Kariya Gardens Mississauga

Sunday, August 7, 2017

Kariya Garden Park was officially opened in July 1992 in honour of Mississauga’s twin city, Kariya Japan.  The idea of sister cities, or twin cities, arose following the Second World War as a way of creating respect and commerce between former foes.  The city of Mississauga was twinned with Kariya on July 7, 1981.  To share a small bit of their culture with their twin city, there is a Mississauga Park in Kariya, Japan to match the Kariya Park in Mississauga, Ontario.  The Japanese city of Kariya has a population of about 150,000.   There are a few paid parking spots on Elm Street just east of Kariya Drive.

Japanese Gardens are designed with shrubs and rocks that are meant to have several layers of meaning.  The Japanese have developed their gardens over a 1,500 year period and the idea is to delight the senses and challenge the soul.  Kariya Gardens has worked hard to capture this sense of balance and aesthetics.  As you enter the park through the front gatehouse you see a small cascading water fall with a Red Japanese Maple standing beside it.  Every rock placed in the garden has a meaning and the city has provided a detailed tour guide explaining everything.


The south end of the park is being developed into a more deeply wooded section.  This area also includes several colourful gardens to compliment the Japanese Cherry Trees which bloom in May.


The south pond has a large rock in it which is known as turtle rock.  It is meant to represent a turtle coming out of the water.  On this day, there was a turtle sunning itself on the rock.  Turtles are said to be the oldest group of reptiles and are claimed to be unchanged in 250 million years.  Unlike many shelled creatures, the turtle cannot crawl out of its shell as it is attached to the spine and shoulders.  Turtles don’t breathe like most creatures which expand the ribs to make room for the lungs to take in the air.  Turtle shells prevent this and so the animal has an extra set of muscles to pull the other organs out of the way while it takes in air and then pushes on the lungs to expel it.


The gardens were designed in 1989 by Mississauga City landscape architects and then reviewed with their counterparts in Japan. Stones have been set up to represent a dry stream bed.  The stones are placed closer together to represent the faster moving water and smaller stones imitate slow moving eddies in the stream.


Outside the park, on the north end, is a Zen garden which can be seen from the bridge across the north pond.   There is a pavilion which separates the north pond from the Zen garden.  The pavilion is made of two main sections which each represent one of the twin cities.  The two sections of the pavilion are joined in the middle where a friendship bell hangs.


The friendship bell was cast in Japan and represents the friendship that the two cities have forged together.  It was installed for the opening ceremonies of Phase 2 of the park on July 7, 2001, and is just one of many sculptures that have been donated to the park by the City of Kariya, Japan.  The inscription on the bell reads “By welcoming the new century this bell is produced as a symbol of everlasting friendship between the City of Mississauga and the City of Kariya”.  The bronze bell is rung on ceremonial occasions.


Kariya Gardens is a unique park in the city as it provides an interesting and relaxing look into the culture of a Japanese Garden.

Google Maps Link: Kariya Gardens

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Road Trip – Camp Calydor and Marchmont Grist Mill

Sunday, August 27, 2017

People who live in the GTA and enjoy exploring our local history are often looking for excursions for when they’re away from home.  This road trip is for those headed up the 400 and Highway 11 with a destination in Gravenhurst and one just outside of Orillia. This post combines the WW2 Prisoner of War camp in Gravenhurst and the historic mill in Marchmont, starting with the former.

When the Germans began to bomb Britain the allies became concerned that the island might fall into Nazi hands.  If this were to happen thousands of POWs that were interred in England would be released and allowed to return to combat.  It was decided to move them to places such as Canada, for safe keeping.  An old tuberculosis hospital in Gravenhurst was selected as the home for Camp 20, also known as Camp Calydor.  June 30, 1940, was the opening day of the prison camp and there were 476 prisoners and 109 guards on hand to mark the occasion.  The picture below shows modifications made to the sewage system to prevent prisoners from being able to fit through the pipes.


The camp was fenced in on all sides, including a fence that enclosed part of the lake so the inmates could swim in the summer.  When they arrived in town they were marched from the train station, down Lorne Street, and into the compound.  The sole entrance and exit for inmates was up this set of stairs.


Most of the old concrete foundations have been removed in the name of progress so that a new subdivision can be created.  The picture below shows some of the foundations for the main building and a boiler as they existed in the late 1980’s.


The POWs built an aquarium and stocked it with fish they caught in the lake.  This little reminder of the lives of the residents of Camp Calydor has been rescued and put on display in the little parkette at the end of Lorne Street.


On either the northbound or southbound trip you may want to take a ten-minute detour to see the old mill in Marchmont.  Coldwater Road heading out of Orillia will lead you to the town of Marchmont.  The mill pond is still in place as is the old metal penstock that began to draw water from the pond in 1910 when it replaced the original wooden one. Since the mill is no longer in service the flume is no lo longer repaired and has several large holes rusted through it.


