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Bird Banding Pictures from May 12

Big thanks to bird bander, Brian Pomfret and family, and to everyone who joined us on Saturday May 12 despite the cool start to the day!

Thanks also to Marion Robertson for guiding guests on the Bluebird trail.
We were very excited to see a Bobolink, a threatened species, as the fields at Crieff have been recently converted to hay to provide habitat for species such as this grassland bird.


Birds banded today at Crieff Hills:
4 House Wrens
3 Black Capped Chickadees
2 American Goldfinches
1 Grey Catbird
1 Field Sparrow

Birds seen and/or heard at Crieff Hills this morning:
Eastern Bluebird
Cedar Waxwing
Indigo Bunting
Rufous-Sided Towhee
Brown Thrasher
Yellow Shafted Flicker
Brown Headed Cowbird
Wood Duck
Turkey Vulture
Savannah Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
American Robin
American Crow
Mourning Dove
Turkey Vulture
Blue Jay
Canada Goose

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Thank you and Happy Retirement!

Crieff Hills staff, volunteers, friends and family gathered to thank Lawrence and Marylu Pentelow for their outstanding dedication to Crieff Hills Community over the past 15 years and wish them the very best for their retirement.  Lawrence was managing director and Marylu coordinated Crieff Hills programs.  They will be deeply missed by so many for their leadership at Crieff Hills and wonderful hospitality!




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Come Walk the Bluebird Trail!

Bluebird Trail Walks at Crieff Hills with Marion Robertson are taking place at 9:30 am every Tuesday in May (weather permitting). 
Meet in the Conference Hall parking lot.


Please call ahead to let us know you are coming! 519 824-7898.  Come and watch the Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows as they build their nests and raise their young!


There is no charge for these guided walks but donations are appreciated.




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"Toward (Un)Common Ground: Music, Worship and Reconciliation"

Registration is now open!


Worship Leaders, musicians, choirs and directors from any denomination are invited to attend the 4th Annual Worship and Music Conference at Crieff Hills Retreat Centre on Friday June 1, 2018 from 9:00AM to 3:30PM.


"Toward (Un)Common Ground: Music, Worship and Reconciliation"


Come and discover a vision for how worship planners might nurture respectful relationships with First Nations partners and incorporate Indigenous spirituality into Christian contexts.


Join Bruce Weaver, Scott Knarr, Gerard Yun & Chris Fischer for this unique event.


 Cost:$55 (includes lunch).  Register by calling Crieff Hills 519 824-7898  or 1 800-884-1525.


For more information see Event Brochure.

We hope you will join us!



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The Journey to the Cross

Spring is here!
Soon we will see a tree swallow perched atop this cross in the amphitheatre near the House of Dove.


As we journey through this Holy Week, this reflection by Tess Ward (author of The Celtic Wheel of the Year) invites an inner pilgrimage….



Lure of all belonging
draw us on our inner pilgrimage.
As the soil on land is ploughed and sowed,
prepare the ground of my being to do the soul-work.
Prepare my feet to walk the untrodden paths.
Prepare my hands to receive the unexpected.
Prepare my face to withstand whatever the weather.
Prepare my shoulders to offer strength to my fellow traveller.
Prepare my desire to sift my dreams.
Prepare my resolve to shift the shapes that I put in the way.
Prepare my discernment to see what is no longer needed.
Prepare my back to relax as you carry my load.
Walk beside me and lure me deeper into you, as I set out from here.

Tess Ward, The Celtic Wheel of the Year (O Books)

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Lessons from the Bees...

Five things we can learn from the Hive

as shared by Rev. Linda Patton-Cowie at Crieff Hills Manna Day :

1. Do your own job well

2. Remember it’s not all up to you

3. Bee Nourished

4. Communicate with others

5. And… Know what is most important!



1. A hive needs each of its members to perform their job well – the Queen, the workers and the drones. We all have a job to do as well. We are the body of Christ and we all have our own role to fill. It works best if we let everyone live into their own strengths. And we can’t do it all – we all have limits and we need other people. Do what you can, do it well, and then leave the rest up to others.


