Tag Archives: Bruce Trail

The Great Esker

July 7, 2018

This week I bought the Bruce Trail App for my phone and so it got it’s first workout.  After identifying a section we hadn’t been on before we set out for the parking area on the map (8th line north of 22 Side road, north of Georgetown).  There are several places that you can pull off and park that are not on the map including where the main trail crosses the road a little farther north.  With the tracking feature turned on it marked our trail as we progressed and created a record of the hike that can be saved toward earning trail badges.

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We entered on the Eight Line Side Trail and made our way to The Great Esker Side Trail.  Along the way we identified the remains of an old car in the woods.  It has clearly been there for decades as it has no motor and is surrounded by mature trees. It is in a very advanced state of decay.  The front bumpers and grill pattern were quite unique in the various car models of the 1940’s.  Having looked through hundreds of online picyures, positive identification wasn’t possible but the closest candidate was a 1946 Chevy Stylemaster.  That particular car was a sedan and this model was most likely a truck.

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Flowering Raspberries grow along the trail in many places.  Their flowers are quite large for the raspberry family and have a long period of blooms which also makes them of special interest to honey bees.  The fruit looks like a large flat raspberry and is used by mammals and birds.

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Eskers are glacial deposits that run in nearly straight lines and rise above the surrounding landscapes.  They are formed during the melting phase of the ice age when water is rushing in a river either over or under the ice.  The formation of eskers is described in greater detail in our earlier post The Brampton Esker.  The Great Esker Side Trail runs, in part, along the top of an esker.  It stands about 30 metres above the surrounding terrain but is much shorter than the one in Brampton.  As far as eskers go, the Great Esker isn’t so great.  The Thelon Esker is almost 800 kilomtres long.  The trail leads directly up the esker.

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The escarpment is made up of limestone and harder layers of dolostone.  Scattered throughout the landscape are large granite boulders that appear to be out of place.  They have been carried by the glacier and deposited across the province by the retreating ice sheet.  Rocks that are different sizes or minerals than the ones common to where they are found are known as glacial erratics.

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Old stone fences run through the trees marking off the earlier fields.  More recently some guide wires have been put in some places along the trail.  These are growing into the trees in several spots.

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Most of the mayapples, or mandrakes, have been harvested by the local wildlife but a couple large ones remained that are still green.  When they start to turn yellow they will put off a pungent odor that attracts raccoons. It is suggested to remove the seeds if you do happen to harvest some of this native fruit.  You’ll have to be lucky because the raccoons check daily for the newly ripening fruit.

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Butterflies abound along the trial and this Appalachian Brown was one of several flittering among the plants.

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The poison ivy doing very well along the sides of the trails.  Urushiol oil in the leaves and stem causes an allergic reaction in 85% of people.  It is white when the stem is broken but turns black upon exposure to oxygen.  The oil is highly concentrated and a drop the size of a pin head can cause an allergic reaction in 500 people.  In the United States about 350,000 people a year get a rash that can last for up to 3 weeks.

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One of the truly interesting boardwalks is this one that takes advantage of this tree and the massive root system to carry the trail.

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Snow’s Creek Falls are located at the intersection of 27th side road and the 8th line so we made a detour to see how much water was there at this time.

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It was certainly cool to check out the Great Esker Side Trail and take the Bruce Trail App for a test run.  It likely means more hikes on the Bruce in the near future.

Google Maps Link: The Great Esker Side Trail

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Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Forks of the Credit Provincial Park has many things to offer from hiking trails to closed roads and historic ruins.  A Niagara Escarpment study in 1968 made the recommendation that a park should be created near the Forks of the Credit.  The Government of Ontario accepted the proposal and in 1985 the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park was officially opened.  Official parking is found off of Mclaren Road but it is metered and $7.50 for 4 hours or $14.00 for the full day.  We roughly followed the route marked in green on the 1877 county atlas below.

