Category Archives: meeting

Meeting

A Glorious Gallimaufry!

Nicola Ross will be speaking to us next Tuesday, November 28th, 7:30 P.M. at the Orangeville Seniors Centre. Nicola will be talking about her latest book Dufferin Hikes: Loops and Lattes. This is the third in her series of local hiking guides, the others being Caledon Hikes, and Halton Hikes.

A number of us have used these books as guides for mostly short half-day hikes. She has cleverly chosen interesting routes that loop back to the starting point — and she caps that off with recommendations of where to have excellent snacks and lunches. I’ve enjoyed the several of her recommended routes that I’ve done. My wife hikes every Wednesday with a group of local women who have nearly completed all of the hikes in Nicola’s first two books, and are now beginning to hike through her Dufferin book. They’re loving the routes she recommends!

Nicola has a fascinating background, including being the editor for one of Ontario’s leading environmental journals. She is a hometown woman, having grown up in this area. She has become part of Caledon’s community landscape. Years spent hiking local trails, wandering down country roads and exploring villages prompted her to start the Caledon Countryside Alliance to help protect the area from urban sprawl. A columnist with In The Hills magazine for almost two decades and the award-winning author of five books including Caledon and Dufferin County, Nicola lends her knowledge of Caledon’s past and present to her familiarity with the trails that crisscross its dramatic landscape.

One of many things that fascinate me about having Nicola speak to us is her ability to combine enthusiasm for and understanding of her home environment with a remarkable ability to take action on her concerns, and then wrap that all in an entrepreneurial flavour as an author. She’s a fine example of how to live her passions. Besides, anyone who can title their blog A glorious gallimaufry of hiking stories, facts, figures and reviews, simply has to be seen and heard!

Nicola will no doubt be bringing copies of her books to sell. I know quite a few people who have or are going to get certain books as presents! …

Members’ Night, Tuesday October 24th, 7:30 P.M.

The evening will include:

  • A couple of short informal presentations.
  • A slide show of UFCNC member’s photographs.
  • Displays of nature art, specimen collections, handiwork such as bird feeders.
  • Lots of time for socializing and connecting with each other.

“The success of this evening is dependant upon your participation. We really want you to come and be an active part of this.  Let us know what you would like to do and/or bring.”

  • Is there something interesting that you would like to share? How about giving a 5 – 8 minute presentation related to natural history.
  • Do you take photographs?  Send us 10–20 of your favourite nature photos of plants, animals, rocks, landscapes, whatever that you have taken in the past year and we will merge them into a slide show.
  • Have you got something to display … a collection of bones, plants, a nature project that you’re working on such as a bluebird trail nest boxes, insect hotels or a native plant garden?  We’ll reserve a table for you to display your stuff.
  • Are you creative and have artwork such as paintings, sculptures, carvings that you would like to display. Let us know and there will be a table for you.
  • Can you contribute of baked goods/snack items?  Finger foods only please so we can avoid creating dirty dishes.

Contact us by replying at the top of this post by Saturday Oct. 21st and let us know what you would like to present or bring to the UCFN Member’s Night. If you are contributing food also let us know, please.

American Painted Lady butterfly

American Painted Lady, Vanessa virginiensis, one of the migratory butterflies

John Muir in our Headwaters area!

Our Southern Ontario area plays a special role in the development of what we now call the environmental movement.  Few of us know much about this pivotal role.

Starting in the Spring of 1864, the young Scotsman turned American, John Muir, spent several months botanizing through Southern Ontario. This was his first real exploratory trip beyond his adopted home farm in Wisconsin.

It was over in the Pottageville Swamp area (what was then part of the much larger Holland Marsh) that he had one of his most significant events of his lifetime, seeing a rare northern orchid, Calypso borealis. This epiphany started him on his way to dedicate the rest of his life to the preservation of the natural world.

“The rarest and most beautiful of the flowering plants I discovered on this first grand excursion was Calypso borealis (the Hider of the North). I had been fording streams more and more difficult to cross and wading bogs and swamps that seemed more and more extensive and more difficult to force one’s way through. Entering one of these great tamarac and arbor-vitae swamps one morning,holding a general though very crooked course by compass, struggling through tangled drooping branches and over and under broad heaps of fallen trees, I began to fear that I would not be able to reach dry ground before dark, and therefore would have to pass the night in the swamp and began, faint and hungry, to plan a nest of branches on one of the largest trees or windfalls like a monkey’s nest, or eagle’s, or Indian’s in the flooded forests of the Orinoco described by Humboldt.

“But when the sun was getting low and everything seemed most bewildering and discouraging, I found beautiful Calypso on the mossy bank of a stream, growing not in the ground but on a bed of yellow mosses in which its small white bulb had found a soft nest and from which its one leaf and one flower sprung. The flower was white and made the impression of the utmost simple purity like a snowflower. No other bloom was near it, for the bog a short distance below the surface was still frozen, and the water was ice cold. It seemed the most spiritual of all the flower people I had ever met. I sat down beside it and fairly cried for joy.

“It seems wonderful that so frail and lovely a plant has such power over human hearts. This Calypso meeting happened some forty-five years ago, and it was more memorable and impressive than any of my meetings with human beings excepting, perhaps, Emerson and one or two others.” (John Muir, re-published in The Life and Letters of John Muir,1924 (After his death))

Calypso orchid (photo by Robert Burcher)

Calypso orchid (photo by Robert Burcher)

Sometime during June of that year, he passed through our Headwaters area, walking westwards along the Hockley Valley from the Holland Marsh to the Luther Marsh. Later that year, he ended up outside of Meaford working in a rake-making factory. When the mill burnt down in the winter of 1866, Muir returned to the United States.

Muir ended up in California where he started the Sierra Club, still one of the leading environmental action organizations.  He is regarded as one of the fathers of the American National Parks system.

John Muir

John Muir

Robert Burcher is a member of the now-defunct Canadian Friends of John Muir.  Burcher is a photographer, a journalist, an author, and an experienced speaker. He is currently doing field work for his latest book on the experiences that John Muir had in Ontario.