NCC staff tips for exploring nature this Canada Day
There’s nothing quite like hiking through a natural area and literally stopping to smell the roses. As Canadians, we’re so fortunate to have a backyard of diverse landscapes just waiting to be explored.
This Canada Day, lace up your hiking shoes and celebrate our country’s 152nd birthday while enjoying time in nature. To help you get inspired for your outdoor adventure, read about some of the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) staff's favourite nature spots across the country and their tips to keep in mind while exploring:
Chris Perrin, development officer, BC Region
Favourite nature spot to explore: One of my favourite places in the world is Sombrio Beach, a small park on the southwest edge of Vancouver Island. It isn’t just that it’s one of those places that typifies the West Coast, where the shady, humid wall of beautiful red cedar, Douglas-fir and Sitka bend over beds of moss and ferns to lean out over the ocean. It’s more about how it intersects through aspects of my life — from riding waves, to cleaning the beach with Surfrider, to camping beneath those ancient giants while watching eagles fish between swells and warming myself beside a dry driftwood fire.
Pro tip: If I could ever share anything with anyone, it would be to get outdoors and seek the meaning that nature is sharing with you.
Sarah Ludlow, conservation science coordinator/GIS, Saskatchewan Region
Favourite nature spot to explore: Native prairie, such as Grasslands National Park or multiple NCC properties in Saskatchewan. There is nothing like a vast stretch of native prairie, unaltered for millennia, with its delicate beauty, never-ending skies and sea of grass and wildflowers to provide perspective and grounding.
Pro tip: Pick up trash you find along the trail, stay on designated trails and minimize disturbance to wildlife.
Christine Chilton, office and communications manager, Manitoba Region
Favourite nature spot to explore: Whether I’m actively exploring or taking time to relax and recharge, there’s no place I’d rather be than in the waters of Lake Winnipeg, located in Manitoba’s Interlake Natural Area. The landscape along the west side of the lake, up toward the town of Gimli, is dotted with iconic piers. They take you over the rocky shoreline and out to the sandy bottom, where you can jump in the lake and swim in the waves on a hot, sunny day.
Once called “Canada’s sickest lake” by Maclean’s magazine, this place represents my emotional connection to the importance of conservation and NCC's work.
Pro tip: Don’t forget your sunscreen! Your evening bonfire will be much more enjoyable without the pain from the sunburn you could have avoided.
Nicole Senyi, communications manager, Ontario Region
Favourite nature spot to explore: To me, there is nothing quite as spectacular in Ontario as the north shore of Lake Superior. A place celebrated through art and song, it has always been synonymous with iconic Canadian wilderness. Its deep blue waters, rugged cliffs and towering forests always give me a thrill of excitement and a sense of awe.
Pro tip: When venturing into Ontario’s north, always travel prepared with topographic maps, matches, food, water and preferably a satellite phone.
Paul Hewer, government relations manager, National Region
Favourite nature spot to explore: As a Torontonian, exiting the busy city to explore nature can often be challenging. When I need to get my fix, I venture out into the hidden gems within the city limits. Toronto is home to a large network of ravines and valleys that contain many pathways and trails flanked by streams and mature trees. I truly enjoy hopping on my bike to descend into a nearby valley, getting lost and emerging in a completely different part of the city.
Pro tip: Allow yourself enough time to explore, because you never know what you’re going to discover.
Pat Nussey, conservation planner, Atlantic Region
Favourite nature spot to explore: I get most excited about exploring the outdoors when I come across a nice stand of old-growth forest. Unfortunately, there is very little of it left in Nova Scotia, so when you find yourself in one, there‘s really nothing else like it! Seeing those huge hemlock, sugar maple and yellow birch underlain with a vibrant carpet of moss and ferns brings a big goofy smile to my face.
Pro tip: Take the time to slow down and really take it all in. Also, remove any ticks ASAP!
Julie Vasseur, acting program director for southwestern Ontario
Favourite nature spot to explore: Fundy National Park in New Brunswick. I grew up about an hour away from the park, and my family went there all the time. It was where I learned to appreciate nature. My desire to learn more about conservation and the environment grew out of my experiences there.
Pro tip: When you visit a natural environment, you are visiting someone’s home — where several different creatures raise their young and find food and shelter. It’s important to treat their space with respect. You wouldn't leave a pile of trash on your in-law’s living room floor, or chase down your shy three-year-old nephew for a photo-op he wants nothing to do with. The same logic applies here.
Megan Lafferty, Newfoundland and Labrador program director
Favourite nature spot to explore: My favourite place to explore nature in Newfoundland and Labrador is the coastline. On one side, trees grow twisted and low to the ground, much older than they appear due to the stunting winds off the North Atlantic Ocean. You can’t help but be impressed by their survival. On the other side, cliffs drop off into the ocean, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the water and marine life.
Pro tip: Prepare and plan ahead, keeping safety in mind. With enough snacks, water and the right gear, you can go confidently in your adventures.