Extraordinary Working Bee at Denise Potvin’s Place!

Ever since September 2016, each newsletter has unveiled a chapter of The Little Story of D’Arts et de rêves... and a column featuring one of the volunteers who was particularly generous with his or her time to advance the projects of the artists' residence and the eco-cultural park located at 57, rue Principale Nord in Sutton. (All these articles are now on our website.) It turns out that the little story is now being written on a daily basis and can be found in the news section of our web site.

In the June 2018 newsletter, we combined the little story and the volunteer column into one article, why? Because the memorable working bee of Monday, May 7, in connection with Phase 2 of the landscaping project of the D’Arts et de rêves eco-cultural park and described below, will forever be part of our history. The truth of the matter is that this bee could not have happened without the spontaneous generosity of Denise Potvin, a donor, and fervent admirer and supporter of this beautiful project in the heart of the village.

What is the magical recipe for an extraordinary working bee?
A visionary project, a generous donation, and motivated volunteers!


An exciting project, a generous forest, a flower bed full of perennials, smiling and hardworking people... what is the link between these different elements? This is what you will learn from reading the following story...

As chance would have it…

Denise Potvin and her husband enjoy walking in their forest. It is a resolution they have taken in order to enjoy more quiet time together, breathe in the fresh air, admire the surrounding nature, in short to live well and live longer! But sometimes the trails of the forest are a little too muddy to make this daily activity enjoyable. It was then that they decided, on a late winter's day, to go down to the village and explore the D’Arts et de rêves trails. The couple had never set foot on the property before and were delighted not only by the beauty of the eco-cultural park, the trails, the snow, the sculptures, but also by the space, the view, the calm: all these marvels in the heart of the Sutton village.

A few days later, by chance, Denise meets Nicole Côté at our local grocery store. Denise shares with her the pleasure she and her husband had in discovering the beautiful park accessible to everyone, from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year.

Nicole, always delighted to learn that the park has welcomed new visitors, shares with Denise the work to be done in 2018 as part of Phase 2 of the eco-cultural park landscaping project, that is the planting of 150 trees that will need to be purchased in the spring.

conifères chez Denise
denise 1

Denise, owner of forested land, smiles and, in a cheerful tone, spontaneously offers the required trees to Nicole! -- Did you know that to manage a forest well, it is necessary, amongst other things, to prune the undergrowth and clear paths on a regular basis? Hence every year, Denise ensures the work is done and offers friends and acquaintances the opportunity to adopt some of her trees. -- Denise’s property is huge so giving away "150" trees will not damage the forest, only give it more growing space. In addition, the forest offers a variety of species and that is exactly what Nicole is looking for.

At the April 21, 2018 annual general meeting (AGM), Nicole proudly announces the generous gift of Denise and adds that, thanks to this contribution, D’Arts et de rêves will be saving about $4,000. Everyone present immediately applauded, many of them knowing Denise and having already adopted trees from her majestic forest. The final savings will obviously depend on the survival rate of these trees and plants transported (they will be transplanted in the fall), because according to experts in the field, one should foresee a loss of about 30% when transplanting.

But before…

A visit to Denise's forested land was the next step. Nicole, accompanied by Emmanuelle Tittley, landscape architect, responsible for the landscaping plan of the eco-cultural park, walked in the forest with Denise to identify the species in relation to the needs specified in the landscaping plan. Nicole and Emmanuelle were quite pleased, they found everything they needed for D’arts et de rêves. The agreement was concluded. Volunteers would be called upon for a tree removal chore.

But Denise, whose flowerbeds and community garden are well known in the region (the S.H.E.D., Société d’Horticulture et d’Écologie de Dunham, has organized more than one visit to her place to allow its members to discover this wonderful environment) had more to offer. As a matter of fact, Denise wanted to redesign an area in front of her house and had some perennials to relocate; she offered them instread to Nicole and Emmanuelle who were more than eager to accept this second gift.

Planning the working bee...

Nicole and Karina Sasseville (D’Arts et de rêves coordinator) made a call to all for this landscaping working bee. The work had to be done early in the spring, while the soil was still wet, to facilitate the extraction of trees and perennials. A dozen volunteers, as always generous with their time, said they would show up on Monday afternoon, May 7.

Denise, Nicole and Emmanuelle had agreed that the trees to be transplanted should be large rather than small. Denise walked through a section of her forest and identified with a ribbon the trees that were going to move to the village; she tagged about 250.

Since the trees were rather big and Denise could not imagine the volunteers extracting them all by shovel, she called upon Aimé Piette (Denise's third gift) on the Friday before the Monday chore. This man, comfortable in Denise’s forest, dug out, with the help of a mechanical shovel, the 250 or so trees. All the trees lined up, ready to start a new life, was a sight to behold: there were acacias and wild honeysuckle from the family of hardwoods and white spruce, larch, white pine, jack pine, and balsam fir from the family of conifers.


chèvrefeuille du Canada
acacia-Robinier faux-acacia

Canadian honeysuckle

Will form a beautiful hedge near the creek.
Black locust

Beautiful in June when in full bloom, then the petals line the ground (you may have admired these trees on the Vail Road in Dunham).


Épinette blanche
pin blANC
pin gris
sapin baumier

Ofen used for reforestation and excellent as a windbreak screen.

