History of  the KOURNOSSOFF PROPERTY – (CAMP RIVER WILDLIFE AREA)

SPECIAL FEATURE 1  from HERON HERALD November 2004 Vol. 9 Issue 4 

Headlines December, 1994  MIKHAIL V. KOURNOSSOFF

In December of the year 1994 Mikhail Kournossoff finalized his gift of 22 acres to the Ministry of Environment and Nature Trust B, C. This land borders on the Hope Slough and is known as the Camp River Wildlife Area. The Chilliwack Field Naturalist Club agreed to steward, or oversee its maintenance and enhancement. On December 19th/1994, our club held a dedication ceremony at the Camp River Hall.

A bronze plaque was mounted on a cement structure inscribed as follows:

CAMP RIVER WILDLIFE AREA
Mikhail Kournossoff
donated this property (8.7 hectare, 21.6 acre)
to the Nature Trust of BC on June, 1994
The property is dedicated to the memory
of His Mother Nina, Martyred in Russia
During Its Darkest Hour, and to Gwen,
His Wife of 36 Years.
The property is leased to
BC Environment and managed through
a stewardship agreement with Chilliwack
Field Naturalists.

Management objectives for the area are to enhance habitat
diversity, provide opportunities for wildlife viewing and appreciation

NINA - BORN 1880 / DIED 1937
GWEN - BORN 1904 / DIED 1964

Unfortunately, the plaque was vandalized; so a larger, heavy, white plastic replacement was purchased, inscribed in black lettering. This plaque doesn’t want to stay put. It seems we need to fix it more securely in order that it can withstand the pressures of the wind and the rain. (Note: Both plaques are housed with Lee and Denis at present.)

Looking after the Kournossoff property has turned out to be somewhat of a challenge. More of this story to come in the next issue of the Heron

SPECIAL FEATURE 2  from HERON HERALD  February  2005 Vol. 10 Issue 1

Mikhail Kournossoff

The BLACK BERRY CHALLENGE

We continue our story of the Camp River Wildlife area, which our club has agreed to steward (see the November issue of the Heron Herald). Mr. Kournossoff, the former owner of the property, has authored two books, both of which are in the Chilliwack library. Below I have taken a quote from his book From Purgatory to Paradise, chapter 30, page 219. Mikhail and his wife Gwen lived in their house across the road from the wildlife area.

"Most of the 25 acres across the road were not cleared, and there was the problem of somehow removing the phenomenal growth of blackberries…

This involved extremely hard work in which Gwen helped me whenever she could.

There are times when one can become strained and even exhausted beyond endurance, and that was the condition in which we both were by August of 1946. The work involved in clearing the blackberries was particularly difficult and tedious, and there seemed no end to it. This brought us to the point of despair.

I turned to Gwen and said "Darling, shall we consider selling it?"

"Well, perhaps we should… I do believe it would make our lives a little easier" (she replied)."

Since agreeing to care for the property in 1994, Denis (who was tasked with co-coordinating the project) together with club volunteers have done several plantings and erected bird boxes. In the past we have received a $500 grant from the FBCN as well as a generous $5000 from Frances Guinet to help us purchase plants, clear land etc.

Unfortunately, blackberries and thistles again, as in Mikhail’s time, have come to pose a serious problem. They threaten the entire project and they entirely block access to the attractive waterway.

More in the next Heron Herald about future plans to develop the area and, hopefully, (with the help of the recently granted $2000 from the FBCN) deal with the blackberry/thistle scourge

Mikhail Kournossoff

SPECIAL FEATURE 3  from HERON HERALD April  2005 Vol. 10 Issue 2

Below is a map of the Camp River Wildlife Area showing the long-term goals for the site. It is described as "Denis’ dream plan". Some work has been done already, as described in the last Heron Herald issue and continues this spring. We had hoped that the pond would have been dug this winter; unfortunately, this project has had to be postponed.

In early March, a party of seven planters – Denis, Lee, Debora Soutar, Marlene, Roy, Colleen and her husband (not including baby Logan, who was busy carrying empty pots back to the truck) spent several hours working at the site.  They planted about 110 larger (from 1 to 5 gallon) shrubs and trees, finishing in time for a hotdog lunch. The shrubs - black twinberry, Nootka rose, red osier dogwoods and native apples - were used to fill and add diversity to the willow forest that is growing well, close to the front of the property.  They also planted some native asters along the woodland edge.  A larger area adjacent to the willow forest was filled with vine maples, which will provide colour in the fall and a great foraging site for bees and warblers.  

We also took along a number of rhododendrons to plant around the cairn; however, during the work of building the attractive wooden fence structure around the cairn, the soil had been excavated leaving a dip that will have to be filled in first.  Denis plans to see if we can get this done, so that bark mulch may be added around the rhodos to keep down the weeds. This will make a nice display around the cairn