On the afternoon of March 3rd, Dr. Nancy Turner, a world renowned enthobiologist, delivered the first of this spring’s lectures to the Friends. Entitled “A Well-managed Lea”: First Peoples, Plants and the History of Victoria, Dr. Turner started the story with James Douglas’ mistaken observation upon his arrival to the island in 1841 that it was a “natural” landscape with plenty of potential for development. In fact, what he observed was a very sophisticated environment managed sustainably by the Lekwungen and other Straits Salish peoples to provide a variety of foods, medicines and building materials from more than 150 plants.
The lecture proceeded to detail just a few of the critical plants and complex processes used to cultivate and use them. Dr. Turner concluded by telling the well attended event that the Government House gardens remains a refugia for many of the culturally important species that are now quite rare, but played a critical role in the life of the First Nations of Vancouver Island.
This and the future lectures in the Friends Talks 2014 series was made possible by an energetic team of Friends volunteers consisting of Angela Newton, Susan Bartol-Drinker and Lynn Heenan assisted by Eileen Edgar’s phone team and Catherine Spencer distributing e-mails to the membership. Many thanks to Penny Tennenhouse and Jerymy Brownridge for the photographs and to Valerie Murray for her initial contact to Dr. Turner.