The grist mill in Marchmont was built in 1834 and was initially intended to provide work for local natives.  It operated until 1884 when it was destroyed by a fire.  The town went without a grist mill for three years until a new one was built in 1887.  For the next 60 years, it ground flour and then it was converted into a feed mill in 1947.  In 1987, for its 100th anniversary, it was closed and converted into a private residence.


Parts of the old turbine are laying on the corner of the property.  The spiral casing is also nearby.


Marchmont has several historic buildings as it still retains much of the old Victorian era charm.  As for Gravenhurst, it has many stories left to tell.

Google Maps links: Marchmont Grist Mill and Camp Calydor

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River and Ruin Side Trail

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The River and Ruin Side Trail explores the property that formerly belonged to James Cleaver.  James built the mill in Lowville and a stone house for his family.  The mill still exists as a private residence but the house has been ruined for many years.  There are four or five official parking places along the side of Britannia Road at the intersection with the Blind Line.  The Bruce Trail follows the right of way for the Blind Line and it descends to the level of Twelve Mile Creek.  Just before you reach the creek you will come to the River and Ruins Side Trail which is marked with blue blazes on the trees.  It is a 2.5 km trail that wanders through some heavy patches of Wild Parsnip, a poisonous plant.

Lowville RnR

James Cleaver was born in Pennsylvania on January 30, 1800, and was 5 when his family moved to Upper Canada.  In 1813 James went with the family horses when they were conscripted for use in the War of 1812.  It is said that James and his team were at the Battle of Stoney Creek.  It was around this time that he took an interest in becoming a Public Land Surveyor and started to attend school to qualify for this occupation.  He was 20 years old and teaching in the Lowville one room school house when he completed his studies.  The County Atlas pictured above shows the land as belonging to Cleaver PLS or Public Land Surveyor.  It was uncommon for a land owner’s occupation to appear on the map and perhaps James put this here himself.

The house was added onto at least once and it appears that there was certainly a need for it.  James married Angeline DeMond on November 3, 1827, and they had 7 children before she died in 1841.  James took Jane Watson as a second wife and had 11 more children with her.  Cleaver died March 30, 1890, leaving his land holdings to his sons. Instructions were given for the leasing of the Cleaver Grist Mill in Lowville with the money being divided among the seven living daughters.


The stone that James used to build his house was taken from the property.  Larger pieces of dolomite were used for the front walls as an expression of the status and importance of the occupants.  The rear and side walls were made of smaller pieces of limestone.  The front walls had dolomite window sills and lintels while the back of the house had rough-hewn logs for the window framing.  The cover photo shows the front side of the house and the second story can be seen in the form of window sills along the top of the wall. The walls are about 20 inches thick with wood strips set into the inside of them to allow for the application of the inner wall coverings.  These can be seen in the picture above which looks at the front wall from the inside.  The door easily accommodated James’ six-foot two height.  The story circulates on the internet that the house burned down in the 1920’s but there appears to be no physical evidence of this. All of the wood framings are free of char marks that would indicate a fire.  The limestone pieces that have fallen down contain many interesting fossils including the crinoids in the sample pictured below.


Following the trail will eventually bring you to Twelve Mile Creek, otherwise known as Bronte Creek near an old concrete and steel beam bridge.  The opposite side of the creek is clearly marked as no trespassing and the bridge claims to be under video surveillance. Both ends of the bridge are closed with steel gates.  Notice the large concrete culvert in the creek, just behind the bridge.


The Cleaver Mill Pond has been drained but a concrete dam still remains in place, close to Guelph Line in Lowville.  The approach along the river follows a well-used trail that likely represents the old Clever laneway.  Once you cross over the dam you will find that you are on the wrong side of a no trespassing sign that blocks access from the road.


The river portion of the River and Ruin Side Trail splits at one point to provide a winter and early spring trail called the High Water Trail that keeps you out of the mud and water along the side of the creek.  The Low Water Trail is more scenic and is the one to follow in the summer and autumn months.  When you get back to the point where the side trail connects with the main Bruce Trail you will find an elevated bridge that carries the Bruce Trail across Bronte Creek.


There are several historic buildings in Lowville including the old grist mill, churches, and the pioneer cemetery.  Lowville Park stands just beside the old school house built in 1889 and pictured below.  This is a replacement for the school that Cleaver once taught in.


The Bruce Trail and its side trails around Lowville make for an interesting outing and are close to several other great hikes including the following:

The Longhouse People Of Crawford Lake

Nassagaweya Canyon

Rattlesnake Point 

Mount Nemo

Kelso’s Kilns

Google Maps Link: Lowville

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Lakeside Park

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Lakeside Park in Mississauga isn’t the one made famous by the Rush song of the same name, but it does have its own claim to fame.  Lakeside Park has a unique red shingle beach.  The area was originally known as Marigold’s Point and was settled beginning in 1808 by United Empire Loyalists, many of whom came from New Brunswick. The properties slowly switched from agricultural uses to industrial as Toronto Township was developed.  Early industry in the area included an oil refinery, cement company and a sewer pipe company.