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From the parking lot, you can follow the Meadow Trail past Kettle Lake, featured below, and on until you come to a washroom facility at the junction of the Dominion Trail.  Along the way, you will pass a short trail called Kettle Trail which links to the Trans Canada Trail.  To get to the falls you will use a portion of the Bruce Trail as a link.  It is good that someone has taken the time to mark the trails with little white signs “falls” and “return to parking” to make the direct route less confusing.

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The Credit River runs through the park as does The Bruce Trail.  From the south, the Bruce Trail follows old Dominion Road north from Forks of the Credit Road through the ghost town of Brimstone until it reaches the entrance to the park.  From this point the old road becomes Dominion Trail and the road is closed.  A portion of it was washed out in 1912 and never replaced.  There are also blue Bruce Trail side trails that lead to the ruins at the cataract falls, making the park a great place to hike.

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In 1879 the Credit Valley Railway built a1,146-foot wooden trestle, 85 feet high to cross the valley.  At the time it was the longest curved trestle in Ontario but safety concerns led to much of it being filled in by dumping gravel through the trestle.  From there the line heads north through the area of the park.  It runs along the edge of the river and crosses it on the bridge shown below.

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Cataract Falls is 13 metres tall and 9 metres wide.  Like many waterfalls, it takes on a spectacular formation of ice in the winter months.  The falls appear to be much wider because there are so many cracks in the shale layers that seep water which adds to the majesty of the falls.

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A sawmill and two grist mills stood on this site before it was converted to the production of electricity.  The older parts of the mill were constructed of stone which was apparently quarried behind the waterfalls in the winter time.

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The foundations of the Cataract Electric Company stand on the crest of the falls.  This had been the site of mills since 1820 and the power company operated from 1899 until 1947 when it was deemed to be too inefficient to continue.  The frozen waterfalls can be seen to the right of the picture below.

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Cataract Lake was held behind the dam and was allowed to survive the closing of the electric power generating plant.  John Deagle was interested to increase the output of his power generating plant and so had begun to construct a tunnel from the lake to the mill wheel.  A major flood in 1912 washed out the dam and put an end to Deagles dreams of tunnelling.  A concrete dam was built as a replacement.    In 1953 the dam was destroyed by dynamite and the lake was drained.  The railway had been concerned that the lake was undermining the railway tracks.  The sluice gates remain from the old dam and are now used as abutments for the footbridge on the Ruins Trail.

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A better perspective of the old mill buildings can be gained from the footbridge.

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The Forks of the Credit Provincial Park has many trails and interesting things to see but parking fees apply.  It is perhaps better to park at the end of Dominion Road and walk in along The Bruce Trail.

Google Maps Link: Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

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River and Ruin Side Trail

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The River and Ruin Side Trail explores the property that formerly belonged to James Cleaver.  James built the mill in Lowville and a stone house for his family.  The mill still exists as a private residence but the house has been ruined for many years.  There are four or five official parking places along the side of Britannia Road at the intersection with the Blind Line.  The Bruce Trail follows the right of way for the Blind Line and it descends to the level of Twelve Mile Creek.  Just before you reach the creek you will come to the River and Ruins Side Trail which is marked with blue blazes on the trees.  It is a 2.5 km trail that wanders through some heavy patches of Wild Parsnip, a poisonous plant.

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James Cleaver was born in Pennsylvania on January 30, 1800, and was 5 when his family moved to Upper Canada.  In 1813 James went with the family horses when they were conscripted for use in the War of 1812.  It is said that James and his team were at the Battle of Stoney Creek.  It was around this time that he took an interest in becoming a Public Land Surveyor and started to attend school to qualify for this occupation.  He was 20 years old and teaching in the Lowville one room school house when he completed his studies.  The County Atlas pictured above shows the land as belonging to Cleaver PLS or Public Land Surveyor.  It was uncommon for a land owner’s occupation to appear on the map and perhaps James put this here himself.

