A chance encounter with Charles Darwin

The title page of the original first edition of <i>On the Origin of Species, 1859</i> (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The title page of the original first edition of On the Origin of Species, 1859 (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The day after I finished my last undergrad exam was warm and sunny — perfect for celebratory drinks on an outdoor patio. Instead, I found myself entering the quiet, cool darkness of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of...

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The melancholy mantra of the mourning dove

Fairy Hill property (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

Fairy Hill property (Photo by Bill Armstrong)

Your imagination can, at times, completely devour your inhibitions to a point where those thoughts intensify and manifest in your brain. In this moment, you don’t know where reality ends and fantasy begins. Today was such a day. It was a...

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Getting lost in the cottonwoods

Ancient cottonwoods, British Columbia (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

Ancient cottonwoods, British Columbia (Photo by Tim Ennis/NCC)

As far as trees go, cottonwoods are not long-lived. While an oak might live for a few centuries, cottonwoods (and their kin — poplars and aspens) don’t fare as well. Fast-growing and quick to establish, 60 to 80 years is a long life...

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Gaff Point, Nova Scotia - a feast for the senses

New pathway, Gaff Point, NS (Photo by NCC)

New pathway, Gaff Point, NS (Photo by NCC)

Gaff Point is a lush peninsula dangling into the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Nova Scotia. If you look due south from the bottom tip of the point, and if you could actually see far enough, the land on the horizon would be South America. Gaff...

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Exploring Canada on four wheels

Chris Perrin in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, BC, 2006. (Photo courtesy Chris Perrin)

Chris Perrin in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, BC, 2006. (Photo courtesy Chris Perrin)

I first visited British Columbia in 2006. My brother, our mutual friend and I decided to make an early summer road trip from Montreal to Tofino and back — all in two weeks. There wasn’t any particular reason for the trip other than a...

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Heard it from a Scout: Tips for safe sailing

Sarah out on the sailboat (Photo courtesy Scouts Canada)

Sarah out on the sailboat (Photo courtesy Scouts Canada)

Coast to coast, there are endless opportunities for sailing in Canada. From hauling the lines to watching the sails fill and being pulled across the water by the sheer force of the wind, sailing is an exhilarating experience and offers a unique...

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There are bears on Prince Edward Island

Marine tardigrade, known affectionately as a 'water bear'. (Photo by Emma Perry)

Marine tardigrade, known affectionately as a 'water bear'. (Photo by Emma Perry)

What’s that, you say? There are bears on PEI? Yes! Well, sort of. Tiny, microscopic water bears! I live in Prince Edward Island, the smallest Canadian province, with the highest population density. We have a long history of humans living on...

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Heard it from a Scout: Leaving only footprints in nature

View from the top of Eagle Bluffs, BC. (Photo by Emilie Diver)

View from the top of Eagle Bluffs, BC. (Photo by Emilie Diver)

The view was incredible and the challenge of the hike up to the Eagle Bluffs in North Vancouver made it even more worthwhile. Ruby, my yellow lab, was happily sitting and begging for food from me and my Scout troop. Her behaviour was in stark...

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Overlooked plants and new discoveries: Moss and liverwort surveys in Manitoba

New liverworts to Manitoba on decaying log (Photo by Richard Caners)

New liverworts to Manitoba on decaying log (Photo by Richard Caners)

As part of updating the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Natural Area Conservation Plan for the Whitemouth River Watershed in southeastern Manitoba, I spent a day assisting Royal Alberta Museum botany curator and good friend Dr....

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Searching for worms in Ontario’s restored tall grass prairie

Ontario’s largest exotic earthworm, <i>Lumbricus terrestris</i>. (Photo by Heather Cray)

Ontario’s largest exotic earthworm, Lumbricus terrestris. (Photo by Heather Cray)

Looking across a beautiful stretch of native tall grass prairie in its full glory, the first thing that might strike you is, well, the grass; big bluestem, switchgrass, Indian grass, all of them might reach up to or above eye level. Then there are...

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