Tag Archives: aster

Bindertwine Park

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Bindertwine Park is on the edge of Kleinberg and is the northern trail head for an eight kilometre section of the Humber Trail known as the William Granger Greenway. It runs from Kleinberg to Boyd Conservation Area following the East Humber River. The trail is temporarily broken at Major Mackenzie Drive as the bridgework there requires the use of heavy machinery. We followed the empty trail south, enjoying a beautiful Wednesday morning on a vacation day from work.

Bedstraw Hawk Moth Caterpillars are usually green, but can be brown, with black bands and pairs of yellow spots. Another distinct feature is the tail, or horn, on the rear end which is always red. The moth is tan and olive brown with a red stripe on the hind wing that fades to white at the edge. It has a wingspan that is up to 80 millimeters wide and flies between May and October. This caterpillar will make a cocoon in a shallow burrow and overwinter there. In the spring it will appear as a moth and start the lifecycle again by laying eggs.

It was a day for seeing a variety of insects although the biting kind were not too bad. Praying mantis are carnivorous and will eat many other insects and even other praying mantises. The female is said to often consume the male either during or after intercourse. She will then lay an egg sack which will contain hundreds of eggs. The little ones hatch looking much like miniature versions of their parents. We saw several praying mantis which are easy to spot when they fly because of their size compared to other flying insects. Once they land their resemblance to the plants they live on makes them hard to pick out.

An unusual piece of art stands along the side of the trail tells you that you are getting close to the McMichael Canadian Art Gallery. The sculpture is called the Peace Making Machine and was built in 2011 out of ash planks and steel pipe. We continued along the trail heading south from the gallery.

Apart from the main trail there are several smaller side trails. These are limited because the area is environmentally sensitive and they don’t want people wandering throughout the woods. We followed one small trail up the side of the ravine to the top and then back down again.

Part way up we found a garter snake that was moving sluggishly toward some sunnier places up the trail. Snakes don’t fatten up for the winter like mammals do because they don’t hibernate, they do something called brumation. Their metabolism slows down when its cold to the point that they use almost no energy all winter. Their biggest challenge is to get deep enough to be below the frost line so that they don’t freeze to death. Places where this can be accomplished are relatively few and so snakes will often spend the winter in large groups.

There were purple asters and lots of goldenrod along the sections of the trail that pass through meadows. Dozens of types of pollinators were at work among the wild flowers including bumble bees, honey bees, moths, butterflies, hornets and various types of hover flies.

We made it to where the trail went under Major Mackenzie Drive and had to stop because of the active construction site at the bridge. On the way back we heard the chittering of a red squirrel as it scolded us. It had been busy building mounds of pine cones at the base each tree. This isn’t pandemic hoarding, it’s just normal behaviour for red squirrels who don’t bury their food stores.

We decided to take a different trail on the way back and passed through the grounds of The McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Along with their gallery and art exhibits they also have a building known as the Tom Thomson Shack. It was built in the Rosedale Ravine for a cabinet maker and later used as a tool shed during the construction of a low rent artist studio. By the fall of 1915 Thomson had moved into the shack and he lived and worked there until his death in 1917. In 1962 the shack was purchased and moved here.

Outdoor art is a large part of the exhibit at the gallery. The Shibagau Shard was added to the collection in 1989 and uses a single piece of granite to depict native petroglyphs and pictographs.

The main trail is in pretty good shape and is likely good for walkers or wheel chairs when the ground is dry. The signs of fall are in the plant world and the picture below shows a group of sumac trees that are just starting to take on their red colours.

The compton tortoiseshell butterfly can be seen from July until November and then the adults hibernate over the winter. They can be found in meadows near deciduous forests of aspen, willows and paper birch.

There are several more trails at the McMichael property which will require an additional hike to fully experience what they have to offer.

Other trails in the area that are interesting to explore include William T Foster Woods, Kortright Centre and Boyd Conservation Area.

Google Maps Link: Bindertwine Park

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Sixteen Hollow – Ghost Towns of the GTA

Saturday Sept. 12, 2015

The area known as Sixteen Hollow was home to an industrial community that became a ghost town by the 1880’s.  We decided to ignore the light rain that was falling, don a light jacket for the first time in months, and go to check it out. There is free parking in the parking lot under the Sixteen Mile bridge on Dundas Street.

