Michael Runtz could be dropped off pretty much anywhere in Ontario, blindfolded, and by sound, smell and feel, he would know where he was.
Algonquin Provincial Park — his favourite place on the planet — would stand out right away.
“Algonquin is different than anyplace I’ve ever been,” says Runtz, a Biology instructor at Carleton University (Official) and the writer-photographer behind Algonquin Wild: A Naturalist’s Journey Through the Seasons, his 12th book, which was published late last year to coincide with the park’s 125th anniversary in 2018.
At Carleton, Runtz is known for getting his students outside as often as possible.
Runtz wants students outdoors to spend time so they can experience first-hand how complex natural systems are, and so they discover how accessible nature is, even in a city like Ottawa.
“Getting them outside is critical,” he says, adding that some of his students had never seen a sunrise before taking one of his classes — unless it’s on their way home after a night out. “The drive to preserve something comes from appreciating it, and that appreciation comes from personal contact. It’s gratifying to see that spark of interest.”