I am an inveterate keeper of lists of just about everything other than train numbers (you need to have grown up in England in the fifties to understand that) – but mostly lists of birds and plants that we have seen and enjoyed. After over 20 years of wildlifing around the western end of Montreal island I decided this all needed putting in order and sharing with the sort of people who like the sort of things that I like.

And so two years ago I sat down and set to work … the fact that this coincided with covid is happenstance, it isn’t what has become known as a covid-project.

This week I finally published the book. It is available FREE to anyone who would care to download a copy from the linked website at https://1001species.ca … I have hopes of being able to offer a print copy before too long but that will have to be paid for. Quality printing, especially with lots of photographs, is expensive.

The book has the title “1001 Species: A Natural History of a Small Town” though it actually accounts for something more like 3003 species though that doesn’t have such a ring to it. Primitive marketing ploy there.

First of all, it is not a traditional field guide with detailed information about how to identify individual species. There are already plenty of those available and little need for me to reinvent the wheel. Rather it is ab illustrated overview, an introduction, an annotated catalogue if you will, of the widely diverse range of plant and animal species that are known to found in, and within a short distance of, a small suburban town to the west of the city of Montreal. Many of them can be seen in our own gardens. If you live in the area you might be surprised to discover what is living outside your front door.

I rather hope that the more people who come to know what is around us, then the more people will care about it all and take steps to protect our plants and animals.

My Natural History tells readers about local habitats and suggests good places to visit. There is encouragement to manage your own gardens to attract wildlife and possibly start bird feeding. There are details of species known to be in the area and lots (lots!) of photographs. There are lists for people who like lists and brief introductions to taxonomic families with comments on local examples to look out for. Do you have a fancy to do some Citizen Science and contribute your observations to help scientists studying our wildlife? I tell you how to do that as well.

I am a biologist and this book arose from over 20 years observation and study of the plants and creatures in our local peri-urban environment, as well as the strange pleasure I take in keeping lists. I have often found it rather sad when people I meet express surprise, and in one instance frank disbelief, that we have much more than “blackbirds, sparrows and weeds” as one person put it. The answer is that we have many more species – more even than the notional 1001 species of the book’s title. So many more.

All of this bounty is impressive for suburban gardens and nearby streets and parks … OK, there is also Canada’s largest Arboretum within a short bike ride, but it’s nevertheless good to discover how many species we have been able to see in the forest – many of which can also be found living just down the road and in my garden. In your garden too, I’ll be bound. If you live in a different suburb in a different town, maybe this will inspire you to look around your own neighbourhood, because there is nothing that unusual or special about Baie-D’Urfé.

Some sample pages follow:

(note: these are sample pages, the print on the original is far more clear and legible)