Ceremony held to dedicate bog walk benches

Peggy Revell

Those taking a stroll along the Cranberry Peatlands Interpretive Trail in Alberton now have a new place to rest their feet and take in the view thanks the site’s newest addition—benches in memory of the late Victor Raiche.
“I know that my dad is smiling down right now and happy,” Raiche’s daughter, Erma Armit, said at the dedication ceremony Friday afternoon at the trail, which is located at the end of Whitmore Road in Alberton Township.
“I’d like to thank all, and the many, many volunteers who have been involved with the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists, and other groups, too, I understand,” said Armit, referring to all the effort that has gone into building the interpretive trail.
“I know this has been a very dedicated project.
“I know that there are a lot of volunteers who have put a lot of time and effort and heart into making this happen this far, and I’m sure that there’s plans to go further,” she added.
On behalf of the RRVFN, Ahlan Johanson thanked the Raiche family for their support throughout the years with the building of the interpretive trail, as well as the memorial fund in support of the RRVFN which was established in memory of Raiche, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 94.
“They’re beautifully made and good workmanship,” Johanson said of the benches, also thanking Kish-Gon-Dug Canada for their craftsmanship and work.
With the memory of Raiche’s love of music and talent in mind, Armit was joined by two of her children, Wanda Botsford and Victor Armit, who celebrated the dedication by singing a family song written about Rainy River District, as well as an slightly-altered “peatlands” version of Peter, Paul and Mary’s “This Land is Your Land.”
Born in 1907 in Maple Lake, Mn., Raiche arrived in Rainy River District with his family in 1920. He was married to, and predeceased by, Ida May King (daughter of Janet and R.H. King), with whom he had two daughters—Erma Armit and her sister, Marjorie Vautrin.
At Friday’s dedication ceremony, Armit spoke of the many skills and trades of her father—from being a prospector, trapper, and hunter to working with the Ministry of Natural Resources for 17 years, as well as his musical talent as a fiddler.
With all his talents, Raiche supported the work and goals of the RRVFN as they worked to establish the interpretive trail, she explained, also taking the time to highlight the many important roles bogs and peatlands have when it comes to the environment.
“This type of thing certainly was dear to my dad’s heart,” Armit said about the work which the RRVFN has done to build the interpretive trail.
“Because he was a man of many talents, and one of his talents was art. And you know, it wasn’t until after this started happening that I started looking at a lot of his artwork and there’s bogs in his artwork.
“He paid a lot of attention to detail and his art,” Armit recalled. “He would sit in his living room and paint from his memory—all those details from his memory and people would look at his paintings and say, ‘I’ve seen that, I think I know where that is!’ because they had so much detail.”
While there originally was just plans for the one bench, following an act of vandalism, both the Raiche family and Kish-Gon-Dug each donated a new bench.
These benches will be stored until they are installed on the platform which sits overlooking the bog at the end of the trail in the spring.