Perusing for plants

Jeff Elliott
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Handfuls of eager children gathered on the French Rooms Bread Oven site in Port au Choix on July 3 to partake in a hike held by the Limestone Barrens Community Working Group.

With the support of the Limestone Barrens Heritage Stewardship Program, the French Rooms Cultural Center and Parks Canada staff, the event sought to educate the community on the importance of the area's rare resources, while encouraging conservation efforts to reduce the risk of the fragile habitat disappearing forever.

At the beginning of the jaunt, the 33 attendees were handed colorful spreadsheets with thumbnail-sized photographs of rare plants for them to locate. Once the scavenger hunt commenced, the participants stealthily advanced through the grassy mounds in search of Hoary Draba, Netveined Willow and the elusive Yellow Lady Slipper, among other species.

Six student ambassadors for the Community Working Group helped lend a hand, pointing out the hidden gems as first-timers surveyed the area.

The wind hammered during the hour-long trek, which would eventually lead to Barbace Cove, a site where the French Basques built a wharf in the early eighteenth century. Amidst the children's desires to properly match each plant with its corresponding photo, tour guide Jean Hoddinott kept things interactive by instructing each participant to lie flat on the ground after discovering a patch of Creeping Juniper. The activity was meant to imitate the plant's survival methods.

With their backs rested against the grass, the children peered up at the sky and laughed aloud at the task.

After all 24 species were spotted the little examiners retreated back to the original meeting grounds where gusts of wind graciously wafted the scent of baked bread dough under their noses. Waiting patiently by the traditional French oven for a chance to indulge in the treats, they watched gleefully as local jams were lined along the edge of a picnic table.

Bottles of water and trays of fruit were donated by Western Health, who, through the help of the community advisory committee, co-sponsored the day's event.

Taking charge of the bread oven, town mayor Carolyn Lavers turned out batch-after- batch of freshly baked buns and together, with a pot of stew made earlier that afternoon, a fine feast was had.


Organizations: Community Working Group

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