The house was added onto at least once and it appears that there was certainly a need for it.  James married Angeline DeMond on November 3, 1827, and they had 7 children before she died in 1841.  James took Jane Watson as a second wife and had 11 more children with her.  Cleaver died March 30, 1890, leaving his land holdings to his sons. Instructions were given for the leasing of the Cleaver Grist Mill in Lowville with the money being divided among the seven living daughters.

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The stone that James used to build his house was taken from the property.  Larger pieces of dolomite were used for the front walls as an expression of the status and importance of the occupants.  The rear and side walls were made of smaller pieces of limestone.  The front walls had dolomite window sills and lintels while the back of the house had rough-hewn logs for the window framing.  The cover photo shows the front side of the house and the second story can be seen in the form of window sills along the top of the wall. The walls are about 20 inches thick with wood strips set into the inside of them to allow for the application of the inner wall coverings.  These can be seen in the picture above which looks at the front wall from the inside.  The door easily accommodated James’ six-foot two height.  The story circulates on the internet that the house burned down in the 1920’s but there appears to be no physical evidence of this. All of the wood framings are free of char marks that would indicate a fire.  The limestone pieces that have fallen down contain many interesting fossils including the crinoids in the sample pictured below.

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Following the trail will eventually bring you to Twelve Mile Creek, otherwise known as Bronte Creek near an old concrete and steel beam bridge.  The opposite side of the creek is clearly marked as no trespassing and the bridge claims to be under video surveillance. Both ends of the bridge are closed with steel gates.  Notice the large concrete culvert in the creek, just behind the bridge.

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The Cleaver Mill Pond has been drained but a concrete dam still remains in place, close to Guelph Line in Lowville.  The approach along the river follows a well-used trail that likely represents the old Clever laneway.  Once you cross over the dam you will find that you are on the wrong side of a no trespassing sign that blocks access from the road.

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The river portion of the River and Ruin Side Trail splits at one point to provide a winter and early spring trail called the High Water Trail that keeps you out of the mud and water along the side of the creek.  The Low Water Trail is more scenic and is the one to follow in the summer and autumn months.  When you get back to the point where the side trail connects with the main Bruce Trail you will find an elevated bridge that carries the Bruce Trail across Bronte Creek.

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There are several historic buildings in Lowville including the old grist mill, churches, and the pioneer cemetery.  Lowville Park stands just beside the old school house built in 1889 and pictured below.  This is a replacement for the school that Cleaver once taught in.

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The Bruce Trail and its side trails around Lowville make for an interesting outing and are close to several other great hikes including the following:

The Longhouse People Of Crawford Lake

Nassagaweya Canyon

Rattlesnake Point 

Mount Nemo

Kelso’s Kilns

Google Maps Link: Lowville

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Tiffany Falls

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Tiffany Falls is named after Doctor Oliver Tiffany who was the first medical doctor in an area that included Hamilton, Burlington, Ancaster, Guelph, and Galt.  Oliver was born in Massachusettes in 1763 and graduated from Philadelphia Medical College.  He came to Upper Canada in the 1790’s and settled in Ancaster in 1796.  There is a small paid parking lot on Wilson Street East where you can access both Tiffany Falls Trail and the Bruce Trail.  The main trail leads to the falls while a second one will take you to the remains of an old kiln.

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Doctor Tiffany was known to keep horses stabled around the countryside so that he could always have a fresh mount wherever he was in the case of an emergency.  For forty years he looked after the needs of the people in his vast community.  He kept a medical ledger where he recorded the services that he performed at each household. The doctor prescribed quinine for malaria and kept laudanum for pain.  The rest of his treatment tended to be naturopathic and compounded from things he grew in his herb garden.  His ledger records payment in the form of pumpkins or the mending of a pitchfork.  Four days worth of ploughing was given in exchange for the doctor’s services as well as whiskey, hay and oats.  Oliver Tiffany was so well loved that when he died on May 7th, 1835, the buggies of 600 people who attended the funeral made a historic traffic jam.  Tiffany Falls, as seen in the cover photo, is a ribbon falls 21 metres tall and 6 metres wide.  The various layers of the escarpment can be seen beside Tiffany Falls in the picture below.