White spruce

Not appreciated by deer!


Will adapt perfectly in the wetland area.

White pine

Can be used as a sound screen.

Jack pine

Almost Asian-looking…

Balsam fir

Attracts deer but when the trees are larger, the deer can not reach the branches.

Monday May 7, the working bee day…

Shortly after the lunch break, many cars as well as two trucks with plenty of space behind to welcome the trees showed up on the road leading to the property. At the same time, Aimé Piette shows up with a load of crushed stoned to patch up the road, the non-stop rain of the previous week having created holes everywhere. "Too many people around," said Aimé, and off he went...

It was impressive, says Denise, to see about a dozen persons show up with picks and shovels, all ready to roll up their sleeves. You might know some of these volunteers: Doris Mondor, Henri Lamoureux, Jacques Parenteau, Jean-Pierre Côté, Marie Clark, Marie-Josée Auclair, Odile Savaresse, Pierre Surprenant, Richard Langlois, Robert Robitaille, and Yolande Castonguay, in addition to Nicole Côté and Karina Sasseville. It was a first working bee for many of them; some at the start did not even know the other volunteers, except of course for Nicole and Karina. A few pictures of these volunteers at work were taken; look at them carefully, do you recognize them?

Some of our volunteers...

Henri, Louise, Jean-Pierre, Pierre
Yolande et Marie-Josée
Doris, Pierre, Yolande, Marie-Josée

Henri, Louise, Jean-Pierre, and Pierre


Yolande and Marie-Josée

Doris, Pierre, Yolande, and Marie-Josée

Our volunteers formed two teams:

  • Nicole and her team took care of the trees.
  • Karina and her team dug up the perennials and had the pleasure of finding hardy rosebushes, daylilies, phlox, and lupins. There will also be echinacea to be uprooted later because, on May 7, these perennials had not yet awakened from their winter sleep...

That people give so much of their energy and their time is quite remarkable. Why do they do it? Motivations vary: love to help; like to contribute to such an interesting, that is grandiose project; love to work in the garden; love the idea of beautifying the park; like to work in a team... What did these volunteers most appreciate? Meeting new people, everyone being in a good mood yet serious about the task at hand, chitchatting about this and that, the friendly atmosphere, the easygoing collaboration, no egos at stake, all equal in the work. Odile tells us that working the land is a tough job that requires energy and strength, but that when with a group, the work is much more pleasant and a lot easier! Henri found that "the volunteers worked for us all as if they were working for themselves. It indicates a level of consciousness that makes me happy.” In summary, as Henri recalls, referring to the work of Vaillancourt dedicated to Michel Chartrand, "Nothing beats the power of collective work."


Rosiers rustiques
Hardy rosebushes

After more than two hours of hard work, the team in the flower bed had completed the chore and was ready to transport the perennials to the eco-cultural park. The team in the forest was also ready to make a first trip, because all the space available in the pickup trucks was loaded with trees. So around 3:30 p.m., a first convoy set out for D’Arts et de rêves. Meanwhile, some men stayed in the forest to prepare the other trees for the second convoy.

At D’arts et de rêves, everything was unloaded and the volunteers were treated to a refreshment break served by none other than Henri, always ready to take care of the troops!

Then the tree team came back to Denise’s place to load the remaining trees.

What our donor, Denise, liked best about that day…

Denise first insists on stating that having a free eco-cultural park accessible year-round in the heart of Sutton is a unique gift. Thank you Nicole!

Thinking about this adventure, Denise has several fond memories…

  • She is happy to be able to share the abundance offered by her forest: there is no loss, rather a reuse of the gifts of Mother Nature.
  • She is also very happy that her trees are contributing to recreating a forest in the city.
  • She enjoyed seeing the volunteers at work, they all worked so hard. She could feel everyone’s good mood, the cheerful collaboration, the team spirit: no one complained that it was was too much work... all that positive energy emanating from people gathered for a good cause!

A fourth gift… As there remained a lot of trees (Denise had uprooted about 250, D’Arts et de rêves wanted 150) and also many perennials, Denise offered them to the group of volunteers: all appreciated this gesture and some graciously accepted the gifts. Marie now has flowers and roses that embellish the landscaping around her new home, while Odile has a poppy she waters regularly and hopes to save as well as lupins and phlox that are happy in their new garden.

A fifth gift… If in the fall or spring D’Arts et de rêves needs extra trees to replace those that have not survived or more trees to add to the eco-cultural park, Denise is more than willing to give again!

In conclusion

Think about it: the many trees and perennials that Denise donated will, over time, define the eco-cultural park of D’Arts et de rêves. The landscape will be marked forever!

Nicole says she will always remember with fondness the Monday, May 7 working bee, as will Denise, Karina, and the many volunteers who participated: "it was fun, really nice; the team spirit was great; everyone was dedicated and hard-working; it wasn’t a chore as such but a true pleasure!"

Our sociologist and philosopher Henri concludes that "the future of our species depends largely on a new conviviality based on the economy of giving and the pleasure of being together.” We can but agree with him…

Many thanks to all who contribute directly or indirectly to making the D’Arts et de rêves dream of an artists' residence and eco-cultural park in the heart of Sutton a reality!