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Naturalization Gallery to open in Cornwall on July 15

Kieran Stewart of Cornwall’s parks and recreation department tidies up one of the trees in the Circle of Peace at the Naturalization Gallery in Cornwall. The gallery will be officially opened on Sunday as part of the town’s multicultural festival.
Kieran Stewart of Cornwall’s parks and recreation department tidies up one of the trees in the Circle of Peace at the Naturalization Gallery in Cornwall. The gallery will be officially opened on Sunday as part of the town’s multicultural festival. - Contributed

CORNWALL - Many years of dreaming, along with four years of planting and grooming, will come to fruition on Sunday when Cornwall’s Naturalization Gallery is officially opened.

The gallery opening will occur as part of the town’s multicultural festival, which will be held at the Terry Fox Sports Complex.

The joint event runs 1-7 p.m. and will feature guided tours of the gallery, inflatables, mini-golf, live musical entertainment, yoga and a barbecue.

The Naturalization Gallery has about 3,000 native P.E.I. trees, shrubs, ferns and wildflowers. A two-kilometre trail runs through the gallery and along the perimeter of the sports complex.

“Initially we were just going to plant a few trees. Well, a few trees has turned into 3,000 over four years,” says Bill Hogg, who has spearheaded the project, along with fellow retired teacher June Sanderson.

Early on, two other retired teachers with connections to Eliot River Elementary School were also involved. They were Bob Gray and the late Gordon Hermann.

“As retired teachers we had grave concerns about the role of technology and some of the negative things that we see happening,” says Hogg.

He said while technology brings great enhancement to accessing information and the learning process in general, there are legitimate concerns that the current generation is becoming removed from the natural environment.

“The best teaching always happens outside the classroom,” said Hogg.

As Mother Nature works her magic and the trees and shrubs grow, Hogg is optimistic the area will be utilized by schools, as well as the public.

The Naturalization Gallery trail includes two special places, a Circle of Peace and the Memorial Grove. Both aim to provide places of refuge to celebrate peace, diversity and to offer a place for reflection.

Cornwall Mayor Minerva McCourt says the Naturalization Gallery, the trail that runs around it and the sports complex are tremendous assets for the town. She is confident that as the many trees, shrubs and flowers grow, it will become increasingly popular and appreciated by the public.

Hogg says a major cash infusion by Cornwall in 2015 was key to the project. Federal funding followed through Eco-Action Canada, as well as involvement from area schools, corporations, the Cornwall Lions Club and Charlottetown Royalty Rotary Club. Another key ally was the expertise and support of the Macphail Ecological Woods Forestry Project.

The official opening of the Naturalization Gallery is at 1 p.m. at the pergola, which marks the beginning of the trail and is just off the main parking lot. The public will then be invited to walk to the Circle of Peace and later to the toboggan hill where musical acts will perform. An official from Macphail Woods will be on hand to offer guided tours. In addition, Vesey’s Seeds is providing a six-passenger golf cart to assist people with mobility issues.

One of Hogg’s dreams is that someday a school writing class will take place inside the Circle of Peace. The circle’s Red Oaks mark the four points of the compass, four races of the earth’s people and the four elements essential to life (air, earth, fire and water). The circle’s 12 Sugar Maples represent the number of perfection.

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