On June 8th, UFORA co-founder Stephen Smith and partner Paula Davies lead a Dead Tree Walk through Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve – in conversation with the topic featured in Mark Dion’s new public exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Toronto, The Life of a Dead Tree. The exhibit features a massive, fully grown, deceased ash tree, along with its inhabitants, supported by a series of talks, workshops, and guided walks that open up an appreciation for dead trees and the myriad life forms they support.

The Life of a Dead Tree by Mark Dion stirs conversation for dead trees and the myriad life forms they support.

Artist Mark Dion brings a massive, fully grown, deceased tree, along with its tiny inhabitants.

Todmorden Mills is a site that is dedicated to ecological restoration and has abundant dead and fallen trees, making it home to a variety of plants and animals. This walk explored dead trees in various stages of decomposition and the different life forms that are supported by them, including wildflowers and Toronto’s unofficial mushroom species, Dryad’s Saddle.

The exhibit at MOCA also includes workshops which include drawing insects, identifying invasive specimens and decomposers, to guided dead tree walks such as June 8th’s walk at Todmorden Mills to a Virtual Reality Experience of urban life from an Indigenous female perspective.

About Paula Davies and Stephen Smith:

Paula Davies

Paula Davies has been active in environmental stewardship since the late 1980’s, beginning with the City of Toronto Task Force to Bring Back the Don, the East York Environmental Advisory Committee, and in 1991, forming the Todmorden Mills Wildflower Preserve (TMWP) at Todmorden Mills Park with noted environmentalist Charles Sauriol and horticulturist Dave Money. The TMWP, a registered charity under Paula’s direction, is actively restoring forest, wetlands and meadows at the 22-acre (9.2 hectare) park, just north of Danforth Avenue.

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith is a forester and certified arborist with the firm Urban Forest Associates (UFA) Inc. As a restoration practitioner, he has designed and supervised hundreds of ecological restoration projects throughout Ontario over the past 35 years, working with many partner groups, and is the author of the invasive plant species list for Ontario. He is a founding member of the Society for Ecological Restoration Ontario and a member of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council (OIPC), and the Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA).