NCC staff share their Natural Happy Places (Part One)

NCC BC staff at Kumdis River Conservation Area (Photo by NCC)

NCC BC staff at Kumdis River Conservation Area (Photo by NCC)

September 6, 2016 | by Raechel Bonomo | 0 Comments

At the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) we have staff members from across the country, each bringing a unique perspective to conservation nationally and in their home province. From forests to coastlines, like every Canadian, NCC staff have their own special Natural Happy Place. Whether it is close to home or a couple hours in the car, staff share their favourite places in nature below.

Holly Lam, BC communications intern, Victoria, BC

Though there are many contenders, the Gorge Waterway might be my favourite Natural Happy Place. A salt water inlet that flows from the Pacific Ocean and through Victoria’s inner harbour, the shores of the Gorge are lined with walking and cycling paths, beaches and parks. Swimming was common in the Gorge from the 1890s to the 1930s, but when sewage and industrial pollution became a concern, swimming was banned. Over the decades, the swimming ban has been lifted, reinstated and lifted several times, and in the past few years, restoration efforts and shoreline cleanups have made the Gorge a summertime recreational hub once again. Though only a few minutes from the city, the rocks and docks along the Gorge are peaceful and quiet, the perfect place to kick off for a swim (the water feels warmer once you get going!). I love to take a quick dip after a long day, or else spend a whole afternoon there absorbing the salt and sun.

Sophia Yang, national communications intern, Calgary, AB

Bourgeau Lake in Banff National Park (Photo by Sophia Yang/NCC)

Bourgeau Lake in Banff National Park (Photo by Sophia Yang/NCC)

My Natural Happy Place would be anywhere in the mountains. Having visited all the national parks of Alberta by the age of 12, I am thankful to my parents for recognizing that nature is a great teacher. I moved away to British Columbia for school three years ago, but I’m back in Alberta working for NCC in summer 2016, so I’ve been taking advantage of all the great hiking trails nearby! This photo was taken at the picturesque Bourgeau Lake in Banff National Park. With the mountains in the background and the fresh water booming on, I feel right at home. And home to me, is the best Natural Happy Place.

Matthew Braun, conservation science and natural areas manager, Olser, SK

A little patch of fescue prairie (Photo by Matthew Braun/NCC)

A little patch of fescue prairie (Photo by Matthew Braun/NCC)

My Natural Happy Place is a little patch of fescue prairie on the edge of the village where my dad grew up. When I first started getting interested in prairie he took me there and we identified as many of the grasses and plants as possible and talked about his childhood. It is a place I can imagine him as a child whiling away his spare time, chasing down the paths, noting the different flowers as the seasons passed, and eventually, getting the family milk cow back to the yard in time. 

Helen Kim, manager gift stewardship and data administration, Toronto, ON

Emerald green waters of Georgian Bay (Photo by Helen Kim/NCC)

Emerald green waters of Georgian Bay (Photo by Helen Kim/NCC)

My Natural Happy Place is definitely Sauble Beach in Bruce Peninsula. My family has been going to Sauble area for nearly 20 years. Long sandy beaches are perfect for young kids, and the gorgeous sunset at Lake Huron and emerald green waters of Georgian Bay are simply magnificent and addictive. Almost every summer we visit Sauble Beach, which includes movies at the drive in and day trips to Tobermory, Manitoulin Island, and various parts of Bruce Peninsula National Park, Lion’s Head for hiking.

Liv Monck-Whipp, assistant, conservation biologist, Norfolk, ON

My Natural Happy Place these days is some of the amazing meadows on NCC properties in Norfolk County, Ontario. It’s incredible to watch whole fields that seem to change colour as different wildflowers come into season, and there’s almost always a butterfly nearby. And when you look up, there’s just so much sky!

Marie-Chantal Pineault, translation coordinator, Montréal, QC

I wish to tell you about my Natural Happy Place. It’s called Tadoussac, and it’s a small village in Quebec. I feel deeply about this special place because my first trip there moved me deeply. And because, to me, Tadoussac is simply perfect. I went to Tadoussac in 2001 for the first time during a family trip that turned out to be initiatory. Except for a trip in Europe, I had never gone so far east from Montréal, and it was this trip that made me feel a deep attachment for the territory. It is one thing to look at a territory on a map, and to hear people say it is beautiful, but it is another to truly grasp this by moving through it, seeing it for real.

Lanna Campbell, NL program director, St. John's, NL

Hiking the East Coast Trail with my little one (Photo by Lanna Campbell/NCC)

Hiking the East Coast Trail with my little one (Photo by Lanna Campbell/NCC)

My (current) Natural Happy Place is a trail-wide thread of land that is weaves along a weathered landscape, flanked by an imposing North Atlantic Ocean. The East Coast Trail is situated along the shores of the Avalon Peninsula, the most eastern chunk of land in Newfoundland and Labrador (and Canada). Hundreds of kilometres of developed trail are ripe for exploring; just outside of the city. Over the years I’ve hiked various sections of the trail, some trails way more than once. A few years ago I got proposed to on the East Coast Trail as an iceberg floating in the Atlantic watched on. These days I hike carrying a toddler strapped safely on my back, with an animated black Labrador bouncing alongside. Rarely does a week go by that I don’t find time to get on trail, it is my Natural Happy Place.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this blog on September 13 to find out more Natural Happy Places across Canada. Have your own #NaturalHappyPlace? Enter NCC's contest for your chance to win!

About the Author

Raechel Bonomo is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Raechel Bonomo.

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