Tag Archives: emerald ash borer

Joshua Creek – The Emerald Ash Borer

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Joshua Valley Park has seen a lot of change over the course of the two centuries since Joshua Leach arrived.  Leach was just 21 when he arrived in the brand new town of York in 1897.  As a carpenter, he found plenty of work building many of the first homes in the town.  By 1822 Joshua had saved up enough money to buy 200 acres of land which he took possession of on the creek that would later bear his name.  Joshua built a home for his family and dammed the creek to power a saw mill and a thrashing mill.  These were located near where Maple Grove Arena stands today.

This hike follows Joshua Creek through three contiguous parks: Joshua Valley Park, Maple Grove Park and Dunvegan Park.  These parks run from Cornwall Road in the north all the way past Ford Drive to where we connected with the trail from last week’s story.  For convenience, we took advantage of the free parking at Maple Grove Arena which is about midway along the journey.  Cut lengths of ash tree logs were stacked in a pile at the side of the parking lot.  This was a hint of what we were about to find in the valley.  The forest is wide open now that all the ash trees have been removed.

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The emerald ash borer is a beetle that is native to Asia.  It was first seen in Ontario in June of 2002 near Windsor.  The beetle most likely entered Ontario from Detroit where it arrived in wood packaging from Asia.  The emerald ash borer is invasive as it meets both accepted criteria.  It is outside of its native habitat and threatens the environment, economy or society where it is invading.  The City of Oakville estimates that it has 45,000 ash trees and that most, if not all, will be destroyed by the beetle.  In Toronto, the situation is even worse with an estimated 860,000 ash trees in the city.  Every one of which will be destroyed if not treated with appropriate pesticides.  The picture below of an emerald ash borer was taken from Wikipedia.

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All ash trees in Ontario are susceptible to the attack of the emerald ash borer.  Our ash trees are named after colours and we have black, white, red, green and blue as the primary ones.  The female beetle will lay 60 to 90 eggs, individually, in the crevices in the bark.  The larva tunnel under the bark, eating curved galleries.  These galleries girdle the tree and prevent the flow of food and water from reaching the tree.  The larvae overwinter under the bark and pupate in the spring.  The adults spend their lives on the outside and must eat the leaves in order to reach reproductive maturity.  Looking at the ash trees that have been piled up you can easily find examples that are 50 years old.  The one pictured below appears to have 47 rings.

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After a tree has been assessed and found to be clean or in the early stages of infestation it can be treated in one of three ways.  Each of the pesticides is intended to target either the larva, adult or both.  The soil around a tree can be drenched with the insecticide which is carried throughout the tree by the vascular system.  This method won’t work if the tree has too much damage already and it is unable to spread water and nutrients throughout.  Another method of distributing the pesticide is to inject it into the tree.  Lastly, when the adults are newly hatched and are feeding on the leaves they can be sprayed directly, killing them before they can lay eggs. The cost of treating a tree can be estimated at about $10 per inch of diameter.  The picture below was taken last week near the mouth of Joshua Creek and shows a tree that is being treated for emerald ash borer.

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Other invasive species, like the honeysuckle, will prosper now that the canopy has been opened up and they won’t have the competition.  They are already present in the understory and can be seen because they are the first shrubs that get their leaves in the spring.

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A thin trail runs along the back of the houses on Duncan Road.  Old sets of stars can be found leading off of this trail and directly into a solid fence.  The row of trees that has been planted along here seems to be older than the trail which was constructed in 1983. Straight rows of trees often indicate old laneways or roads.

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This section of Joshua Creek has been protected from erosion by the use of gabion baskets filled with stones.  The creek is prone to flooding and when it does it runs brown with soil being carried downstream.  In several places, the creek has overrun the gabion baskets and they are no longer serving a purpose.

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At Cornwall Road we turned back, leaving the northern reaches for another time.  A small bridge crosses the creek just south of Maple Grove Arena and beyond here the ash tree removal is in full swing.  Heavy equipment stands among the trees and there are fresh piles of logs along the sides of the trail.  In many forests, these are being left behind as future habitat but they are being removed from this park system.

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Crews have preceded the cutting teams and have assessed each tree and coded them. Yellow slashes or dots mark trees that are to be removed.  Orange or red dots indicate that a tree is to be pruned.

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We found an area where there were a lot of clam or mussel shells.  The ones below are placed beside a golf ball to give the perspective of their size.

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The wheat market fell after the Crimean War and at the same time, England removed tariffs that protected Canadain suppliers.  The area around Oakville was hit hard and many farmers turned to fruit production. Orchards of apple, plum and cherry trees took over where fields of grain once grew.  In the 1940’s the creek was dammed to create a pond for irrigation of a large orchard that stretched from Royal Windsor Road, all the way to Lakeshore.  The earth and concrete wall still forms a bridge from Devon Road to Deer Run Avenue.  There are two open spillways and a round culvert.  The culvert had a sluice gate on the front end to allow for control of the water level.  The cover photo shows the culvert from the upstream side.  Two spillways and the culvert can be seen in the picture below.  The spillways are about eight feet tall while the culvert is about ten.

