It was a warm Saturday afternoon and my son and I buckled up our rented snowshoes and headed out into the woods behind Kerry Wood Nature Centre. Always a favourite family stop, we have spent many fun hours visiting the small animals and displays in the nature centre and exploring the trails and the woodland of the Waskasoo Parkland in every season. In winter we liked pretending we were trappers searching for animal tracks. In spring or summer we’d hide in the bird blind and be naturalists counting the different kinds of birds we saw in the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary. Regardless of the season, it never feels like you are in the middle of a city when you visit this place.
Alberta’s Oldest Federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Red Deer region has a very active group of local naturalists that first became organized in 1906. Through their efforts, the generosity of the J.J. Gaetz family who originally owned the land, and the vision of Red Deer City Council, 118 hectares of land was protected and in 1924 this land became Alberta’s first federal migratory bird sanctuary.
Despite its protected designation, there were many threats to the survival of the bird sanctuary over the years and Kerry Wood, a noted naturalist and writer, was its greatest champion, constantly working with other local naturalists to maintain and enhance the sanctuary. When the City built a nature centre at the edge the sanctuary, it was fitting that it be named Kerry Wood Nature Centre.
Children love walking along the trails in the sanctuary, participating in the naturalist programs at the nature centre and just being outdoors, but two new all-season outdoor nature playgrounds have made Kerry Wood Nature Centre even more fun. At Nova Chemicals Imagination Grove, kids can climb on a giant spider web, slip inside a bear cave made from stone, walk on logs and learn about nature in an outdoor classroom. The Kiwanis Harmony Garden is an accessible interactive outdoor music park with wood and metal percussion instruments that allow children to share the joy of making musical sounds outside in nature.
Adventures for All Ages in Every Season
Whether you participate in a naturalist-led river rafting trip in the summer, join a guided snowshoe tour in winter or just explore on your own, Kerry Wood Nature Centre and Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary are a treat to tour in every season. Whatever your age, discover the power of nature to soothe your soul.