Niagara Escarpment, Sacred Space

The Niagara Escarpment

Sacred Space

Presented at the Leading Edge Conference 2011

“Sustainable Tourism and Economic Development

 in the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve.”

By Don Alexander, Commissioner, Niagara Escarpment Commission

Niagara Escarpment, Lions Head

Niagara Escarpment, Lions Head

The Niagara Escarpment is one of 562 Biosphere Reserves in the World.   When the UNESCO MAB programme convened an International Workshop on the Importance of Sacred Natural Sites for Biodiversity Conservation,  Biosphere Reserves were represented from all parts of the world EXCEPT North America and Western Europe.  (1)

The distinction is made that  “In many non-western societies traditional sacred areas fulfill functions similar to those of legally protected areas in “the west”.  (1)

In traditional cultures the sacred is recognized in forests, individual trees, forest groves, waterfalls, springs, caves, prominent heights, glens and trails.

Consideration of the Niagara Escarpment as Sacred place strengthens the conservation ethic among growing numbers of people.

There is increasing opinion that a “sacred” out of the ordinary dimension will be necessary to give the environment the priority it needs to cope with pressures on the entire biosphere system.

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On the Niagara Escarpment!

Inglis Falls 1954.Niagara Escarpment

Don Alexander (right) at Inglis Falls on the Niagara Escarpment in Owen Sound. Also shown are Don Danard (centre) and Ted McKnight (left).  In 1954 , on a holiday weekend in May we had hiked up a ravine to the waterfalls.


Don Alexander will later become a Niagara Escarpment Commissioner on the special land-use body that is charged with protecting the unique ecological areas along the 800km length of the unique landform.  Don Danard was a prominent morning radio host in Toronto for many years.


Niagara Escarpment Dress

An escarpment “wearable art” dress.  Shown in the 2011 Niagara Artists Centre “Strutt” wearable art runway show.  It is titled Niagara Esc-Art-Ment.  I printed on fabric, a design to portray fractured rock layers of the Niagara Escarpment.  I hand sewed the dress because I do not know how to use a sewing machine. A shoulder piece reflects the many water falls along the escarpment and some cedar sprays at waist respect the ancient thousand-year old cedar trees that grow along the rockfaces.DON DRESSMAKING - Version 2

Escarpment Dress, Don Alexander, STRUTT  2011