Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rouge National Urban Park – Mast Trail

Saturday, October 6, 2018

When Rouge Park was created in 1995 it was about 40 square kilometres in size.  Since then, it has been doubled and now consists of 79.1 square kilometres of parkland.  There are several trails through the park already and many more are planned.  We decided to eventually explore all the trails but this week we were going to check out the southern end of the park.  To do so we parked in the free lot just off of Twyn Rivers Drive near the Maxwell Bridge of the Little Rouge River, just across the road from the remains of Maxwell’s Mill.  The bridge has a historic designation and can be reached from the parking lot by following a short stretch of the Orchard Trail.

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The Mast Trail runs for 2.2 kilometres and, along with Riverside Trail (3.2 kilometres but currently closed) form a loop through the lower end of the park that connects to the campground near the 401.  The Mast Trail runs through an area that was once harvested for the abundant tall straight trees that made excellent masts for ships.  The trail roughly follows an old logging road that was used to remove the trees once cut.  Today the area is home to mature forests and some open meadow that made for an interesting hike in spite of the overcast conditions.  Be sure to read the signs about ticks as you enter the trails and remember to check yourself at the end of the hike.  On this day I saw one walking across the back of my hand before I had a chance to have a methodical look and a shower.

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The trail is lush and moss growth thick on the rocks along the way.

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Even though we are late in the season, there are still a few puffballs growing along the sides of the trail.  They typically grow until October and since the leaves on the trees appear to be about a week behind changing colour this year, it isn’t surprising to see these large mushrooms.  Unfortunately, this one was picked just for the “fun” of smashing it. Giant Puffballs are one of the best mushrooms for harvesting and eating.  However, since you are not allowed to do this in the park, please leave them to produce their spores for the next generation of mushrooms.

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One of the distinctive features of the Mast Trail is the set of log stairs that climbs the side of the hill.

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These mushrooms resemble Tree Volvariella except that mushroom typically grown by itself rather than in colonies like these ones.

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Asperagus seeds can be harvested when the berry turns red.  You can split the fruit open with your fingernail and then remove the seed.  Rinse them under cool water and then lay them out on wax paper to dry for about a week.  These dried seeds can remain viable for up to three years but are most likely to germinate if planted about 1/2 inch deep within the first year after harvesting.

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With the coolness of the morning, the bees were inactive.  They usually need the temperature to be above 13 degrees Celsius before they become active.  These two were sitting on a sunflower waiting for the day to warm up a little.

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Caper Valley Ski Hill operated in the Rouge Valley until the late 1970’s.  Today the hill is still clear of trees but the top of the ski lift is marked by only the concrete pad that supported to the tow rope pulleys.

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The archive photo below shows the ski hill in the spring of 1975. Flood waters are racing in the river in the foreground.

Apricot Jelly is one of the less common forms of mushrooms found in Ontario.  Jelly mushrooms have a fruiting body where the exposed surface is fertile and has microscopic structures called basidia which are club-shaped and produce the spores.  Apricot Jelly is considered edible but is usually added to food for the attractive colour it adds to the plate rather than its food value or taste.

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Having been only to the southern corner of the park there is no doubt that we’ll be back to check out some of the other trails in the area.

Other things to check out while you’re in the area: Maxwell’s Mill, Toronto Zoo, Toronto’s Only Suspension Bridge

Google Maps Link: Rouge Park

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Elora Gorge

September, 22, 2018

Summer holidays in September give one the opportunity to visit places that are just outside of the range of a normal weekend.  Elora is one of those places and so off we went.  The town of Elora was founded as Irvine Settlement in 1832 but changed the name to Elora when the first post office was established in 1839.  Like Saint Mary’s, Elora is a town of stone buildings, much of the materials were extracted from the Elora Quarry.  The Quarry is now a swimming area managed by the Elora Gorge Park and one fee allows access to both parks.  Unfortunately, at this time of year the swimming area is closed and the quarry property is marked as No Trespassing.

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After being unable to visit the quarry we parked in the large town lot behind Ross Street.  The local foundry business was established in 1848 and rented out to several entrepreneurs who repaired anything mechanical or made of metal for the community.  The operation is most famously known as The Potter & Matheison Foundry.  Later, nuts and bolts as well as saws and other implements were made here.  This building is a fine example of restoration and we look forward to seeing what is done with the building next door.

