Butterfly Canoe aims to help save bees and butterflies

Have you noticed in the retreating snow, a canoe emerging on the northeast corner of the Leaside Library’s lawn?

This is the Butterfly Canoe, created with its surrounding gardens by the Leaside Garden Society as part of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway project.

The gradual disappearance of butterflies and native bees led the foundation three years ago to take action on this problem by creating garden patches with pollinator plants, shrubs and native wildflowers in parks, along streets, in churchyards and in schoolyards.

The Butterfly Canoe and gardens by the library on McRae Drive is an addition to the foundation’s expanding program.

The instigator of the Leaside project was Rick Hutchings of the Leaside Garden Society, board member Deborah Browne says.

Butterfly Canoe and Rick Hutchings
NEW GARDEN: Rick Hutchings celebrates completing the Butterfly Canoe and gardens after 10 months of work.

Hutchings first heard about the Butterflyway project in January, 2019 from a speaker at the society’s monthly meeting, Browne relates.

The canoe was donated by Adele Freeman, also a Leaside Garden Society member. Hutchings drove to Kawartha to pick up the canoe and painted it himself. He was also responsible for digging out the garden in the shape of a butterfly.

Installation of the canoe and gardens was completed in fall 2019.

Last month it was designated, along with the other gardens at the library, a “Property Certified Wildlife-friendly Habitat” by the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

Additional plantings in the garden in spring will include trees, such as birch, redbuds and white pine, as sell as dogwood shrubs and coneflowers.

The city’s parks, forestry and recreation department will install rocks around the canoe to anchor the garden and the shape will become more oval.

This is the first Butterflyway project in East York, although there are others in the city.