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Book Tree launched at Bonnechere Park

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer


Renfrew County's newest Book Tree was officially unveiled Saturday at Bonnechere Provincial Park.

Under the towering pines that shade the Davenport Centre, residents, campers, staff and volunteers gathered around the hollowed-out tree trunk containing books for all ages to celebrate the launch of this unique European innovation that is gaining in popularity around the region.

“Today is a momentous occasion for us,” said park superintendent Jason Mask. “The tree is naturally steeped in culture and rich in history. This project continues to help us build strong community relations and recognizes our connection with our natural and cultural heritage. It also highlights the importance of reading at all ages, and is a fantastic way to stimulate creativity and inspire the next generation.”

This is the county's sixth tree joining a network that includes similar structures in Petawawa, Pembroke, Cobden, Killaloe and Arnprior. was modelled after the so-called Book Forest established in Berlin, Germany in 2006. There, a co-op of apprentices from the forestry, carpentry, cabinetmaking, media design and printing industries came together to create the unique structure. Using fallen trees, they raised a series of bookshelves using the trunk as a stand and housing for books. The idea is you reach in, take a book you like and then leave a book behind.

The Bonnechere Park tree is unique as it is the first inside a provincial park. Made out of a massive 100-year-old white pine that fell during a wind storm two years ago, this Book Tree is crowned with an authentic Pointer Boat donated to the park 12 by Merril Burchart 12 years ago.

“We are so proud to add this feature to the rich collection of interactive elements that create an enhanced outdoor experience for visitors to Bonnechere Provincial Park,” said Ross Taylor, president of the Friends of Bonnechere Park.

The project was headed up by Natural Heritage Education leader Josh Ibelshauser and a group of volunteers and staff who worked on it over the past several months. The Book Tree will be filled with children's books supplied by Renfrew County's Best Start Network, which funded the project with a $25,000 Community Action Research and Innovation Fund grant from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

Park visitors were encouraged to take a book and keep it, while encouraged to leave one on their next excursion.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist



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