John Auld

JD loves WS


As an Arborteum volunteer gardener, John Auld has seen mostly respectful users of the meditative space, as well as “a few slobs”. In this story, John talks about how the Arboretum became a welcoming retreat during the long days of Covid lockdowns, and how he and other volunteers work hard to keep its spaces looking tidy and beautiful for everyone.
Interview by Anonymous, HIST*3560 student, University of Guelph.

Listen to more stories:
He Loved this Place
Magical Day
A Peaceful, Calming Oasis


0:00 My name is John Auld, I’m a retired faculty member.

0:02 And my introduction to the Arrium was when it opened in ’69.

0:06 I used to jog out here when I was a grad student.

0:08 When I retired, I spent all that time here going for walks and I volunteer with the garden group and we’re sitting here in the Japanese Garden

0:21 When COVID hit, there were two years there..

0:22 Well, we got in here a little than 21 nothing in 20.

0:24 And we’d still come out here for walks and of course, the place was busy because it’s, it’s free and people were going nuts, cope, cooped up and not being able to go anywhere.

0:35 So it was wonderful to see the, the number of people that came out here with the kids and the dog and go for walks and the variety of the various gardens.

0:44 There were some slobs around it on the weekend that messed things up.

0:48 One day, I spent a whole morning in the Japanese Garden and I brought my electric orbital sander because people carved their initials in the upright.

0:56 So instead of gardening, we don’t wear garden, but I sanded all these JB loves WS off and my friend Fred, he was, he’d get very upset when people go in and stomp on the meditation, you know, the gravel meditation area in front of the seat there and dogs or kids would get in there. He’d carefully try to put the lines back in because they have a special rake, they, they rake that way.

1:21So that upset us occasionally.

1:23But for the most part, 99% of the people that use it, use the arboretum, do so respectfully and, yeah.