Sharing the Wild Life: A recap of the Festival of the Wild Child at High Lonesome Nature Reserve

(On Saturday, August 19, the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust welcomed almost 250 visitors to the 2023 edition of the Festival of the Wild Child at the High Lonesome Nature Reserve to commemorate the 200th anniversary celebrations in Mississippi Mills. Photos: submitted)

One day a year the magic happens. The trails and forests at High Lonesome Nature Reserve come alive to the happy sounds of children and families enjoying the fun learning activities of the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust (MMLT) Festival of the Wild Child.

On Saturday, August 19, we welcomed almost 250 visitors to the 2023 edition of the festival. Our theme this year was “sharing the wild life”, partly to commemorate the 200th anniversary celebrations in Mississippi Mills and the Mill of Kintail’s 20th anniversary, all taking place the same weekend, and partly to emphasize the space we share in the natural world around us.

We were pleased that members of the Mississippi Mills Fire Department joined us to share some of their forest fire experience while our volunteers talked about campfire safety with the children. Owen Clarkin, a well-respected plant identification specialist, took interested visitors on an in-depth tree walk while younger children enjoyed story time with the beautiful books loaned to us by the Almonte Public Library.

Other activities focused on the winged and furry creatures who help pollinate the plants and flowers. Another trail was a scavenger hunt for the very different creatures who live in the same environment; and of course the pond life exploration trail is always a popular one. We love to hear the squish of wet rubber boots after the children explore along the water’s edge!

So many children come back every year just to explore the magical fairy trail. The trail is a mix of different ecosystems with slightly uneven terrain, rocks, and roots where fairy houses are hidden. It’s a real adventure for the senses and the imagination. One of our visitors said that sharing the fairy trail with her grandchildren was her birthday wish come true.

This year we welcomed a number of new Canadian families who were connected with us through the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization. They enjoyed the opportunity to see some of the natural beauty of their new home country and to meet other Canadian families. We also welcomed Almonte’s Pinegrove Productions as they captured images of people in nature for a film they are producing in conjunction with MMLT.

It was a great day of sharing and learning. Special thanks go out to the Centennial Restaurant, Pakenham; Almonte Public Library; Pinegrove Productions; Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization; Mississippi Mills Fire Department; Toddy’s Potties; and of course, our fabulous volunteers and staff at MMLT who make the magic happen!

Plans are already underway for next year’s festival. If you’d like to volunteer, please contact MMLT through the web site at Stay tuned for more MMLT events at


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