Sunday, January 24, 2016

2018 Thames River Cleanup - Woodstock

Come on out and help maintain the integrity and natural beauty of the Thames River!  

What exactly is a Canadian Heritage River; and where exactly can you find one? Well, not too far from your home, if you are a resident of Oxford County! The Thames River, one of numerous Canadian Heritage Rivers, meanders over a length of 273 kilometres and finds part of its home in Woodstock, ON. In 2000, the Thames was designated  Canadian Heritage River following a comprehensive application and approval process. 

The river's natural, cultural and recreational value were important criteria relative to the designation, as was the recognition that many communities would need to ‘pull together’ in order to achieve a system wide designation.  Of key importance is a continued accountability which must be perpetuated on a year to year and community to community basis, in order for the designation to be upheld. 

Natural Heritage: Whether considering the richness of the Carolinian forest which abuts the river in some regions, or taking into account the river system is home to approximately 88 species of fish, 36 species of mammals, and equally notable, almost 160 bird species, the river’s natural heritage’ is rather remarkable. 

Cultural Heritage:  The river system served as a ‘bloodline’ for early settlements, from Aboriginal roots dating back 11,000 years, to the establishment of agricultural communities emerging about 500 A.D. Even the War of 1812 saw the Thames River play host to local battles, with Shawnee Chief Tecumseh dying in the Battle of Moraviantown. Eventually, the Thames River would become an anchor by which area communities would emerge, develop and evolve, whether by the construction of gristmills to tap into the ‘water power of the river’, or as a means of transporting goods between communities as just two examples.

Recreational Heritage: Pittock Dam, man-made primarily to assist with area flood control, is in fact a present day key player in the recreational pursuits of many people, whether local residents or tourists. Fishing, boating and hiking trails created along the shoreline have motivated many a person to stay in shape and enjoy the outdoors, while hopefully appreciating the value of the river from a cultural and natural perspective as well.

Now if only we could have ‘just a little less’ reason for an annual cleanup. So, a few suggestions to those folks who need an awakening.  Shopping carts should be left at the store and not deposited in the river.  Deer are best enjoyed as a living part of the landscape rather than shot and decapitated solely for the sake of their antlers.  Doggy pickup bags are meant to be held for later disposal, rather than tossed alongside a trail when nobody is looking. And finally, if each and every one of us could consciously minimize our use of, and equally important, avoid the indiscriminate discarding of disposable items, we could most definitely eliminate at least two thirds of the materials picked up each and every year.

I look forward to hearing from our dedicated groups and individuals, as well as new people who would like to become involved. To further enrich your knowledge and appreciation of the Thames River, I urge you to check out the following website!

  •  Contact Cathy Stewart @ 519-537-6426 or for details. 
  • Woodstock River Cleanup 'Formal' Date for 2018: Saturday, April 21, 2018.
Website Links: 
And don't forget to check out the Cleanup website at
Canadian Heritage River System (Thames) Report Card:

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