Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Discovery of orchid Spiranthes magnicamporum Sheviak in Burnt Lands Alvar

Discovery of orchid species in Burnt Lands Provincial Park

Ontario Parks: “Burnt Lands Provincial Park contains an extensive alvar ecosystem supporting a diversity of plant and animal species, many of which are provincially or regionally rare. Surrounding and interspersed among the open habitats are areas of cedar, white spruce, balsam fir and poplar forest which support a distinct array of plants in the undergrowth.”


The Great Plains Ladies’-tresses, Spiranthes magnicamporum Sheviak, is an orchid that occurs in the North American Great Plains from extreme southeastern Manitoba to central Texas.  In 2011, it was found 150 km farther east, in the Carden Alvar in the City of Kawartha Lakes.

On 18 September 2013, this species was discovered in the Burnt Lands Provincial Park near Ottawa, Ontario. The publicly owned lands within this area, which straddles the boundary between Lanark County and the City of Ottawa, comprise the Burnt Lands Provincial Park (Nature Reserve).

The findings were described in a 2013 publication in The Candian Field-Naturalist 127(4):348-351 written by Joyce M. Reddoch, Paul M. Catling, and Allan H. Reddoch.

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In Memoriam Mike McPhail 1954 – 2012

Mike McPhail

Michael ‘Mike’ Robert McPhail, well-known former President of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists passed away peacefully at his home on the morning of January 11, 2012 after a courageous battle with cancer. One year after his passing he is still missed by all of us who worked with him, travelled with him and enjoyed his enthusiasm for nature. Mike was an ardent supporter of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists and a deeply committed lover of the natural world. At the time of his passing Mike was a member of MVFN’s Board of Directors and had previously served as MVFN’s President. Mike was a true champion for nature. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike’s family, wife Peggy,  daughters Amber and Christine, sister Susan, and all his family and friends.

In September 2012 the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists were pleased to dedicate a memorial bench installed at the Mill of Kintail Conservation area in Mike’s memory. The bench, which bears a plaque was placed near the play structure and education building. A ceremony with members of Mike’s family, took place to dedicate the bench designed and built in memory of Mike McPhail.

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MVFN Launches Website Information on Local Trails

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett, MVFN Programme Committee member
August 22, 2004

MVFN Launches Website on Local Trails

People HikingJust as canoeing trails expose people to the natural wonders of our shoreline forests, streams and open countryside, hiking and quiet walks achieve the same results. Wildflowers, small flowering bushes and groves of sumac, wild cherry and dogwood, framed and sheltered by canopies of maple, pine and ash contribute to a peaceful, cathedral-like setting soothing to the body and soul. Animal tracks and other evidence, fluttering butterflies and moths and a host of mushrooms add to one’s nature index. Bird song embellishes a symphony of sound surrounding the serene solitude.

But where can one find these trails to walk on? As a companion page to its touted canoeing trails found on its popular website (, Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) has launched a new web page, identifying walking trails available to the public in Mississippi Mills, Lanark Highlands, Carleton Place, Beckwith and area.

In this trail series, MVFN provides, for your education and enjoyment, a description and location of walking trails, how to get there, where to park your vehicle, length of trail and time to walk it. Some trails listed already exist while others are unfolding at this time, due to initiatives of various local trail groups. All trails range in distance from one to four km and all are of easy degree of difficulty. Some are circular, some are linear.

Trails presently written up on the page include The Mill of Kintail and the Trans Canada Trail from Carleton Place towards Ottawa.

As the series unfolds, hiking enthusiasts are invited to add to the list of trails. All trails are not known to all persons. Your comments are most welcome. Have a good hike!

For more information call Cliff Bennett, 256-5013 or email

Click here to visit the new “Hiking Trails” page.

