Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Author of definitive book on Canadian Mammals at next MVFN talk

Press Release

By Cheryl Morris

On Thursday, January 15, 2015, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will present the fourth lecture in their current series which is based on the theme “When A Tree Falls In The Forest, Does Anyone Hear?” This event will be held in the Social Hall of Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte Ontario at 7:30 pm.

Guest speaker  for the evening will be author and biologist Donna Naughton. Donna has recently retired from a career spanning 38 years at the Canadian Museum of Nature where she worked as a research and collections assistant. Donna’s presentation will be entitled “Changes To Canadian Mammal Fauna Due to Human Influence”.

“At a time when the natural environment is more threatened by human activity than ever before, the decisions we make in the next few decades could be key to species and habitat survival.” – Donna Naughton from her book The Natural History of Canadian Mammals, published in 2012. Humans have changed the mammalian fauna in North America in major ways at least three times. Some changes are still ongoing. Our speaker will talk about these extinction events and discuss how global climate change fits into this picture. She will discuss which mammals existed in the past in eastern Ontario, which mammal groups are currently living in this region, and which ones are likely to still exist here in the future.

Donna will also say a few words about her book, The Natural History of Canadian Mammals.  Naughton spent eleven years studying and drawing mammals to include in the book. This visually stunning volume is a definitive guide to the 215 species of mammals in Canada. The book outlines the story of each of Canada’s mammals through detailed text, colourful photos and informative drawings and artwork. The beautiful 800-page book is truly the culmination of a long and inspired career.

Donna Naughton figureA figure from Donna Naughton’s beautifully illustrated book The Natural History of Canadian Mammals. Naughton will be the featured guest speaker January 15, 2015, as MVFN’s natural history lecture series continues in Almonte.

In a past interview with North Country Public Radio, Donna states “One of my jobs in my 37 years at the museum was to answer questions from the public. So anybody who phoned or emailed with a mammal question got sent to my desk. So I had a pretty good idea of what the Canadian public wanted to know and how they would like it answered . . . you get a feel for what they really want to know”.

Please join MVFN for this interesting and informative presentation. Refreshments and discussion will follow the talk. There is a non-member fee of $5. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair, Gretta Bradley, at . Visit for all MVFN events, membership and other club information.



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Climate Change and Implications for Health and Well-Being

Climate Change and Implications for Health and Well-Being at next MVFN talk

On Thursday, November 20, 2014, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will present the third lecture of their current series based on the theme “When a Tree Falls in the Forest, Does Anyone Hear?” This event will be held in the Social Hall of Almonte United Church at 106 Elgin St., Almonte, Ontario at 7:30 pm.

Guest speaker for the evening will be Anita Payne, full-time Climate Activist and a local leader in The Climate Reality Project Canada. Anita’s presentation is entitled “Climate Change and Implications for Health and Well-Being”.

“The debate involving the reality of climate change and global warming has been ongoing for many years. At the November meeting of MVFN, the following questions will inspire your thoughts: What is the scientific explanation and evidence for global warming and climate change? What effects are we seeing locally and globally? What are the implications to the health and well-being of the human race as well as our wildlife population?  Is it too late to stop climate change? Can anything still be done? …We are all in this together and we all, in our own way, need to address the crisis created by climate change”. –Anita Payne

For many years, Anita has been dedicated to the call for action to address the global crisis inherent in climate change, not just for future generations but for all life, now,on planet Earth, our only home. Her thought-provoking presentation will include not only the implications for human health and the health of our natural world, but also what can still be done to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. She will share with us her recent experiences during The Great March for Climate Action in the USA, including a number of in-person meetings with ‘climate refugees’. From the information presented in this lecture, perhaps we will each discover a contribution we can make to help reverse climate change.

Arrival in Washington D.C.

Local climate change action leader Anita Payne  arrives in LaFayette Park, Washington D.C. on November 1, 2014 along with other marchers in The Great March for Climate Action.  Charles Chandler (left)  helped carry the banner part of the way.

Refreshments and discussion will follow the talk. Free for MVFN members, or $5 at the door. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair, Gretta Bradley at .


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Noted Naturalist Dr. Ken Beattie at next MVFN talk

Noted naturalist Dr. Ken Beattie will be our speaker at the next MVFN talk: Without Education, There Will Be No Conservation!

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will present the second lecture of their new series “When a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear?” on Thursday October 16th at the Almonte United Church.

MVFN’s guest speaker will be Dr. Ken Beattie, noted naturalist and current Manager of Habitat Programs with the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Beattie will inspire with his presentation“Without Education, There Will Be No Conservation!”

