In 1973 the newly formed Regional Municipality of Sudbury created a Technical Tree Planting Committee, which would eventually be called the Vegetation Enhancement Technical Advisory Committee, or VETAC. This committee is dedicated to enhancing and sustaining a healthy environment for residents through the restoration and protection of Sudbury`s air, land and water.
Keith Winterhalder, a botanist professor at Laurentian University, was the chair of VETAC from 1978 to 1999. His research resulted in finding a way to use ground limestone to neutralize the negative effects of elevated soil metal levels on plant growth. He also discovered sparse grass cover could be grown on hillsides treated with crushed limestone, fertilizer and grass seed. This created a fertile base for birch, willow and poplar seeds and pine seedlings.
Born in Wales, Winterhalder attended Aberystwyth University. Following graduate work in Australia, he joined the faculty of Laurentian Univesity in 1965 and taught there until his retirement in 2000. He died in 2005.
His knowledge and experience as a botanist and environmentalist made him much in demand as an adviser and speaker, and took him to places such as Brazil and Argentina, and to prestigious symposiums such as the Royal Society of Canada Bilateral Symposium in Seoul, Korea, in 2003.
Today, the legacy and memory of Winterhalder can be seen and appreciated by all residents of Sudbury. As local companies make great steps to erase the “footprint” left by more than a century of mining, it is because of Winterhalder’s hard work that the Sudbury we all love and enjoy is flourishing with flora and fauna.
Gone are the days when a pock-marked Sudbury resembled some form of lunar moonscape, and the city now enjoys inland lakes surrounded by trees, grass and meadow. Winterhlader and all of his colleagues at VETAC deserve credit for restoring Sudbury’s rustic northern beauty and drastically increasing the quality of life Sudburians enjoy.
Professor Keith Winterhalder studied and taught botany as a sessional lecturer at University of New England for six years (until 1962) before taking up a three-year posting as a research fellow in botany at the University of Liverpool in England. In 1963, he accepted a job as a lecturer in botany at the newly incorporated Laurentian University and immediately on arriving he became curator of the university’s newly formed herbarium.
He was promoted to assistant professor in 1969 and associate professor in 1980. After his retirement in 1999, he continued working at the University Herbarium as curator emeritus and founded his own company, Wintergreen Ecological Services.
He completed a masters degree in science from University of New England in 1970