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MVFN Appoints New President at AGM 2004

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Press Release: 24 May 2004
Submitted by: Cliff Bennett

MVFN Appoints New President

The Annual General Meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, held at Union Hall on Thursday, May 20, saw the appointment of Michael Macpherson to lead the MVFN. Michael, a Ramsay Ward resident in Mississippi Mills, has served as vice-president for two years and currently serves as the MVFN representative on the newly formed Mississippi Watershed Madawaska Land Trust Conservancy Board of Directors. He has been a member of MVFN for several years.

Michael McPhail, who lives near Blakeney, has moved up from his role as chair of Environmental Issues, to become the new Vice-President and Sandy Atack, president for two years, becomes Past President. Also re-elected was Secretary Billy Wiles, Treasurer Reiner Hollbach and Directors Tine Cuiper, Programme Committee chair; Pip Winters, Ontario Nature representative, Franziska vonRosen, representative on the Community Stewardship Council of Lanark County; Janine deSallaberry, Environmental Education Projects Programme coordinator and Jim Bendell, Chair, Natural Resources Issues Committee.

Also serving in a non-voting capacity is Paul Frigon, Lanark County Trails Issues; Cliff Bennett, representative on the Mississippi Mills Community Official Plan working group; Janet Fytche, Membership Coordinator and e-mail network facilitator, Eileen Hennemann, newsletter publisher, Christine Birkett, Webmaster and Maida Lowe, refreshment coordinator.

Past President Sandy Atack, welcomed the large crowd to the 17th Annual General Meeting and extolled the achievements of the club during the past year. Noteworthy were the large number of members playing specific roles in the life of MVFN, the fine quality of indoor speaker presentations and the addition to Museum in a Suitcase programme units made available to schools in our membership area.

Reports were given by chairs of different committees and treasurer Reiner Hollbach presented the audited financial picture, noting that, while holding a deficit balance last year, the club now is well into the black. Laurie McKay was appointed auditor for the next financial year. Appreciation gifts were presented to retiring members from the BOD Eileen Hennemann and Cliff Bennett.

Guest presenter for the evening was noted photographer, writer and researcher Susan Fisher. Susan’s two part slide presentation included a selection of amazing black and white photos illustrating the power of light on black and some dramatic colour slides of an adventure she had in the mountains of British Columbia. The meeting concluded with refreshments and informal discussion.

The next MVFN event will be the Gala presentation and fundraiser at the Carleton Place Canoe Club on Saturday evening, May 29. Also, MVFN is again offering a summer canoeing programme. For further information on MVFN activities, call up their website at or contact Mike Macpherson at 256-3043.

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AGM 15th May 2003

Annual General Meeting

Thursday, May 15, 2003
Union Hall 7:30 p.m.  
Twenty-one members attended the annual general meeting. Board of Director members in attendance:  Jim Bendell, Yvonne Bendell, Cliff Bennett (acting chair), Eileen Hennemann, Tine Kuiper, Michael Macpherson, Pip Winters, Karen Richter, Franziska Von Rosen .

1) Welcome, President’s remarks  Cliff Bennett acted as president in the absence of Sandy Attack and welcomed members to the meeting.  MVFN has had a busy year, with such excitement as the OMB hearing; the prestige of MFVN was raised and MFVN members are asked to act as consultants or send letters of support. Membership has grown to over 100 memberships. MVFN members are representing the club on community committees, and MVFN may be involved in creating a land trust.

2) Approval of agenda – Moved by Cliff Bennett, seconded by Eileen Hennemann, that the agenda be approved.  All in favour.  Carried

3) Approval of minutes of May 16, 2002 – Moved by Tine Kuiper, seconded by Yvonne Bendell that the minutes of the AGM of May 16, 2002 be approved.  All in favour. Carried.

4) Reports:

Treasurer – Michael Macpherson presented the annual financial report (see attached report). MVFN ended up with a small deficit last year; next year’s budget is balanced; EEPP monies are separated from the general fund.  Moved by Michael Macpherson seconded by Pip Winters that the financial report be approved.  All in favour.  Carried.
Moved by Michael Macpherson, seconded by Eileen Hennemann that the auditor for next year be Michael Doyle.  All in favour.  Carried.

