Taking a Good look at nature

Jim Good walks along one of the trails of Goodsir Nature Park in Salmon Valley. Good built the park himself. Bill Phillips photo
Jim Good walks along one of the trails of Goodsir Nature Park in Salmon Valley. Good built the park himself. Bill Phillips photo

BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

You can be forgiven if you feel like you’ve stepped back in time because that is the voice of Bob Harkins coming over the loudspeaker.

He is interviewing Jim Good, creator of Goodsir Nature Park at Salmon Valley.

Visitors to the park are greeted with this timeless interview and others, along with a wide variety of music that is broadcast over loudspeakers at CGNP, which are the CRTC-approved call letters for the park’s radio station.

The noise, however, quickly fades away as you walk through the multitude of trails that make up the park, located on 160 acres just off Old Summit Lake Road.

Good started homesteading on the property in the early 1980s and then created the park, which will mark its 30th anniversary in 2019.

What is unique about the park is that it contains living samples of trees and shrubs from the four corners of the country.

“It is the story of Canada,” says Good, who gathered all the living samples along with those housed in a botanical museum himself.

So while the park is an outstanding display of Canada’s botanical biodiversity, it is also a travelogue of Good’s life.

And, with a photographic memory, Good can point to almost any plant dotting the trails and tell you where and when he got it.

Good says his two great passions – nature and music – started in him when he was six years old and started camping with his parents. He started collecting music when he was six and now has a huge array of music, from 45s still in their original covers to cassettes,  that is housed in a music museum and feeds his fully functioning radio station.

“I was about 13 years old when I had the vision of buying some land someday,” he says.

His father was a little skeptical, but Good persevered and managed to buy the quarter-section near Salmon Valley in the early 1980s.

“It’s away from the rat race,” he says. “There’s peace and quiet and it’s very, very close to nature.”

Over the years Good developed the trails which showcase the different species of trees and shrubs from across the country. His favourite spot is Little Goodsir Lake where beavers and muskrats and even the occasional eagle can be seen enjoying the natural habitat.

The park has a cabin where people can stay, room to camp, and everything is by donation. It is his life’s work.

A tamarack tree from Kapuskasing, Ontario in its full fall splendour.
A tamarack tree from Kapuskasing, Ontario in its full fall splendour.

“I’m most proud of a lifetime commitment of sticking with one thing which radiated out of two hobbies,” he says. “I could never have imagined that those two hobbies … one would take me across the country to study native plant life in every province and territory and the other I would explore every avenue of North American released music.”

Goodsir Nature Park is going to receive a load of lumber from Brink Forest Products to replace the signs posted throughout the park, many of which are old and starting to rot. Good paints each sign by hand.

“It means an awful lot,” Good says of the donation. “For many, many years I’ve tried to get people to help me to keep this place going. I have never had anything, this will be the first in the history of Goodsir.

“This park is built out of my love, my sweat and toil, my hands and I rely entirely on public donations,” he says. “The donations don’t go nearly far enough to take care of what this park really needs.”

Upkeep at the park is getting tougher for Good who, like all of us, isn’t as young as he used to be. He’s not sure of future holds for the park, but it optimistic.

“I’m hoping this park will get the attention it needs, the funding it needs, perhaps turn it into a municipal park,” he says. “I have a feeling something good is going to happen. Many of the trees I’ve planted here could live hundreds of years. Some of them are doing very, very in this climate hundreds of miles away from their natural habitat.”

And it’s what makes the park unique and creates it value not only as wonderful place to visit, but as an educational tool. School tours are booked to visit the park.

Right now, Good is getting ready for next year’s big anniversary.

“I’m hoping next year, the 30th anniversary, will be the biggest moment of my life. I’m hoping to get one famous person out here … a politician, movie actor, scientist … anything like that would be a well appreciated memory.”

Jim Good in his botanical museum showing off a display of cones from every type of conifer in Canada.
Jim Good in his botanical museum showing off a display of cones from every type of conifer in Canada.

Good's summer time living room, complete with sound system, television, and firepit.
Good’s summer time living room, complete with sound system, television, and firepit.

 

The entertainment centre.
The entertainment centre.

Everything is heated by wood.
Everything is heated by wood.

 

Little Goodsir Lake.
Little Goodsir Lake.

 

One of the many signs that will be replaced thanks to a donation of lumber by Brink Forest Products.
One of the many signs that will be replaced thanks to a donation of lumber by Brink Forest Products.

 

Jim Good showing of original Beatles 45s in his music museum.
Jim Good showing of original Beatles 45s in his music museum.

 

The music collection.
The music collection.

 

Jim Good's fully equipped radio station.
Jim Good’s fully equipped radio station.

 

DJ Jim Good spinning some tunes.
DJ Jim Good spinning some tunes.