Residents of Sand Point in McNab/Braeside, about 50 minutes west of Ottawa, know the warm weather has arrived when the turtles emerge from hibernation.
Living along the banks of the Ottawa River, Cathy and John Brady play host to dozens of turtles looking to bathe in the sun.
For the last 10 years, the Brady’s have been anchoring a small platform off their shoreline, allowing a spot for local turtles to soak up some rays.
“We look out in the water and the little turtles are sitting there with their heads looking at the house,” says John Brady. “And honest to God that’s how we know it’s time to get the raft in.”
The roughly 2′ by 4′ floating piece of AstroTurf can hold roughly three dozen turtles.
“I’d say it started when we had our boat lift and we’d go for a boat ride,” John explains, “and we’d come back and the little turtles would be sitting on the ramps.”
“So I made them their own raft. And then it wasn’t big enough so I had to make a bigger one.”
The Brady’s do not feed or interfere with the turtles’ natural order of things. They just enjoy spending time in the sun together.
“Along with our beavers and our otter,” Cathy Brady tells CTV News, “it’s become a bit of a destination.”
“We believe they’re mostly painted turtles but someone said they also might be map turtles.”
Cathy says she loves when her shelled friends come out for the season, although they need time to warm up to her, scattering if she comes too close. The toughest part for her, watching the turtles with their tiny arms fail trying to hoist themselves up onto the raft.
“It makes me sad when they’re having a hard time getting up,” she says, “but they always get up and they’re fine.”