A Foundation in Grassroots Conservation
Coming together under the umbrella of conservation, outdoors enthusiasts concerned for the future of Ontario’s fish and wildlife formed the Ontario Federation of Anglers on March 23, 1928. This new Federation consisted of ten community-based outdoors groups that aligned with the Toronto Anglers Association, itself only three years old, to form a grassroots alliance of conservationists working for better stewardship of Ontario’s natural resources.
The newly formed Federation immediately petitioned the government to survey Ontario’s game fish, culminating in the appointment of a Special Fish Committee, which released its findings in 1931. On the heels of that important study, the Federation advocated for a similar survey of provincial game, which was completed in 1933. The Federation’s recommendations to these and other committees helped forge a constructive relationship with all levels of government that continues to this day.
The Federation joined forces with several hunting organizations in 1947 to become the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Incorporated (OFAH). Over the following 30 years, an ever-increasing number of outdoor enthusiasts threw their support behind the OFAH, recognizing the value of the conservation organization.
As the Federation grew, so did the need for a permanent home. Many possible cities were considered until philanthropist and OFAH Life Member, David Wilson, donated several acres of property bordering the Otonabee River in Peterborough to the Federation. Construction began and the OFAH/Ontario Conservation Centre was proudly unveiled in 1993. Original plans included both a head office and a heritage museum, a dream that was realized with the construction of the OFAH/Mario Cortellucci Hunting & Fishing Heritage Centre in 2012, which was named after its generous benefactor who contributed more than $2 million dollars to the project.
Communication has been a cornerstone of promoting OFAH’s conservation message for more than four decades. That included the launch of Angler & Hunter magazine in the 1970s and the introduction of the Federation’s Angler & Hunter Television series 22 years ago, a series that continues to stand out as the most comprehensive outdoors program of its kind. In 2008, the OFAH returned to the publishing world with the purchase of Ontario OUT OF DOORS magazine and its extensive web presence. We continue to grow the industry-leading outdoor publication, which now includes an interactive digital edition. OFAH news is delivered 10 times a year through the members-only Angler & Hunter HOTLINE and in early 2011 the OFAH expanded its communications reach once more with the launch of the Angler & Hunter Radio Network.
Throughout its history, the OFAH has taken a sustainable, science-based approach to fish and wildlife management. The Federation has contributed to many conservation success stories, including the restoration of wild turkey, the current effort to reestablish elk to Ontario and Atlantic salmon to Lake Ontario, as well as a variety of projects benefiting nongame species such as the barn owl, trumpeter swan and peregrine falcon.
Support for the heritage traditions of Ontario’s anglers and hunters, who today number over two million, has always been central to the OFAH mandate. The Federation was instrumental in bringing Sunday gun hunting opportunities to more than 170 municipalities in southern Ontario and still growing, updating the federal animal cruelty legislation and was the lead in the campaign to repeal the ineffective long gun registry, which was destroyed in April 2012.
What began as a small group of concerned anglers in the 1920s has grown into the largest fishing, hunting and conservation-based organization in the province. A highly motivated team of fish and wildlife biologists and other professionals deliver conservation programming, government advocacy, and education and outreach on behalf of more than 100,000 OFAH members, subscribers and supporters and 720 member clubs. The OFAH is proud to continue its legacy as the VOICE of anglers and hunters.