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Across Wilson Street, The Bruce Trail continues to make its way toward Sherman Falls. The parking situation is poor at this second attraction and will possibly leave you with a ticket. Therefore, we suggest parking at Tiffany Falls and hiking to Sherman Falls.  The area around Ancaster was one of the earliest settled in Upper Canada and the land shows signs of many different uses over the years.  A set of old stairs leads up the side of the escarpment.

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Along the Bruce Trail between Tiffany Falls and Sherman Falls, there has been an extensive retaining wall installed.  The wall is made from local limestone blocks like many of the older buildings in Ancaster.

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Sherman Falls is 17 metres high and is classified as a terraced ribbon waterfall.  A ribbon waterfall is much taller than it is wide, in this case, only 8 metres.  Sherman Falls was featured as one of seven falls we visited on the coldest day in February 2016 in a post called Frozen Waterfalls of Ancaster.  This tributary of Ancaster Creek is spring fed and so the falls have a much more consistent flow of water than some of the other local ones. Sometimes known as Angel Falls or Fairy Falls it takes its name from Clifton Sherman who once owned the property and was the founder of Dominion Foundry and Steel Company (Dofasco).

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Google Maps Link:  Tiffany Falls

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Berry and Bruce to Borer’s

July 9, 2016

The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) obtained permission from King George V in 1930 to use “Royal” in their name.  Thomas Baker McQuesten who was an early environmentalist  created the gardens during the Great Depression as a make work project to provide work for unemployed men.  Since then the RGB has grown to include a series of properties that connect the Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario in a continuous greenbelt that includes the historic Cootes Paradise.  They have 2300 acres of environmentally sensitive lands that are home to two of Canada’s most endangered tree species, one of which is found only in the park. In 1941 they received a provincial mandate to develop a program that would focus on conservation, education, horticulture and science.  The RBG is a National Historic Site which encompasses much of the map below.

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One of the properties owned by the RGB is known as the Berry Tract.  After parking on Valley Road the Berry Tract is on the east side of the road.  In the 1877 County Atlas shown below the properties are owned by John Hayes and William Simpson.  These former pioneer land grants have been abandoned as farms and left to return to a more natural condition.  Notice that the land owners in the lower right corner are the Raspberry families.  They owned the properties adjacent to Cootes Paradise.

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Black Raspberries grow in abundance on the Berry Tract.  The ones in the picture below are starting to ripen and are only slightly smaller than usual.  Most of the berries seen on other bushes are small and dry.  A little rain at the right time might have made a big difference.

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The Thornapple Trail is a 3.4 kilometer loop that runs through the Berry Tract.  Near the start of the trail the boardwalk is being over run by wetland grasses.  The trail runs through a small orchard which was planted in the 1930’s.  Apple and pear trees were cultivated here until the 1960’s when the land was bought for conservation purposes.  The apples and pears attract white tailed deer in the fall who come to enjoy a piece of fresh fruit.

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The wild grapes are doing quite well as the picture below shows.  Canada Moonseed looks similar to wild grapes but has poisonous fruit.  Moonseed does not have the tendrils that grape vines use to climb.  Grape tendrils often grow opposite to a leaf and have a forked end.  Moonseed fruit has a moon shaped seed and leaves that attach to the stem just in from the edge unlike grape leaves that attach at the edge.  Another distinguishing feature of grapes is that the leaves taste like grapes.

