Looping around the Island and Industry in Montreal - Urban Nature Discoveries


Montreal in the fall.

This season, I keep thinking back to a couple of autumn trips that Viliam and I have taken, including a trip to one of our fave cities Montreal.  Despite it being late October, bikes were still out in the city and we lucked out with some sunny moments and enjoyed a full day of walking around.  Saturday we visited Île Sainte-Hélène and walked back to the downtown Old Montreal portion past Habitat 67 and through an industrial section.  We happened upon a friendly gull, some new leaves (for me) and a flock of birds crowding one small bush!  Even in the industrial section nature held its own!

Montreal is such a walkable and bikeable city and has lots of incredible eateries (you almost can't go wrong!) and even in the city, the colours are a great sight.  On our visit in 2015, we didn't stop at a favourite stop of ours on Mont Royal which is the Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges which can be a lovely hot spot for birds and offers great nature programming! (We found an incredible patch of Trilliums this spring when venturing into a wilder corner.)  We love walking around Lac aux Castors and venturing to the incredible look out also.  There are so many trails to explore!

-- Sunny skies and Gorgeous Colours in the City! -- 

-- Island Visit and Friendly Gulls --

-- Industrial area and by the Canal --

I couldn't find my original photos so I had to rely on some that I posted to Instagram that year.  It was the year I switched phones and lost some pictures in the transfer.

Autumn is a great time to check out other cities as there are less tourists, the temperatures are cooler (but not too cold!) and as mentioned the scenery can be lovely.  As you can see, some trees were bare, some were just turning and others were in all their Fall glory.

Full disclosure: we went to the Cat Cafe the next morning so didn't do another nature walk.  And I took some photos of the amazing mural art that seems like it is everywhere in the city.  But there is still so much to check out.  The great thing - we know we can always go back for more exploring!


-- Gull Photo shown above by Viliam Glazduri --
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Local Ottawa Urban Nature Blogs for your reading pleasure!


Ottawa has an amazing amount of greenspace and many enthusiastic nature-lovers.  There are many clubs, activities, experts and photographers and the nature community is keen and plentiful.  There's a lot of resources online also, some that I've highlighted in past posts (Wild. Here. Exploring: birding, geocaching and Ottawa's Poets Pathway (website) + Wild. Here. Other Online Urban Nature Resources: iNaturalist, Naturehood) but many more for those curious and interested to find them.  So here's a list of local Ottawa nature blogs that I have found during my years of blogging.  While some of them are not being updated anymore there still is wealth of knowledge to find within them and here's hoping that there are more bloggers sharing their knowledge in the future!



Roadside Field Notes  (2010 - 2017)

Just as it says, this is a blog that collects field notes for a small roadside area in the Nepean area.  It was started when Hunt Club Road was extended west so it has seven years of notes regarding species identified (note all the labels listed under the right-hand column) and interesting behaviour for this suburban stretch.  I have to applaud the author for their dedication to create such an incredible piece of phenoligical work.  It's a delight to see what has been spotted over the years and a unique collection of field notes considering the size of the observation area and location (beside a very busy roadway).  A map of the area showing years of tree plantings are included.



Naturally Ottawa (2011 - 2017)

This is a valuable blog that provides details of specific natural sites you may want to visit in the Ottawa region.  The author Nick Stow takes you along on his outings including canoeing, hiking, birding and even biking.  As a City of Ottawa Ecologist and Environmental Planner, you even get a sneak peak at some areas that are not (officially) public such as the newly acquired Manotick Drumlin Forest and he gives tips on conservation and has an amazing gallery of wildlife with species names.



Lab Bench to Park Bench (2014 - 2016)

This is a beautifully conceived blog that provides details on various plants and wildlife, some local, some exotic and even some edibles!  It is well researched and humorously written blog and my favourite series that the author Amelia has created are lively, detailed interviews with specific species that she encounters.  She interviews Squirrels, talking TrilliumsRobins, R.W. Blackbirds, Tent Caterpillars and even a snarky Swan.  Find them all under the blog's "Interview" tag.  Best of all some of these interviews are available in French.  This blog is definitely a great resource for teachers!



