Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Perth Historical Society Meeting Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Rare Man - A Rare Flower
The Purdon Conservation Area Story

For the Perth Historical Society April meeting, Rhodena Purdon Bell presents the story of the Purdon family's 1840s farm that evolved into one of Lanark County's Seven Wonders - the Purdon Conservation Area. It is unusual, to find an original homestead in the same family for almost two hundred years - and even more unusual that their land would become a famous conservation area.

The Purdon ancestors arrived from Scotland in 1821 and settled on 300 acres near McDonald’s Corners in the township of Dalhousie. Rhodena’s father, Joe Purdon left his mark on this land in many ways. He was a skilled carpenter, and came to be famous for his handmade boats, a Purdon boat, and for his hand-fashioned oars. But the most innovative and dedicated work in his lifetime, was the collection and protection of the exquisite Lady’s Slipper Orchid – a flower he found, in his childhood, growing near his one-room schoolhouse in the 1930s.

Joe Purdon discovered that orchids aren't particularly attractive to pollinating insects, and their cycle takes 15 years from pollination to flowering, so he painstakingly hand-pollinated plants for decades. He also thinned the brush to let in more sunlight and dismantled beaver dams to control the water level. Under his care, the colony grew from a few dozen plants to over 10,000 blooms. Today, the Purdon Conservation Area attracts thousands of visitors from far and wide, who make the trek to see these rare orchids and one of our County's most important natural sites.

Six generations later, Rhodena Bell carries on her family’s traditions, as the keeper of the original farmhouse and surrounding homestead, providing a pristine holiday place at the rustic cabins that her father built at Purdon Lake. She has also ensured that the love of their heritage has been passed on to her two children – the seventh generation.

The location is Perth's Royal Canadian Legion, home of the Hall of Remembrance, 26 Beckwith Street E., Perth, Thursday 16 April at 7:30pm
(Toonie donation)

Thanks to David Taylor for the information

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