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The Bruce Trail runs for 890 kilometers from Queenston to Tobermory but the idea originated with Raymond Lowes of Saskatchewan.  Ray moved to Hamilton where he became interested in the Hamilton Naturalists Club.  In the winter of 1959 he began to dream of a trail winding along the escarpment.  He proposed to the idea to famous artist Robert Bateman suggesting a trail from one end of the escarpment to the other.  On Sept. 23, 1960 the first Bruce Trail Committee meeting was held and by 1963 the trail was established with regional clubs obtaining landowner permission and building various sections.  The trail is named after Bruce County which it runs through as well as the Bruce Peninsula where it terminates.  Bruce County was named after James Bruce who was Governor General of the Province of Canada between 1847 and 1854.  Today the trail has annual visits numbering 400,000 and the Bruce Trail Association stewards over 5,000 acres of escarpment protecting it from development.  There are also over 400 kilometers of side trails marked with blue slashes.  Crossing Valley Road the Bruce Trail leads past several of the 100 waterfalls in the Hamilton Area.  There is a little cluster of five waterfalls near the trail.  Unfortunately Patterson East and West Cascade, Valley Falls and Upper and Lower Hopkins Cascade are all dry on this day.

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Another dry waterfall.  A trip in the spring when the meltwater has swollen the streams would show these waterfalls off at their best.

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On hot summer days the shade of the Bruce Trail can be a welcome relief to the direct sunlight.  The cover photo shows a set of stairs along the trail to Borer’s Falls.

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On April 9th we visited Borer’s Falls and at that time we climbed up from the bottom to see the Lower Borer’s falls as well.  John Borer owned the property with the falls on it at the time of the county atlas above.  The falls drop 15 meters over the side of the escarpment where it powered the Borer family sawmill for almost 100 years.  This sawmill supported the community of Rock Chapel.

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Goldenrod Gall Fly eggs were laid into the stems of the young plants during the two weeks that the adult fly lived.  Although called a fly it really doesn’t fly that well and mostly just walks up and down the stems of goldenrod plants.  In about 10 days the lava will hatch and begin to feast on the inside of the plant’s stock.  It’s saliva causes the plant to grow a large ball, or gall, in which the insect lives.  The gall fly can’t live without goldenrod and there are two species of wasps that rely on the goldenrod gall fly for their survival.  They seek out the galls and deposit their eggs into the gall.  When the wasp larva hatch they eat the gall fly larva which means that in effect there are three species fully reliant on the goldenrod for survival.

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This male white tailed deer, known as a buck, was standing along the trail near the little community of Rock Chapel.  In 1822 a small frame church was built there by the Episcopal Methodists. Later the Wesleyan Methodists took over and they built a new church in 1876 on Rock Chapel Road which is shown on the county atlas.

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Google Maps link: Berry Tract

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The Gap

Saturday Nov. 14, 2015

In 1962 a quarry blasted a huge gap in the Niagara Escarpment and set off a chain reaction that led to the escarpment being declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.  The gap in the escarpment can be seen from the 401 which is 3 km away.  We parked at the turn around loop on Dublin Line and made our way along a small trail that departs from the cul-de-sac.  It was 2 degrees but feeling like minus 2 as we started up the side of the escarpment.  We followed a trail that led between the moss covered boulders, seeking the Bruce Trail that runs along the top of the escarpment.

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The escarpment is over 700 km long and is full of valuable natural resources.  The area around Milton is important as a source of dolomitic limestone which is used in construction.  The location is critical because there is about 30 meters of good limestone very close to the surface. It is also close the the highway for transportation and the GTA which is the largest market in the country.  We needed to get to the top of the escarpment and found a natural gap in the rock where we were able to climb up.

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Even from before the creation of the gap there had been a movement to keep quarries under some tighter controls.  The Sixteen Mile Creek Conservation Authority was formed in 1956 and three years later they had acquired an 88 acre chunk of the escarpment to prevent quarry expansion. This would become Mount Nemo Conservation Area with Rattlesnake Point being created in 1961. Then, like a missing front tooth, came the visible scar of the gap.

From the top of the escarpment you can see the towers in the city.  The CN tower has been a landmark for 40 years but now, taking their place on the right of the tower, are the so called Marilyn Monroe towers in Mississauga.