Draw and Shoot (2011 - 2017)

This impressive artist's blog showcases various natural elements in ethereal and sometimes dramatic photographs.  Karen McRae has a keen eye and a unique way of capturing natural scenes, whether they are landscapes, macro images, studies of movement or other hauntingly captivating series including wrapped winter trees.  She has a large dedicated following and I'm sure you too will be entranced with her almost "painter-ly" quality of capturing images with her camera.  It's like she's created a canvas with her lens - not surprising as she's works in both mediums.




A River Diary (2011 - 2014)

Alison Hobbs has created a thoughtful and observant journal of life by a river or actually a confluence of rivers both those here in the city and some in her travels.  She offers a very detailed account throughout the seasons and provides personal and current commentary interspersed with photos including aerial ones!  She talks about city development, aurora borealis sightings, city events, wildlife, geological details, snowshoeing, biking and occasional boating outings also.  It's great that the archives are still up and available to read as it includes a total of 238 posts!




A Walk Through the Woods (2014 - 2016)

While not strictly urban nature, I found Claire Elliott's blog in 2015 when she was writing about one of her favourite conservation location's in Ottawa: Mud Lake.  In the first post I read she talked about the need to motivate herself to get outside in cold weather (which I could easily identify with!) but followed up with the reminder that once she gets out there it's incredibly rewarding.  And seeing her photos - it's rewarding for her readers also!  Other posts provide detailed updates of her birding outings and what she's seen, highlight her favourite wildlife experiences, share updates on classes she has taken and feature photo albums of the wildlife she has "captured" with her camera.  It's a wonderful blog to peruse.  While not living in Ottawa anymore, this is a great blog to continue to follow as it gives an insight into what it takes to pursue a Naturalist/Ornithologist's career including the many internships (including the East Coast and Tundra) that Claire has completed.

That's all I have for now!

There are many more specialty blogs from local bloggers (on hiking, birding, adventure sports and much more) that also offer great resources if you are interested in a specific type of urban nature activity.  That list will have to come next!  (In case you want to find some now, just search Ottawa + blog + your specific interest and you will see what online info is out there!)

And please share if you know of some good ones yourself!


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Mindful Modalities to Connect to Nature


For those wishing for a more mindful, healing and/or spiritual connection to the natural world and wildlife, there are ways to connect in a deeper way.  This can be done in (and for) urban areas and it might even be highly needed as some urban nature locations are overlooked and uncared for (at least by people!).

Many have heard about the practice of Shinrin Yoku (a Japanese term that describes a type of healing activity in nature - translated to be "Forest Bathing").   It's been mentioned here before in my Weekly Wild column from 2015: "Enjoy a Good Soak of Green".  


Forest bathing can be as simple as a walk in the woods (and even a twenty minute walk can provide you with healing benefits) or it can be full immersion in a natural forested area for a day or a weekend, such as "prescribed" in Japan.  Forest bathing can even be done with a guide who can help with a meditative and relaxing excursion where you connect with all five senses and soak in the ambiance in a very mindful way.  

Here are some other practices and/or modalities that can help connect you to nature, provide you with healing benefits and even help you form a deeper connection with the natural surroundings, specific places that are meaningful to you and all living things.


Earthing

Earthing is something that you can easily do in your own backyard or in a nearby park.  You may be doing it already!  It's going barefoot so that you can soak up the earth's electrons and those who swear by this practice will suggest an Earthing dose of 30 minutes a day - especially on moist (dewy) grass (see Gaia article for more details).  The premise of this practice comes from the fact that the ground is negatively charged and your bare feet picks up these negatively charged electrons which help eliminate free radicals in your body.  It also helps calm the sympathetic nervous system (similarly as any outing in nature can do).  If this type of procedure seems to be of benefit you can even purchase an earthing mat to sleep on in the winter months when being barefoot is not an option.

