During his nearly three decades with Laurentian University, until his retirement as the university's grounds foreman in 1990, Giuseppe “Beppi” Curridor set about planting trees on campus.
While there are trees in abundance now thanks in part to Curridor's efforts, much of the campus used to be a barren landscape with only a few stunted trees due to the effects of mining pollution.
A stand of conifer trees planted years ago by Curridor, who passed away a year ago, has now been preserved as Beppi’s Forest Therapy Trail.
Located near the university's West Residence, a trail has been created through the stand of trees for students to enjoy. It takes about 10 minutes to walk the trail, which is fairly flat and easy to navigate.
Curridor was regreening Laurentian's campus before the idea was tackled on a larger scale, serving as an inspiration for Sudbury's regreening efforts, said biology professor Peter Beckett.
“We used to have discussions about trees with him,” said Beckett, who's been with Laurentian since 1975. “I started with regreening Sudbury, and he was regreening campus.”
He said the great thing about the stand of conifers surrounding Beppi’s Trail is they were planted in natural groupings, and don't look like a reforested area.
Curridor grew some of the trees himself in Laurentian's greenhouse, and purchased others from nurseries.
“If you go in there, it actually has that feeling that you're in a real pine forest,” Beckett said, adding the forest also helps to offset the carbon used by the university, thus fighting climate change.
Beckett said he and fellow Laurentian biologist John Gunn came up with the idea for the trail after Curridor's death in 2019, and Gunn successfully brought the project to university administration.
Beppi’s Forest Therapy Trail was officially opened by the university Jan. 16. Several members of the Curridor family braved the slightly snowy, chilly January morning to attend the opening, including his wife, Lea Curridor, and granddaughter Lisa Guilbeau.
“We're very overwhelmed with what his work has meant,” said Guilbeau. “He took a lot of pride, and spent a lot of time here. He talked about it fondly even after he retired. I think it was very special to him and special to my Nonna.”
Laurentian student leader Eric Chappell said Beppi’s Forest Therapy Trail adds to the overall student experience on campus.
“We have such a beautiful campus that I think we take for granted,” said Chappell, president of the Students' General Association.
“If you went to a school anywhere else in the province, you wouldn't get an opportunity like this to go through a beautiful forest.
“This is the kind of thing that helps students with their mental health … This is hugely powerful. The closest building is a residence — our largest residence complex that has 1,000 students in it. It's right there for them to access.”