In Honour of Gladys and Cliff Wallwork

Gladys Wallwork

A nod to an esteemed naturalist

by: Dave Euler

On Saturday, July 3, 2015, Ontario Nature renamed its St. Joseph’s Island Nature Reserve in honour of local residents Gladys and Cliff Wallwork at a dedication ceremony. At the renaming ceremony, Ron Prickett, president of the Sault Naturalists’ welcomed some 34 people including 10 of Gladys’ family members, and two Ontario Nature representatives. The Wallwork Nature Reserve protects a Provincially Significant Wetland and many rare orchids.

The Wallworks were instrumental in acquiring a piece of land on St. Joseph’s Island in 1968 for the Sault Naturalists’ of Ontario and Michigan – an Ontario Nature member group. In 1971, the Sault Naturalists’ transferred the property to Ontario Nature. Throughout, the Wallworks have been guardians and ambassadors for the reserve.

Following the purchase of the land, Gladys and her fellow club members spent countless hours, cataloguing the plants, keeping watch and scheduling outings. Along with Glady’s friend, Don Hall, they created an extensive plant list recording several rare orchids and other plants that contribute to the biodiversity of the beautiful property.

In her speech, Gladys revealed her love of literature and quoted two lines from Thomas Gray, “Elegy writer in a count churchyard.”

“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”

Gladys said the lines reminded her of the orchids that grow on this reserve, because many of them are not easily seen where they thrive deep in the cedar swamp that is characteristic of St. Joseph Island. She also reminded the crowd of the importance of protecting the biodiversity of St. Joseph Island to maintain a healthy natural environment – something shared by anyone who has visited St. Joseph Island.

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