Earthing was one of the 10 "Treat Yourself" Suggestions to get a mini Nature Dose in the city!



-- Image of a Tree Whispering Session from Cooperative Biobalance Website --

Tree Whispering

If you feel a great connection to trees in particular, this method of connecting to these life forces may be for you.  Tree Whispering is consider a mutual connection of interaction which starts with an "open mind and caring heart" where you transmit your bioenergy field and receive others.  There is real science behind this.  For some, the communication is more direct than others.  It can be as subtle as an emotion or an impulse or it can be a more specific "knowing" or even a message. Practicing this technique makes it easier to pick up these messages and it can help make these communications richer.  Classes are offered to strengthen this type of practice through The Institute for Cooperative BioBalance and its co-founders, Dr. Jim Conroy and Ms. Basia Alexander.   Iv'e noticed that some have been at Omega in the past and I received confirmation from Basia that they will have another at Omega next June 2018. There is also information on the website about basics of this practice and the concepts behind it and a book available.



-- Image of a Bird from Radical Joy Website --

Earth Exchange

Radical Joy for Hard Times is a global community led by Trebbe Johnson to help connect people to "wounded" places and provides a way to process emotions and allow for healing for both the people and places affected.  These damaged places can emotionally affect us especially if there seems to be no way that they can be restored and/or rehabilitated whether due to lack of funds, lack of interest or other reasons.  The Radical Joy community leads and or practices Earth Exchange ceremonies, which enables these ravaged places to be seen through a different lens and helps start a process of healing for both themselves and the place that they care for.  There are many resources available at the website including an Earth Exchange Manual, videos and an FAQ.  There is even a reminder under "10 Ways you Can't do it Wrong" that includes: All you have to do is show up.  For those who feel a calling to facilitate these types of ceremonies, there is a workshop: Beauty for Broken Places that combines these Radical Joy techniques with Wilderness Rites of Passage work being held in Massachusetts this Autumn (November 2017). 

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It's wonderful to have these unique methods to connect with nature and to help expand the way we relate to the natural world.  Let us know if you've tried any of these practices and what your experience was and if there are any others of which you have heard.



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Urban Outdoor Adventures under the Full Moon

Wild Here Urban Nature Best Spot Full Moon

The illumination of full moon evenings extends outdoor activities in such a wonderful way!  

I first discovered this as a cross-country skier in high school, when a friend and I went skiing under the full moon in fields outside the city near her home.  The full moon's light was reflected brightly by the white snow and it was like we were the only ones around for miles (which was probably true!).  Getting out for the evening was a super experience and I was an immediate convert to winter night outings.  This one ski excursion got me hooked to seek out other adventures under the bright round friendly glow of the monthly full moon.  

Full Moon Viliam Glazduri Nature Spots Ottawa

While night lighting in cities might make the moon unnecessary, you may find that this complimentary evening illumination provides a softer glow and makes it easier to get out with friends and explore city parks and other natural spots along lakes and rivers past twilight.  And now that the sun is setting earlier in the evening, a full moon can provide that extended evening feel that we had earlier this summer - if there isn't sun light perhaps some moon light will encourage a few more evening strolls or moonlit outings?

Wild Here Night Outing Nature Best Place Viliam Glazduri

Like the idea but not sure what to do?
  • What about a walk with a friend in a public arboretum or along a river bank?
  • Or a group city paddle on your kayak or SUP this evening that provides exciting discoveries - remember François Côté's photo of the heron under the full moon?
  • While summer has wound down here, further south there may be one more opportunity for a full moon yoga outdoors?
  • Or grab your partner for a bike ride along some illuminated paths that will have that added bonus of softly glowing scenery - thanks to the moon!
Full Moon Yoga Candle Outdoor Experience