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The building that is locally known as The Kiddie Kar Factory was built in 1873 following a fire at the site.  At the time it was known as The Elora Foundry and Agricultural Works.  In 1916 John Mundell purchased the rights to the Kiddie Kar which was a wooden tricycle.  He bought the old Potter foundry to use as a production factory.  The plan for redevelopment of the south side of the river calls for the development of condominiums and a hotel.  The old Kiddie Kar Factory is scheduled to be restored and included in the lobby of the condominium.

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Captain William Gilkinson, who founded the town, made plans for a sawmill as soon as he had purchased his property.  Three years later it was destroyed by a fire but it was rebuilt in 1839.  In 1854 the structure was rebuilt in stone but was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1859, 1866 and 1870.  The mill operated under many owners for the next 100 years but by 1974 it was ready to be converted into a 5-star hotel.  This was closed in 2010 but a new hotel development in 2018 has brought life back into the building.  It is one of the few remaining 5-story mills in Ontario.

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All that remains of The Elora Furniture Company is the shell of the building they developed in 1910.  The site dates back to the 1850’s and had several uses and several fires as well including those of 1886 and 1896.  By the 1920’s the factory was turning out bedsteads and wooden furniture frames with a staff of over 40 people.  Much of their production was shipped unfinished to upholstery shops who completed them to the specification of the customers.

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A trail leads from behind the old industrial section of Elora and into the Elora Gorge Park from the back entrance.  Three kilometres of trails wind through the park offering spectacular views of the gorge.  Limestone cliffs rise 22-metres from the river to the table lands above.

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A stairway allows you to pass through a karst cave where you can reach a platform halfway down the side of the cliff face.  This cave is known as the hole in the wall.  A second cave is seen on the left in the picture below but it can’t be accessed safely.  From here you have to climb the stairs back to the top of the ravine to continue downstream.

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There were several species of mushrooms that we hadn’t seen so far this season. Birch Polypores are quite distinctive among these shelf fungi.  The tree below shows them in several stages of development, from a small bud to a fully formed mushroom.  The underside has a lip around the outer edge.  This polypore has had several uses over the years including being used as a razor strope, an anesthetic and to keep fires burning.

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Following the trail leads to a bridge where you can cross the river at the height of the gorge.  There is also a low level bridge which was closed leading to a temporary closure of most of the campsites on the north side of the river.  This bridge gives a nice view up and down the river which will be interesting as the fall colours come on.

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The park promotes tubbing down the Grand River through the ravine.  There is a 2 kilometre course with specified entry and exit points.  The stairs that access the river at the entry point have a crank at the top to hoist the stairs for the winter.  This keeps the winter ice from demolishing them.

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There is room to follow the shore upstream a short distance when the water isn’t too high.  This provides some nice views of the gorge from the lower perspective.  People use the trails and stairs to access the river for fishing purposes.  The area is known for brown trout but smallmouth bass, carp, northern pike and walleye are also caught.

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We followed the north side of the river until we found ourselves back in town.  Elora has much of their early heritage preserved in the many stone buildings that remain in town.  One building of interest is the drill shed which was built in 1865.  During the 1860’s the United States was fighting their civil war and British North America started to fear for their defense and so the strength of local militias was increased.  This led to the construction of drill sheds in which to train the volunteers.  Most of these have been destroyed but this rare one still survives and today serves as a liquor store with an unusually beautiful interior.

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Just upstream from this building is a foot bridge and another dam.  A nice old stone raceway leads from the pond behind the dam.

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Elora is a remarkably well preserved community that still displays much of the early architecture due to the fact that it was built of stone and didn’t fall prey to fire.

While in the area, why not visit the Shand Dam?

Google Maps Link: Elora Gorge

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Richview – Ghost Towns of the GTA

 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The farming community of Richview got a formal start in 1852 when a post office with that name was opened.  After several post masters it was closed in 1887 and moved 2 miles east to the home of David Watt.   His house stood on the corner just north of the Union Chapel and cemetery.  With the post office and chapel in place, a town soon grew which came to include two shoe makers, two wagon makers, two churches,  two cemeteries as well as a blacksmith shop, a school and a green house complex.  However, without rail service the community became isolated and by the turn of the century it had begun to shrink.  The image below is from the Toronto Archives and shows Richview as it appeared in 1953 when it was still a rural community but greatly diminished from the former glory days.

