Ken Whillans Resource Management Area

Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016

The Ken Whillans Resource Management Area is an unique part of the Credit Valley Conservation network.  This is due to the fact that, along with conservation, they are also providing public access to fishing.  Bass, perch, and trout are all able to be caught during their respective seasons but the CVC recommends a catch-and-release program.  The park is located on the former Kidd property and has been used as a conservation area since 1954.


The resource management area is named after Ken Whillans who was the 46th mayor of Brampton.  He ran the city from 1982 until he drowned while on vacation in Prince Edward Island in 1990.  There is a link from the parking lot near the fishing ponds to the Caledon Trailway. The trail follows the old right of way for the Hamilton and North Western Railway.  Near where the trail crosses highway 10 there are four concrete culverts under the rail berm. These are old and starting to crumble but would not be from the original construction of 1877 as concrete was not in use for another 25 years.


Where the Caledon Trailway intersects with Hurontario Street (Center Road on the county survey) a 175-meter bridge has been constructed.  Just south of here the 1850’s hamlet of Sligo once stood near where the road made a switch back to ease the grade of the hill.  In 1857 about 50 people lived in the community where the road began its climb out of the Credit Valley onto the Peel Plain.  The post office closed in 1883 and the hamlet was lost to history except for the switch back which had taken the name Deadman’s Turn.  When the land was acquired in 1923 for the development of a highway, the switch back was left in place until 1949 when the road was straightened.  From the bridge, the trail continues east as it makes its way toward Cardwell Junction.


As a resource management area, they encourage visitors but not of the invasive species kind.  A brush is provided for you to clean your footwear to ensure you are not carrying pollen, spores, or seeds into the park.  Two ponds are located on the property.  One is known as Kidd Pond, after the original landowner, and the other is named Orchard Pond after the part of the homestead it covers.  The orchard can be seen as rows of dots on the county atlas near the larger black square that marks the home itself.  The Harvest Trail runs 2.3 kilometres around the two ponds while the Fisherman’s Walk extends for 300 meters between the two ponds.


Canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals are available for $20/hour or $50 per day, once you make the $200 security deposit.  Fishing rods can be rented for $10 a day with a $20 security deposit.  A boat launch is provided near the parking lot.


Part of the control of invasive species that has become common throughout conservation lands in the GTA is the removal of ash trees damaged by Emerald Ash Borer insects.  It has left some of our woodlands looking rather thin but the loss of larger trees always means opportunities for smaller growth to succeed.  Planting programs are designed to replace lost trees with native species to help recreate a more natural local habitat.


Fishing is encouraged in the ponds at the conservation area.  Only children under 18 and seniors over 65 are allowed to keep trout, in their season.  All other people must practice catch and release or contribute their catch to the possession limit of the child or senior. Trout season runs from the fourth Saturday in April until September 30th.  Bass fishing is allowed during the season which runs from the fourth Saturday in June until November 30th.  All bass fishing is catch and release.  There are nine fishing piers plus the boat launch located around the two ponds.  Scattered in the branches around the fishing piers are the lost bobbers and lures that tell a story of fishing for trees.


The Autumn Meadowhawk is one of the later flying species of dragonflies.  The were formerly known as Yellow-legged Meadowhawks because they have yellow legs to go along with their red abdomens.  They are found along the edges of ponds in October and November.  This specimen was sunning itself on one of the boardwalks along the Kidd Pond.


The river grape, or vitis riparia, are growing in great abundance along the trail.  The grapes are particularly hardy and have been known to withstand winter temperatures of -57 Celcius.  They are also resistant to mildew and black rot which makes them of interest to domestic grape producers.  For over 100 years the genes of vitis riparia have been used to breed cold and fungal resistance into cultivated grape species.


The hoof of a horse is made of a material which is similar to a human toenail.  Although thicker and harder than the human counterpart it is prone to wear and damage in working animals.  Records from ancient Asia suggest that feet were wrapped in rawhide while the Romans had a type of hoof boot that they strapped on.  The idea of nailing a protective shoe to the hoof came around 900 AD.  Within 100 years it was common for a shoe with 6 nail holes to be used.  Iron was still a scarce commodity and so in the 11th to 13th centuries it was possible to pay your taxes with horseshoes.  Someone had been around the trails very recently and there were examples of horseshoe prints where you can see some of the nail holes.


The average dog produces about 340 grams of feces per day.  We have a stoop and scoop program in place for dog owners so our trails don’t become unusable.  A horse, on the other hand, produces over 22 kilograms of feces per day.  Why is this allowed to remain on our trails?  As a side note, horses are not allowed in the conservation area although they are welcome on The Caledon Trailway.


A small stream connects the two ponds on the western end and the trail continues to follow the shore of the Orchard Pond.  When you pass through the remains of the old orchard you’ll know that you are near the end of your trek.  From here the view back across the pond reveals the Niagara Escarpment and The Devil’s Pulpit at The Forks of The Credit.


Google Map link: Ken Whillans Resource Management Area

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  1. Pingback: Caledon Country Club Chalets | Hiking the GTA

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