Full Moon Yoga Wild Here Get Outside


...And (dare I say it?) once winter arrives there are other night outing opportunities to do with your friends:
  • Dark snowy evenings could be spent on a cross-country ski trail or a new path could be broken on snow shoes?
  • Add some winter vistas by choosing a spot along a water body or see if there is a pond or lake that has a path around it?
  • Or maybe there is a river with two pedestrian/bike bridges close to where you are, that could provide the same opportunity of a walking loop?
  • Give yourself a treat after you finish by identifying a path that ends up at a great cafe or restaurant - one that includes a fireplace would provide a great wrap up to the ultimate winter outing!

Night Photo of the Ottawa River in Winter Wild Here

Specific Ideas for Ottawa:

- For full moon yoga - Lansdowne Park is a popular spot, but there are also yoga activities at Mooney's Bay and sometimes at Westboro Beach.  I think they even had a full moon event at Parliament Hill!

- A great spot for a winter outing (whether it's X-C skiing or snowshoeing) that's close to downtown Ottawa is Lac Leamy - it's a short loop and you can have an après-ski (or snowshoe) drink at Le Saint-Éloi Café Bistro (100 Rue Atawe)

- Another perfect spot is the new Sir John A MacDonald Urban Winter Trail as you can either make the end destination Mill St. Brew Pub (and yes! they have a fireplace in the back) or you can take a pit stop at the Museum Café that serves hot chocolate (Thursday nights it's open until 7 pm) - details on the SJAM post here.

Happy Full Moon Adventures!


Great Nature Blog for Ottawa Urban Wild

Great Ottawa Meals with a View Blog


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Three cities (Windsor, Montreal and Detroit) and three levels of wild!

Just wanted to share these three wonderful articles (from the archives) on how people are interacting with nature in their cities:

 -- Photo Credit: Marilène Gaudet --

MONTREAL:

from Cities for People - Changing our narratives of wild spaces in the city: An interview with Dominique Ferraton and Maia Iotzova (2015)

This provides an overview of a crowdsourcing program that is helping people in Montreal see their wild spaces in a new way.  Love this idea of wild city mapping!



-- Photo Credit: Rebecca Salminen Witt --

DETROIT:

from the "boundary organization" The Nature of Cities - Wild in Detroit: Realizing Opportunity in a New Nature (2015)

What I love about this is that Detroit in this transitional period is like a new frontier - it feels like almost anything goes and people are using incredibly creative methods of helping citizens rethink how their city should be and what should be included: such as the wilder parts of nature.

-- Photo Credit: Knowing the Land is Resistance --

WINDSOR:

from the blog Knowing the Land is Resistance - Last of the Last: Windsor's Savannah and Tall Grass Prairie (2011)

This is a really inspiring Collective that is working on deepening their own and others' connection to Nature (with a capital "N") while strengthening their allyship with the lands - appreciating all that is thriving including: "scrubby hillsides, trash-strewn train track corridors, relic forests speckled with garlic mustard hidden in suburban parks, the poplars growing along highway drainage ditches, the coyotes that roam the golf courses at dawn."

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

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Autumn Bucket List Additions... time to get out and enjoy the fall weather!


Fall is a great time to revisit the 2017 Urban Nature Lover Bucket List and I must say that at the time I published the list this spring, I wasn't able to come up with as many as I had hoped for, for the Autumn season.  Which is strange as this season is a favourite to so many people!


Just as a reminder the ones that were listed included:
- Carleton University's Annual Biology Butterfly Show (September 30th to October 8th, 2017) 
- An autumn stroll through Hampton Park to enjoy the crisp fall leaves (ending up at Blumenstudio perhaps for a late afternoon Flat White?) 
- An excursion out to Chapman Mills Conservation Area - possibly for one last kayak or SUP adventure (rentals available on the weekends) or a walk along the boardwalk?

The full Ottawa Urban Nature Lovers Bucket List can be found HERE - including some suggestions for "year-round" outings.

