My favorite park on Salt Spring Island

A working heritage farm at Ruckle Park
A working heritage farm at Ruckle Park
The entrance to Ruckle Provincial Park features an immaculate heritage farm, with some homes still occupied by members of the Ruckle family. It is one of the only provincial parks I’ve visited that does not have a pay-to-park system. All parking is free.

The sights and sounds of the farm are rich. Cattle in the verdant fields, a pheasant in the distance, the ever-present ravens croaking in the trees, many song birds trill, an army of bees hum through the fruit trees and wait … what is that sound? Yup, it’s gobbling turkeys. The farm has a flock and the boys are feeling showy today, with tail plumes flaring while the hens call out their sweet and gentle sounds. A couple walks by just as a gobblefest breaks out and they dissolve into giggles. Domesticated turkeys are just plain funny.

The turkey hut, complete with real gobblers
The turkey hut, complete with real gobblers

The wind slips through fir branches as I leave the farm and follow the path to the shoreline, and a memory swirls into view. My grandma and I walking the same route in the 1980s came across a rather large fish smack in the middle of the path, some distance from the ocean. Hmmm. We looked around – no other people or fish. We looked up, way up and saw a rather large eagle looking down, way down at his lost meal lying blank-eyed before us. A raptor moment.

Even on a cloudy day, the view is stunning
Even on a cloudy day, the view is stunning

As I reach the shoreline, a quartet of Canada geese honk through the misty air, flying in their signature formation. Several benches are placed in view areas – one is dedicated to Mark, whose memory has inspired his loved ones to sponsor a bench in a timeless spot.

Mark's bench - a place of remembrance
Mark’s bench – a place of remembrance

Back at the heritage farm, I realize why the grass is such a luxurious green. Aside from the benefits of ample rain, the farm animals regularly visit the area and, ahem, enrich the soil. My shoes will carry home some extra special memories.

Along the path to the shoreline
Along the path to the shoreline
Salal in bloom on the path
Salal in bloom on the path

Stopping at the park’s farm stand, I hear a pheasant nearby so I sneak around a hedge clutching my camera. There he is, red head and slender, elegant tail, strutting along the edge of a plowed field. Alas, too far away for a good picture so I enjoy watching him add color to a dull day. I wrap up my visit with a sachet of lavender from the stand. On the way home, a doe trots across the lane and completes my personal wildlife landscape.

The forge - dating from the late 1800s
The forge – dating from the late 1800s
The old homestead, occupied until the 1960s - squint hard and you can see turkeys in the field!
The old homestead, occupied until the 1960s – squint hard and you can see turkeys in the field!
Visitors must keep a respectful distance from the turkeys
Visitors must keep a respectful distance from the turkeys
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