Dundas Valley teaching garden ‘perfect reflection of Bruce’

News Oct 23, 2009 Ancaster News

Even before the Bruce Duncan Wildlife Teaching Garden’s official opening, his wife witnessed the wonder the memorial to her late husband will bring to casual visitors and school children alike.

She dropped by the Dundas Valley garden with daughter Katie, 13, on a previous weekend and was quickly surrounded by other people drawn by the interpretive signs and bird blind overlooking feeders and predator boxes that allows observers to watch birds unseen.

“A fellow brought two boys on bicycles. They were all cycling through, but they made this little detour and he said, ‘Here, this is what I was going to show you.’ And they said, ‘Oh, that’s great!’” Janet Snaith recalled.

“It’s just a perfect reflection of what Bruce was about. It didn’t matter how small or insignificant something was, he could make you excited about it and it didn’t matter what it was,” she said.

“He just knew the out of doors so intimately that he could get you excited about the smallest of things, and I think that’s what drew people to him.”

An ecologist perhaps best remembered for his popular outdoor education classes attended by more than 45,000 school children, Mr. Duncan had risen through the ranks of the Hamilton Conservation Authority to become chief administrative officer when he died following a car accident three years ago.

His namesake garden, located near the Dundas Valley Trail Centre, reflects one of his greatest passions – birds of prey. Bird houses in the area beyond the bird blind are expected to draw hawks, owls and other raptors.

Though none were on hand at last week’s opening ceremony, Ms. Snaith said the smaller birds flitting around will “be a magnet” for their predators.

“They’re bird feeders,” she quipped of the eventual prey.

Beth Stormont, who now oversees outdoor education for the authority, said although interpretive signs are geared toward children, the garden is designed to let everyone, regardless of mobility, get “a taste of the Dundas Valley in one tiny little spot.”

In the age of the Internet, it also allows people to experience nature through all five senses, rather than a computer screen, she said.

“It’s a sneak peek of what it is that actually lives out there. This is an opportunity for the people who can’t otherwise access the over 3,000 acres of forests and fields and creeks and streams that are here in the Dundas Valley,” Ms. Stormont said.

“Part of what we would like to instill with every child that comes out here is to encourage a way that they can make a difference, that they will be motivated to protect the rocks, the streams, the meadows, the birds, the wildlife that are all around us.”

Authority vice-chair Don McKay said the garden helps bring closure on Mr. Duncan’s tragic death, but also represents a new beginning because it will be enjoyed by thousands of school children in the years to come.

“Bruce epitomized one of the pillars of conservation: his love of nature and sharing that love by teaching school children, particularly here in the Dundas Valley,” he said.

“It’s entirely fitting that his legacy will continue through this unique teaching resource.”

Dundas Valley teaching garden ‘perfect reflection of Bruce’

News Oct 23, 2009 Ancaster News

Even before the Bruce Duncan Wildlife Teaching Garden’s official opening, his wife witnessed the wonder the memorial to her late husband will bring to casual visitors and school children alike.

She dropped by the Dundas Valley garden with daughter Katie, 13, on a previous weekend and was quickly surrounded by other people drawn by the interpretive signs and bird blind overlooking feeders and predator boxes that allows observers to watch birds unseen.

“A fellow brought two boys on bicycles. They were all cycling through, but they made this little detour and he said, ‘Here, this is what I was going to show you.’ And they said, ‘Oh, that’s great!’” Janet Snaith recalled.

“It’s just a perfect reflection of what Bruce was about. It didn’t matter how small or insignificant something was, he could make you excited about it and it didn’t matter what it was,” she said.

“He just knew the out of doors so intimately that he could get you excited about the smallest of things, and I think that’s what drew people to him.”

An ecologist perhaps best remembered for his popular outdoor education classes attended by more than 45,000 school children, Mr. Duncan had risen through the ranks of the Hamilton Conservation Authority to become chief administrative officer when he died following a car accident three years ago.

His namesake garden, located near the Dundas Valley Trail Centre, reflects one of his greatest passions – birds of prey. Bird houses in the area beyond the bird blind are expected to draw hawks, owls and other raptors.

