| Sep 14, 2006

Feature Article - September 14, 2006

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Feature Article - September 14, 2006

Friends of Bon EchoPark

Bon Echo Provincial Park is one of the jewels of Ontario ’s Land o’ Lakes. Each summer, over 200,000 vacationers make Bon Echo their holiday destination. The majestic pines, three beautiful beaches, hiking trails, the boat tours, the 100 metre high Bon Echo Rock, Natural Heritage Education programs, and Greystones Gift and Book Shop all weave their magical influence to draw visitors back to this area year after year.

FloodAn active group of volunteers contributes time and skills to ensure that the park continues to provide a beautiful oasis for people to enjoy and appreciate. Over 100 members of The Friends of Bon Echo Park are engaged in projects that enable them to carry out their goal of preserving the natural and cultural heritage of the park. They value the significance of teamwork and initiative in effecting change. This has been a very busy summer for the Friends of Bon Echo Park. They have been engaged in a number of projects that both serve the public and result in funds to support various endeavours within the park. Visitors to the 13th annual Art Exhibition and Sale , held the last weekend of July, numbered in the thousands. Artist Harold Kaufmann of Denbigh chaired the committee that organized this major event. Fifty juried artists from across Ontario displayed their work based on the theme “Original Art of Nature, Wildlife and Countryside”. Presentations by Sciensational Sssnakes!!, children’s activities, live music and lots of good food provided a festive atmosphere. Volunteers Betty Pearce of Cloyne and Mary Jane & Peter Turner of Northbrook organized the South Beach barbecues held every Saturday during the summer. The hamburgers, hotdogs and Octoberfest sausages supplied by Cloyne Village Foods went over so well that many happy campers came back for more.

The Bon Echo Rock continues to attract visitors to its face and cliff top. The Rock provides a diversity of geological and natural history as well as voices from the past, as evidenced in the nearly 250 pictographs on the Rock face, one of the largest collections in North America . The Friends operate pontoon boats both to visit the rock at lake level with an interpretive tour and to ferry hikers to the Cliff Top Trail. From the summit they can gain a spectacular view of the Mazinaw area. Over 17,400 visitors made use of the service this summer. Volunteers under the direction of Betty deVarennes and Doug Leakey of Cloyne contribute to the operation and maintenance of the boats.

The Friends operate the Greystones Gift and Book Shop, located in the historic Greystones cottage. Store manager Helen Yanch has brought together a unique collection of clothing, stuffed animals, books, gifts and memorabilia, making it a favourite of campers and visitors alike. The ambience is further enhanced by the selected works of a variety of artists whose works are displayed and for sale throughout the summer.

The funds raised through these various projects are put to excellent use within the park. The Friends fund eight positions in the Natural Heritage Education (NHE) program. The NHE staff provides interpretive programs for all ages throughout the summer including children’s educational activities, amphitheatre programs and presentations on all boat trips.

This year the Friends have launched two projects that have been in the planning stage for a long time. In June the Friends published The Rock: Bon Echo’s Silent Sentinel under the direction of Rick Proctor of Cloyne. This 28 page glossy full-colour book gives the reader an introduction to the rich natural and historical resources of the Bon Echo Rock. Publication of the book was largely subsidized through a ten year project of the Friends entitled “Adopt an Ancient Cedar”. The book is now available for $6.95 through the gift shop or the Friends office. David Cuddy of Harlowe has headed up the restoration of the historical Greystones cottage which houses the shop. This log structure is believed to have been originally built as a schoolhouse over 100 years ago. The restored Greystones will retain its original ambience and will open next season with a larger creative display area for the shop.

Membership Chair Phyllis Mills would welcome new members and volunteers to join the Friends of Bon Echo in their significant efforts. Information can be obtained by calling the Friends office at 613-336-0830. President Glenn McFadden will chair the 18th Annual General Meeting of the Friends at Bon Echo Park on Saturday, September 16 at 4:00 p.m. The featured speaker will be Gary Forma, Ontario Parks Partnership Coordinator. The program will be followed by a potluck picnic and social time. Everyone is welcome.

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