Membership/Publicity and Public Relations/Newsletter  Eileen Hennemann reported that there are 68 paid, 54 unpaid members; a reminder notice will be sent.  Three newsletters were produced in 2003 with one issue sent out electronically as a PDF but since many members do not have high speed internet service the download time to receive the newsletter was long; Eileen will work with members to establish a list of those with high speed service to receive the newsletter electronically; the newsletter is posted on the web site. Christine Birkett is the MFVN web master and is doing a wonderful job; her value to the MVFN is priceless.   All MVFN events are promoted through the internet and not via fax or posters, unless it is a special event.  Event info is sent to Eileen who forwards this to membership and to local and city newspapers as well as forwarding event reports. Moved by Eileen Hennemann, seconded by Pip Winters that the membership/Publicity and Public Relations/ Newsletter report be approved.  All in favour.  Carried.
Eileen has given a questionnaire to board members regarding our corporate image and Cliff Bennett thanked Eileen for giving her corporate expertise to work with MFVN. Franziska Von Rosen reported that the Lanark Stewardship Council is organizing a conservation tent for Rural Expo 2003 and is creating videos using photos about events of community organizations; she is looking for photos of MVFN events. Cliff Bennett reported that the MFVN Board of Directors is looking at involvement at Rural Expo. Eileen Hennemann explained how she takes info that is MVFN/nature related and sends it out to the membership email list usually a couple of weeks in advance; about 65%-75% of members are on email.  A suggestion was made for those without computers to buddy up with someone with a computer to receive info of interest to our members.

Program  Tine Kuiper reported that as always the Program Committee has had a very busy year with many indoor and outdoor activities and managed to stay well under their budget, and that helped overall finances. The Fall session started with Robert Lee’s discussing his Youth program on “Discovering trees and life they support”, followed in October by Tony Beck on “Birds of the Ottawa valley” and Jane Buckley on “Loon lake studies” in November; then the Christmas party in early December.  In January there was a problem when due to family reasons the Duncan talk on organic farming had to be postponed one month at very short notice, but Art Clarke was able to fill this admirably with photos of his recent arctic project.  The committee hopes that he will be back next season with more photos on the wild life he encountered. Paul Jones of the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas made a presentation in March, and this was followed in April with a lovely talk on Spring flowers by Sheila and Harry Thomson.  For outdoor activities, there was a visit to the Alba Wilderness school in September, and one week later a canoe trip to Park Lake. Many members participated in the Annual Christmas bird count, and there was a ski and snowshoe event in the Wolf grove in February, which included an outside winter fire with mulled cider. The next visit is to the Duncans on May 25 for a site visit on organic farming plus barbecue, and then the finish to the season is visit to the White Lake fen on June 22, with naturalists Monty and Grace Wood. Planning for next year has started, with details to follow.  There will be presentations about turtles, snakes, species at risk, bats, peregrine falcons, and possibly a banquet. The results of the membership questionnaire were analyzed and will be reported separately. The Program Committee does not meet very often, as much has been done by e-mail. A very special thanks goes to Bobby Clarke for organizing the hosting aspects. She will be taking a leave of absence to engage in election issues. Chris Hume has agreed to take on this task for the next while. Another thank you to Cliff for standing by the phone as well as handling public enquiries and for coordinating the various press releases. Moved by Tine Kuiper, seconded by Joel Byrne that the program report be approved.  All in favour.  Carried.

FON  Pip Winters reported attending an FON regional meeting in Ottawa in the fall and another one on May 10 in Kingston; some of the issues discussed were use of ATVs on trails, mining at Mellon lake. Moved by Pip Winters, seconded by Jim Bendell that the FON report be approved.  All in favour.  Carried.

Environmental Issues  Susan Fisher sent her regrets and in her absence Cliff Bennett reported that the Environmental Issues committee has been involved in responding with letters to requests for help, petitions, and letters of appeal; in the next municipal elections the committee may be involved in sending out letters to candidates with questions about the environment.