Ken Beattie has applied his extensive knowledge and experience to urban habitat development, practical environmental projects, food security initiatives, and of course, education. His professional activities have spanned over four decades and extended to the four corners of the globe! Ken Beattie is renowned on the national and international stage, whether delighting audiences in lecture halls or on cruise ships with his witty and intelligent series of talks entitled The Earth’s Garden, or in presentations at horticultural shows such as Toronto’s Canada Blooms or the BC Home and Garden Show.  Beattie has also been the host of award-winning television shows inspired by garden themes and in particular those focusing on wise management of the earth’s resources. He was the popular host of the live Canadian television series Get Growing.


















“To walk in a forest can, and usually does evoke a deeper sense of self and one’s position within a larger scheme. Not all Canadians have the privilege or opportunity however to ‘walk in a forest’. How then do those of us who have walked in a forest, perhaps even metaphorically, synthesize or translate our experiences to others?” asks naturalist Ken Beattie.  photo Pauline Donaldson

Ken Beattie completed a Niagara Parks Diploma in Horticulture at the prestigious Niagara Parks Botanical Garden. He is one of Canada’s most esteemed and approachable authorities on most if not all aspects of the plant world and on the relationship between people and plants. Beattie encourages his audiences to live in harmony with nature, even within the confines of a small urban backyard: “To walk in a forest can, and usually does evoke a deeper sense of self and one’s position within a larger scheme. Not all Canadians have the privilege or opportunity however to ‘walk in a forest’. How then do those of us who have walked in a forest, perhaps even metaphorically, synthesize or translate our experiences to others? Engagement or re-engagement with nature, urban conservation ethic, and demonstrated best practices at home, schools, offices and governments may have overwhelmingly positive effects on the next generations.”

If we were to lose a species or its habitat does it matter or is it worthy of our attention? It is imperative, now and in the generations to follow, that a much deeper sense of understanding, caring and nurturing of our relationship with nature be established such that any threat to even one species or habitat will evoke not only our attention but also effective intervention.

Join us for this talk by Dr. Ken Beattie: ‘Without Education, There Will Be No Conservation!’  The talk takes place at 7:30 pm, Thursday, October 16, 2014 at the Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St., Almonte, ON. Refreshments and discussion follow the talk and there is a non-member fee of $5. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Gretta Bradley at .  For all MVFN events, membership and other club information anytime, visit

“In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous” -Aristotle

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MVFN publishes book of natural history lectures

MVFN publishes book of natural history lectures

Full text of the book here

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) host natural history talks throughout the year in Almonte. These lectures have been taking place more or less regularly since the club’s founding in 1988. You do not need to be an expert to enjoy these presentations, just a fascination and curiosity for the natural world!

Speakers are experts in their fields, often at a world-class level. The information provided, whether giving insights into a particular species or habitat or even a global environmental issue, is up-to-date, and there is a focus on the local perspective. This means the lectures really are worthy of and likely of interest to a larger local audience than attend the talks. In order to spread the word to a wider audience, volunteer MVFN reporters diligently write up accounts of the talks for the local media and for posting on the club’s website.

As one of several 25th anniversary initiatives, MVFN decided to publish these lecture reports in book form last year. The first volume, Natural History Lecture Series of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists 2013 is now available on loan from the Almonte Branch of the Mississippi Mills Public Library. The book and individual lecture reports are also available for download from the MVFN website click here. Accounts of other MVFN natural history lectures may also be found on the website as well the announcements of upcoming lectures.  We invite you to visit there to learn more about the natural world!

Photo 1 by P. Donaldson
















Presentation of MVFN’s Natural History Lecture series book to the Mississippi Mills Public Library took place at the Almonte Branch. L-R: Cathy Keddy, Pauline Donaldson (co-editors of the new book, along with Jim Bendell), Pam Harris (CEO/Chief Librarian, Mississippi Mills Public Library), Yvonne Bendell (MVFN member), and Jim Bendell.

The book includes reports of natural history talks for two series: Trends in Fauna and Flora and Nature Beneath our Feet held between September 2011 and May 2013. Topics include Citizen Science Networks, Lanark County Soil FUNdamentals, Ground Beetles-My Favourite Group and other topics ranging from salamanders, arctic ground-nesting birds, flying squirrels, green ‘aliens’ and more. Also included in the volume are the speaker biographies and contact information, and some key references. The book includes a dedication to Mike McPhail, President of MVFN from 2006-2009. MVFN’s goal in providing the information is to contribute to a broader understanding and greater appreciation of our natural environment, and wiser interaction with it. In addition, in reading a report or biography, perhaps a young reader will be inspired to follow in the footsteps of one of the expert speakers.

