Our History

The story of the McLean Game Refuge as a wildlife sanctuary began in 1932. However, the lands of the McLean Game Refuge have a story over 400 million years old. That story includes geologic upheaval, glacial ebbs and flows, and the passing of countless human groups. In order to understand the full history of the McLean Game Refuge, one must know both the ancient past of land formation and historic peoples and the more recent past of land conservation and modern people.

“I want the game refuge to be a place where some of the things God made may be seen by those who love them, as I loved them, and who may find in them the peace of mind and body that I have found.”
– From the will of Senator McLean

Ancient Story – 400 mya to 1932:
Encompassing the areas of Granby, Simsbury and Canton, Connecticut, the landscape of the McLean Game Refuge has been profoundly influenced by three major factors: ancient geologic formations, 100,000 years of glacial movement and 10,000 of human activity. Evidence of these factors can be seen today in the hills and mountains, waterways, and forest vegetation.

Modern Story – 1932 to Today
In 1931, George P. McLean wrote in his will that on his death the forested lands of his private hunting reserve should be set aside as a wildlife sanctuary called the McLean Game Refuge. He was clear that this land should be protected and managed by a board of trustees and open to the public for passive recreation. The provisions within McLean’s will serve as the guiding principles for the Board of Trustees today and have done so since the opening of the Game Refuge in 1932.