The Bishops Mills

Natural History Centre

provides for safekeeping

and use of natural history

specimens and observations.

It carries out research in

amphibians, clams, crayfish,

and invasive plants,

and teaches natural history

through art, museum practices,

species identification,

conservation, and ecology.


Opened in August 2002, the BMNHC continues the work of

Frederick W. Schueler and Aleta Karstad

with research and teaching interests and activities both locally and beyond eastern Ontario -- throughout glaciated North America.

Contact us by phone

at (613)258-3107

or e-mail

Area Map

Bishops Mills Natural History Centre

About us

Apprentice Programme

Nature Modelling workshops



Karstad books

illustrated nature journals



Courses [that we'd like to give] and Programmes

[Note that his page was put up when we first began the BMNHC, and before we realized how difficult it would be to assemble groups of people interested in taking courses simultaneously. If you're such a group, or if what you see here interests you, let us know: but realize that while the programmes are underway (except as noted) the courses are potentialities, which could be presented at a variety of scales, from one-day workshops to season-long classroom courses. -- fws, 26 Jan 2007]

[Leopard Frog, Rana pipiens]


Instructor: Frederick W. Schueler Ph.D.

Natural History in Eastern Ontario: pre-settlement forests, effects of settlement, trees, herbs, large invertebrates, fungi, Amphibians & Reptiles, Birds & Mammals, stream habitats, wetlands, aquatic flora & fauna, invasive alien species. Learn about eastern Ontario's history since the Champlain Sea, and how People and other species have interacted to produce our present landscape and biota.

Large Invertebrates in Eastern Ontario Streams: Learn to recognize the species of large invertebrate Animals in our streams - fresh water Mussels, aquatic snails, Crayfish, Bryozoa - how they interact with their habitat and how they're affected by invading species from elsewhere.

Introduction to Ecosystems: Learn how species live together to create the landscapes we live within. Topics will include types of habitats, nutrient flows and cycles, species composition, primary and secondary production, competition, predation, symbiosis, and effects of pollution, human activities, and introduced species.

Introduction to Evolution: A general coverage of the central principle of biology, which is sadly slighted in instruction in the public schools: descent with modification by natural selection, the process of speciation, the geographic history of life, important events in the history of life, modern methods of reconstructing ancestry, and evolution within local populations.

Instructor: Aleta Karstad

Introductory Botanical Illustration: (a repeat of the course given through April & May 2003 at Kemptville College) Learn to draw plants with delicacy and accuracy. Each leaf is unique, each twig has its own special angle. Get intimate with blossoms and seeds! This introductory level course begins with pencil and continues in ink and watercolour. Aleta will give useful tips for: accurate rendering. an illusion of depth in line drawings, stippling in ink with tone & detail, tone & texture in pencil, mixing colours, tinting drawings in watercolour.

Natural History Journals: Aleta's books Canadian Nature Notebook (1979), Wild Seasons Daybook (1985), North Moresby Wilderness (1990) and A Place to Walk (1995) have been drawn from her illustrated natural history journals. Since 1995 she has been teaching her method of combining drawings, watercolours, and lettering, on archival-quality materials to make a permanent record of a place and time.
Selected dates throughout the summer and fall, special workshops on request

Modelling Nature: Study animals, their habits and habitats, sculpt plastic models of birds, mammals, fishes, and insects & other invertebrates. Collect and dry wild plants, and create miniature dioramas and mini-museum peep boxes of seasonal or underwater scenes. Creative and educational for all ages.

Landscape Painting: Aleta teaches her bold, Group of Seven-style technique of outdoors oil sketching. Each outing is an adventure. Varied locations, all ages.
4 hour afternoon sessions, typically from 3:30 until 7:30pm.

Invertebrates: Instructors: Aleta Karstad & Frederick W. Schueler. How diverse is biodiversity? How different can animals be from anything you have imagined, and why? An informal, introductory level course in amazing invertebrates, using the incredible Invertebrate Zoology teaching collection we have inherited from Carleton University.


Museums Methods Fridays
Help care for the collections that document local and global biodiversity, including fluid-preserved collections from Carleton University, the most extensive collections of Eastern Ontario fresh water mussels, and the Canadian Library of Drifted Material. Activities include data entry, topping up and sealing fluid-preserved material, labelling and mounting herbarium specimens, sorting specimens, cataloging books and papers, and construction of shelving and trays.
[sorting fishes]

Reading Fellows: Since the BMNHC contains one of the largest, and most carefully selected, collections of natural history books in southwestern North Grenville Township, the Reading Fellows Programme makes this collection accessible to visitors who are prepared to visit onsite for a week to a month in order to read and discuss books in the BMNHC/Schueler collection. When not reading, Fellows are expected to be moderately helpful, and to buy a few groceries.

The Grenville Otter: Young people's nature newsletter, full of kids' observations, drawings, puzzles, and stories [currently inactive].

Mudpuppy Night in Oxford Mills: Ongoing weekly observations of a population of giant aquatic salamanders below the dam in Oxford Mills, every Friday evening throughout the winter at 8:00 pm, with post-viewing refreshments in the nearby Brigadoon Restaurant.

Eastern Ontario Natural History list-serve: online reporting and discussion of natural history and conservation topics.

Contact us by phone

at (613)258-3107

or e-mail

Area Map