Thursday, July 6, 2017
The Oakville Recreation Commission operated several day camps in the 1950’s along Sixteen Mile Creek. Two of them were located on Lower Base Line and were on the Milton side of Lower Base Line. Children were taken from town to the day camps to give them an experience of the outdoors as part of their summer vacation from school. Older teens were taken every summer to a training camp at Fisher’s Glen on Lake Erie.
Rotary Park or Pine Ridge Day Camp was located on the top of the hill while Henderson Park was along the banks of Sixteen Mile Creek below. Day campers would walk between the two to go swimming in the creek on hot summer days. There were originally 5 buildings on the Pine Ridge site which were screened from the creek by a row of pine trees along the ridge of the ravine. The three cabins and the dining hall were removed a long time ago but for some reason, the washroom facility was left intact. The picture below shows the old playing field along with the remains of the washrooms, tucked in under the trees.
Inside the washrooms, there is little left. When I first visited here in the late 1990’s the building was more or less intact and all the toilets were undamaged. The first ten years of abandonment wasn’t very hard on the building. The next twenty years, along with some senseless vandalism has nearly demolished the building. It is unlikely that there are very many winter storms left in the old structure. It is impressive that the children who came to day camp here had the use of flush toilets instead of the typical outhouse one might expect to find. The people who closed the place up removed four buildings and then placed concrete blocks to prevent people from parking along the road or entering the old laneway. They took out the electrical wires and left the place pretty much as they found it when it was severed from the corner of the farmer’s field. All except the washrooms! Perhaps they were expecting to use the fields for games or events in the future and anticipated the need for the washrooms.
Down the hill from Pink Ridge Camp was Henderson Park where the children would go swimming and fishing. Adjacent to Henderson Park there used to be a small parking lot that allowed continued access to the river even after the park had closed. From here you could get to a trail along the top of the ravine above the Queenston shale embankments on the opposite side of Sixteen Mile Creek.
This parking lot was closed several years ago because there were too many late night parties with large campfires. Alcohol, cars and backroads are a bad combination and so the parking lot was sealed off around 2012 when the one lane bridge was replaced. The parking lot has since filled up with field grasses and weeds. A new invader, Giant Hogweed now lines the creek banks and is spreading through the floodplain. They can be seen in the picture above where they stand out against the red shale. Each plant goes to seed only once before it dies but it can produce between 50,000 and 120,000 seeds. These can be blown up to 10 metres on the wind but travel much farther when carried by water. They will float for up to three days without sinking and get washed out across the floodplains during high water events. The example in the picture below is likely 10 feet tall.
Pine Ridge and Henderson Day Camps were in the business of making great summer memories for children. Today, they are in danger of becoming just a memory themselves.
Google Maps Link: Pine Ridge Park
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