Though none were on hand at last week’s opening ceremony, Ms. Snaith said the smaller birds flitting around will “be a magnet” for their predators.

“They’re bird feeders,” she quipped of the eventual prey.

Beth Stormont, who now oversees outdoor education for the authority, said although interpretive signs are geared toward children, the garden is designed to let everyone, regardless of mobility, get “a taste of the Dundas Valley in one tiny little spot.”

In the age of the Internet, it also allows people to experience nature through all five senses, rather than a computer screen, she said.

“It’s a sneak peek of what it is that actually lives out there. This is an opportunity for the people who can’t otherwise access the over 3,000 acres of forests and fields and creeks and streams that are here in the Dundas Valley,” Ms. Stormont said.

“Part of what we would like to instill with every child that comes out here is to encourage a way that they can make a difference, that they will be motivated to protect the rocks, the streams, the meadows, the birds, the wildlife that are all around us.”

Authority vice-chair Don McKay said the garden helps bring closure on Mr. Duncan’s tragic death, but also represents a new beginning because it will be enjoyed by thousands of school children in the years to come.

“Bruce epitomized one of the pillars of conservation: his love of nature and sharing that love by teaching school children, particularly here in the Dundas Valley,” he said.

“It’s entirely fitting that his legacy will continue through this unique teaching resource.”

Dundas Valley teaching garden ‘perfect reflection of Bruce’

News Oct 23, 2009 Ancaster News

Even before the Bruce Duncan Wildlife Teaching Garden’s official opening, his wife witnessed the wonder the memorial to her late husband will bring to casual visitors and school children alike.

She dropped by the Dundas Valley garden with daughter Katie, 13, on a previous weekend and was quickly surrounded by other people drawn by the interpretive signs and bird blind overlooking feeders and predator boxes that allows observers to watch birds unseen.

“A fellow brought two boys on bicycles. They were all cycling through, but they made this little detour and he said, ‘Here, this is what I was going to show you.’ And they said, ‘Oh, that’s great!’” Janet Snaith recalled.

“It’s just a perfect reflection of what Bruce was about. It didn’t matter how small or insignificant something was, he could make you excited about it and it didn’t matter what it was,” she said.

“He just knew the out of doors so intimately that he could get you excited about the smallest of things, and I think that’s what drew people to him.”

An ecologist perhaps best remembered for his popular outdoor education classes attended by more than 45,000 school children, Mr. Duncan had risen through the ranks of the Hamilton Conservation Authority to become chief administrative officer when he died following a car accident three years ago.

His namesake garden, located near the Dundas Valley Trail Centre, reflects one of his greatest passions – birds of prey. Bird houses in the area beyond the bird blind are expected to draw hawks, owls and other raptors.

Though none were on hand at last week’s opening ceremony, Ms. Snaith said the smaller birds flitting around will “be a magnet” for their predators.

“They’re bird feeders,” she quipped of the eventual prey.

Beth Stormont, who now oversees outdoor education for the authority, said although interpretive signs are geared toward children, the garden is designed to let everyone, regardless of mobility, get “a taste of the Dundas Valley in one tiny little spot.”

In the age of the Internet, it also allows people to experience nature through all five senses, rather than a computer screen, she said.

“It’s a sneak peek of what it is that actually lives out there. This is an opportunity for the people who can’t otherwise access the over 3,000 acres of forests and fields and creeks and streams that are here in the Dundas Valley,” Ms. Stormont said.

“Part of what we would like to instill with every child that comes out here is to encourage a way that they can make a difference, that they will be motivated to protect the rocks, the streams, the meadows, the birds, the wildlife that are all around us.”

Authority vice-chair Don McKay said the garden helps bring closure on Mr. Duncan’s tragic death, but also represents a new beginning because it will be enjoyed by thousands of school children in the years to come.

“Bruce epitomized one of the pillars of conservation: his love of nature and sharing that love by teaching school children, particularly here in the Dundas Valley,” he said.

“It’s entirely fitting that his legacy will continue through this unique teaching resource.”