 

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William Knaggs owned the south west corner of the intersection and in 1853 he sold a small piece for the purposes of a non-denominational church and cemetery.  The church became known as Union Chapel because it eventually housed three different congregations.  For a time the community was referred to as Union, prior to the arrival of the Richview Post Office.  The community of Dixie is another example of a very early Union Chapel, this one still stands alongside the oldest graveyard in Mississauga.  Knaggs’ son William donated additional land south of the cemetery in 1888 for the construction of a Primitive Methodist Church.  It can be seen along with the driving shed for the horses in the picture above.  William Knaggs died in 1853 and was buried as the first official interment in the cemetery, although not the first in actuality.  That had occurred in 1846.

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The county atlas below shows the Union Chapel and marks the cemetery as Primitive Methodist instead of non-denominational.  In 1877 the church had not yet been built but a town hall stood just south of the future location.  The school can be seen just east of the community almost on the Fourth Line (Martin Grove).  This had been the site of the first log school house in 1838.  When it was replaced in 1846 the school was moved to the east side of the fourth line.  In 1874 the school on the map below was opened and it remained in service until 1915 when a fourth school was built.

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The 1906 sketch below shows the south west corner with the post office in the house of Will Watt on the right.  The blacksmith shop of David Watt is in the middle of the picture while the family barns are on the left.  The gentleman plowing in the foreground is on the property that would later host a turkey farm and Bert’s Turkey Palace.  The Turkey Palace was demolished for the building of a ramp for the 427.

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Richview Cemetery has the remains of about 300 early settlers from Etobicoke, many of them lacking markers.  Many of the other markers are damaged and there is no money in reserve for repairs.  The remains of two other small community cemeteries have also been moved here.  The Willow Grove Burying Ground and The McFarlane Family Cemetery were relocated in the 1970’s.

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Andrew Coulter lived from 1793 until 1857 and owned a sawmill on Mimico Creek where West Deane Park is located today.  His farm was run by his four sons after his death.  More information about Coulter as well as historic and modern pictures of the house he built in 1852 can be found in the post for West Deane Park.  A second surviving house from Richview is that of Robert Coulter and it can be seen in the same post.

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Although the farm was passed on to the four boys as an inheritance not everyone was fortunate to survive in those harsh times.  Elizabeth Coulter died in 1852, the same year that the family upgraded from their first home to the grander brick home.  Young women often perished in childbirth but there is nothing on the stone to indicate that she was married.  Pregnancy outside of marriage was less common 150 years ago and so it is more likely that poor Elizabeth got sick and had inadequate medical treatment.  She only lived to 22.

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Starting with the construction of the 401 and later the 427 the farms around Richview were taken over for highway use.  The community of Richview was in the way and everything except the cemetery was removed.  The United Church that had begun as Primitive Methodist was closed and demolished in 1959.  The capture below is from Google earth and shows Richview today as a mass of highway interchanges.  The cemetery is circled in red and can be accessed from Eglinton Avenue.

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This small section of road on the east side of the cemetery is a remnant of the third line which later became highway 427, seen on the right.

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There is still an option to be buried at Richview Cemetery if you have relatives buried there.  Victor Kimber took care of the grounds for several decades until his death in 2005 and he is the most recent interment.  His first wife and then his parents are buried in the graves to the south of his.  His second wife, Ethel, will be buried on the north side of him when she passes on.  Victor will be surrounded by his two wives for eternity but hopefully the sound of the highway will drown them out, should they get to fighting over him.

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Richview cemetery provides a small reminder that the bustle of the city hides a very different the rural past.

Google Maps Link: Richview Cemetery

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Mica Cap Mushrooms

Saturday September 22, 2018

Mica Cap Mushrooms are one of the more common urban fungi and are a choice edible as well. These examples were going in great numbers around the base of a large Black Willow tree.  The mushrooms are egg shaped when they first appear.

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As they grow a set of radial furrows appear that run the length of the cap.  As the cap becomes more bell shaped it will split along some of the radial lines.

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The mushrooms were growing in several thick clusters with a distinct pattern to their aging.  The mushrooms on one side of the tree were black and rotten with the newly risen ones being on the far side of the tree.

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The stems of the Mica Cap are hollow and thin making them quite fragile.  There is no veil on the stem because these mushrooms have a universal veil which looks like specs of mica on the cap.  These vanish quite quickly and may be hard to identify.

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They have close gills which are attached to the stalk and turn darker as the mushroom grows.

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Mica Cap mushrooms grow between April and October.