Dundas Street was surveyed in 1795, two years after the founding of York (Toronto), as a link to Hamilton.  The road was opened in 1806 after the Mississauga Purchase transferred the land to the British.  George Chalmers arrived in 1825 and opened a merchant shop where Dundas Street met Sixteen Mile Creek.  Next, he built a dam on the creek north of Dundas and opened both a saw and grist mill.  Sixteen Hollow was known for awhile as Chalmer’s Mills and was a thriving community with a tavern, stables, a distillery, a blacksmith shop several houses and an ashery.  In the early 1840’s Chalmers over-extended himself and became bankrupt.  He ended up selling everything to John Proudfoot and the community briefly became Proudfoot’s Hollow. The town continued to grow and a three story inn catered to stagecoach and weary traveler alike. Tailors and weavers as well as the makers of barrels, wagons and footwear all called The Hollow home. When the railroad bypassed the town, and Oakville grew, Sixteen Hollow suffered a fatal blow in the collapse of the grain market.  By the 1880’s the mill was closed and only two houses and the church remained.  The map below from the National Archives is dated 1847 with a question mark but show’s the community early in the days of John Proudfoot.

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North of the bridge, in the area that was once covered by mill pond, we observed a female cross orbweaver spider.  This large specimen was riding out the rain curled up in a plant stem.  This species of spider is known to be mildly venomous with bite reactions lasting from 2 days to three weeks.  It takes it’s name from the cross shaped markings on the body near the head.

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The first reliable bridge to replace the mill dam crossing was built in 1885 and was a steel truss bridge. It was replaced in 1921 with a concrete bridge that rose in elevation as it went westward eliminating the need for the switchback on the ravine side.  A four lane bridge was built in 1960 which replaced it.  The bridge decking was removed from the 1921 bridge but the piers were left standing.  Notice in the picture below, and the cover photo, the metal capped point of concrete on the front side of the pier.  This was on the upstream side and used to break up ice during the spring thaw to protect the bridge from damage.  It indicates that the creek flowed around this pier in the 1920’s.  Today the creek runs well to the east of here, just above the goldenrod field, and is visible in the cover photo.  in 2008 another four lane bridge was added running along the line of the 1921 bridge piers.

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The historical county atlas shows the grand detour that Dundas Street took as it passed through Sixteen Hollow and crossed the creek.  The road passes across the middle of the map from the right to the left as one travels westward.  Just before the mill pond the road takes a curve and descends the hill behind the Presbyterian church (still a wood frame structure in 1877).  It crosses on or near the dam and then does a long hairpin curve south and back as it climbs the west ravine.  By 1877 there are few buildings shown on the map and only one mill, near the church.

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Fall was in the air and there are trees that are starting to change colour.  The process of changing colour actually starts in the spring.  The tree has a relatively short growing season which usually ends in about June.  At this time they already have the bud for next year’s leaf ready but dormant until the spring thaw.  Chlorophyll in the leaves is constantly being broken down by sunlight and replaced.  As the day light hours grow shorter and the nights longer the tree prepares for winter.  It starts to form a kind of scab between the leaf and the branch which cuts off the transfer of nutrients to the leaf.  When the green chlorophyll is no longer replaced the yellow, red and orange pigments in the leaves are exposed.  They too break down in UV light and eventually only the brown tannins are left as pigments.

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Yellow and purple flowers paint a picture of late summer.  Black-eyed susan, also known as brown-eyed susan, are related to the sunflower and provide the yellow on the left below. New England asters like a lot of sunshine and their purple flowers colour the open areas throughout The Hollow. The yellow goldenrod plants on the right are also a member of the aster family and they are often mixed with their distant cousins.  The sumac trees in the background have not started their change to bright red yet.  This is one of the first and brightest transformations of the fall.  The word sumac comes from the ancient word used for red in several languages.

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Sixteen Hollow is a quiet place today but it’s past history was much different.  Humans put a dam across the river and built an industrial community which has now vanished.  The Sixteen Mile Creek is also much shallower today than when Upper Canada was settled.  Clearing of the land led to lower water levels in Ontario.  Water levels at the end of the last ice age were much greater as can be seen in the depth of the creek bed relative to the shale embankments along the sides.

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One of the central meeting places in an early community was the church.  Sixteen Hollow had a Presbyterian church on the east bank of the river by 1844 and it is the only remaining building from the historical village.  This frame structure was 40 feet long, 30 wide and 18 tall.  The building was expanded  in 1899 and given a brick veneer on the outside.  Electric lights were installed in 1943 in time for the centennial celebrations the following year.  The basement was added in 1994 for it’s 150th anniversary.

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Sixteen Hollow is no longer a thriving town but there is a lot of space to hike along the Sixteen Mile Creek.  We had previously looked at a small section going north from here on Canada Day.

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