The Harold Diceman Park Interpretive Experience

Respectfully, we begin by acknowledging that we are in the ancestral and unceded Traditional Territory of the Algonquin People. We recognize the Algonquins as the stewards of these lands and resources – in the past, in the present and in the future.

Audio Tour

The Harold Diceman Park Interpretive Experience follows the trail through this park.  We explore the natural features we see around us and look beyond the park we see today to learn about the history of Blackburn Hamlet.

This Experience is currently available in English in either a single-page, foldable brochure (PDF) format or a more detailed audio version.  The audio version of this Experience can either be played directly from this webpage or downloaded (MP3 and M4A formats) and listened to while you travel the trail.

1. Introduction

Have you wondered about the name of this park or others in Blackburn Hamlet? When Harold and Yvonne Diceman moved to Blackburn in the 1950s, they lived on the street behind you (Ridgeburn Gate). The Dicemans, Allan Beddoe and a handful of landowners, with the help of Dolphin Homes (later Costain Homes), convinced the National Capital Commission not to expropriate their lands leaving a 650 acre island in the Greenbelt. Their vision would become Blackburn Hamlet as we know it today.

2. Geology

Just 21,000 years ago this area was covered by the Laurentide Ice Sheet. The weight of this two-kilometer layer of ice depressed the land, allowing the Atlantic ocean to flow in as it melted, and forming the Champlain Sea. The marine sediments deposited in the Champlain Sea form the Leda clay that lies underfoot. It can also be seen along the banks of Green’s Creek, where it can reach a depth of 20 meters.

3. Cottonwoods

Before Blackburn Hamlet was established in 1967, this part of the park was forested. Remnants of this forest can still be seen today. To your left, the largest six trees with deeply furrowed bark are Eastern cottonwoods, North America’s largest hardwood in the willow family. The largest cottonwood here (located at the back near the play structure) has a diameter of 105 centimeters and an estimated age of 80 years!

4. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

To your left you will notice a young pine tree with a series of holes in the bark. These are the distinctive marks of the yellow-bellied sapsucker, a bird in the woodpecker family. It pecks horizontal rows of regularly spaced, oval to squarish holes through bark feeding on sap and sapwood which accounts for fifty percent of its diet. This is just one indication of the biodiversity present in our community, and a reminder that sometimes we need to look closely to see it. Photo courtesy of Jakob Mueller.

5. Trails that connect our community

Anyone familiar with Blackburn Hamlet today will tell you that the most distinctive feature of our community is the network of trails and parks that connect the community. At the time Costain Homes was developing this community in the mid 1960s, it allocated seven percent of the land it was developing to parks. In contrast, the City of Ottawa currently allocates five percent in low density areas such as rural development. Had Blackburn Hamlet been conceived and established today, it is likely that the community would have looked a lot different, with less parks and trails.

6. Eastern White Cedars

At the start of this trail and again here, you can see the many cedars that, in the absence of regular pruning, are maturing into trees. The Eastern White Cedar is native to eastern Canada and often used for hedging. Its wood, which is light, rot resistant and easy to work, makes it an ideal building material for canoes and shelters alike. This was also an advantage for making split-rail fences that still surround farm fields in Eastern Ontario.

7. The Journey Onward

Looking back over the trail, we can see the way this landscape has changed over time and the events that led to the Blackburn Hamlet we know today. We can also see other hidden features, like the origins of the soils that support the nature around us and the ways that this nature embraces our community in its unique location within Ottawa’s Greenbelt.

8. Acknowledgements

The audio version of this tour  was written and produced by Sarah Morgan-White and Susan Aitken with contributions by Christopher Brett and read by the following community members: Mark Lister, Nina Ryan, Katrya Bolger, Joe Bolger, Supattana Bolger, Valerie Plechenko, Brad Hampson and Sarah Morgan-White.

To download these files to your Desktop, Right click on the link and click “save link as” or “save target as”. From Android devices, press and hold on the link and select “download link”.


