| Sep 20, 2007

Feature Article - September 20, 2007 Feature Article - September 20, 2007

New Directions for Friends of Bon Echoby Derek Maggs

Friends of Bon Echo Annual General MeetingPhoto Ken Hook

The natural and cultural heritage of Bon Echo Provincial Park was highlighted at the Friends of Bon Echo Park’s annual general meeting on September 8. A celebrative review of this productive year was climaxed by a delightful sampling of the summer children’s programming and a thought-provoking presentation by Dr. Stan McMullin on “The Mazinaw Rock and the Local Culture”.

In 2007 the Friends introduced many changes to their activities in the park. The restoration of the century-old classic Greystones cottage involved quality work by Harlowe contractor Carson Clancy and his team. Under the direction of Operations Manager Helen Yanch, the shop featured unique clothing, books of nature and environmental significance, original art, and gifts and jewellry for both adults and children.


The 12th annual Art Exhibition and Sale featured many new artists on the theme Original Art of Canadian Nature, Wildlife and Countryside. The park took on a festive mood on the last weekend in July with visitors enjoying the painting, pottery and carvings, children’s activities, Sciensational Sssnakes!!, live musical entertainment, a great barbecue and baked goods. Under the direction of Denbigh resident Harold Kaufmann, a large team of volunteers collaborated to provide another outstanding event. Appreciation is expressed to the over 50 local businesses who contributed to increased newspaper promotion leading to a record number of visitors to the area. Samples of the artists’ work can be found at www.mazinaw.on.ca/art.

The Bon Echo fleet informed visitors about the history and ecosystem of Mazinaw Rock by providing interpretive tours and ferry service on Mazinaw Lake. Whether on the 45 minute “up close and personal” Wanderer Too’r tour of the Rock or on the Mugwump shuttle to the base of the Cliff Top Trail, Natural Heritage Education (NHE) staff were on board to provide engaging information concerning the history and unique features of Bon Echo and the rock. New federal regulations require certification of captains. This led the Board of Directors to replace volunteer captains with several certified employees, all from the local area. The valuable contribution the many former volunteers have made is greatly appreciated.

Betty Pearce of Cloyne introduced South Beach Saturday barbecues at the park five years ago. This year Sunday barbecues were added. A rotation schedule of over 30 volunteers served hamburgers, hot dogs and Oktoberfest sausages every weekend of the summer.

Bon Echo trails are an important asset of the park. Arden resident Bill Van Vugt is spearheading a new program, Trails Ambassadors, which will improve trail signage and conditions and promote their usage through guided walks and publications.

The Mission of the Friends of Bon Echo Park is to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of Bon Echo Provincial Park. This beautiful part of the creation is rich in unique environmental and historic treasures. Attracting over 200,000 visitors annually it contributes both to their year-round recreational enjoyment and to the surrounding businesses and communities they pass through. The largest investment of the Friends is in the Natural Heritage Education (NHE) program. Annually funding over six of the twelve NHE staff enables the NHE team to reach over 40,000 visitors each summer with their programs. Children’s, evening and campfire programs, guided hikes and walks, interpretation on the tour boats and the cultural and environmental heritage displays in the Visitor Centre are just some of the ways the NHE impacts Bon Echo visitors. The Friends round out their effectiveness through their publications, their programs and their positive presence in many activities around the park.

At their annual meeting three people were elected as directors: Jean “Red” Emond and Ken Hook of Cloyne were elected to the board for the first time and Betty deVarennes was elected to serve a second term as director. Appreciation was expressed to retiring directors Harold Kaufmann and President Glenn McFadden. During their tenure of 6-7 years the Friends have made strides forward in their programs and activities. The draw for the 2007 Raffle was held. The fully equipped Paluski Spirit Expedition Kayak, donated by Kingston Outfitters, was won by Garnet Wilkes of Griffith. Over 10 other prizes, donated by Ontario Parks Partners, were also awarded.

Retired Carleton University professor Dr. Stan McMullin has a long history with the Friends of Bon Echo Park. Serving as a board member in the ’90s, Dr. McMullin was a contributing author and editor of two Friends publications: Massanoga: The Art of Bon Echo (1998) and The Rock: Bon Echo Provincial Park’s Silent Sentinel (2006). Dr. McMullin’s presentation examined the historical and cultural relationship between Bon Echo and the surrounding communities. He emphasized that the paper is a work in progress. An engaging discussion followed with the promise of further examination being given to this significant topic. A potluck supper rounded out the evening.

The Friends of Bon Echo Park are beginning their 20th year as an organization. A strong volunteer force has enabled them to move forward as a team and achieve more for the park. Appreciation is expressed to all volunteers who contribute their time and skills, those who donate their resources and those Friends who stand at the side and cheer them on. The Friends are looking for new members who enjoy being part of a great team to participate in this important venture. The Friends website is www.mazinaw.on.ca/fobecho.Photo: Ken Hook

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