Photo 2 by Henri Goulet


















From Joel Byrne’s report on Henri Goulet’s Ground beetle talk: “As if an expert sculptor and jeweler had collaborated to craft it! A Carabus vietinghoffi, from the ‘land of the small willows’, with its turquoise wing covers trimmed with copper. This is the ground beetle Henri considered ‘the best’ in Canada.” Photo Henri Goulet

The lecture reporting project would not have been possible without the dedication of the following people who authored reports: Joel Byrne, Mary Robinson, Fred Schueler, Lynda Bennett, Jim Bendell, Linda Mosquin, Pauline Donaldson, Mike Macpherson, Cliff Bennett, Eugene Fytche, Christine Hume, and Elizabeth Wiles.All are active and passionate volunteers for nature, several having served on the board of MVFN, and all enthusiastically gave their time and effort to provide excellent details of the talks, as well as their own personal insights and impressions.  Cathy Keddy was the inspiration behind the lecture series and coordinated the lecture program as Program Chair for MVFN from 2008-2014. Project organizers and editors were Pauline Donaldson, Cathy Keddy and Jim Bendell. MVFN thanks Peter Nelson, former Head Librarian of the Town of Mississippi Mills Public Library for his advice and encouragement with the project, and also Pam Harris, new CEO/Chief Librarian of the Mississippi Mills Public Library.

MVFN’s natural history lectures began again for a new season earlier this September. The talks take place in the social hall of the Almonte United Church on Elgin St. in Almonte. Mark your calendars for the next presentation on Thursday, October 16, 2014. Watch for speaker details in the local media and on the website.

Photo 3 by P. Donaldson






















The book, now available at the Almonte Public library, includes a report of the presentation by wildlife expert Patty Summers (shown posing with a highly specialized winter survivor, a Great Grey Owl) entitled Survivor: winter wildlife edition. Photo Pauline Donaldson

Photo 4 by P. Donaldson

















Included in the newly published MVFN lecture report book is the report “Soil Fundamentals talk a natural start to MVFN’s Nature Beneath our Feet lecture series” detailing the soil talk by David Kroetsch of the Canadian Soil Information Service. Following the talk there was an opportunity to enjoy refreshments and look at soil profile samples provided by the speaker. Photo Pauline Donaldson


















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Appleton Wetland Report kicks off new MVFN series

Poster for our September talk

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) natural history lecture series resumes for a new season Thursday, September 18 in Almonte. The theme for this year’s series is a twist on the conundrum “When A Tree Falls in the Forest, Does Anyone Hear?”  If no one is there to hear the sound of a tree as it crashes through the undergrowth to the forest floor, was it ever there?” Nature teaches us that when we ignore the ‘crashing trees’, we do so at our own peril. Like a stone dropped into a pond, the impacts of changes to our natural environment grow in an ever-widening circle, reaching into every aspect of our lives. This year’s speakers will challenge us to inform ourselves and engage or perhaps reengage with important issues affecting our natural world.













The Appleton Silver Maple Swamp. photo by Al Seaman

The series begins with an issue close to home with a talk based on the Appleton Wetlands and the findings outlined in an MVFN report The Appleton Wetland: Its Decline, Cause and Recommended Action released last month. The Appleton silver maple swamp, which has been flooded each spring for generations, is designated as a provincially significant wetland and an ANSI, or area of natural and scientific interest – declared by the provincial government in recognition of its unique ecological features. By 2006 however, extensive damage to the flood-tolerant trees in the wetland became obvious.  Concerns about the decline were raised to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority  to no avail. In 2011, and again in 2013, MVFN formed a research group to examine the possible causes of damage to the trees, including the possibility of adverse effects due to continually high water levels as a result of ongoing power generation operations in Almonte.

Speaker for The Appleton Wetland Report presentation will be Al Seaman, a Professional Engineer, and member of MVFN’s Appleton Wetland Research Group and lead author of the report released in August. Mr. Seaman, an Almonte resident and native of the northwestern Quebec mining town of Noranda, graduated from McGill University as an Electrical Engineer.  Early on in his career Al realized that goals of industry do not always respect the requirements of pristine nature.

Seaman’s lecture topic is ‘The River’, specifically the Mississippi River with a focus on the stretch from Almonte to Appleton. Mr. Seaman will endeavour to demonstrate the impact of changing water levels on the extensive Appleton wetland.

All are welcome to this MVFN presentation. Find out why water levels matter and get answers to all your questions about the detailed findings of the research group! The talk takes place at 7:30 pm, Thursday, September 18, 2014 at the Almonte United Church Social Hall, 106 Elgin St., Almonte, ON. There is a non-member fee of $5. Refreshments will be available. For further information, please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Gretta Bradley at .


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