Ottawa Riverkeeper, an organization dedicated to protecting the health of the Ottawa River and its tributaries, is holding its 2015 Annual Public meeting this evening in the basement auditorium of the Canadian Museum of Nature.
The proceedings are now underway. Waterkeeper Meredith Brown introduces musician and community activist Ian Tamblyn, who kicks off the evening with an anecdote about mating chipmunks and a folk song tribute to Black Spruce forests. Follows with a protest song dedicated to the beluga whales of the St. Lawrence river. "If there was chance for change / It would be right now."
Executive Director Meredith Brown's summary of the year's major issues and developments is followed by a poetry reading from Jean van Loon. Her poem "A Story of Sawdust" harks back to the 19th century lumber trade along the river, when the Chaudière Sawmill would dump untreated waste (mostly sawdust) into the Ottawa River. On one royal visit, van Loon recounts, Elizabeth II plunged her foot right through the apparently solid layer of sawdust into the river, thinking it was land. Even in the 1960s, nearly a century after the industry's demise, the sawmill waste was still 3 metres deep.
Wrapping up the evening here with a presentation by Roch Bérubé, the executive engineer of the the Ottawa River Regulation Secretariat. His talk was titled "Dams, Water Levels and Climate Change in the Ottawa River Watershed," and followed by an insightful Q&A session.