A Small Victory for the Volunteers at Camp Peacehaven

February 4, 2005

A For Sale sign went up in front of Peacehaven Scout Camp near Drumbo, Ontario. It was also listed on the web. It was not totally unexpected. Scouts Canada's "Incorporated Body" had rejected the appeal by South Waterloo Area, the manager of the property. However, South Waterloo is more than just the manager. They are the owner of the property.

The South Waterloo lawyer sent a firm letter to the real estate agent demanding to know by what authority they had listed the property for sale. With the letter they included a copy of the deed. The property is deeded "in trust for the Scout Association of South Waterloo". This is a trust deed. Scouts Canada claims that since "the Scout Association of South Waterloo" and its successor, South Waterloo District, no longer exist, that the trust has failed and that the land is now owned by Scouts Canada. Trust law does not work this way. The beneficiaries of the trust, the Scout groups in South Waterloo, still exist. They are the owners of Peacehaven Scout Camp.

No real estate agent wants to sell property without the consent of the owner of the land. The agent, Ed Pearson, promptly went to camp and removed the For Sale sign, a small victory for the volunteers over the corporation. But the matter will not be settled until everyone recognizes that Camp Peacehaven was purchased by local Scouting, maintained by local Scouting, and continues to be owned by local Scouting.

Many, perhaps most, Scout camps are owned in trust deeds. This means Scouts Canada cannot sell the land without the consent of the beneficiaries of the trust. That means local Scouting. In most cases, Scouts Canada is listed on the deed, but they are there as a bare trustee and as such are required to follow the instructions of the beneficiaries of the trust.

If you would like information that may help save your local camp, please contact Scouter Ted Claxton of Shuh Cline & Grossman lawyers in Kitchener at +1 519 578-9010x233.