A breath in nature
Neither Janet McVittie, my friend and partner in this adventure, nor myself reside in the Stonebridge neighborhood, but we both visited the Mark Thompson Park to see what nature is left in the neighborhood and to share what Stonebridge has to offer in the way of beauty.
The day of our visit, Saturday, December 30, 2023, was sunny with a light covering of snow on the ground. The tall thin trembling aspen trees and what looked like willows were beautiful, even without their summer leaves. There was a variety of shrubs in the forest understory, including snowberry and wild roses (the fruit of which contains more Vitamin C than an orange – but eat these cautiously, avoiding the seeds!)
Janet’s dog, who loves the cold, pulled on her leash and rolled in the grass, obviously content to be here. It wasn’t hard for us to locate a spot on the grass where we could have our lunch and hot tea. Although Mark Thompson Park is small in size, we felt surrounded by nature. Before we visited, I didn’t know about the history of the Moose Jaw trail. As we read the interpretive signs, I was really impressed by and appreciative of what we could find of beauty and what we could learn of history, by just exploring our city.
Although Mark Thompson Park is the only naturalized park in Stonebridge, one can get a long walk in by visiting other nearby spaces without crossing many roads. From our parking spot by Mark Thompson Park, we walked across the street to Patricia Roe Park, which has a bit of a forest and a children’s playground. From there, you can walk up Whalley Crescent to Marshall Hawthorne and Howard Harding Parks. These two parks have a stream, some small plantings of trees, and a stormwater pond. This is where people can skate in the winter. Across Vic Boulevard from Howard Harding Park is Blair Nelson Park, which has a huge pond. Skating is not recommended here, as there are areas where the ice is thin. At the southwest end of Blair Nelson Park is John Cameron Park, a small place where one can sit and watch the water. From John Cameron Park, one can walk north on Langlois Way to Alexander McGillivray Young Park. This park has an adult fitness playground, along the walking/running/skateboarding trail, and a children’s playground. From the eastern edge of this park, we spotted Cecil Wheaton Park and then turned back to Howard Harding and Marshall Hawthorne Parks.
Although none of the parks except for Mark Thompson are naturalized, they could be! Blair Nelson Park could be planted to native grasses and to native wild flowers. If left alone, the water retention pond will likely soon have a few aspens, willows, and already has a few red osier dogwoods and bullrushes. Marshall Hawthorne and Howard Harding could have more native trees planted, instead of the exotics that are there now.
– Ahmed Badawy