2. When a Queen Bee is no longer able to do her job she is replaced. The new queen is dependent on the constant care of her attendants. There is a time for all of us to welcome new leadership into our colonies and we all have a role in attending to those in leadership. For most of us, we know that there is a queen bee and I’m not it! We’re not the one in charge of the whole show – it’s not all up to us. It can be helpful to remember that.


3. Sometimes we all need to be fed. Beekeepers will feed their bees in the spring and fall. The bees know how much they need and they’re not afraid to accept it. We need to acknowledge our need to be fed too. An empty vessel can’t offer sustenance to anyone else, so don’t forget to refill your resources. Take time to enjoy creation. Take time to nourish yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Worker bees live only a 5-6 weeks in the summer so the bees that live in the winter are fed by the honey the bees made in the summer. We are often fed and sustained by those who have gone before us. As we too, by offering our love to others, may find that love outlives us and strengthens others, even after we ourselves are gone.


4. Bees are master communicators, as is shown by the intricate waggle dance. They are not afraid to share with others when they have found something good that can benefit them all; they don’t hoard this new found treasure for themselves. Communication is important to us too so keep talking and guiding others. We are bound together on this journey.


5. Know what is most important to you and protect it. Do what is most important first, especially when you feel overwhelmed. Bees protect their honey when they feel threatened as the beekeeper uses the smoker while opening the hive. Always be ready to protect what is most important to you in your life!


"The creation of honey is truly a miracle" writes Marion Robertson, Crieff Hills volunteer and explains the process of how honey is made on her website.…/




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Lent is a tree without blossom...


The historic beech tree at Dove House is a perfect illustration for this poem about Lent:


Lent is a tree without blossom, without leaf,

Barer than blackthorn in its winter sleep,

All unadorned.  Unlike Christmas which decrees

The setting-up, the dressing-up of trees,

Lent is a taking down, a stripping bare,

A starkness after all has been withdrawn

Of surplus and superfluous,

Leaving no hiding place, only an emptiness

Between black branches, a most precious space

Before the leaf, before the time of flowers;

Lest we should see only the leaf, the flower,

Lest we should miss the stars.

Jean M. Watt



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Bluebirds in January!

A Guest Post from Marion Robertson....


Yes, this in nothing new. For years, there have been bluebirds nesting here – in the summer.
But this frigid January we have a family of 4 bluebirds surviving on the abundant juniper berries. We accidentally encountered them as we were cleaning out nesting boxes and prepping them for spring use. It is quite the sight to see that indigo blue against the stark white snow. Very vivid.

2018 was a good year for birds here. Our nesting boxes fledged 90 TreeSwallows, 11 Bluebirds and 4 Chickadees. It was a first, in that, we had no baby bird losses. In all my years watching over the bluebird trail, I have never had a year with no mortalities. Myguess is that there was
abundant food, insect food, because of the rainy weather. It was also another first where a very ambitious pair of Tree Swallows hatched and raised 7 healthy babies.  A record for Crieff.

Now all we can do is to wait for the migratory arrivals in April.

Marion Robertson

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Looking for Peace and Quiet?


Happy New Year!

Looking for some peace and quiet after the busy holidays?
The Hermitage and Pines Suites are open all winter at Crieff.


The re-furnished Hermitage has already been enjoyed by several guests this winter.  Check out the photos below to see the new look of this cosy personal retreat house.


Thanks to Debbie Ellis for her painting of the Hermitage that captures the sense of tranquility so beautifully.


We look forward to your visit in 2018!










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Looking to a New Year

Crieff Hills has been blessed with another busy year.


Thank you to our staff and volunteers for all their hard work, and to all of you

who have visited Crieff Hills in the past year.  Whether you were here at Crieff

for a day, a weekend or a week, we hope it was a time of rest and renewal.


May the New Year bring joy, peace, and happiness to you and your family.

(The Spool Clock below was hand made at Crieff as part of the

Retirement with Meaning Retreat in the fall.)





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Fiona van Wissen
May 13, 2018
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Marylu Pentelow
April 12, 2018
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Guest Blog
June 23, 2016
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