‘Alvin Runnalls Forest’ officially inaugurated

From left: Lawrence Levere, SNC Communications Committee Chair; Doug Thompson, SNC Board of Directors Past-Chair; Shirley Scott, sister of the late Alvin Runnalls; Dawn Runnalls, Alvin Runnalls' wife; Rachel Leigh, Alvin Runnalls’ daughter, and her partner, Christophe Derval; Eric Duncan, Mayor of North Dundas; and Gerry Boyce, Deputy Mayor of North Dundas. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

MOREWOOD — A 300-acre corner of the Morewood Bog has been rechristened the Alvin Runnalls Forest.

A ceremony on Sunday officially named the United Counties of SDG property in honour of the late North Dundas resident and former mayor of the municipality who perished in a 2016 tree-felling accident at the age of 76.

The natural area now bearing his name  includes an unopened municipal road allowance that serves as an inviting general trail and — in the wintertime — a long-established snowmobile trail as well.

Current Mayor Eric Duncan said it was a tribute fitting to Runnalls. “He cared about the township, he cared about the counties, he cared about South Nation. And if it was the Dundas Federation of Agriculture, and the OFA that he was involved with, if it was Community Food Share …  Upper Canada Playhouse, the hospital, St. Clare’s Anglican and its predecessor congregations as well — Alvin was involved in a lot. So today, we pay tribute to a great community person by naming this beautiful piece of community land for him.”

“This honour would have delighted Dad, to have his name given to promote two causes dear to his heart: Environmental stewardship and outdoor recreation,” said the honouree’s daughter, Rachel.

Her father grew up exploring the woodlot on the farm where he was raised, and later in life “keenly enjoyed his collaboration with South Nation Conservation and the St. Lawrence River Institute,” she said. Noting his passing for hiking and running, “if he were here today, he’d be joining us on the trails with a proud, happy grin.”

“I really believed he enjoyed his work with South Nation because that really was his pride and joy,” said SNC board member Doug Thompson.

When asked about the status of snowmobilers on the trail this winter, Pat Piitz, SNC Forest Manager, said they would “try to accommodate everyone.”

He confirmed that SNC may be interested in running trail-related recreational programming out of the nearby Ninth Schoolhouse — located at 1919 County Rd. 7 — and may approach North Dundas about that idea.

This article was edited to correct the reported day of the event.

See the day’s proceedings in the video below.

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