The William J. “Bill” Cody Fern Trail

by Frank Pope

On May 31, a new Fern Trail was dedicated at a ceremony in the Backyard Garden part of the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. The whole Cody clan was in attendance.

Standing (L to R) David Cody, Douglas Cody, Gordon Cody, Margaret Cody; seated Leslie Cody-Durocher

Standing (L to R) David Cody, Douglas Cody, Gordon Cody, Margaret Cody; seated Leslie Cody-Durocher

Lis Allison, creator of the Bill Cody Fern Trail, receiving special thanks from Isabelle Nicol, head of the Backyard Garden

Lis Allison, creator of the Bill Cody Fern Trail, receiving special thanks from Isabelle Nicol, head of the Backyard Garden

A fern trail at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden was first established in the Ash Woodlot. But when it was just getting underway, along came the Emerald Ash Borer, the ash trees were all cut down, and the fern habitat was ruined. To the rescue came Lis Allison and her crew. They created a new fern trail at the east end of the Backyard Garden which was the site for the dedication.

But why is it called the William J. “Bill” Cody Fern Trail?

When I became active on the Conservation Committee in the 1970s, I wondered how the OFNC was run. It turned out that it was actually run by Lois and Bill Cody from the basement of their residence. Everything was there: accounting ledgers, cabinets of files, shelves of club publications, and club articles for sale.

In the 1980s, I knew Bill as treasurer and business manager for the OFNC. He would deny being business manager, claiming only to manage the Canadian Field-Naturalist (CFN), but he still looked after club business.

In the 1990s, I worked with Bill in his capacity as business manager for CFN and realized what a vital role he played supporting Francis Cook, the editor. Bill’s youngest daughter, Leslie, was a great help to him. She typed his manuscripts, proofread, kept the CFN mailing list, and prepared the journal’s index. Later, I had the pleasure of working with Leslie on indexes.

Bill hardly missed a meeting of the OFNC Council.

It is fitting for the club to recognize Bill for the outstanding contribution he made to the operations of the club over many years. But why choose a fern garden?

Official opening of the William J. “Bill” Cody Fern Trail

Official opening of the William J. “Bill” Cody Fern Trail

It seemed appropriate to connect Bill with ferns. He wrote two books about ferns: Ferns of the Ottawa District in 1978 and Ferns and Fern Allies in 1989. He led many fern trips for our club and wrote six papers on the subject.

Bill was also an outstanding botanist and deserves to be recognized for that. He was an authority on plants in the Yukon, tracking the movement northward of plants responding to climate change. He wrote 160 articles and 160 book reviews related to botany and also described 51 new taxa or hybrids.

This beautiful fern trail is our tribute and thanks to Bill.

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