There are many locations across the Ottawa area to go on a hike, including the Old Quarry Trail, Gatineau Park, Bruce Pit, and surprisingly, Carling Campus. Right along Moodie and Carling, the campus is surrounded by a woodlot with an accompanying path leading straight onto the Trans Canada Trail. Though the trails are located on a government campus, they are open to public use. With dense enough forest and winding paths, hikers can easily forget they’re walking between buildings and a large roadway. Along these urban trails, they're brought through a variety of landscapes including woods, grassy areas, a recently restored urban wetland, and naturalized stormwater ponds. The trails, ideal for hikers of all skill levels, have benches and numerous side paths going back to the main road for ease of getting on and off the trail.
The campus is also rich with biodiversity, home to 131 species of birds, 21 species of mammals, 14 species of reptiles, and 250 species of insects! If you look closely, you'll find lots of wildlife as you explore the trail network, including deer, beavers, egrets, and turtles!
If you want to try your hand at identifying the species you come across, below are some resources to help you out!
In May, the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre had the pleasure of welcoming 60 grade 5 and 6 students from the Kanata Montessori school to explore our campus. One of their teachers, Ms Jenny, is a former employee of the Center and was very excited for her students to see the unique and interesting activities and information the Center has to offer. It was truly amazing to see the curiosity the students held for nature and its creatures.
When the students arrived, our Executive Director, Kate MacNeil gave them an engaging presentation on urban wildlife and wetlands. The students were especially fascinated when Kate played the different animal sounds, and showed them the deer antlers we have at the center. Once the presentation was over, the students had an endless amount of questions!
After the presentation the students were split into two groups, taking turns exploring the trails on the Campus while the other remained at the Centre to participate in some hands-on activities. The students had the opportunity to visit the naturalized stormwater ponds, and see first-hand how a major employment hub can successfully coexist and be good stewards of the land. This is a tangible example of how we can fight the climate crisis. The Campus demonstrates best practices of designing with ‘nature in mind’ including the installation of flow devices for beavers, that prevent flooding but allow beavers and their significant ecosystem services, to remain on the landscape.
The activities at the Centre included playing wetland jeopardy, forming two teams and winning fake money for correct answers. It was really amazing to see the students collaborate and share their wildlife knowledge with each other to answer the questions! Following this, the students went outside to the Gary DuBreuil Outdoor Centre to learn more about beaver dams by building their own. The students were provided kits with sticks, plasticine and tiny fake bushes and shrubs, to build a dam inside containers that would keep the water out. Again, it was so amazing to see their collaboration, discussion and competitive spirit with wildlife and nature in mind. Once the students were done, we tested their dams by pouring water onto one side and waiting to see if it flowed through, they even asked for more water to be added after their dams succeeded!
The students from the Kanata Montessori school were a pleasure to have and were so engaged and eager to learn throughout the entire day. It was also very exciting for the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre to see how interested young kids are in wildlife and coexisting. The students wrote the center a nice card afterwards thanking us for the day of learning and exploring nature! One of the teachers said to us afterwards “Thank you for the incredible programming the Centre ran today, it was absolutely spectacular. The students really enjoyed their time and when asked about their favourite part, they replied everything. The kids and educators were so inspired!”. (Senior Elementary Educator).
Education has been the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre’s main focus since 2005 and the opportunity to teach students who are so engaged and active in the learning process is such an honour!