Ten years ago — on Sept. 1, 2001 — the Fergus Lions Club started creating a special place of remembrance on the banks of the Grand River. It is a place where 350 trees of many species are now planted as a tribute to the lives and memories of special people. There are also 15 memorial benches.
The Fergus Lions Club is one of five recipients of a 2011 Grand River Watershed Award for creating the Grand River Arboretum and was honoured at an awards presentation on Sept. 15 in Cambridge.
“What was once a little used piece of land has been sensitively transformed into a pleasant, tranquil area,” said Trevor Ashbee, the horticulturalist for Centre Wellington. He drew up a list of 50 tree species and donors could select from the list.
Don Doyle came up with the idea and Joe Brooks became the driving force to get it going. Work crews turned up on Saturday mornings to plant and maintain the area. About 150 people attended the official opening held 10 years ago this month (September 2001). The entrance is on the south side of Colquhourn Street between Beatty Line South and Johnson Street at the south end of Beatty Line, just past Calquhoun, west of downtown Fergus. There is a wall of plaques of the many individuals and groups who have made contributions.
The Grand River Arboretum was a project of the Fergus Lions Club who held many Saturday morning work days to plant and landscape the property.“It really brought the club together. Every time we did something there was all kinds of stuff to eat and drink,” said Doyle.
Towards the centre of the park is the Lion’s Tree — a big old tree that stands strong and tall among those that have been planted over the past 10 years. “The beauty and quietness of this spot so close to the hustle and bustle of the town is a comfort and a refuge for family members who have planted trees in remembrance of loved ones,” says resident Roberta Vliestra of Fergus.
The land once belonged to the Grand River Conservation Authority, but is now owned by Centre Wellington Township, while Lion’s Club members look after the maintenance.
Now the project is complete and no new trees will be planted. The Grand Valley Trail is next to the arboretum and the trail leads down the hill and along the Canadian Heritage Grand River.
By Janet Baine, GRCA Communications Specialist
Congratulations from Southern Ontario Outdoors to the dedicated volunteers from the Fergus Lions Club that are preserving our great outdoors heritage for future generations. For more information about great outdoor activities in Fergus and Elora visit the Elora/Fergus website.