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Remembering Ruth Englund

by Elaine Ehman

Ruth Englund has been an outdoor enthusiast as long as she can remember. Born and raised on a farm in Saskatchewan’s parkland region. Ruth grew up knowing and loving the natural environment and its inhabitants. Ruth’s mother, Mary Brennan, was a naturalist and an inspiration to her family. Ruth says she and her siblings were very young when they were first introduced to birds and flowers.  She remembers her mom caring for injured birds and other creatures.  Her brother wrapped an injured Franklin gull in his jacket and took it home for his mom to mend. One winter they housed a phalarope, a little sparrow and a horned lark.

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  Echo Valley, May 2019   Photo courtesy of Brian Jeffrey

Ruth became an expert on the birds and flowers in the parkland and, after moving to Regina in 1968, broadened her knowledge to the grasslands. Most weekends, she and her family would head out of Regina to the Craven valley to climb the hills or to her sister’s farm north of Lipton. On other weekends she took her kids to the Natural History Museum, which they all loved, especially the dioramas.  

 

In the early 80s, at the invitation of her mother and sister, Ruth attended her first Nature Saskatchewan Spring Meet at Round Lake. The three slept in a little pull trailer and Ruth remembered that it was bitterly cold at night, but still a great adventure. That was the start of attending spring meets and over the following 40 years, Ruth only missed one or two.  

 

Shortly after joining Nature Saskatchewan, Ruth became a member of Nature Regina. She wasn’t able to attend many meetings until she retired but she enjoyed many Nature Regina field trips. Her favourites were to the Craven Valley. Hidden Valley was always special, especially the early morning of summer solstice when she and others watched the rising sun from the hilltop.   She loved Route 99 where she was always sure to spot pairs of nesting Bluebirds. Bob Kreba, who worked at the museum and was a Field Trip Chairperson at one time, was one of her favourite field trip leaders. After his death, she was part of a group that planted a memorial tree near the museum in his honour and recalls that just as they were finishing a flock of honking geese soared over – an honorary fly-past!  

 

In 1994, after Nature Regina installed the native plant garden at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM), Ruth became one of the “garden crew”. She lined up volunteers and worked as part of the maintenance crew. Ruth continues to help with the garden, sorting and packaging seeds and growing plants for the garden. Ruth’s own yard teems with native plants, most of which Keith Barr gave her, starting with buffalo grass. Unable to put in a garden this year, Ruth offered her raised garden boxes to Nature Regina to use as a nursery and sent her white Monarda off to another plant sitter until it’s ready for its new home at the RSM.

   

In 2007, Ruth joined a group from Nature Regina and the Friends of Wascana Marsh that transplanted between 150 and 200 lady slippers, and the plants that grew with them, rescued near Broadview and moved into a secluded corner of Douglas Park.

  

In Ruth’s view, Dale Hjertaas stands out as an excellent Conservation Director. Ruth has been part of many of Dale’s conservation campaigns, including the successful campaign in 2016 to reject the Saskatchewan government’s wind turbine project at Chaplin Lake. As a contributor to citizen science, Ruth has long participated in Christmas Bird Counts and Snowy Owl counts.  

Her hope for Nature Regina’s future:  

Ruth would like to see more youth and more First Nations participation. She was happy to see the success of the Get Outside! Kids and Pre-school clubs and sees these efforts as a way for Nature Regina to grow. Ruth hopes that Inviting Indigenous people to join us will increase our knowledge of how to care for the land.  

 

Ruth Englund passed away on September 20, 2023. 

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