Woodside and the Butterfly Conservancy

September 1st. More unusual treats today! Linda took me to the William Lyon Mackenzie King House in Windsor.  MK served as the 10th Prime Minister of Canada for three terms during the 30’s and 40’s.  He was Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister, and is generally credited for helping steer Canada in its current direction. It was during his years of service that unemployment insurance was introduced as well as the Canadian equivalent of Social Security and a family allowance.

So we drove up to the lovely house. It had been in the countryside when Mackenzie King lived there as a teen with his family, but the city had gradually grown around it, and now it was a lovely secluded estate in town.P1020585

No cars in the parking lot, no signs of activities. No “Open” sign. Uh-oh. We looked around on the porch, and I peeked through the slats of a door, and saw a dog. I reported that to Linda, and we were standing there, by the door, frustrated and confused, when the door opened. We’re still trying to remember his name, but he was a middle-aged park ranger. He explained to us that due to lack of government funds, the site was closed. It would be open from October to mid-December (I think primarily for school visits) but he was just there collecting his things. Then, amazingly, he invited us in, showed us around, and gave us a personal tour of both floors of the house. We saw it all.


I especially would have loved trying out the piano in the parlor.


Mackenzie King had lived here for about eight years, and elsewhere as an adult (he never married.) This was very much a family home, with toys and books for the children, a very impressive library/study (his father was an attorney) and all the domestic necessities of a prosperous late 19th Century existence.

We did find out the ranger’s dog’s name. He’s apparently a Brittany Spaniel, not common in Ontario, and originally came from Pennsylvania. His name is “Idéfix” apparently from the Asterix cartoons, and mostly he’s called “Ed.”  He was also an excellent host.



For the second treat of the day, Linda took me to Butterfly Heaven.

She’s been there often with her grandchildren, and all the kids we saw there today were having a wonderful time. There’re lots of on-site rangers, very welcoming and informative. In addition to butterflies in all their stages of existence, there were truly gargantuan bugs (a favorite with kids), some adorable little birds, a parrot Linda saw but I didn’t, a turtle, goldfish, and snails. They keep the place very warm and humid, year round, so it would be a great place to visit in the winter to thaw out.  The most interesting factoid I heard was about the one that, when it evolves from the chrysalis to a butterfly, emerges without a mouth. So the poor thing has to accomplish all life’s tasks before he starves to death. So he only lives a few days as a butterfly.

Here’re some photos. I took lots more photos, and looked more than I photographed, and it was just splendid.


The folks at the conservatory are also concerned about the plight of bees, and I attended a talk at the Pollinator Garden, located at the front of the facility. The ranger was a hoot—he said he thought he’d have to quit his job after his mom pulled up all her milkweed, the favorite of Monarch butterflies.  He convinced me we should try growing some Russian Sage, but I’m not sure about milkweed. It’s poisonous to everything but Monarch butterflies, which is why they’re poisonous. Our first attempts to grow it were an abysmal failure. He suggested we try again, and it’s very easy once established.  I mentioned the oregano that is taking over one part of the garden, and he agreed that bees just love it. It was all very informal and informative, and people wandered away, came back, asked good questions, and we all learned a lot.P1020636

Linda skipped the garden lecture, and went shopping at Costco. Her granddaughter was celebrating her 4th birthday at Linda’s house in the evening, and the whole family was gathering for dinner and birthday cake. We made a couple more stops, went home, did a little decorating, the family started showing up, and the Fun Began! I met Linda’s children and their partners. They were all very intelligent, gracious, funny and excellent company. I forgot I was one of the seniors, and started hanging out with them. The three kids were having a grand time, and the birthday girl got some seriously nice presents. And we ate almost all the cake. A very fine time was had by all, but I think we were all beyond exhausted by bedtime that evening.  So, off to sleep, with more fine adventures planned for tomorrow.


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