| Sep 18, 2008

Sept 18/08 - Bon Echo Summer: Rain or Shine

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Feature Article - September 18, 2008 Bon Echo summer – rain or shine By Derek Maggs

Friends of Bon Echo AGM

Canadians have never let the weather stop them from having a good time. Despite daily forecasts of rain and thunderstorms, campers and cottagers still came to the Land o’ Lakes by the thousands.

Many programs of the Friends of Bon Echo Provincial Park take place outside and this has been a record year in spite of the weather. Over fifty volunteers orchestrated the three-day Art Exhibition and Sale. Visitors and campers enjoyed musical entertainment, an educational reptile show, children’s activities and tasty home-cooked food. All of this provided a festive backdrop for the many artists showcasing their original work on the theme “Canadian Art of Nature, Wildlife and Countryside”. The organizing committee under Harold Kaufmann of Denbigh was enthused by the excellent attendance and record sales.

Betty Pearce of Cloyne heads up an enthusiastic team that stages a barbecue every Saturday and Sunday during the summer at South Beach. In spite of the weather no barbecues were cancelled and numerous happy campers expressed their enthusiasm for the Friends enriching activities.

The Friends of Bon Echo operate two tour boats on Mazinaw Lake. The Mugwump Ferry provides access to the base of the Cliff Top Trail from where visitors can gain a panoramic view of the area following their half hour climb. An interpretive tour along the Mazinaw Rock at water level aboard The Wanderer Too’r exposes visitors to the fascinating flora, fauna, and geological character of this massive cliff and introduces the ancient pictographs left there by earlier peoples. Commentary is provided by Natural Heritage Education (NHE) staff, many of whom are funded by the Friends of Bon Echo. Maintenance and operation of the boats are headed up by Friends’ Director, David Cuddy of Harlowe.

The Greystones Gift and Book Shop continues to provide a unique assortment of gifts, clothing, toys, books and artwork in a classic century cottage setting. Many campers return year after year to browse and appreciate the enticing array of products offered by Operations Manager Helen Yanch and her staff and volunteers. The Friends invested in renovating the Greystones cottage in 2006-7. Local artists showcase their artwork in the gallery in Greystones. The directors chose to rename the gallery The Colin Edwards Memorial Art Gallery in recognition of Colin’s longtime service as Friends’ director, artist, and high school vice-principal at the North Addington Education Centre.

For many years the Friends of Bon Echo have provided two bursaries of $250 each for graduates of the North Addington Education Centre (NAEC). The bursaries were expanded this year from $250 to $500. Eligible students now include those who are working within the park as well as graduating students at NAEC. Bursaries this year were awarded to Courtney Malcolm of Denbigh and Heather Lee of Fonthill.

The mission of the Friends of Bon Echo is to keep alive the engaging natural and cultural heritage of Bon Echo. They achieve this primarily through informative events and programs. Through their support the Natural Heritage Education (NHE) staff has doubled from seven to fourteen. The NHE agenda includes daily children’s and regular amphitheatre evening programs, guided trail hikes, canoe hikes, and interpreters on every boat trip. Over 60,000 visitors participated in these programs last summer. Among many other projects, the Friends have also published two books, Massanoga: The Art of Bon Echo and The Rock: Bon Echo Provincial Park’s Silent Sentinel.

The Friends depend on the support of many volunteers. Two directors are retiring from the board, having served six years. Phyllis Mills of Cloyne has headed up the Volunteer Committee and chaired the Greystones Gift and Book Shop committee. She can always be depended on to organize and to assist wherever needed. Rick Proctor’s service as treasurer has ensured that the Friends have maintained a sound financial standing. Rick spent numerous hours producing The Rock and headed up the bursary committee. Both members will be missed on the Board but they will continue to assist the Friends on other volunteer activities.

At the Friends’ 20th Annual General Meeting held on September 6 two new directors were elected. Harold Kaufmann served as a director from 2001-7 and chairs the Art Committee. Dr. Ernest Lapchinski of Mississagagon Lake has served in a leadership capacity on the Land o’ Lakes Community Services and the Pine Meadow Nursing Home Management Committee for many years and is a Friends volunteer. Elected for a second term is Mary Jane Turner of Northbrook, who can always be counted on to support with her time and skills.

The draw for the 2008 Friends Raffle took place at the AGM. The lucky winner of the Prospector 16’6” Expedition kevlar canoe, donated by Langford Canoe, was Angela McCann. Ryan Christian won the 2nd prize of a 13‘ Paluski Spirit kayak, donated by Kingston Outfitters. The 3rd prize of an A.J.Casson Ltd. Ed. framed print, donated by Northland Art, was won by Carol Mitchell. The Friends express appreciation to the prize donors and to all who supported the raffle.

The Friends welcome new members and/or volunteers to assist them in their many endeavours. Information is available at their website www.mazinaw.on.ca/fobecho.

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