Francis Hilb Preserve

Date:May 02, 2013

Another donation to Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy was made by Frank Hilb of Sault Ste. Marie.

The eight acre Francis Hilb Preserve is a rare coastal cranberry bog located on the northeast side of Goulais Bay. An 800 foot (250m) long sand beach and low terrace forms a natural, permeable dam between the cranberry bog and the shallow waters of the bay. There are many forest species, pitcher plants, sundews and other special plants living in this giant sponge ecosystem. Is is important habitat for a diversity of insects, birds, amphibians, reptile, and mammal life.

Frank Hilb says “My father would be very pleased to know some land has been preserved in his name for perpetuity”.

Francis Hilb was born in Budapest, Hungary in February 1912. His family was involved in timber trade in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Romania, and Poland. He attended University in Budapest and studied business administration. He was a man who had a talent for remembering figures. Playing bridge was a favorite pass time. Francis loved to travel He visited many countries throughout Europe and always maintained a love for the lakes and mountains wherever he went.

Life and the political situation in Europe brought Francis and his wife and children to Canada in 1951. They settled in Southern Ontario and proceeded to establish a life beginning with the opening of a box lunch business and then beginning his land development career by buying and reselling small homes. He had business ventures in Mississauga and Muskoka.

In the early 1960’s, in Sault Ste. Marie, he ventured into a shopping mall, apartment buildings and developing land for subdivisions and small office buildings.

Then, in the early 1970’s his interest again returned to land and he and a group of partners purchased a large tract of land, both waterfront and interior acres, in the Goulais peninsula. Francis would come to the north every summer. He continued to show lots that were in inventory until he was ninety-five. He would visit his customers every year and bring bags of cookies and chocolate for everyone. The children nicknamed him Mr. Chocolate.

Frank says, “He loved Lake Superior and all the surrounding vistas. He used to say that God only made these beautiful sights for us to care for. And He will make no More.

Francis passed away in 2007. He left a legacy for his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and he taught us to love this land and appreciate what we have.”

At the preserve, Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy will develop a research and educational program for the local school children. For LSWC, stewardship and monitoring of the property, is done by designed volunteers in the neighborhood.