along with Malcolm Cockwell managing director at the Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence Gala in Windsor last week.

The award recognizes a viable and maintainable contribution to the practice and promotion of sustainable tourism in Ontario.

“There have been dozens of people over the course of 50 years who built the company [Haliburton Forest] that is receiving this award” Legge the Forest’s general manager tourism and recreation said in an email. “Even though I get to be the one that officially receives it the award is really for all those people over the years who contributed to the company and who keep contributing to it.”

“When we talk about all those people who really earned this award we are thinking about Peter Schleifenbaum Elke Schleifenbaum David Bishop Sean Pennylegion and the folks that built this company. Without what they did we wouldn’t ever dream of receiving this kind of recognition. We’re also thinking about the staff that are building it today like Marena Wigmore Penny Dawson Melissa Pockett Paul Brown Innes Wallner Dale Lynn Phil Primavera and so many others that make it possible for us to have a Canopy Tour Wolf Centre dogsledding outdoor education and all the other sustainable tourism operations.”

The other nominees in the sustainable award category were the Cowbell Brewing Company and the Windmill Lake Wake and Eco Park.

This isn’t the first Tourism Industry Association of Ontario award given to a person or business from the Haliburton area.

Two years ago Barrie Martin of Yours Outdoors won the Tourism Champion of the Year award and then his business Yours Outdoors won the Sustainable Tourism Award last year.

Legge said this award is not only confirmation of what has been done but will spur greater efforts.

“We view an award like this both as recognition of our past achievements and an invitation to do even better in the future. In terms of the recognition component we couldn’t be more excited and honoured to have received this award! To be recognized at a provincial level for our achievements over the years is an incredible feeling that extends through the entire Haliburton Forest team both past and present” she wrote.

Legge said it was humbling to be included among an “elite group of tourism operators marketers ministry officials and organizations. This definitely motivates us to work alongside other operators to be an even better sustainable tourism destination” she wrote.

She said this recognition was the highest award the Forest has received for its tourism and recreation operations.

Currently the award is at home with Legge.

She wanted her family to see it as it represents the sacrifice they give for her to do her job. She said the award will end up in a “prominent place at the main office for everyone to see.”

Incoming Dysart councillor John Smith emailed Legge congratulations.

Part of the email read: “This is fantastic recognition of the wonderful work all of you are doing at Haliburton Forest and a substantial step in the journey toward making Haliburton County ‘the’ destination for sustainable tourism across all of Ontario. Based on the track record of innovation and continuous improvement you and your team have established your ultimate success in this quest seems virtually certain. However as with any ambitious goal much work remains.”

Legge said Smith was one of many who sent congratulatory messages following the win.

“We are very grateful to have such a supportive community around us who are just as excited about this award as we are. My email and social media notifications have not stopped since Wednesday night when the news hit the internet” she said.