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Rural heritage and beautification

Rural heritage and beautification

Stashed trail-side in the back parking lot of Cedar’s oldest pub are 19 planters, mostly plant and tree-full. The Wheatsheaf is storing them over the next few months while the finest locations in our Heritage Lands can be found. Oh yeah, and we have 130 indigenous Garry Oak trees to plant, some 3’ high, some 10’. Let us know if you want one, or a small forest!?

So now, with a hundred or so local businesses personally approached, and posters on store windows and out by the mailboxes; as well as the ubiquitous e-mails ethereally cross-stitching the social fabric of our communities, we’re gathering a traditional county-values get-together barn-building and work-ethic force to be reckoned with!

Yes folks, 2017 commeth and the Rural Heritage and Beautification project is underway …reaching out over the rolling countryside, lakes and ponds and winding creeks which link Cedar, Yellowpoint, Cassidy, North Oyster and South Wellington.

Here and now we’re looking to place those planters in a nice look-off spot, or where a roadside needs a little sprucing up. Soon, we expect to place benches and pocket gardens next to them, then comes the art works and Canada 150. It’ll be our country-folk contribution to our Country!

Our 150th birthday as the Confederation of Canada is only a year and a half away …and we rural-types figure it’s time to roll up our sleeves, and get ready to be celebrating in our own small town way.

That is to say, in a big way! Because this here countryside is the backbone of our Country. And we’ve got the watering holes that became pubs, and the rock-filled mudholes that slowly became tracks, and then roads. And then there’s the dirt trails that linked the farms to the river and the harbours and markets, and saw some of the earliest settlers in the west set up hearth and home right here, way back before there was a Confederation.

Just ask the old farmers about the ox and yoke memories of the Elliot/Saunders Ranch, McGuire’s farm next to the Cedar Community Hall, the Haslam’s and Galloways, or the Gisbourne and Williams families. There’s a lot of stories yet to be told, and a history still to be written about those early days hereabouts.

And writing a guidebook, documenting mile by mile markers of our past, perhaps producing a play, or even pulling together the artefacts and collectables of those hey days, could be the Canada 150 project that once again brings our shared heritage alive in 2017.

Or maybe the younger among us will website, vid, and social media a digital fabric so the world might know of the hard work, hopes and dreams that put back to the plough, and axe to the wood, building the homes and communities which stretch through time and space here in this coastal greenbelt between Ladysmith and Nanaimo?

King coal and back-breaking mine work also took its toll, while horse logging kept the saw mills buzzing. Hunting and medicines, and foods of the woods and shores, met the needs of the earliest peoples, the First Nations. And you could ‘walk across the river on the backs of salmon’ in those days.

In fact ‘The River Runs Through It’ is the theme of our second meeting, May 27th at the Cedar Heritage Centre. Remembering the importance of our watersheds and the Nanaimo River to our communities we’ll be looking to restore our living water ways, to revitalize recreational and traditional uses while meeting our water needs and shared future.

And our third evening in late June will find us planning Canada 150 projects, maybe chatting with our MP, talking soccer challenge matches that pit the Snuneymuxw vs. the Nanaimo Thistles in a 125th anniversary sports extravaganza …and swimming hole tubing and sunbathing contests, and maybe even a few open-sky fireworks bonanzas! And, depending on whether the historians or the naturalists amongst us get their way, maybe we’ll consider a 20-story museum display or ornithological Pacific Flyway birdwatching interpretive centre! Lots of rural possibilities for 2017 and beyond…

It’s time then to think about celebrating our past and remembering the future. The lucky amongst us will be finding their way to the historically rich and wondrously beautiful countryside of our Heritage Lands here twixt the communities of Cedar and Yellowpoint, North Oyster and Cassidy, and of course good ole South Wellington! Come one, come all!!

More info and photos of the planters can be found on our website,

Laurie Gourlay and Jackie Moad are getting old and gnarly as retirement beckons, and figure the best times to be had are those which respect the past and renew the vitality of lands and our commons via good old-fashioned non-profit volunteering with environmental, social justice, women’s and community groups. Now, feet in the mud, eyes to the sky, they  farm 20 acres organically, and seek local solutions to global challenges naturally!


About the author: The Boss

The Boss

Marina is Editor of TAKE 5 Magazine.

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