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Decew Falls

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Having a couple of weeks off work in September allows the opportunity to stray a little farther from home than can be done on a regular weekend.  Decew Falls has been on the short list of places that I wished to visit for quite awhile and so off I went on an hour and a half drive down the QEW.  Decew Falls and the two mills are quite easy to find and there is free parking on site.

John DeCou bought the property in 1788 and originally operated a saw mill to which he added a grist mill in 1814.  Both were powered by overshot water wheels that turned on either side of the upper falls.  A blacksmith shop, carpenter shop, school and church were soon added and the little community became known as Decew Town.  After 1883 the saw mill was powered by one of three turbines at the grist mill and a set of gears can be seen crossing above the falls.

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Ice was harvested from the mill pond every winter and stored in an ice house behind the main house.  It was used in the summer to keep food from spoiling.  An orchard beside the saw mill along with a few farm animals helped feed the family.  Water to run the mill was greatly reduced in 1834 when the First Welland Canal was built and the mills were subsequently sold and closed.  By 1860 the grist mill was in ruins but in 1872 Robert Chappell rebuilt it naming it Mountain Mills and installing a turbine instead of a water wheel.  The picture below shows the turbine shed and the metal penstocks the supplied water from the mill pond.

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When the City of St. Catherines initiated a waterworks project on the creek just above Mountain Mills in 1875 they bought the mills so there wouldn’t be any claims of water shortages.  They rented the mills to different tenants for a few years before selling them to Wilson Morningstar in 1883.  Morningstar ran the mills until his death in 1933.  When Wilson bought the property the saw mill was in use as a community centre and dance hall.  After a brawl one night he closed and converted it back into a saw mill.  After he died it fell into disrepair and was eventually dismantled.  The saw mill now on site was reconstructed in the 1990’s and is not operational.

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Wilson and Emma Morningstar bought the mills and property for $3,500 on their first anniversary, February 7, 1883.  Emma hated the original wooden frame house which was small and the agreement was to replace it eventually.  This was done around 1895 with the house that still stands on the property.  John DeCou had joined the military during the War of 1812 and his field stone house in Thorold was used as a command centre for the British.  When Laura Secord made her famous 12 mile hike through the woods and swamps to inform the British of an impending American attack she arrived at John’s house.  The subsequent battle was known as the Battle of Beaver Dams.

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Upper Decew Falls is a 22 metre ribbon falls with a deep plunge pool at the bottom.  The best views, save going to the bottom, will likely be had after the leaves have fallen.  There are several vantage points from along the side of the ravine but it looks like people have been leaning out over the cliff by clinging to trees.  There is also a place where people have installed a small rope to allow access to the bottom but it didn’t look very safe.  in 1890 a spiral staircase was built around a giant tree that was growing from the floor of the ravine.  it provided safe access, for a fee, to the bottom of the falls.

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The blue side trail that connects Decew Falls with The Bruce Trail is known as Morningstar Side Trail and it runs for only 700 metres.  Along the way I found the remnants of a very large cluster of Northern Tooth fungus.  Climacodon Septenrionale These polypores derive their name from the words “climac” meaning ladder and “odon” meaning teeth.   They have hundreds of fine tubes, looking like teeth, that grow out of the underside to release their spores.  Once the spores are finished the fungus rots away in a matter of a couple of days.  These ones are well decayed but the “teeth” are still quite visible on many of the plants.  While not poisonous, they are considered inedible because they are tough.  The fungus rots maple trees from the inside eventually killing them.

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The side trail follows an ever narrowing ridge of land which comes to a point after the trail ends.  There is a way to the bottom using roots and rocks but is not recommended for hikers who are not experienced and it is also subject to weather restrictions.  It could be very slippery when the mud is wet.  At the bottom the creek has been dammed to create a swimming pool, complete with a swing rope.

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Beaverdams Creek has a trail that runs along the side however there are several places where newly fallen trees make passing a challenge.

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Lower Decew Falls can be heard for quite a distance before it begins to poke out of the trees as you round a bend.

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The lower falls are 8 metres high and form a steep cascade with several distinct steps.  The trail climbs back up the side of the ravine to make a passage around the lower falls.  With all the recent rain this part of the trail was very muddy and being by myself it wasn’t practical to attempt it.  I’d rather not be blogging about a rope rescue.

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It was time to make my way back to the car and return home ahead of the rush hour traffic.  The trail tracker below shows the route of the hike with the Bruce Trail meeting the side trail at a near 360 degree turn.

