Canada considers request to name Quetico lake after wilderness scientist and advocate

Map of proposed Heinselman Lake (Courtesy Ontario Geographic Names Board)
Map of proposed Heinselman Lake (Courtesy Ontario Geographic Names Board)
Miron "Bud" Heinselman (Photo by Kevin Proescholdt)
Miron “Bud” Heinselman (Photo by Kevin Proescholdt)

A government body in Ontario is asking for public input on a request to name a lake in Quetico Provincial Park after Miron “Bud” Heinselman, a renowned fire ecologist and wilderness advocate from Minnesota.

The lake currently has no official name. It is located between Basswood Lake and Burke Lake, just north of the United States border.

Researcher and advocate

Heinselman began working for the Forest Service in 1948, and developed preeminent knowledge of the fire history in the Boundary Waters region. He spent eight years mapping virgin forests in the region, and using this knowledge, he made important findings about the role of fire in the boreal forest.

In 1973, Heinselman published perhaps his most well-known research paper, “Fire in the virgin forests of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota.” In the book, he wrote that fire naturally burned most Boundary Waters forests every one to two centuries.

Heinselman retired early in 1974 so he could dedicate himself to advocating for full wilderness protection for the Boundary Waters. In 1976, he was one of the founders of the Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. Heinselman passed away in 1993.

His seminal book “The Boundary Waters Wilderness Ecosystem” was the first “comprehensive guide to the geology, biology, and ecology of this unspoiled and fascinating area.”

Comment online

The Ontario Geographic Names Board has posted a survey for people with knowledge of the area. It asks questions about the lake, any previous names used, if it is named on any maps, and whether or not respondents support the name.

“Names can commemorate great persons and important events, but preserved in each name is the evidence of centuries of exploration and settlement, and the diversity of our cultural origins,” the board’s guiding principles (PDF) state.

The questionnaire is open now until January 23, 2019 at this link.

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