Louth Conservation Area waterfall and greenery



No one ever called me outdoorsy.

At 19, I moved to Toronto to attend college and finally felt like I had come home. The hustle and bustle, the nightlife, the bright lights of the big city, and the concrete jungle was the place I wanted to be. Earth Day was no big deal and mainly stood out as the day after my birthday. Sure, it was a day when I paused to appreciate the beauty of our world. However, you were more likely to catch me soaking up the sun on a Queen Street patio than tromping around a forest in hiking boots. Where would you even do such a thing when you lived and worked in an urban setting? I had no idea, and it wasn’t something I was rushing to find out.

Several years ago, I found my relationship with the city starting to change. The fast pace, big buildings, and concrete jungle lost some of their sparkle. Instead, I found myself craving peace and quiet, a slower pace, and a chance to get out into the natural world. So, I relocated to Niagara and took my first steps toward a different way of life.

The pandemic opened the beauty of the region to me. I found the disconnection from social life and friends hard to bear through months of lockdowns. I knew I needed to find a way to get out of the house and connect with myself and others. I started going on a few hikes a week, in the winter no less, and I was hooked. I started exploring the region from Ball’s Falls to the Welland Canal to the Niagara Gorge. I connected with nature and stepped away from the difficult things going on in the world for just a little bit. This awoke something in me and gave me a true appreciation for the power of nature.

In 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated in the United States to raise awareness of environmental issues. Now, people across the globe celebrate our earth on April 22 and look for ways they can help create a cleaner, healthier planet that everyone can enjoy for years to come.

We still have a long way to go, and we all need to do our part. On my treks around the region, I was astonished by the number of trash people left behind. I learned the saying, “hike out what you hike in,” and try to create as little waste as possible — cleaning up after ourselves is one of the easiest ways to positively impact our environment

Earth Day means something different to me now than when I was younger. No matter how tough things get in our world, nature is always there and will give us more than we ever thought possible. We need to take responsibility for our actions to ensure the health of this great, big, beautiful planet for ourselves and future generations.

I’m still not going to win an ‘outdoorswoman of the year’ award anytime soon, but my relationship with nature has drastically changed. I see the positive effect it has had on my mental and physical health, and I continue to nurture this connection when I can. We are lucky to live in an area with so much access to the natural world, and I am grateful to live here. Happy Earth Day!

Authored by Pamela Hildred, Niagara College Communications Intern at NPCA