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Community Profile: Lisa Wagner

She’s well-traveled, dedicated, and an active part of the English-speaking community of the Lower Saint Lawrence.  Lisa Wagner is a familiar face in the Rimouski Resource Centre where she works as a library volunteer, and she has been a frequent participant in HLSL’s cultural and historical events over the years. A seasonal resident of Bic, her love of this part of the world and its natural beauty calls her and her husband Tim back, year after year, summers and winters alike. They split their time between Asheville, North Carolina and a converted schoolhouse in Bic where she gardens in summers and x-country skis in the winter.

She first visited Quebec a decade and a half ago, and says she and her husband “bumbled into purchasing their home up here” nearly six years ago. She has no regrets about that decision, and is even writing a book about the first two years of home ownership, called A House in Quebec, which she says tells the “improbable story about how two Americans came to buy a house in the Lower Saint Lawrence.” 

Lisa is the former Director of Education at Clemson University Botanical Gardens, whose interest in gardens has stayed with her into retirement. She maintains two blogs, which are filled with lovely photographs and vignettes that offer glimpses of her life and passions for gardening, writing, place and creative expression. You can visit her work at https://placesofthespirit.blogspot.com/ or https://naturalgardening.blogspot.com/

Heritage is lucky to count Lisa as one of our active community members! It’s truly a pleasure to count on her sage input as a dedicated volunteer and event participant. Thank you, Lisa!

Q: What is your favourite place in Rimouski, and why?

A: This perhaps is not strictly in Rimouski, but it has to be Le Chemin du Nord in Parc du Bic. The trail is such a special place, with tracing two bays out towards Cap d’Orignal at the end.  The views, vegetation, estuary, and expansive skies – perfect.  

I also love a number of other trails there, but Le Chemin du Nord is my favorite.  We live at the very edge of Rimouski (outside the village of Le Bic) across from the park, so I’m able to visit often.  Being close to Parc du Bic turned out to be an important influence in our serendipitous purchase of a house here.

Q: Your favourite pastime?

A: Geez, I have lots of favorite pastimes, but what occurs to me is that many have a singular thread, that of being outdoors in nature.  They’ve taken a variety of guises over time, from backpacking and camping when I was younger, to hiking, gardening, and nature travels as I became older.  My husband and I have traveled to wonderful natural and cultural destinations all over the world for decades.

After we bought our house here, I took up bicycling and x-country skiing again.  Great fun!

I have been a keen gardener for most of my adult life, too, growing native plants and edibles, as well as writing and teaching about it.  I love cooking with vegetables and fruits that I’ve grown and harvested. I’ve also enjoyed baking whole-grain bread, which I’ve done for many years.

Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A: Enjoying being in nature; sitting eating a simple cheese sandwich overlooking a green valley in Germany; having a cup of coffee at a small café at the tip of the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland; being in Patagonia overlooking an amazing bay, or looking out at the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the former tea house in Parc du Bic.

Q: What talent would you most like to have?

A: I think I would have liked to have been more naturally athletic than I am.  I’m reasonably athletic, but it would have been fun to be much more so!

Q: What is your greatest achievement?

A: Encouraging people of all ages to connect with nature in myriad ways:  through direct experiences, teaching classes, writing articles and blog posts, and doing presentations, as well as a weekly call-in radio program.

Q: What is your motto?

A: I believe in doing things well, so the Wagner Brothers motto, from their clothing store in Ellinwood, Kansas in the mid-90’s is suitable.  “Quality has no substitute.”  I have a piece of the wrapping paper from that store framed in my studio.

Q: Biggest regret?

A: I don’t really believe in thinking about regrets.  Our paths take us places that we often choose.  Things happen that we wish had hadn’t. But often unexpected paths open up that one never expected.  Certainly that would be having had a cottage here in Quebec for the last 5 years!