Must, Must, Must


Here’s a chance to support local wildlife habitat and increase protected areas for generations to come. Northumberland Land Trust has launched a campaign to raise $5 million for the acquisition, preservation and management of ecologically important lands in Northumberland County. The Trust oversees more than 1,200 acres on 13 properties and is looking for financial support from the community and donations of land, which can be a thoughtful part of estate planning. Campaign funds will also help cover the legal costs for gifts of land transfer. The organization’s Birdathon in the spring spotted several at-risk species of birds nesting on the reserves. And you can enjoy free guided walks to see the stewardship in action.


Outdoor public rinks are wonderful social gathering places to make the most of the chilly season. Skating in daytime or under the lights at night is great exercise and a lot of fun, especially when you’ve mastered staying upright (pro skaters make it look so easy!). Bundle up for comfort with a hat, mittens and CSA-approved helmet, which is mandatory for kids 10 and under, and bring water to stay hydrated. A few rinks to try include Cobourg’s Rotary Harbourfront Outdoor Rink, Caroline Street Rink in Port Hope, or one of the four outdoor rinks in Batawa. And don’t forget the rinks at Victoria Harbour in Belleville or those in Castleton, Wellington and Hastings.


One of Watershed’s most popular contributors for more than 15 years, Norm Wagenaar’s resumé begins with two decades as an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. He has worked for conservation authorities and the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation, encouraging landowners to plant trees, restore habitat and donate land. He is a conservationist and professional gardener with deep experience in land stewardship. Now he’s authored a timely book, Bare Dirt: The Mindful Gardener, on how to garden in a way that’s in keeping with the local ecosystem so that people and nature can thrive in harmony. Consider it an eye-opening guide to ending our addiction to chemicals, to growing native plants that provide a sustainable habitat for birds, butterflies and bees (and to stop obsessing over the perfect lawn and other cultural norms that need a refresh). As he puts it: “…do not disrupt the soil unless you have a plan to heal it.”

Look for Norm’s book on


Cobourg’s Beyond the Blue Box had a catastrophic fire in September that destroyed the home of this community thrift resource. But the heart and commitment of the charity still shines bright. While the group has found a new location on King Street, dedicated volunteers are holding local marketplace events to continue selling donated items like vintage jewelry, paintings and pottery. The first store opened in 1992 offering all manner of household essentials, along with community service hours for students and people with disabilities. Please visit their GoFundMe page to support the reconstruction.


The traditions of holiday merrymaking go back a long way. Early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Scandinavians would bring home large logs in recognition of the return of the sun and feast until the logs burned out. Lang Pioneer Village in Keene shares the magic of Christmas as many area settlers did, with carol singing, tours of the village by wagon, storytelling by Father Christmas and a live nativity. The historic village has also won an Ontario Choice Award this fall as a favourite attraction by public online votes. Come visit! The Christmas by Candlelight festivities run December 2 and 3 from 4 to 8pm.


From Second World War bombers to the powerful Hercules CC-130 for search and rescue missions today, there’s a proud history behind the National Air Force Museum of Canada. Located next to the Canadian Forces Base Trenton, the museum houses over 35 Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft and a restoration shop for a view of the rebuilding process. As with many tribute spaces, it’s the stories of the courageous men and women who served that you might find most compelling, like the aircrews who plotted the 1944 Great Escape tunnel from Stalag Luft III, a German prisoner of war camp.

[Winter 2023/2024 departments]