The Doug Smith story

by Robert Pye, Executive Director

Toward Doug Smith’s end of life, he asked Watersheds Canada to tell his story.

“As I grew up, I spent a lot of time near water. I loved the water,” said Doug, as his wife, Janet Taylor, sat by his side. Together, they shared fond cottage memories in a heartfelt interview filmed near their Ottawa home on March 1st.  

Two weeks later, Doug passed away. He was 81. 

Doug’s poetic message about the value of lakes and rivers, and the need for freshwater protection, was his final project. It humbly summarizes his family’s love of water and environmental achievements, including his motivation to present Watersheds Canada with their first-ever legacy gift.

A dentist by profession, a pilot by avocation, Doug’s idea for a legacy gift to Watersheds Canada speaks to his high-altitude outlook on life; he was a big picture dreamer and an energetic go-getter who did it all for his family, friends, colleagues and nature. After years of windsurfing across lakes, and hours of flying high above them, it was perhaps an aerial appreciation for freshwater stewardship that inspired Doug and Janet to support the future of Watersheds Canada. 

“I understand that we are the first to have made a legacy donation to Watersheds Canada and it makes us feel great. It just seemed a natural fit for us,” said Janet who volunteers for Watersheds Canada. Her sister Susan, and Susan’s husband, Daniel, are also outstanding supporters of the organization.

The Doug Smith and Janet Taylor Legacy Fund will grant dollars for local stewardship projects as well as bring more freshwater volunteers and organizations together for education and collaboration. Watersheds Canada will also promote Doug and Janet’s encouragement for others to give back to nature through active environmental volunteerism, charitable donations, and legacy planning. That encouragement is presented in the video that Doug knew would play a critical role in Watersheds Canada’s communications and volunteer engagement efforts.

The official debut of Doug’s story was presented recently at his celebration of life. Doug’s whole world was there – in-person or in spirit – for a touching salute to all the important themes of his life which almost always included time on or high above the water.  

Watersheds Canada now presents an opportunity for the rest of the world to enjoy Doug’s freshwater message. It is a chance to deeply reflect upon our own personal connections with Canada’s lakes and rivers. We all have an opportunity to support our watersheds. 

Doug and Janet are the official founders of Watersheds Canada’s new legacy giving program. 

“Yes, we’re going to do this. It’s quite an achievement for us,” said Doug about how a legacy donation to Watersheds Canada “makes the most sense” given his family’s great determination to support experiences in nature for generations to come.  

Through Doug and Janet’s planned giving initiative, Watersheds Canada is proud to represent personal legacy dreams for our freshwater future. To learn more, please visit