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Memories of Nature

What is your favourite childhood nature memory?

One of mine is of playing hide and go seek in a lupine field with my brother and sisters. I can still hear my sister counting to 100 and my brother encouraging me to hide! I have a scar on my right knee that will forever be a reminder of how much fun we had playing outside.

I loved spending time outdoors, watching the bees pollinate the flowers and, when the day was done, swinging on my tree swing that hung from the giant Willow tree in the front yard. This is but one of many memories that ignited my passion for nature.

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I was fortunate as a child, to live on a property in the country where I was able to explore natural areas literally just steps from my family’s front door. Living in Victoria, as an adult and raising young children, I did not have the same luxury. Thankfully, there was a magical place, Swan Lake—‘the Natural Heart of the City’—which shaped the course of my parenting and that of my children’s childhood memories as they grew up. That place drives my motivation to foster the community’s understanding and appreciation of nature today.

My children, Jacob and Jess, benefited from the programing at the Sanctuary when they were just toddlers and they believe, as do I, that those early days in nature formed, in part, their love of natural surroundings today.

But the exhibits require frequent maintenance to keep them functioning. When old equipment fails, learning is not nearly as fun and it is not what the community has come to expect of the Society. When the wiggle wire of the spider legs exhibit does not wiggle its invitation to a spider’s dinner, it is just a boring thread. Night vision goggles that don’t display an owl’s nocturnal feast are a disappointment.

That’s why, as we head into the Sanctuary’s 45th anniversary this year, Swan Lake is seeking donations to help support one of the Society’s current projects or program areas or the area of greatest need.

Since its inception in 1975, Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Society has been fostering the community’s understanding and appreciation of nature through direct experience. My children are but two of the tens of thousands of children that have taken part in educational programs offered at this wild oasis in the heart of an urban landscape.

The Sanctuary is a living classroom, fostering an understanding and appreciation of nature through direct experiences. It builds deeper connections with the environment. And just as my children have, you, your children and the community’s children have the opportunity to build a connection with the environment and learn something profound—responsibility for the care and protection of the natural environment.

To donate, visit

Victoria Bug Zoo