Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Travels and triumphs— the stories unfold

by Cheryl Morris for Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

On Thursday, April 16, 2015, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will host a Members’ Night. This will consist of three unique presentations given by members of MVFN. The event will be held in the Social Hall of Almonte United Church, 106 Elgin St., Almonte at 7:30 pm. The clubs’ AGM will follow these Members’ Night presentations.

photo by Howard Robinson

photo by Howard Robinson

‘A Photo Journey of the High Arctic’ will be presented by Howard Robinson, who, along with wife Mary travelled to this wild and remote part of Canada in August and September of 2014. Howard and Mary, of Clayton, have been members of MVFN for over 20 years. Howard has served as MVFN Vice-President and Treasurer, and is photographer and researcher for many MVFN projects. The Robinsons are also frequent participants in MVFN canoeing, camping, and bird outings as well as MVFN’s international trips. The Arctic ‘expedition’ had been their dream for many years.  Howard has always had an interest in nature, beginning with his early scouting and hiking days in Northern England, prior to his move to Canada as a young adult. Here he pursued a career in telecommunications but stayed in touch with nature through his hobby farm in British Columbia and later in Ontario through Lake Stewardship and other activities.

Yellow Warbler. Photo Susan Wilkes

Yellow Warbler. Photo Susan Wilkes

We also look forward to a presentation by Iain Wilkes entitled ‘A Lanark County ‘Big Year’—How Many Birds Are There?’  Also a former MVFN board member and long-time member, Iain became interested in nature during the 1950’s when he joined the Ingersoll Nature Club. Field trips to Long Point and Point Pelee established his interest in the environment and especially birds. Iain became involved in a local Christmas Bird Count in the 1990’s and as a result became an MVFN member. ‘Big Year’ stories are written by people who endeavor to identify as many species of birds as possible within a given year in a defined location. In 2012 he completed a ‘Big Year’ for Ontario during which he identified 290 species!  It was late in 2013 when Iain realized no one had established a bird list for Lanark County. In 2014 he set out to do just that and was successful in completing a Lanark County Big Year which has provided a baseline list of county bird species (available on the MVFN website). We will hear his story of triumph, of being in ‘the field’ every day, and of having to be prepared to race to a new location at any time in order to make an identification.

Young Naturalists. Photo Brenda Boyd

Young Naturalists. Photo Brenda Boyd

We will also be privileged to hear a presentation entitled ‘MVFN’s Budding Young Naturalists in Action’. Now in its fourth year MVFN’s Young Naturalists (YN) Program offers highly interactive ‘nature-based’ experiences for children ages 6 – 11. These 90-minute YN sessions take place at the ecologically-rich Mill of Kintail Conservation area under the experienced leadership of Patty McLaughlin and 3 adult volunteers. Participants are engaged in activities based on a wide variety of themes such as ‘Animal Tracks and Snowshoeing’ and ‘Signs of Spring’. Information on this valuable program can be found on MVFN’s website. Biologist Patty McLaughlin who designs and conducts the program for MVFN, obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from Laurentian University and focused her Carleton University Master’s research work on the effects of roads and traffic noise on bird populations in the Ottawa area. Her current employment at the Wild Bird Care Centre involves implementation of educational outreach for sick, injured and orphaned wild birds. For the April 16th presentation, three current ‘Young Naturalists’, Julia Code, and Isaac and Owen Flieler, will utilize images and personal anecdotes to highlight activities they’ve enjoyed within the program. They will be joined in their presentation by Patty McLaughlin and program coordinator Ron Williamson.

Please join MVFN for this interesting evening of presentations. Our Members’ Night presentations will be followed by the Annual General Meeting. Refreshments will be available. For further information, contact Program Chair, Gretta Bradley at . For MVFN events, membership and other club information visit



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Heritage Tree Workshop

Heritage Tree Workshop 

Mississippi Mills Tree Committee

7 – 9 pm, Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Almonte Old Town Hall, 14 Bridge St. Almonte ON

R.S.V.P. to Neil Carleton at   or  613-256-2018

NOTE: MVFN members and others are invited to register for this event organized by the Town of Mississippi Mills Tree Committee. This is  not an MVFN event.


The Mississippi Mills Tree Committee, chaired by Almonte resident Ron Ayling, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, is a subcommittee of the municipality’s Beautification Committee.

