Iris Griffith Centre
by Cindy Dalcourt, 5 November 2016.
While rushing to catch a ferry to the peninsula, have you ever noticed the sign for the Iris Griffith Centre and wondered what is was?
Well, this Saturday 17 of us found out. After carpooling to Saltery Bay and walking on the ferry, we were picked up by Lee-Ann Ennis in the “Wood Duck” bus, and taken to the Ruby Lake Lagoon Nature Reserve Society headquarters. The Society’s mission is to preserve and enhance the natural habitat and wildlife of the Ruby lake Lagoon, facilitate local environmental education, and help monitor the ecological health of the region. Their state-of-the-art Field Studies and Interpretive Centre is named after Iris Griffith, a local grassroots naturalist and activist.
On arrival we were greeted by Anne, a founding member of the Society, and treated to tea and snacks, while Lee-Ann provided background about the society and centre. The society provides facilities for study and research, fosters good stewardship ethics, promotes respect for First Nations history, cultural traditions and heritage, and promotes leadership in environmental building design. Lee_Ann also told us of their newest endeavour which is to build a “Pender Harbour Ocean Discover Station” (PODS). This is to be a centre for viewing marine creatures in their natural habitat, marine research and lab work as well as a community gathering space. The proposed architectural plans are amazing and if built, will someday be a great place to visit.
Lee-Ann then took us on a tour of the beautiful centre and surrounding area. We viewed their reclaimed wetland area which is home to ducks, turtles, frogs, beavers and much more. She explained their monitoring of the western painted turtle and showed us their nesting sites which have been enhanced by the society. Tips on dealing with the invasive Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) were also mentioned. We walked some of the trails in the area which connect to the “Suncoaster Trail” a multi- use trail that stretches from Earls Cove to Halfmoon Bay. We continued our walk through the property next door which is owned by the Ruby Lake Resort and saw their luxury camp set up and unique amphitheatre.
Upon leaving the centre we were taken on a very short tour of Egmont and then to the Egmont Heritage Centre across the street from the entrance to Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park. There we learned about Egmont’s history and enjoyed the many artifacts displayed. Then it was back to Earls Cove for the trip home. Lee-Ann was an enthusiastic guide and we thoroughly enjoyed our day. So next time you’re on the peninsula make sure to take the time to stop and see the sights – you’ll be glad you did!