-- Chapman Mills Conservation Area in Barrhaven --


So here are some additions for the AUTUMN Ottawa Urban Nature Lovers Bucket List:

- Biking and rollarblading along the River Parkways: even though Nokia Sunday Bikedays are complete for the season that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the river views along the pathway. 
- Getting out for a early morning foggy walk in the autumn (especially with this strange warm weather we're having!) 
- Seeking out Cityhenge in downtown Ottawa - this is the time of year that you'll be able to enjoy this natural phenomenon! 
- Check out the 9th Annual Explore Geoheritage Day event in October during National Science and Technology Week.  There are some seriously wild natural phenomenon to check out including stromatolites, fossiliferous limestone and our unique city sand dune.


-- Tree Tunnel in Uplands Greenspace --


- Plus searching out the BEST urban tree tunnel in all its full Autumnal glory.  I'm still trying to figure out which place is the best here in Ottawa.  Please share your thoughts and suggestions!  I do know a few small ones: Brewar Park, the Crabapple/Cherry Trees at Lincoln Field, Byron Linear Park (although it is not really a tunnel without the canopy overhead) and two better ones at Ridge Road (Mer Bleue paths) and one behind Bell High School but neither are truly urban! Yep, still on the search for the best urban one!

And don't forget that if you haven't checked out these urban nature beauties - they are worth a visit at any time and especially for autumn to enjoy the colours:
- Princess Louise Falls in Orleans 
- Champlain Oaks in Westboro 
- Ottawa's Urban Conifer Plantations 
- Uplands Greenspace (pictured in title image above) and McCarthy Park (one of the planted poetry locations this summer)

For more details - the first three listed can be found on the main Urban Nature Bucket List as an "Any Season" outing and this is probably the BEST time with the colours changing!

-- Ottawa's Conifer Plantation behind Nepean Sportsplex --


Where are your go to places in Ottawa during the Fall season?

and/or what do you look forward to your own city as the weather gets cooler and the trees turn a rosy hue?



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"Quiet" gardens - finding solitude in the hustle and bustle of the Capital City (Ottawa)

Richmond Ontario Quiet Garden Fall Adventure Wild Here

Did you know?  Ottawa now has two official "Quiet Gardens" for locals and tourists to visit.

One in Kanata at St John's Parish of March Anglican church and the other in Richmond as part of St. John the Baptist Anglican church property.  Both are larger landscapes that include a cemetery and both have Labyrinths also.

Rural Garden and Labyrinth to Visit in Kanata Wild Here
- St John's Parish of March Anglican church garden now officially a "Quiet Garden" -




Labyrinth Visit on a Fall Morning outside Ottawa Wild Here
- St. John the Baptist Anglican Church Quiet Garden - 

Don't know what a Quiet Garden is?

This movement started in the U.K. through a Christian organization but now over 300 gardens are registered all around the world!

Quiet Gardens offers visitors "outdoor space for prayer and reflection... and create opportunities for people to experience silence, restfulness and contemplative practices."

Dappled Shade in Unitarian Garden Urban Retreat
- Shady spot in the Unitarian Meditation Garden - 

Who can visit a Quiet Garden?

"All are welcome to Quiet Gardens, whatever spiritual path they follow."  But do note that some gardens are located on private property, as part of people's homes - so check first.  Other "private" gardens may be part of a place of worship's landscape.  If it's part of a cemetery, see if there are public hours listed but you will find that most of these spaces welcome any community member to come and enjoy their space.

Wild Here Urban Nature Retreat Ottawa

While the two registered Quiet Gardens are located outside the city centre of Ottawa, they are definitely worth a visit.  Make it a day trip, both gardens have labyrinths which provide great spots for walking meditation and find some place close for a meal.  These two faith communities also offer special events, such as regular guided labyrinth walks and other events from time to time. And while you are on the outskirts, explore the neighbourhoods!

