Saturday June 25, 2016
Bronte Creek Provincial Park covers almost 2000 acres of land or about 10 land grants. Created in 1975 it sits along Bronte Creek between Burlington and Oakville. The park includes the homestead of Henry Breckon who, some believe, still haunts the house he built in 1899. Bronte Creek flows through the property and the cover photo shows a view of the shale embankment on the east side of the creek.
A park was proposed for the area as early as 1956 but due to it’s small size at 79 acres it was rejected. Another proposal for a larger park was also rejected but James Snow got his wish in 1971 when the park was established. It has been modified several times since it opened including recently added camp sites. There is an entrance fee for the park but plenty to do once you arrive. Several parking lots exist, one near the disc golf course and another near the model plane flying field. There is also parking in lot F which is near the haunted house. The parking lot was empty except for several white tailed deer for which the park is known.
Emerald Ash Borer has caused the destruction of almost every ash tree in the GTA. In the park the trees were cut down and now the stumps have been removed using a stump grinder.
Spruce Lane Farmhouse was built in 1899 and was home to Henry and Margaret Breckon. Christine, Alice and Gordon were their children and they lived in the home until the 1950’s. During the 1950’s and 1960’s the farm house was rented out to various tenants. The house is said to be haunted and several paranormal investigators have spent time trying to determine if there is a presence in the house. Henry Breckon died in 1931 and was laid out in the front parlour for days while a wake was held. The door to the smoking room opens and closes on it’s own and there are reports of footsteps and children’s laughter in the house. In the summer a ghost tour is held of the house for people who want to experience a haunting for themselves.
Most of the farm buildings remain on site and are part of an interactive experience designed to showcase a fruit farmer’s house from the turn of the last century. The driving shed can be seen in this picture along with several of the outbuildings.
Henry Breckon’s farm is shown on the 1877 county atlas but the house at the end of the apple orchard (red arrow) is not the current brick house. The earlier house may have been the original log house or perhaps a second house built a few years after the farm was started.
The farm is currently set up as a children’s farm. There are pigs, sheep, rabbits and goats. There are also chickens but when they started following me two by two I started looking around for The Ark.
Wind power was the traditional way to pump water for livestock. The pump below the windmill was made by Beatty Brothers Ltd. of Fergus Ontario. The company began in 1874 in the Temperance Hall and by 1879 expanded into a new building simply called the foundry. It is the three story building that is now part of the Fergus market. By 1925 they had become the largest exporter of barn and stable equipment in the British Empire. Times changed and in 1960 they merged with another company and became GSW Ltd.
Originally there were three turtles sunning themselves on this submerged log in the farm pond behind the house. The pond is so covered with algae that turtles even have the green plant on their heads. These are likely painted turtles but it is hard to tell since they appear to be painted green.
The old tractor has received a fresh coat of paint and now sits in the yard waiting for one of it’s many photo ops. Notice the solid steel rear wheels with the bolt on steel spikes for traction.
The park is a great place for bird watching. There are several places where the park has provided bird houses for our little feathered friends. The bird houses have street addresses and each one is numbered. I guess it helps them find their own nests when they come home after sipping a little too much nectar.
Sumac trees will be one of the early signs of fall when their leaves turn bright red. These flowers will form into fruit or drupes which will turn red in the staghorn sumac found in Ontario. If the drupes were to remain white then the species is actually poison sumac which also has a broader leaf. The poisonous plant is related to poison ivy and poison oak but is actually the most toxic of the three. Swellings and open sores can last for a long time and be quite painful.
On the west side of the Breckon homestead was one that belonged to John Ezard at the time of the county atlas. The silo below would not have existed until some time after 1900 when the use of precast concrete blocks became popular. The silo remains but the barn and other outbuildings that likely accompanied it are all gone.
Milbert’s Tortoishell butterflies are seen from April until October and have three generations per year. They like to flit around rapidly but also will sit still with their wings spread to pose for pictures. They have distinctive bands on the wings as well as orange spots that look like eyes on the costa of the forewing.
Asparagus grows in a few places along the side of the road near Bronte Creek Provincial Park. This one has gone to seed and several of the seed pods can be seen in the upper left of the plant.
Bronte Creek Provincial Park is quite large and most of the park remains to be explored at another time.
Google maps link: Bronte Creek Provincial Park
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