Find your true north

Ottawa River

One of the many things that makes this country great is the natural beauty of our landscapes, rich resources and biodiversity.

This summer, why not explore all Canada has to offer by visiting a Nature Conservancy of Canada property?

The NCC was founded in 1960 by naturalists who decided to take action to protect natural spaces and promote conservation. Today they have thousands of acres of natural properties across Canada and offer volunteer opportunities for Canadians to help in conservation efforts. They recently launched a new website and are inviting Canadians to explore their properties.

There is probably a Nature Conservancy of Canada property near you and you don’t even know it. I just learned about three properties close to me: Whitefish Lake nature reserve, a 120 acre property along the shores of Whitefish Lake here in South Frontenac, Brighton Wetland, one of the last undeveloped shorelines on Presqu’ile Bay, and a property with the longest underwater cave system in Canada under the Ottawa River.

Some other land parcels worth exploring are the Green Mountains Nature reserve in Quebec’s Eastern townships, Cockburn Island in Lake Huron and the Eastern Georgian Bay Coast Natural Area.

Want to learn more about the work of the NCC? On August 23rd the NCC is looking for volunteers to restore habitat in one of their Warkworth properties in the Rice Lake plains.

You can also sign up for their blog.

Today’s #HappyAct in honour of Canada Day is to explore all this great land has to offer this year. Happy Canada Day!

Ed. note: If you are in Eastern Ontario, another great property to check out is the Depot Creek Conservation Area at 6329 First Lake Road. This 71-acre property was purchased from artist Kim Ondaatje who still lives next door in Blue Roof Farm.

Stand tall and sing our national anthem


This past week, the world watched in shock as Great Britain voted to exit the European Union. While I respect the right of Britons to decide their fate, I can’t help but feel the world has taken a giant step back. Back to the days of blind nationalism and isolationism, movements that in the past have sparked global conflicts.

Brexit coincided with two national holidays here in Canada—St. Jean Baptiste Day in Quebec and Canada Day. I am proud to be Canadian and on Canada Day, I will celebrate this great country and wear our cherished red and white with nationalistic pride.

But here’s the funny thing about nationalism. It has a dual meaning, a dark and a light side. In its most purest, good form, nationalism is a display of love—a patriotic love for your country. But its dark side evokes a very different meaning and emotion, the emotion of hate since it can also be defined as an extreme form of patriotism, often marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries.

I would like to think that in Canada, we are pure in our nationalism. But I’m not that naïve. Some day, and with the Brexit vote, that some day could be sooner than we think, the dark side of nationalism will rear its ugly head again in this country and the separatists in Quebec will resume the call for Quebec to separate. I hope when that day comes, we have more sense.

What is so very, very sad, is it doesn’t have to be a choice. You can be a nationalist while still forging unions and partnerships.

This week’s #HappyAct is to celebrate with purity in your heart this national holiday.

Stand tall and sing the national anthem. Wear red and white with pride. Drown your pancakes in maple syrup. Say eh?, and then beg someone’s pardon.

As Chris and Dave Hadfield wrote in their great anthem to Canada, we are, after all “politely Canadian”. Hopefully that will keep us together.

Watch a parade

Girls at a parade
Grace and Clare at the Hyannis Fourth of July parade in Hyannis, MA a few years ago

When Dave and I first started dating, he played the bagpipes in the Burlington Pipe Band. For the first two years of our courtship, our weekends consisted of traipsing down the main street of every small town in southern Ontario as part of some parade. It was a great way to get to know our region, and our romance blossomed to the soundtrack of Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave.

Young or old, big or small, there is something endearing and enchanting about a parade.

Neighbours congregate in lawn chairs and on roadside curbs to share greetings and stories. The little ones get excited, eagerly peering down the empty street anticipating the start of the big event and asking “Has it started? Are they coming?” Then the first firetruck appears, sounding its siren, the old cars beep their horns, and a flotilla of floats and smiling, happy faces stream by. What’s not to love?

This week’s #HappyAct is to watch a parade. Our family will in Bath this year for the Canada Day parade and festivities since Dave has become a member of the Napanee Pipe Band. Get out and celebrate. Happy Canada Day everyone!