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The Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre was founded in 2007 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the appreciation of the natural environment and local history. Located on Nova Scotia's South Shore, the Centre offers outstanding opportunities to explore, research, and experience the living landscape.

The Centre is named after late Dr. Harrison Flint Lewis who long ago recognized the ecological importance of the area and chose to live nearby in active retirement from his position as first Director of the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Establishing the Centre has been a collaborative effort with the residents of the Port Joli Basin and volunteers.

We are located at 339 Sandy Bay rd, Port Joli. From Halifax, take highway 103 West until Exit 22. Turn left onto Highway 3, continue until Port L'Hebert rd on the left. Follow Port L'Hebert for 8km (past Wharf rd), then turn left onto Sandy Bay rd. Follow Sandy bay until Harrison Lewis Centre driveway on your left (small white sign on driveway).



The Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre works to promote and advance environmental conservation through research, instruction, literature, and the arts.

The Centre hosts nature-focused programs and workshops in art, music, writing, farm skills, woodlot management, and more.


Board of Directors

Stephanie Carver (Secretary) - For over forty summers, Stephanie Carver’s extended family has gathered at their much-loved property on Sandy Bay, once the homestead of farmer/fishermen and their families. A full-time elementary school teacher in Halifax for the past 24 years, she continues to enjoy seasonal residence here with her husband and three teen-aged sons. Stephanie is an advocate for outdoor education, youth engagement and leadership, environmental sustainability and inclusive education. When demands on her time slow down, she looks forward to having more hours to devote to reading, writing, gardening, sea-kayaking, hiking and making music.

Jamie Simpson - Jamie, originally from New Brunswick, is a forester (UNB), lawyer (Dalhousie Law) and published author (Restoring the Acadian Forest: A Guide to Forest Stewardship for Woodlot Owners in the Maritimes, is the recipient of several awards for his work, including the Elizabeth May Award for Environmental Service, and the Environmental Law Prize from Dalhousie University. When not practicing law or working in his woodlot Jamie says he loves to climb rocks, paddle his canoe, and play his fiddle and guitar.

Doug van Hemesson - Doug is originally from London, Ontario. He has a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in geography from Trent University. He worked with various conservation organizations and programs in southern Ontario including the Carolinian Canada Coalition, Wetland Habitat Fund, Ducks Unlimited and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests, before arriving in Nova Scotia to work with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. He also has experience working with locally based, volunteer organizations.

Susan Hoover (Treasurer) - Susan Hoover is the retired Artistic Director of the Osprey Arts Centre in Shelburne Nova Scotia. She has been developing and presenting arts-related events in Shelburne County for the past 14 years.

Richard McBride (Chair) - In the 1960s Richard studied Forest Botany in the mountains of B.C, at UBC and the University of Edinburgh. From 1970 to 1992 he was a Professor of Biology at Dalhousie University where he put his energy into improving science education. He then worked on science education and agroforestry projects in The Gambia, South Africa, Indonesia, and Sikkim, India. Richard lives with his wife, Phyllis, on a farm/woodlot near Barss Corner, Lunenburg Co. where they enjoy a simple life close to nature.

Willem van Loon - Willem van Loon is the founder and owner of East Mountain Forestry, LLC, a consulting forestry firm based in Guilford, Vermont. East Mountain assists private landowners in southeastern Vermont with the management of their woodlands. Willem is the son of Dirk van Loon and a part time resident of Sandy Bay. In his spare time, Willem enjoys processing firewood, gardening, painting and drawing and taking care of a small flock of laying hens.

Dirk van Loon - Dirk is a writer, illustrator and recently retired publisher of country magazines. Formal training was in wildlife management (BSc, Cornell University), followed by a stint in the Peace Corps (agriculture, Colombia.) He moved to Nova Scotia from New England in 1969, and shortly after purchased the small farm and land where the Harrison Lewis Centre is now situated. He has published three books including a  Papeek (Lipincott), and two how-to books with Garden Way Publishing; “The Family Cow,” and “Small Scale Pig Raising,” both still in print. Magazine publishing began in 1976 with the launch of Rural Delivery. In 2007 he and former wife Anne Gray set about establishing the Harrison Lewis Coastal Discovery Centre. He currently lives on site, along with his Labradoodle Tank, & manages the property year round.

 Dr. Harrison Lewis

Dr. Harrison Lewis