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It would have been interesting to get pictures from the bottom of the upper falls but perhaps another time.

Google Maps Link: Decew Falls

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The Bruce Trail – Speyside to The Gap

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Having previously visited Speyside to see a Royal Oak tree that has a historic designation we had covered a small section of the Bruce Trail in the Speyside Resource Management Area.  We had also been to a large gap that is cut in the escarpment by Dufferin Quarries.  We decided to hike the trail between these two locations.  There is free parking at the resource management area.  Near the start of the trail we found a place where people had been dumping garbage in a hole in the middle of a pile of rocks.  This is a shameful way to use one of two historic kilns on the property.  These were used by Alexander Livingstone to dry the hops he grew when this was his farm.

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Sometimes you see the least expected things in the woods if you slow down and take notice.  We covered the first kilometre or two of this hike in a record long length of time, but we found some interesting things we may have otherwise missed.  For example, the peeling bark on this dead Paper Birch looks like an alien or a skeleton.  These trees are also known as White Birch or Canoe Birch.  This example could make an interesting picture if photographed just at dusk when it might look even spookier.

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Mushrooms often come in look-a-likes that can be very different in toxicity.  For instance, the mushrooms below could be either Pholiota Squarrosa or Pholiota Squarrosoides.  A minor difference in spelling (“oides” as a suffix means “looks like”) and also a minor one in appearance.  The Shaggy Scalycap Mushroom (P Squarrosa) is dry between the scales on the cap and has a green gill below. It is considered poisonous and appears to be more dangerous when mixed with alcohol. The P Squarrosoides is sticky between the scales, has a whiter flesh with white gills and no smell.   I believe these mushroom here are the P. Sqarrosaoides but as I didn’t touch the cap or get a shot of the gills I can’t be certain.

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Chocolate Tube Slime is another of those curiosities that can easily be missed.  This is found in my National Audubon Society field guide for mushrooms but it isn’t really a true mushroom.  It forms spore bearing clusters that can produce an incredible number of spores.  Slime molds start off as plasmodia that creep over surfaces and absorb food sources.  It takes less than 24 hours for the slime to transform into the chocolate coloured tubes that will spit out spores and then vanish almost as fast.

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Cup fungi are usually small and grow in clusters.  Some of the bigger ones can be up to 4 inches across and often grow individually.  This common brown cup fungi was a couple of inches across.

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These hairy white caterpillars are the larvae of the Hickory Tussock Moth.  Near the front and rear of the caterpillar are a couple of black tufts of hair.  These are part of a venom delivery system that the insect uses in self defense.  If these are pressed, a poison is injected that will feel much like stinging nettles.  The sensation will last for about 20 minutes for the average person and can range from a burning feeling to severe pain and nausea.

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As you cross a little stream on the trail you can see the Cardinal Flowers that are just beginning to bloom.  They live in shallow wetlands and provide a bright splash of red in the late summer and early fall.  Some native tribes used the plant in a plaster to be applied to swelling and to reduce the pain of rheumatism.

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We followed the trail until we came to the place where Dufferin Quarries has cut an opening in the side of the escarpment.  We’ve covered this in more detail in our second most popular post, The Gap.  The picture below shows the workings of the quarry.

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We made our way back from the quarry as the heat of the day climbed and our water disappeared.  When we reached the closed end of St. Helena Road we elected to follow the roads back to the car to take advantage of some even footing and reach our stash of cold water quicker.  It is quite common to see little book exchange boxes in the city but it was unexpected when hiking the Bruce Trail.  This one is near the little parking area along St. Helena Road.

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Speyside has been reduced to a ghost town.  The gas station and general store have been closed for years and almost all other early buildings have vanished.  The price of gas was 79 cents per litre when these pumps were last used.  It’s closing in on double that now.

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We used the Bruce Trail app to track our hike and had lost the first part of the trek through Speyside Resource Management Area when I closed the app by accident.  I’ve drawn that part back in on the map below.  The tracker shows 12 kilometres and with the additional section, the hike was about 14 kilometres.

Speyside to Gap

Google Maps Link: Speyside

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Altona Forest

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Altona Forest is located in Pickering and at 102 acres is large enough to have one of the few interior forests in the GTA.  Interior forests create habitat for creatures that do not survive on the forest edge or in the small clumps of trees left along waterways.  Interior forests have at least 300 metres of forest between the forest edge and the interior section.  Since 1982 the forest has been designated an environmentally significant area but that didn’t stop developers from buying up the land.  In the 1990’s after much lobbying the park area was set aside as part of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) lands.  The southern portion of the park was most recently owned by Dr. J. Murray Spiers and was donated in 1996 upon the condition that it remain a nature preserve.  This portion of the park is off limits to the public.  We parked on Altona Road in the small Altona Forest parking lot.  The trail immediately gives a feeling of not being used very much.

