Sunday, November 13th, 2016
Passmore Forest is in the neighbourhood of L’Amoreaux in Scarborough. It is named after Josue L’Amoreaux who lived between 1738 and 1834. He was one of the first settlers in the area, arriving in 1808. Josue was a loyalist, of French Huguenot beliefs, who fled to Canada after the American Revolution. By the 1840’s there were two churches and in 1847 L’Amoreaux was given the designation of School Section #1 for Scarborough Township. A post office was opened in 1854 but it wasn’t until 100 years later that the community was transformed into suburbia. West Highland Creek is a tributary of Highland Creek which forms the eastern end of the Scarborough Bluffs. The creek feeds L’Amoreaux Pond in a park known as L’Amoreaux North Park.
Passmore Forest is named after Frederick Fortescue Passmore who was born in England in 1824 and emigrated to Canada in 1845. He served his apprenticeship under Sandford Flemming and was the draftsman on the St. Catharines Town Hall (1849). In the 1850’s he listed himself as an architect, surveyor, and civil engineer. Passmore is known for his survey of Scarborough township in 1850 and again in 1862. There were 15 saw mills operating in the area by the early 1860’s and the amount of forest cover had dropped by 40 percent between the two surveys. The cover photo shows one of the large pine trees that stand in the woodlot.
Along the side of L’Amoreaux lake, the trail passes this large wasp nest. Nests grow in proportion to the size of the colony. Nests will only be used for one season as only the fertilised female will survive the winter. She will start a new nest in the spring in which to lay her eggs. When the sterile females are born they become workers who tend the nest and see to its expansion as the colony grows. Later in the year, the queen will produce some male wasps to fertilize the new generation of queen wasps. These females will then seek shelter to survive the winter and start the cycle over again.
Near L’Amoreaux Pond there are two interpretive signs which tell a brief story about a native village that was found here in 2000. When contractors were preparing to build a subdivision on the property near the pond they found native artefacts just below the top soil. Experts were called in and before long a 2.6-hectare village belonging to the Huron-Wendat people was uncovered. Eventually, 17 longhouses were uncovered as well as over 19,000 pieces of stone tools, copper beads, pottery and pipes. Shells that likely originated on the east coast were found indicating that a vast trading network existed at the time. Estimates are that up to 1,000 people may have lived here for about 50 years. No signs of fortification were found as there were no fence posts surrounding the village, one of about 25 villages on the north side of the Great Lakes that belonged to the Huron-Wendat. The name of the village has been lost, but the dig site was named “Alexandra”. This village was roughly the same size as the one uncovered at Crawford Lake. There were no burials on the site and after the archaeological dig was completed the developers were allowed to go ahead and build single-family houses on the property.
A small footbridge crosses the West Highland Creek above a concrete catch basin. The basin was full of plastic water bottles and other assorted garbage. The trail leads from the water up a slight incline to Passmore Forest.
Thunderclouds contain small particles of ice that collide and cause an electrical charge to build up. Trees and other objects on the ground can also build up an electrical charge and when the charge coming down from the clouds meets that of the tree an exchange of current takes place in what we call a lightning bolt. This bolt of electricity is very hot, up to 54,000 degrees F. This is about six times hotter than the surface of the sun and can burn the inside of a tree. Many forest fires are started by lightning strikes. The picture below shows the inside of a tree that has been struck by lightning.
River grapes have taken over a large part of the forest. Their vines can climb to the tops of some of the tallest trees, reaching up to 115 feet in length. These longer vines tend to have reduced fruit production with the younger, lower, vines having more grapes.
Another view across the pond in L’Amoreaux North Park. The edge of the pond has a paved trail running around it with benches set at intervals for quiet enjoyment. Ducks, geese and gulls were here on this day but herons are also common.
Passmore Forest isn’t large, as forests go, but it is a significant percentage of the old growth forest in this area. F. F. Passmore lives on in the name of this forest as well as Passmore Avenue which has been abandoned in several places.
Google Maps link: Passmore Forest
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