AT THE IRVING NATURE PARK
Information Kiosk: The original name for the Irving Nature Park was Taylor’s Island, named after the first family that lived on the island during the 1780’s. Here, at the Information Kiosk, is where the original homestead of the Taylor family stood. The original homestead included a two-story house with an attic and 4 bedrooms on the upper level and a large barn (much larger than the house – likely needed for the heavy farming operations occurring in Saints Rests Marsh at the time). Interestingly, the alder patch that lines the road just to the west of the Information Kiosk, is indicative that this area was once cleared. Alders are a pioneer tree species, meaning they are one of the first to inhabit a site that has been disturbed. The clearing for the homestead only would have gone as far as the mature spruce trees that are seen today. It is amazing what tree species can tell us about the history of an environment!
The last family that lived on the island were the Danells between 1914 and 1917. The family arrived from England and rented the island sight unseen, after having been told how beautiful the area and land was. As Saints Rest beach was not as built up with natural gravel from the adjacent land, getting to their home was not easy. Mr. Danells often stayed the week in “the city”, coming home when the tides allowed on weekends to help Mrs Danells (a former London concert pianist) run the house. The Danells family had a vegetable garden and would pickle periwinkles and foraged for strawberries located in what is now the uppermost parking lot from the Information Kiosk, gooseberries that were found near the main gates, and blueberries along Sheldon’s Point. At low tide they would collect dulse.
The barn eventually burned down in 1919 and the homestead in 1921.