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Concerned, Ontario Premier John Robarts commissioned a 1967 report on protecting the escarpment, the first of it’s kind.  In 1973 the government passed an act creating the Niagara Escarpment Commission which began to control development.  The Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment (CONE) was established in 1978 to make recommendations on preserving the escarpment.  Through their efforts the Niagara Escarpment Plan would be passed by the government in 1985.  In 1990 the Southern Ontario portion of the escarpment was designated a World Biosphere Reserve.

The processing plant can be seen from the highway, not only through the gap, but rising above the limestone cliffs to the east of it.  This processing plant was built in 1974 and the earlier one closed down.  It has since been removed and the site put into the rehabilitation plan.

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This large size cable spool had rolled down the side of the excavation berm and come to rest on the fence.  The steel fence post is about 2 feet shorter than the spool making it about 7 feet in diameter.  Made in Japan, this Canada Belt product contained 925 feet of cable on the spool. There were a lot of empty Texaco lubricant tin buckets, a Zenith washing machine, a lawnmower and other trash in the same area.

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In 1989 the Bruce Trail Association started a campaign to bridge the gap and connect their conservation lands on either side.  $150,000 was raised through donations to build the 40 metre bridge.  This allowed the trail to be relocated onto a better route.  The bridge was officially opened in May 1991.

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Over the years the quarry grew to take in larger and larger sections of the escarpment.  In 2006 they applied for and later received an extension to the licensed area of the quarry.

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Parts of the original quarry have now been put into a regeneration project.  There will be wetlands and wild life habitat created.  Every year since 1993 Scouts Canada has planted trees in the closed section of the quarry as part of their Earth Day celebrations.  In 2008 they planted their 100,000th tree.  Both forests and meadows are being created as well as lakes.  When we got back to the natural gap in the rock and had descended, we decided to make our way along the front face of the limestone cliff.  The large loose chunks hanging out over our heads and broken pieces under our feet were a constant reminder that they fall on a regular basis.

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We found this hardened lime at the bottom of the cliff in a couple of places.  It was drilled in several spots with little animal holes.

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Based on current mining rates it is expected that the Dufferin Quarry site will run out in about 25 years or less.  When the rehabilitation is complete over 400 ha of parkland will be handed over to the conservation authority creating one of the largest public land holdings in the entire GTA. The picture below was taken on November 1, 2015 during our Hilton Falls excursion.  It shows the quarry lake and the back of the processing plant.  The bridge across the gap is also seen in the distance in the centre of the picture.

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Part of the recent approval for expansion that was granted included the company dealing with the industrial scar of the gap.  In the short term they have planted as many trees as possible to screen the gap.  When the quarry closes they will implement a more permanent solution.  Filling the gap back in is one option but would restrict the animal traffic that now uses it. This could be overcome by creating a tunnel with fill on the top.  Building a new land form behind the gap to create the illusion of it being closed is yet another option being investigated.  A more creative idea includes building a terrace across the gap with trees planted on it.

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Many believe that it was the destruction of this small section of the escarpment that led directly to the creation of the NEC and ultimately to recognition by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization).

Google Maps: The Gap

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Hilton Falls

Sunday November 1, 2015

Hilton Falls makes a scenic 10 metre drop over the escarpment beside the ruins of a thrice abandoned saw mill. We decided to visit the falls and investigate a section of the escarpment we had never been through before. We parked on the sixth line at the parking lot for the Halton Regional Forest Britton Tract and set off on an extended hike to the falls.

The Britton Tract has been managed by Halton Region since 1952 and contains the Bruce Trail as well as several side trails.  The escarpment here is dolomite which can hold water in pools close to the surface providing a large amount of water in streams and wetlands.  It also leads to the growth of extensive amounts of moss on the rocks.  The trees don’t tolerate the wet conditions and many fall before they reach their full size giving the forest a youthful appearance.

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The autumn meadowhawk, as implied by it’s name, is seen in late summer or fall.   However, the name may suggest a bird rather than a dragonfly.  This dragonfly has relatively large eyes as compared to most members of the genus.  They feed on insects including the beloved mosquito and they themselves are eaten by fish.  Large Mouth Bass are known to catch them as they touch the water when the male and female are locked  in the process of mating.  It’s Latin name means “with rock” and refers to their habit of sunning themselves on the rocks along the shoreline of lakes and steams.

