/Retiring biologist remembers the relationships 
After nearly 40 years with the MNR 19 of them working the Haliburton and Bancroft areas well-known biologist David Flowers is retiring. DARREN LUM

Retiring biologist remembers the relationships 

By Darren Lum

David Flowers said he wasn’t on the job at the Ministry of Natural Resources here for two weeks before he appeared in the Minden Times newspaper. So it’s fitting that after 19 years with the MNR in Haliburton that his retirement is documented by the same paper that introduced him to the community.

He started his service for the ministry as Joe Clark was starting his short-lived term as Prime Minister. Flowers has done it all from research management and lectures to work with peers and community members and organizations. The past four years he served the area as the biologist but also was responsible for wildlife management for this area.

Born in Pembroke with a surname like Flowers it’s not a surprise he always wanted to be a biologist.

Although he grew up moving around a lot because his father worked for the Air Force which meant home was wherever his dad was whether it was British Columbia or Kingston he has no intentions of uprooting from the place he has called home since he began his work as a fisheries extension biologist.

At 57 he was eligible for retirement with his impending “factor 90” category – age plus his service. Flowers worked for the MNR for 37 years and officially retired on March 25.

To see him it’s difficult to see the years that have elapsed.

He’s not much heavier and outside of a few more grey hairs his beard is virtually the same as it was when he was first introduced inside the Times . In fact he has the same work hat he wore that day former reporter Jerry Grozelle took his photo.

When Flowers came to Haliburton County to be the fisheries extension biologist his children were just in primary school. They were as much a part of his work as he was at times whether that was helping stock lakes or volunteering at the fish hatchery.

His job also involved stocking lakes with fish and working with fish hatcheries in the county and in Bancroft including overseeing regulations and working with cottage associations and fish and game clubs. Even in the weeks leading up to his impending retirement he was fielding calls locally and from Bancroft for his expertise.

He said what he values and remembers the most about his work here as an extension biologist is the people and the relationships he has forged over the years.

“It’s all about community. It’s all about working for the ministry with community groups and organizations and it is all around the communication around what we are doing and how we manage those resources so when it came to making a regulation change around walleye or lake trout it was going in the community and discussing those changes and getting support for those changes” he said.


here is a long list of work he remembers such as the Drag River Rehabilitation Project which led to an ideal habitat for walleye in Haliburton County. That habitat is the No. 1 spawning site for walleye in the county and is important to the Kashagawigmog system he said.

He said the Haliburton Lake Trout Project is “one of my milestones of working here in the community.” This project was a community-based effort that included the HHOA MNR and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. It resulted in preserving and bolstering the population of the Haliburton Gold lake trout species indigenous to the area.

Even before he graduated from Guelph University with a degree in Fish and Wildlife Biology Flowers knew he wanted to work for the MNR.

“It was always a passion to want to work for the MNR and in that fish and wildlife area” he said.

It took close to four years of contract work before he caught on full-time.

He laughs about sleeping for six weeks when asked about his first course of action when he retires.

Flowers plans on catching up on inclinations of travel but more importantly catching up on long overdue renovations to his West Guilford house. Situated on four acres with a stand of trees and a pond it includes a network of trails.

He and wife Peggy are now both retired and have no plans to leave the area.

They have four grown children; three sons Andrew Matt Mike and one daughter Katherine and three grandchildren including one that was just born in January. The retired couple have every intention to dote on all three with their greater time.

Inside his garage he points to his orange Kubota tractor.

Flowers said there was a deal when he bought it that his wife was supposed to have gotten hardwood floors if he got that tractor. She still doesn’t have that flooring and he will be making good on the promise soon.

Early on Flowers was a walleye culture specialist in Eastern Ontario where he was based in White Lake 60 kilometres west of Ottawa. He worked on Walleye culture and stocking.

The work enabled him to talk about the research all over Canada and the U.S.

He is a proponent of the role that the MNR has served inbridging the gap between providing the science to the people in the community and the desire and the effort to help with preserving and fostering a stronger environment.

Despite the cutbacks to the ministry over the years a lot of good things were achieved and continue to be achieved because of the bonds established and fostered between the MNR and various stakeholders he said.

Flowers said its the partnerships between the ministry and the community that has made things happen.

“We can’t do it ourselves unilaterally especially a lot of the local expertise whether it be hunt camps or people’s understanding of the fisheries’ resources because they have been here all their lives they have a good understanding of what’s happening out there in the wild with these resources. That’s where MNR … has shone basically as far as moving forward whether it’s a regulation change or you have to get the word out on a regulation that requires input from folks” he said. “Even with cutbacks the core fundamental importance of MNR is dealing with those relationships in local communities and that’s where district offices have basically always centred their programs. It’s serving the public and local community” he said.

There is undeniable love that is shared. It is projected in the words and most importantly in his legacy.

“You develop a relationship” he said. “You become grounded within the community working with those folks and the passion those folks have for [the work] makes me a better biologist. It makes me better to understand what’s going on. I think the legacy that I can bring to a conversation is the fellowship basically that you develop over the years and mutual respect from the community that the job you’re doing basically as a civil servant is also helping them and the resources here” he said.

Although he isn’t ready to commit to any particular projects or causes he isn’t going anywhere and his passion is as vibrant as it was when he first started working for the MNR in 1979.

“My passion is still the outdoors and always will be” he said.