Full Trail recording (MP3)


If you would like to listen to one Point of Interest in particular, select from either the MP3 or M4A formats below.

1 – Introduction 1 – Introduction
2 – Geology 2 – Geology
3 – Cottonwoods 3 – Cottonwoods
4 – Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 4 – Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
5 – Trails that connect our community 5 – Trails that connect our community
6 – Eastern White Cedars 6 – Eastern White Cedars
7 – Journey Onward 7 – Journey Onward
8 – Acknowledgement 8 – Acknowledgement

Audio Tour Technical Information
The audio recording was recorded using a ZOOM H1n handheld recording device. The audio recordings were compiled using Audacity (with LAME and FFmpeg plugins from

Thank you for participating in the Harold Diceman Interpretive Experience. We would appreciate your feedback, please click on this link to let us know what you thought!

Sarah Morgan-White B.Sc., LL.B., J.D., LL.M.
Sarah, a lawyer and resident of Blackburn Hamlet, is the co-author/producer of the Harold Diceman Park Interpretive Experience. She is passionate about education and the environment and in projects that combine both. Creating interpretive trails for the Hamlet has been a long term dream of Sarah’s and she hopes participants will not only learn something new, but feel more connected to our community and its environment.

Susan Aitken, PhD

Sue collaborated with Sarah in planning and authoring the Harold Diceman Park Interpretive Experience. She is a Professor in the Environmental Science program at Carleton University. Sue has a longstanding interest in education, nature and in collaborating in community-led environmental initiatives. A lifelong-learner, she recently earned her Certified Interpretive Guide designation from the National Association for Interpretation and in 2020 completed an MSc degree in Science Communication and Public Engagement at the University of Edinburgh.

We would like to extend a very special thanks to all the volunteers who contributed to this project.

Christopher Brett researched and co-authored the geological portions of the Experience (see Point of Interest #2). Christopher is a trademark lawyer who has been collecting rocks and minerals for close to sixty years.  While in high school he worked one summer as a volunteer  for the mineral section at the Museum of Nature and worked one summer for the department of geology at the University of Ottawa.  He has an undergraduate Bachelor of Science degree with a major in geology, and spent three summers in Labrador conducting bedrock mapping for the Geological Survey of Canada.  While at university he was the lab demonstrator for a first year geology class, a second year mineralogy class, a third year geophysical exploration class and a fourth year mineral chemistry course.  He publishes the blog

The following residents read segments of the audio version of the tour:

  • Joe Bolger (Point of Interest #1 – Introduction)
  • Mark Lister (Point of Interest #2 – Geological History)
  • Supattana and Katrya Bolger (Point of Interest #3 – Cottonwoods)
  • Valerie Plechenko (Point of Interest #4 – Yellow-bellied Sapsucker)
  • Nina Ryan (Point of Interest #5 – The Trails and Roads Connecting our Community)
  • Brad Hampson (Point of Interest #6 – Cedars Connect Us to Nature and the Early Day of this Community)
  • Sarah Morgan-White (Point of Interest #7 – The Journey Onward; Transitions between Points of Interest; and Acknowledgements)
  • The beautiful photographs used in the Trail Brochure and on this webpage, were provided by Jakob Mueller, Susan Aitken and Sarah Morgan-White.

Other Volunteers and Organizations who Contributed to the Project include:

  • City of Ottawa – Heritage Planning Department
  • Heritage Ottawa
  • Gloucester Historical Society
  • Blackburn Community Association
  • Evelyn Budd
  • Brendan Michie
  • Kevin White

If you are interested in contributing to a future interpretive experience project, please let us know. We are particularly interested in those having historical knowledge (lived or otherwise) of Blackburn Hamlet and individuals living in Blackburn Hamlet that are interested in reading for other audio versions of interpretive experiences. Please email the BCA tree team at

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Please email Sarah at

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