The Hamilton and Toronto Sewer Pipe Company built a factory in Clarkson in 1955 with the idea of operating a state of the art facility.  The press release claimed that the new building would accommodate every new advance in pipe technology, manufacturing and installation.  For the next 25 years, the facility would produce various sizes of baked clay pipes.  As with any manufacturing, there were often pieces that didn’t meet the company’s quality standards.  These pipes were piled up at the edge of the property along the shore of Lake Ontario.


The pipes were buried and forgotten.  Slowly, the embankment has been eroding and the pipes are being exposed to the weather and water.  As they break up and fall into the lake they get tumbled by the waves until they become small rounded shingles.  They mix with shale from the lake bottom to form a shingle beach.  The tiles on the east end of the site are the least broken up and as you walk west along the shore they become smaller and more rounded.  This is due to the natural counter clockwise east to west rotation of the lake.  Water that flows over Niagara Falls supplies most of the water to Lake Ontario and it causes the currents in the lake.  The pipes that have been in the lake the longest end up slowly being pushed west along the beach and tumbled into smaller, more rounded pieces.  The former industrial uses for the land have manifested themselves as a unique beach with some unusual opportunities for wildlife habitat.  The pipe section shown below was likely made in 1979 and is slowly making its way toward to crashing of the waves.


The shores of Lake Ontario are lined with shingle beaches that are formed when the lake throws broken shale onto the shoreline during times of heavy waves.  Just east of Lakeside Park is Rattray Marsh. This marsh only exists because a shingle beach keeps the land behind from draining completely.  Between Lakeside Park and Rattray Marsh is Bradley House Museum which makes an interesting place to visit because it showcases four historic buildings, three of which are designated as Heritage Houses.  One of these is a regency style cottage called The Anchorage, which is pictured below.  It stood near Lakeside Park from the 1830’s where it was home to a Commander John Skynner who had retired from the Royal Navy. It is said that when John retired to the home he wrote in his journal that he was now retired and the home would become his anchorage.  The Anchorage was moved to Bradley Museum in 1978.


Lakeside Park boasts one of the most unique beaches in the GTA and is an interesting example of nature making something beautiful out of an industrial garbage dump.

Google Maps Link: Lakeside Park

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Tiffany Falls

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Tiffany Falls is named after Doctor Oliver Tiffany who was the first medical doctor in an area that included Hamilton, Burlington, Ancaster, Guelph, and Galt.  Oliver was born in Massachusettes in 1763 and graduated from Philadelphia Medical College.  He came to Upper Canada in the 1790’s and settled in Ancaster in 1796.  There is a small paid parking lot on Wilson Street East where you can access both Tiffany Falls Trail and the Bruce Trail.  The main trail leads to the falls while a second one will take you to the remains of an old kiln.


Doctor Tiffany was known to keep horses stabled around the countryside so that he could always have a fresh mount wherever he was in the case of an emergency.  For forty years he looked after the needs of the people in his vast community.  He kept a medical ledger where he recorded the services that he performed at each household. The doctor prescribed quinine for malaria and kept laudanum for pain.  The rest of his treatment tended to be naturopathic and compounded from things he grew in his herb garden.  His ledger records payment in the form of pumpkins or the mending of a pitchfork.  Four days worth of ploughing was given in exchange for the doctor’s services as well as whiskey, hay and oats.  Oliver Tiffany was so well loved that when he died on May 7th, 1835, the buggies of 600 people who attended the funeral made a historic traffic jam.  Tiffany Falls, as seen in the cover photo, is a ribbon falls 21 metres tall and 6 metres wide.  The various layers of the escarpment can be seen beside Tiffany Falls in the picture below.


Across Wilson Street, The Bruce Trail continues to make its way toward Sherman Falls. The parking situation is poor at this second attraction and will possibly leave you with a ticket. Therefore, we suggest parking at Tiffany Falls and hiking to Sherman Falls.  The area around Ancaster was one of the earliest settled in Upper Canada and the land shows signs of many different uses over the years.  A set of old stairs leads up the side of the escarpment.


Along the Bruce Trail between Tiffany Falls and Sherman Falls, there has been an extensive retaining wall installed.  The wall is made from local limestone blocks like many of the older buildings in Ancaster.


