A herbarium is a collection of dried plant specimens, organized systematically by family, genus and species and providing other information such as locality of the collected specimen.
The Claude Garton Herbarium is located on the third floor (CB3027) of the Centennial Building at Lakehead University. It was established in 1967 and given the universal herbarium code of LKHD. We recently celebrated 50 years of its existence, and 150 years of botanical research in our region.
The present and future focus is to keep it as a regional herbarium of Northwestern Ontario. However, through exchanges in the past, the herbarium has specimens from other regions of Canada and many other parts of the world.
Currently the accessioned specimens number over 110,000 and of these there is an almost complete collection of the vascular plants of the Thunder Bay area, of which there are about 1000 species. These include the conifers, flowering plants, ferns, clubmosses and horsetails. The herbarium also contains a good representation of the local non-vascular plants: approximately 300 species of mosses; about 100 species of liverworts and approximately 200 species of lichens (which represent only about half of the local species). Substantial exchanges in the past with Finland, in particular, have added more boreal specimens of lichens and bryophytes.
The vascular plant specimens of the districts of Thunder Bay, Rainy River, Kenora, Algoma and Cochrane that are stored in the herbarium are being entered into our computer database. All NW Ontario records are being checked, barcoded and digitally photographed for posting on our website (2022). These records will be gradually linked to our herbarium's Collections tab and made available world-wide. In the past, through a partnership program with Algoma University College, records from our herbarium (to about 2005) could be accessed through the Northern Ontario Plant Database from Sault Ste. Marie. This older partial database may still be available.
The Claude Garton Herbarium is open to the public (call to confirm hours of operation). Kristi Dysievick is the present curator, having replaced Emma Lehmberg (2016-2018) and previously Erika North, who resigned from a long engagement with the herbarium in 2016. Loans of specimens are usually reserved for institutions that are carrying out research such as plant distributions and taxonomic revisions. The herbarium is currently limiting its intake of physical specimen and strongly encourages submissions of new observations on the iNaturalist platform.