Natural Resources Issues – Jim Bendell reported MFVN has made presentations about community forests to Lanark Highlands Council; Jean Clifford is leading a group to prepare a pesticide bylaw; MFVN supported a citizen committee of Clayton in an appeal  to OMB; MFVN wrote letter to OMYA about a new road, letter giving MVFN point of view to Bear Nuisance committee; letters about overpopulation of deer, killing of wolves and coyotes, endangered species act; MVFN has provided  books and information, has books to Almonte library, natural history information to tourism councils of Mississippi Mills and Lanark Highlands; MFVN has received a certificate of recognition  from Eastern Ontario Model Forest Project; Jim Bendell represents MFVN on the Environmental Advisory Committee of Lanark Highlands, and the the Mazenaw-Lanark Forest Management Committee. Moved by Jim Bendell, seconded by Franziska Von Rosen that the Natural Resources report be approved.  All in favour.  Carried.
Ed Wilson mentioned that one of the big issues for Mississippi Mills Environmental Advisory Committee is waste management and that that committee is also looking for ideas from MFVN members.

Environmental Education Projects Programme  Cliff Bennett reported for Janine de Sallaberry, the EEPP coordinator, that EEPP has helped to fund a recent field trip to Biodome in Montreal. Other reports  Cliff Bennett reported that MFVN has found 87 breeding species in the Appleton square in the third year of the Breeding Bird Atlas program. Cliff and his team will be participating in the Baillie Birdathon this weekend and is seeking sponsorship. MFVN is working with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority on the “Yellow Brick Road” project with students going out to paint a yellow fish on catch basins, plus to distribute pamphlets to raise awareness about pollutants going into catch basins.  This project will run on May 29 and 30th and MVFN is requesting volunteers.

5) Constitutional amendments  Karen Richter presented two constitutional amendments.  The first amendment was to allow a decision about membership fees to be made at the board of director’s level only and that that decision not be required to return for approval to the membership; the budget shortfall last year required the board of directors to consider a membership fee increase in 2003 which needed to take effect in April when memberships are renewed and not wait until membership approval at the AGM in May which would delay the increase for a year; the BOD did decide to go ahead with a fee increase in order to project a balanced budget for 2003 but felt that the constitution should be amended to reflect such a decision of fee increase in future. Moved by Pip Winters, seconded by Tine Kuiper that Section 2(a) be amended to delete “and approved by the members”. Section 2(a) would now read “Any person who pays to the MVFN a membership fee, the amount to be determined by the Board from time to time”. In order to apply for charitable status, MFVN in required to have certain wording in the constitution.  Moved by Michael McPhail, seconded by Ed Wilson, that OBJECTIVES (f) in the MVFN constitution be amended to read “do such things as are conducive orincidental to the attainment of the purpose of the MississippiValley Field Naturalists without purpose of gain for its members. Any profits or acretions to theMississippi Valley Field Naturalists shall be used solely to promote its objectives”.All in favour.  Carried.   6) Election of officers for the coming year  Michael Macpherson presented the slate of officers of the year 2003-2004 President -Sandy Atack Past President -Cliff Bennett Vice President – Michael Mcpherson Secretary – Elizabeth Wiles Treasurer  Reiner Hollbach Directors Jim Bendell, Yvonne Bendell,  Eileen Hennemann, Tine Kuiper, Michael McPhail, Pip Winters, Franziska Von Rosen. Moved by Michael Mcpherson, seconded by Eileen Hennemann that the slate of officers for Board of Directors for 2003 be approved.  All in favour.  Carried. 7) Cliff Bennett thanked Susan Fisher for her contribution as chair of the Environmental Issues committee and Karen Richter for her contribution in the role of secretary.  He welcomed Michael McPhail as chair of the Environmental Issues Committee and Elizabeth (Billie) Wiles as secretary.

10) Adjournment – moved by Eileen Hennemann that the meeting be adjourned.  

Members then enjoyed a slide presentation on the January 2001 eclipse of the moon before proceeding home to view this year’s eclipse.  


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