There are also a couple of other lovely urban gardens that are unofficial "Quiet" Gardens here in the city if you don't have time (or the means) to get to the two more rural spaces.  Here are a few that I really find peaceful and enjoyable green spaces:
  • First Unitarian Meditation Garden (30 Cleary Avenue off Richmond Road)
  • Mount Calvary Community Garden (933 Smythe Road)
  • Knox Presbyterian Church (120 Lisgar Street - corner of Elgin)
  • Christ Church Cathedral (414 Sparks Street) This lovely garden is actually a central courtyard and accessible only during public hours - but worth a visit!
Wild Here Community Garden Nature Retreat

"Quiet Gardens are accessible, friendly and adaptable to local needs, and aim to be places where people can find welcome, stillness and spiritual refreshment. The outdoor space and garden act as both a context and focus, in which to share the inner search for wholeness, natural beauty and silence..."

All quoted italicized text is from the Quiet Garden Movement website.



Is there a Quiet Garden in Your City if you are not from Ottawa?


Do you have a favourite spot 
to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city?


Where you can drop into some solitude and surround yourself with green?


Urban Oasis Courtyard Garden Ottawa Wild Here
- Christ Church Cathedral Garden Courtyard -


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A Revisit of the Rout/e Planted Poetry Sites - CSArt Ottawa Project - Part Two

THIS IS PART TWO OF MY OUTING TO VISIT THE ROUT/E POETRY LATER IN THE SEASON.  PART ONE IS HERE.

(Dear Subscribers - This is a repost - This long post In August was doing wonky things to the Home Page of the blog so I've decided to separate into two pieces!)

As mentioned in Part One:

On the August long weekend I had time to check out the poetry sites to see if the Rout/e Footpress collection was still up.  (This is the post about putting up the poems earlier this year.)  The big question for this footpress (as with the others) is how would people interact with the poetry, would they remain in the wild and how would they weather the elements.  With this footpress being the first in a more urban area, we had assumed that they wouldn't last as long as other past series and there were some locations that we chose that we felt had more traffic - which meant that more people might see the poems - but the higher traffic would then also raise the possibility of the poem being taken down, taken away or in some way disappear.

So now that we've shared with you the seven locations where the poems were planted in May - what is your guess in terms of which poems are still out there?

When I'm out in parks and green spaces I end up taking photos of what I see, whether wildlife, plants and other curious stuff, so I've added a short species list of what I noticed that day.  You'll see that currently my focus is heavily on plants but I do hope to learn (and notice) more trees and bird species in the future!  Some areas were pretty quiet and I didn't see much of interest but a few spots I just kept snapping photos of everything - you'll see what I mean as you go through the photos.  I also saw a really cool animal at the first site which was a great start to the day!


(p.s. if I'm identifying anything wrong or I miss it - feel free to let me know in the comments!)

UPLANDS GREENSPACE







The Primrose is taller than me!




SARAH MACDONELL's POEM STILL HERE!

Species Noted:
Daddy long legs,
Wild Cucumber, Purple nightshade, Jewelweed, Meadowsweet, Black-eyed Susan, Yellow Primrose (taller than me!), Queen Anne's Lace, Canada Goldenrod, Shrubby Cinquefoil, Bugleweed, Plantain, Purple Loosestrife, Burdock,
Juniper

SANDY HILL BIKE TRAIL







COULD NOT FIND JENN BAKER's POEM BUT I HEAR IT'S STILL HERE...

Species Noted:
Gulls, Mallards, Raccoon (prints), Dragonfly
Pickerelweed, Motherwort (?), Virginia Creeper, Bellwort
Pines, Willow, Maple

MONTFORT WOODS











DID NOT FIND CHRISTINE McNAIR's POEM (but did find post!)

Species Noted:

Yellow Loosestrife, Virginia Creeper, Panickle Aster
Maple Seedlings, Unidentfied Shrub with Berries, Maple Trees


LINKS:


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