During 2014, the work of the Tree Committee volunteers has been focused on the development of a heritage tree program for Mississippi Mills.  This included consultations with municipal staff and provincial advisors.  In communities across Ontario, heritage trees are being identified, recognized, and protected as important components of urban and rural neighbourhoods.





This is a public “how to” workshop for our new Council and other community residents on the identification, recognition, and protection of heritage trees on municipal property in Mississippi Mills, and on private property with owner consent.

 The workshop will be presented by the Ontario Urban Forest Council (OUFC) , an incorporated not-for-profit organization that has been advocating for trees in urban areas for the past 50 years. The PowerPoints and handouts will include:

  •  how to define and identify heritage trees;
  • how to undertake the cultural-historical research needed to determine if a tree qualifies for heritage status;
  • how to (i) nominate a tree for recognition under the Ontario Heritage Tree Program (a joint commemorative program run by OUFC and Forests Ontario), or
  • how to (ii) work with a local municipal Heritage Committee to seek protection by designation under the Ontario Heritage Act. 

The OUFC  presenters will be: 

Barbara Heidenreich, Natural Heritage Coordinator, Ontario Heritage Trust (see

Edith George, OUFC Advisor (see


What are heritage trees?  Why are they of significance?  How would a heritage tree be identified, recognized, and protected under a Mississippi Mills by-law?  What criteria would be used to assess a tree for possible heritage designation?  How have other municipalities in Ontario launched heritage tree programs?  In what ways could businesses + organizations + individuals in our community get involved?

This “how to” workshop will be an opportunity for community discussion on heritage trees before a by-law is presented for consideration in the Council chamber later in 2015.  A public forum of this nature is consistent with the interests recently expressed by candidates and the electorate to engage in dialogue on issues before a decision process is put in motion for Council’s consideration.

To help us prepare for the event, please register in advance with Neil Carleton at   or  613-256-2018 

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Kintail Country Christmas 2009

Mississippi Valley Conservation will be hosting Kintail Country Christmas again this year. The day-long family event will be held at the Mill of Kintail Saturday, December 12, 2009.

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists will be taking part by welcoming visitors indoors at the Education Centre with crafts, gifts and club information, and outdoors visitors can participate in our Nature Treasure Hunt.

For complete details on this MVC event please see information at


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Kintail Country Christmas 2008

Kintail Country Christmas

Press Release from MVC

It’s a riverside yuletide at the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area on Saturday, December 13 from noon to 6 p.m.

Join us for Kintail Country Christmas and step into the wonderful world of holidays past. From Father Christmas to the Valley Voices experience the simpler side of the season with music, laughter and the great outdoors. Take a stroll, or sleigh ride through the lantern-lit walkways or strap on your blades and go for a spin around the outdoor skating rink. Enjoy stories by the fire, a Children Only Gift Shop, complete with wrapping elves. There’s hot apple cider and home baking too.

Hosted by Mississippi Valley Conservation at the Mill of Kintail Conservation Area, this second annual event has something for everyone.

“Last year was a great success. We are so excited to host this event again this year,” says Museum Manager Stephanie Kolsters.

The holidays are a time when you appreciate what you have, and what we have is a beautiful outdoor site, heritage buildings and a wonderful group of supporters.

Enjoy performances by both the Valley Players and Valley Voices in the Gatehouse at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists will be hosting outdoor activities throughout the day while the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and artist Jennifer Ryder-Jones provide ornament and craft making activities. Sleigh rides, courtesy of the Wolf Grove Ryed-hers, are a wonderful way to see the site. Free hot apple cider is provided courtesy of the Ottawa Region Media Group. Lily White will tell stories by the fire in the museum at 12:30, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Weather permitting, the outdoor skating will be open for all.

Kintail Country Christmas is truly a community event celebrating this exciting and fun time of year.

“Family and friends are what this magical season is all about. We invite you to enjoy all the traditions of the holiday season and spend time with your loved ones surrounded by the beauty of the conservation area,” says Kolsters.

Father Christmas will also be visiting the Mill of Kintail conservation area on December 13. Visit him in the museum gallery; each family receives a free photograph.

The festivities run from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 13. Admission is only $10 per vehicle. For more information call Stephanie at 613-256-3610 ext. 2, visit  or look for us at the Pakenham and Almonte Christmas parades, December 6 and 7, for a detailed schedule of events and site map. Schedules and site maps will also be available at the entrance and online.

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