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The forest was alive with birds and one particular area was full of woodpeckers.  Both Hairy and the smaller look-a-like Downey woodpeckers were moving through the trees. This female Hairy woodpecker stopped on the side of the tree to do a little preening of its feathers.

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The Joshua’s Creek Trail runs for 6 kilometres and is part of the Oakville Heritage Trails. The northern reaches of the creek still require exploration.

Last week we explored the mouth of Joshua Creek and that post can be found here.

Google Maps Link: Maple Grove Arena

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Lotten – Cawthra Estate Mississauga

Sunday Jan. 31, 2016

York (Toronto) was just ten years old in 1803 when Joseph Cawthra emigrated from Yorkshire in England.  He was granted 400 acres of land extending north from Lake Ontario.  Cawthra raised nine children and soon found that farming wasn’t for him so he moved to York where he established an apothecary and then a general store.  They built houses at King and Sherbourne and later at King and Bay.  The land grant was broken up when the lake front portion was given to Mabel Cawthra and her husband Agar Adamson for a wedding gift.  The Adamson Estate was featured in a previous post.

In 1926 Grace Cawthra-Elliot and her husband Colonel Harry Cawthra Elliot built a new home on the family property near Port Credit using bricks covered with plaster.  The old dirt road that accessed the home has since been named Cawthra Road and widened to 6 lanes in places.  The home was built to remind them of the families roots in England in a style known as Georgian Revivalist.  The house is five bays long designed symmetrically around the centre door.  Each window has twelve over twelve double hung sash windows. They feature plain lintels above each window and plain lugsills below.  At two and one half stories the upper floor has quarter round gable windows with radiating muntins.  Some say it also has the ghost of a servant who can be seen looking out the quarter round windows at Cawthra Road.

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The house was designed to make a statement with the front door where the symmetry continues down to the centre line.  Four pilasters support a simple entablature above the doorway.  Side lights mounted on either side of the door are made of wrought iron as are the shutter hinges and closures.

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The front of the house featured a extensive lawn with landscaped gardens along either side.  The gardens were accessed by three sets of steps which today lead into the new growth of trees which have taken over the property.

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The Cawthras had a swimming pool dug in the front yard, at the end of the south gardens. The swimming pool was filled with water collected on the property and at one time was much larger than the remnant that lies behind the chain link fence.  The two steps that can be seen in the picture below would have been under water in the 1930’s when the pool was one of only a couple in Mississauga.  We previously featured pictures of Mississauga’s first swimming pool, constructed in 1918, in our story on Riverwood Estate.

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The north side of the house also featured extensive gardens.  A wide lawn stood between the house and the family’s prized rose gardens.  Their orchard was at the end of the rose gardens and provided a quiet place for Grace and Harry to sit and quietly enjoy their country home.  The picture below shows the rose bushes whose green leaves provide a welcome change from the usual browns of mid-winter.

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The north gardens were flanked by a row of pine trees on either side.  This row of trees is clearly visible from Cawthra Road as you drive by, once you know where to look for it.

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The Cawthras built themselves a walled garden where they could grow flowers and vegetables and keep them protected from the local rabbits and deer.  The wall was three bricks thick and stood over 8 feet tall.  They featured arched entrance ways and, like the house,  were built with bricks brought from Yeadon Hall, the family home at College and St. George in Toronto.

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The property was legally known as lot 10 in the original survey and so they called it Cawthra Lotten.  The house can be seen behind the gate post.  Joseph recieved the grant in 1804 and by 1808 he had completed the requirements to take full possession of the property.  These requirements normally included the clearing and fencing of a few acres, the construction of a small house and the clearing and maintaing the road allowance along the sides of the property.  The house was added in 1926 and Grace lived here from then until she passed away in 1974.  The city of Mississauga purchased the property at that time and operates it as a limited use park because it contains specimens of Jefferson salamanders.  They are one of the salamander species considered most at risk in Ontario. Fences are in place to keep people from disturbing their habitat.  We have previously featured pictures of the eastern red-backed salamander, one at least risk, in our Vandalized Memorial post.

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Having parked at the end of 9th street we made our way through the woods that cover the former lawns of the estate.  The forest floor is littered with the trunks of ash trees that were recently cut down.  Most of the ash trees in southern Ontario will be killed by the Emerald Ash Borer.  This insect will have completed it’s devastation by 2017 having killed 99% of the 860,000 ash trees in Toronto alone.  The city of Mississauga is in a similar situation and is actively removing ash trees and replacing them with other native trees. The picture below shows the remains of ash trees lying on the ground among the pink ribbons of the newly planted replacement trees.

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Google maps link: Cawthra Estate

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