Petticoat Creek flows through the western edge of the park.  It was named by the French as Petite Cote and was slurred into the current name after the English arrived.  The wind has recently brought down several large trees in the top end of the park.

One of the truly great things about Altona Forest is the downloadable trail guide.  It describes the various features along the trail with reference to the guide posts.  Post 32 is shown below along with a little bench, one of many scattered throughout the trails.  Post 32 is found in a mature white cedar forest.  These trees spread to form a dense canopy that very little direct sunlight gets through.  This, along with a mat of cedar needles on the ground, combine to create a forest with very little under story.

Altona Forest has a series of ever changing habitats moving from different types of forest cover to open meadows and wetlands.  This encourages a wide variety of wildlife, some locally rare examples, to inhabit the park.  We saw coyote paw prints but didn’t see any of them as we made our way through the forest.  They share the forest with white tailed deer, fox and opossum, just to name a few.

Overgrowth has choked out the boardwalk in several places and the purple loosetrife and goldenrod flowers were buzzing with bees.  The number of honey bees was very encouraging but it could be a little stressful for those with a bee phobia or allergy.  We found that although we brushed through the bees as we passed they ignored us and returned to their bee business.

The wetlands were filled with the sounds of frogs and last years bulrushes hang like shrouds on the old stocks.

Near post 29 a large section of the forest has been given over to a wetland restoration project.  Until the 1940’s these were farmers fields and many of the wetlands had been drained.  Small mounds of dirt along the sides of the Rosebank Creek tributary remind us of the efforts of the farmers to increase drainage and make the most of some poor farmland.  Ghost wetlands are areas that were drained but can be encouraged to return to their former status thus providing much needed wetland habitat.  An observation deck overlooks the wetland restoration.

We were quite surprised at the condition of the boardwalk in the northern section of the park.  It soon became clear that the vegetation overgrowth was the result of a general lack of use due to the deterioration of the trails.

Chicken Mushrooms are one of the fine edible ones, if harvested when they are young.  They tend to become indigestible as they get older.  They start as bright orange, salmon or sulfur yellow and as they weather they turn white.  They are also called Sulfur Shelf and can grow in overlapping clusters of fifty or more with shelves that weigh up to a pound.  Many people claim that they taste like chicken.

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Near post 12 is Lacey’s Pond but it has become inaccessible as has the observation deck located there.  Some of the downed trees are the result of wind storms while the local beaver has also brought down some onto the boardwalk.  This effectively cuts the northern section of the park off from the one to the south.

Having blogged about nearly every destination in the list of TRCA properties several things become obvious.  Firstly, the GTA has an incredible network of ravines and parks that form natural wildlife corridors through the urban area.  Much of this is the legacy of Hurricane Hazel and the movement to secure our flood plains from development.  Secondly, our parks are incredibly free of garbage and generally well maintained.  Altona Forest appeared to be an obvious exception with regards to maintenance.  Hiking the GTA contacted the TRCA to see what was happening with the trails in the forest.  They replied that the boardwalks deteriorated because of the wet conditions and that they are being replaced with materials made of recycled plastics.  Supplies for the restoration, which should last for many many years, have been ordered already.  When they arrive in six to eight weeks the restoration project will begin.  Very soon Altona Forest will boast a new set of boardwalks giving it a new lease on life.

This Hairy Woodpecker is similar to a Downy but larger, with the adults being about 25 centimetres long.  Downy Woodpeckers are only about 15 centimtres long.  Both of these woodpeckers leave small random holes in trees where they dig for insects.  If the holes in a tree are dug in straight lines it is the work of a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker.

Large holes in trees are the work of pileated woodpeckers.  These are the largest woodpecker that you will see in Ontario with the adults being about 50 centimetres long.  The name comes from the Latin word “pileatus” which means capped, in reference to the prominent red cap that the bird has.

We were only able to explore the northern section of Altona Forest and will need to return to check out the other end of the park. We also look forward to seeing the upgrades and repairs that TRCA will be making this fall.

Google Maps Link: Altona Forest

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