Storyteller Scroll: CPAWS-OV & The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

  • Published on Sep 22 2011 |
  • This article is tagged as: storyteller

By Jennifer Gautreau, CPAWS Volunteer

Group picture of volunteersThis week marked The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. From September 17-25 thousands of Canadians will be participating in the World Wildlife Fund’s 18th year of cleaning up our waterways. Volunteers from coast to coast are picking up trash from our shorelines and here in Ottawa CPAWS is pitching in to help with the initiative. On September 20th, Dow’s Lake was the site for the first of two cleanups organized by the Ottawa Valley chapter this week. On a lovely, sunny evening volunteers of all ages came out to help our wildlife. Executive Director John McDonnell kicked off the event by reminding us of the important work CPAWS does in protecting our parklands. But he also stressed that by participating in events like the Cleanup, volunteers are getting to use the natural space as well as trying to preserve it.

Volunteer Molly with Prolific Plastic

Volunteer Molly with Prolific Plastic


As the bags of trash were collected, volunteers were asked to keep track of each piece of garbage and what is was. Plastic food wrappers were the biggest culprits but every volunteer was picking up mystery strands of thin blue plastic. They were everywhere: under rocks, in bushes, floating in weeds and on the shore. With every strand picked up, the mystery intensified. Thankfully, ED McDonnell was able to shed some light on the origins of the plentiful plastic. Dow’s Lake is part of the Rideau Canal. In the winter, the portion of the canal that runs from the Chateau Laurier to the Hartwell Locks is part of the world’s largest skating rink. Naturally, this large ice surface requires upkeep and the plastic strands come from the equipment used to maintain the skating rink. This served as a visual reminder that every one of our actions has a consequence, often an unintended one.

Bags of garbageThanks to Shoreline Clean up organizer and CPAWS intern, Adrian Southin, and all of the volunteers who came out – the wildlife at Dow’s Lake now have a cleaner habitat because of your efforts. In just one hour, volunteers collected enough garbage to make a visible difference.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to pitch in, join CPAWS this Saturday, September 24th, at Mud Lake. This is the second event being organized by CPAWS as part of The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. It’s a good excuse to get some fresh air and enjoy another beautiful natural space in the Ottawa Valley.