Skip to content

Howitt Park educational walkthrough draws dozens on Saturday

The Guelph Outdoor School hosted dozens of people on Saturday for an education walkthrough of Howitt Park

Dozens of history and nature enthusiasts gathered at Howitt Park on Saturday for a family-friendly event hosted by local naturalists and Guelph Outdoor School instructors Ciana Hamilton and Byron Murray.

The 90-minute event drew crowds to the park as Hamilton and Murray described the rich biodiversity and the historical significance diverse ecosystems play in shaping the flora and fauna of the area.

“We’re hoping to get folks out on the land, exploring the wild spaces that are there while talking about the different trees and plants, and just chatting about the biodiversity that’s alive and well in Howitt Park,” said Hamilton.

The turnout, which organizers said was a surprise to them, and even had Murray saying this was the largest crowd he has spoken to, was filled with families eager to learn the history of Howitt Park and how the current ecosystem was growing toward a return to the natural state that existed before human interference.

Keeping the meetup casual, the goal was to answer questions from participants and get them excited and question their role in the ecosystem and how their lives intertwine with the ecosystems they interact with on a daily basis.

Murray held multiple small sessions during which he would speak to species of trees in the area and how their growth can be used as a signal to the health of the environment, and how past interference from human activity has shaped the current landscape.

Organizers encouraged those in attendance to share their experiences in the park, up to including if they have a favourite tree for any reason special to them.

Murray told those in attendance the history of the area, including the glaciation periods and how the landscapes was scarred and formed as the glacier retreated.

Referencing the now closed quarry the area once held, Murray said the current landscape still bears the quarry's history from when stones were mined, structures were built and the building of the still present railway embankments.

The current flora, which consists of different species of Aspen trees, is an indicator of the contaminants still held in the soil and the need for nature to scrub the land to allow for the tertiary growth of hardwood trees.

Organizers kept the event flexible, allowing for the areas of interest expressed by those in attendance to be drawn out with all questions answered before moving on to the next section.

Chatting about the work the Guelph Outdoor School does, and how it intersects with Guelph’s natural and wild spaces, Hamilton said events like these can begin the journey for kids to get excited about the environment and let’s curiosity and wondering take over.


Daniel Caudle

About the Author: Daniel Caudle

Daniel Caudle is a journalist who covers Guelph and area
Read more