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Vivian Outdoor Resource Centre

The Vivian Outdoor Resource Centre (V.O.R.C.) is located at 5314 Vivian Road, just east of Highway 48, north of the community of Ballantrae, Ontario. The school building and surrounding property sits on the beautiful Oak Ridges Moraine. The centre is operated by York Region District School Board staff, a teacher serving a four year term and an outdoor education technician.

The school building at V.O.R.C. operated as a two classroom school from 1955 until the late 1960s when all students were relocated to Ballantrae Public School. In 1972, the school opened as an outdoor education centre. Currently, we offer outdoor education programs to thirty-five schools from the Central and East Areas of York Region District School Board. The programs meet curriculum expectations for 6000 students annually, in grades two, four and seven. Our naturalized school yard represents a focal point for introductory mapping activities, nature games and exploration. In addition, it offers a beautiful space for an outdoor lunch.

Vivian Outdoor Resource Centre has an agreement with our neighbour allowing students to use the adjacent private property for a variety of programs. This unique site provides a first-hand experience with the mixed uses of the lands on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Part of the area was mined for aggregates, leaving a large bowl-shaped sand pit that is slowly naturalizing. The balance of the property is home to pine plantations, mixed forest and fields.

The private property also demonstrates the forestry history common to this area. In the 1800’s, early farmers cleared land leaving open areas highly susceptible to wind and water erosion. Topsoil and sand was blown off creating a landscape of sand dunes. The solution to these blowsand problems was extensive tree planting. The Department of Lands and Forests and York County organized the planting of thousands of trees in these areas from 1920s to the 1960s. Trees stabilized the sand and reduced the associated problems of flash floods and droughts. Now, students can walk under the canopy of red and jack pine plantations and imagine students of an earlier time, reforesting the Moraine. Some of V.O.R.C.’s programs are offered in nearby tracts of the York Regional Forest. Here, students can explore a rich diversity in a sustainably managed forest and visit the headwaters of the Black River system before it winds its way to Lake Simcoe. The range of habitats at Vivian Outdoor Resource Centre and the adjacent properties provides a unique outdoor classroom for students to experience well-designed educational programs.

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