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Along the side of the blue trail we found a glacial pothole. These potholes generally are wider in the middle than either the top or bottom. Early concepts of their creation suggested that aboriginal people had carved them. Smaller ones supposedly being used for cooking. They are also called “Moulin Potholes” and are now believed to have been formed when water poured through a hole in a melting glacier and eroded the stone beneath. They range in diameter to over 25 feet and the one pictured below is about 15 feet deep.

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As we made our way through the woods we saw an old stone wall on the left of the path.  Stone fences were the easiest solution for disposing of rocks during the annual clearing of farmland. This particular tract of land was difficult to farm and the fields have been left to go wild again. Now the stone walls are running through the forest where once they would have divided fields.  Like other surfaces in the area the stone fence is covered with a thick layer of moss.

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The water in the wetlands is controlled by means of a modern sluice gate.  The pipe on the top houses the cylinder that presses a metal plate down to seal the flow of water.

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Following Sixteen Mile Creek we came to a place where the sunlight sparkled on the water as it vanished over the crest of a waterfall.

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In 1830 Henry Young gained title to lot 8 in the fifth concession.  He allowed Edward Hilton to build a saw mill in 1835 which Hilton operated until 1837.  This was when he decided to leave to fight in what came to be known as the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837.  The mill was left to rot and it appears Hilton didn’t return for about twenty years.  Hilton gave his name to the falls although he only operated a mill here for a short time.  Hilton Falls plunges over the escarpment and provided the power to turn the water wheel for the saw mill.

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In 1856 the site was purchased by Dr. George Hamilton Park who had the mill rebuilt.  He likely bought it under speculation and it was operated under several names until 1863 when it burned down.  It was rebuilt in 1867 and again was only run for a short time.  At the foot of the falls stand the remains of the water wheel housing from Dr. Park’s mill.  This cut stone structure supported a wood and iron wheel that was reported to be 40 feet in diameter.  Estimations of the site suggest that 26 feet was more likely the size.  The water was brought from a mill pond above the falls through a flume to the top of the wheel.  The stone arch provided an exit for the water after it turned the wheel.  The wheel housing and the mill were solid construction.  The saw mill was 30 feet wide, 50 feet long and stood 18 feet tall.  The wheel housing can be seen below as well as in relation to the falls in the cover photo.

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Along the way back we decided to take a brief trek along a side trail near the sluice gates. Here we discovered this small pond.  The white rock along the far shore of the pond is another large glacial pothole.

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Ontario’s crown forests cover almost two thirds of the province.  When almost all of the original tree cover was harvested in the first century of settlement the government set out a program to encourage reforestation.  Tax grants were made available to people who planted a portion of their land with forests.  The land in the escarpment was poor for farming and was often reforested with trees planted in straight rows as seen below.

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This small red oak tree has it’s bright red leaves shining in the fall sunlight.  This tree can grow very fast and in 10 years can reach up to 20 feet tall.  As noted earlier, the growing conditions here will likely cause it to die before it reaches it’s potential of 500 years old.

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The Niagara Escarpment was named a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1990. Development and land use are strictly controlled along the escarpment.  Mineral extraction is one of the permitted uses of the escarpment under tightly controlled conditions.  The Milton Quarry is across the street from where we parked and has filled up with water.  On the far side of this photograph is a white building.  Behind it a foot bridge carries the Bruce Trail across “The Gap” in the escarpment.  This gap can be seen from the 401 and was created in 1962 when the quarry was opened.  The trail over The Gap makes for a fun hike that I hope to repeat soon.

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Taking the scenic route it was 5.9 km to the falls but the more direct route back was only 4.26 km for a total hike of 10.25 km.  This is a lengthy hike but there is a shorter means to access the falls from Hilton Falls Conservation Area.

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