Sherman Falls is 17 metres high and is classified as a terraced ribbon waterfall.  A ribbon waterfall is much taller than it is wide, in this case, only 8 metres.  Sherman Falls was featured as one of seven falls we visited on the coldest day in February 2016 in a post called Frozen Waterfalls of Ancaster.  This tributary of Ancaster Creek is spring fed and so the falls have a much more consistent flow of water than some of the other local ones. Sometimes known as Angel Falls or Fairy Falls it takes its name from Clifton Sherman who once owned the property and was the founder of Dominion Foundry and Steel Company (Dofasco).


Google Maps Link:  Tiffany Falls

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Griffin House

July 22, 2017

Enerals Griffin arrived in Port Stanley in 1829 with his wife Priscilla from the United States. They came to Canada via the underground railroad to start a new life where black people had a measure of freedom that they didn’t have in Virginia at the time.  There is no record of where the Griffin family lived during the years between 1829 and 1834 but they started a family and saved enough money to establish themselves.  In 1834 they bought a small one and a half story, four room house that had been built in 1827 and was owned by George Hogeboom.  It has a front-sloping gable roof and is clad in unfinished horizontal clapboards.  The picture below shows the house and the old driveway while the cover photo shows a closer view of the front of the house.


Along with the house, they purchased 50 acres of land on Mineral Springs Road in Ancaster, from which they would make a living and sustain their family.  Over the next 154 years, the family would continue to farm the property until it was sold to the Hamilton Conservation Authority in 1988.  The house was named as a National Historic Site in 2008 partly because it is one of last early 19th century Georgian Style clapboard homes in the Ancaster area.  It is also listed as one of six sites in Ontario that is culturally relevant to Canadian Black history.  Rather than settling in an area that was designated for former slaves, the Griffins chose to buy a farm and live in a predominantly white European area.  The area has been determined to be archaeologically sensitive and digs on the site have uncovered over 3,000 artifacts including stoneware and clay pipes.  The ruins of the family saw mill stand near the crest of a waterfall on a small tributary of Sulphur Creek.  The original boards for the construction of the home were cut in this saw mill from trees that were felled on the property.


Following the Griffin Trail to the Homestead Trail allows you to explore the property and also brings you to the waterfall.  Known as Griffin Falls and also as Heritage Falls there was very little water on this day and moss was taking over the cliff face.  In the spring there is normally water here and this is the best time to view this 5-metre washboard classical cascade.


We had parked at The Hermitage where there is a 10 dollar fee per car.  In the corner of the parking lot, the old gatehouse for the Hermitage still guards the entrance.


Behind the gatehouse is Hermitage Cascade on Hermitage Creek.  This 4-metre cascade falls had a much better flow than the close by Griffin Falls.


On a previous visit, the Hermitage was under restoration and we wanted to see how the job had turned out. There are many trails through the property including the Bruce Trail and we followed the one leading to the old homestead.  The ruins of the main house have been restored on three sides.  The burned ends of the second-floor beams can still be seen sticking out of the wall.


Google Maps Link: Griffin House

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Rosetta McClain Gardens

Monday, July 3, 2017

Rosetta McClain Gardens is a jewel along the Scarborough Bluffs.  The gardens have been transformed into a place for all to enjoy, especially the handicapped.  Close to the parking lot is a sign showing the layout of the park.  The sign has Braille on it and is laid out in relief so that everyone can find their way around with ease.  The walkways and paths have been created out of different types of material so that the handicapped can find their way around more easily.  Cobblestone, bricks and interlocking stones each create a path that feels and sounds different to aid the visually impaired.


In 1904 Thomas McDonald West bought 40 acres of land over looking the Scarborough Bluffs.  When he passed away he divided it among his four children with each one getting about 10 acres.  His daughter, Rosetta, and her husband Robert Watson McClain made many improvements to their property in the form of gardens and walkways.


When Rosetta died in 1940 her husband wanted to find a way to commemorate her and in 1959 he offered the city the land for a park to be named after her.  In 1977 the land was conveyed to the care and control of Toronto Region Conservation Authority.  They’ve added parcels of land three times, incorporating other parts of the original homestead) to bring the total to 22 acres.  To add to the enjoyment of the visually impaired the gardens have been laid out as scent gardens.  There are extensive rose gardens which were, unfortunately, a little past their prime.


The old McClain house still stands, although in ruins, on the property.  Efforts have been made to preserve the remnants by adding concrete along the top edge of some of the crumbling walls.


Rosetta McClain Gardens have a good view of Lake Ontario from the top of the Scarborough Bluffs but there is no access to the lake.  A fence keeps people from getting too close to an earlier fence which is no longer moored to the eroding sand.  The concrete pole anchor has been left hanging high above the lake while it waits to eventually fall. Access to the lake and the view of the Scarborough Bluffs can be found just east of Rosetta McClain Gardens at the foot of Brimley Road in Bluffer’s Park.


The extensive gardens and a wide variety of trees make it an excellent place for birdwatchers to observe their feathered friends.

Google Maps Link: Rosetta McClain Gardens

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