A summer of reconnecting with nature

Toronto's Don Valley (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

Toronto's Don Valley (Photo by Adam Hunter/NCC staff)

September 22, 2019 | by Adam Hunter

This past summer, Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) staff across the country were fortunate enough to receive two days to spend connecting with nature. Called Nature Days, these were meant to be used anytime between summer solstice (June 21) and fall equinox (September 23).

I think this initiative is an excellent idea. While some NCC staff regularly get to work in the field, many of us work indoors in offices and don’t get to connect with nature as often as we’d like. Nature Days provide NCC staff with more opportunities to connect with nature, refueling our passion and reminding us of the importance of conservation.  

“NCC believes time in nature means NCC staff can get out and connect with the places they help protect, and that they'll come back to work refreshed and inspired."

  —    Grace McTear, chief human resource officer

On both of my Nature Days, I bicycled through the extensive trail system of Toronto’s Don Valley. I recently moved to midtown Toronto from Mississauga, Ontario, and discovered these incredible trails, which start very close to where I now live. At some points, it was hard to believe that I was in the middle of a bustling city, as many of the trails wind through tranquil forests, meadows and wetlands where you can’t hear any traffic or construction.

I recently asked some other members of NCC’s National Communications team how they spent their Nature Days this past summer. Here’s what they said:

"In the evening, we sat on our hotel balcony, taking in the sun setting behind layers of mountain peaks." (Photo by Christine Beevis Trickett/NCC staff)

“In July, my husband and I packed our car and headed west, then south, through the Rocky Mountains into BC’s Columbia Valley. We booked a one-day guided canoe trip down the Kootenay River. Dipping our paddles into the river’s chalky blue waters, we soaked in the sunshine and inhaled the fresh air, mountains flanking us on either side. By the end of the paddle we were tired but rested. In the evening, we sat on our hotel balcony, taking in the sun setting behind layers of mountain peaks and watching the cliff swallows and eagles fly at dusk. I am grateful to NCC for recognizing the importance of such times in nature. We returned from our vacation reinvigorated and thankful for the memories of our time in one of Canada’s stunning landscapes.”

—      Christine Beevis Trickett, director, editorial services, based in Calgary

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Bruce Peninsula, ON (Photo by Jessica Panetta/NCC staff)

Bruce Peninsula, ON (Photo by Jessica Panetta/NCC staff)

“This summer, I used my Nature Days to explore Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, which lies between Georgian Bay and the main basin of Lake Huron. My sister and I began each morning by waking up to the sounds of birds chirping near our campsite and watching the beautiful sunrise over the lake. We spent our days exploring the area’s spectacular natural beauty while hiking along limestone cliffs, swimming in the beautiful blue (ice cold) waters of the Grotto’s shoreline sea cave and paddleboarding in the calm, peaceful lake. I’m so grateful that NCC provides us with Nature Days so that we can slow down and recharge by connecting with nature.”

—      Jessica Panetta, national media relations manager, based in Montreal

Raechel Bonomo and her trusty sidekick, Sprout, on Mazinaw Lake, ON (Photo courtesy of Raechel Bonomo/NCC staff)

Raechel Bonomo and her trusty sidekick, Sprout, on Mazinaw Lake, ON (Photo courtesy of Raechel Bonomo/NCC staff)

“I spent one of my Nature Days out on Mazinaw Lake at Bon Echo Provincial Park in Ontario. My partner, our trusty sidekick, Sprout, and I hit the water early in our canoe. We paddled out to some of our favourite spots along the lake, including Mazinaw Rock, where there are more than 260 Indigenous pictographs. Fun fact: Mazinaw Lake is the seventh deepest lake in Ontario, so, luckily, we didn’t flip the canoe!"

—      Raechel Bonomo, staff writer/content creator, based in Toronto

Mitchel Creek, ON (Photo by Paul Hewer/NCC staff)

Mitchel Creek, ON (Photo by Paul Hewer/NCC staff)

“In late July, I set out on a four-day canoe trip in Frontenac Provincial Park with childhood friends. It was the third consecutive year that we camped on the same lake. Our days were filled with canoeing, hiking, swimming and hammocking. Few things are sweeter than the sound of loons calling as you drift off to sleep after a gorgeous sunset. And, most appropriately, we canoed past an NCC property recognition sign on our way in and out of the park. Nature Days well spent.”

—      Paul Hewer, government relations manager, based in Toronto

Gus the golden, senior advisor to Andrew Holland, director of media relations, and communications assistant (Photo by Andrew Holland/NCC staff)

Gus the golden, senior advisor to Andrew Holland, director of media relations, and communications assistant (Photo by Andrew Holland/NCC staff)

“I spent my two Nature Days in a small community called Caissie Cape in eastern New Brunswick. It is located on the Northumberland Strait coast, over 20 minutes north of Shediac, which is a renowned lobster capital of the world. It was nice to have some quiet time to relax, walk along the beach and coastline and hear the waves crash in. We rented a cottage and did our best to unplug. We didn’t turn the TV on all week! Our golden retriever, Gus, enjoyed himself and swam lots."

—      Andrew Holland, director, media relations, based in Fredericton

When two of my friends first capsized in the middle of a small inlet, we were a little concerned. (Photo by Craig Doucette/NCC staff)

When two of my friends first capsized in the middle of a small inlet, we were a little concerned. (Photo by Craig Doucette/NCC staff)

"This summer, I used my Nature Days as an excuse to expose my less outdoorsy friends to nature. But as anyone who has ever taken a first-time canoer out on the water knows, things can get a little...shaky. During a camping trip to Bon Echo Provincial Park, my friends and I managed to tip our canoes no less than five times. When two of my friends first capsized in the middle of a small inlet, we were a little concerned. However, when they dragged it back to shore, tried again and tipped not five feet from the launch, there was more laughing than bailing water going on."

—      Craig Doucette, communications assistant, based in Toronto

I’m truly thankful that NCC has introduced Nature Days for its staff. Every summer, I try my best to maximize my time outdoors, and these Nature Days have helped me, and other staff, do just that.

Adam Hunter (Photo courtesy of Adam Hunter)

About the Author

Adam Hunter is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

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