Tag Archives: Mississauga

Lakes Aquitaine and Wabukayne

Saturday May 14, 2016

Two man-made lakes hide among the mid-1970’s planned community of Meadowvale West. Lake Aquitaine and Lake Wabukayne form a beautiful green oasis in the middle of apartment buildings and townhouses.

On April 25, 1969 Markborough Properties Limited announced their plans to develop a 3,000 acre community that would include three levels of schools, a community centre, a major retail centre and a park with a lake.  A place where people could live, work, shop and play.  The new community in the Streetsville and Meadowvale area would provide the biggest growth in the history of the new city of Mississauga.  On Dec. 14, 1970 a tree was planted to mark the beginning of construction and to remind the contractors of the city in the country theme of the development.  In 1971 Streetsville Mayor, Hazel McCallion, presided over the opening of the information centre that started to sell the community. By 1973 Fletcher Switzer’s property had been developed for townhouses but the farms south of it were still clearly visible in aerial photographs.  By 1975 Isaac Wylie’s house had been removed and the section of the 5th line west coloured in yellow on the 1877 county atlas below had been closed and abandoned.


When the master plan was developed it was decided to include a large park with a man-made lake on it.  The former Isaac Wylie property was chosen because of the small creek that flowed just south of the apple orchards.  Excavation for the lake began in September 1976 and when completed in November 1977 a 41 acre piece of land had been transformed into a park. A 12 acre lake containing 37 million gallons of water had been created and it was surrounded by 28 acres of parkland.  A 1 acre settling pool was included to remove pollutants before local run-off water was released into the lake.  Lake Aquitaine is 460 feet wide and 1780 feet long and the depth of 14-16 feet is perfect for the 3,300 rainbow trout that were stocked in it.  Robins, Canada Geese and Mallard Ducks all have hatched their little ones around the lake.  This female Mallard has her brood of five new born ducklings and is going for a stroll along the boardwalk.


This archive photo shows the lake during construction looking north.  A spillway was created to act as an overflow to control the level of the lake by allowing water to flow over the top if it rose too high.


The picture below shows the Lake Aquitaine spillway as seen looking south today.  Notice how wetland grasses have taken over the sides of the lake.


The trail continues past the spillway and along the shore of the lake.  Here, a rather sickly looking raccoon was hanging around listlessly at the water’s edge.  It is rare to see one so skinny in an urban environment where they have access to plenty of food.  This animal likely has canine distemper which is the same disease that dogs can get.


Water flows over a small dam from the settling pond into Lake Aquitaine in the picture below.


The residents of Meadowvale West have the luxury of a set of six exercise stations known as the Lake Aquitaine Exercise Circuit.  These stations provide sets of exercise equipment spaced along the 1.4 kilometer trail that loops around the lake.  Other residents, like a lady with a purse full of  peanuts, walk the loop daily.  This particular lady has a name for each of the local squirrels and stops to chat with them and throw them a peanut.  As a result the local population is healthy and very friendly.


When Lake Aquitaine was nearing completion a massive landscaping project was initiated that included planting 1265 trees and over 15,000 shrubs.  130,000 square yards of sod were laid and the paved walkways were lined with benches and lanterns.  Over the last 40 years the park has taken on a more mature feel and there are places where the hillsides are covered with hundreds of small maple trees.  These will form the basis for a forest a couple of decades from now.


The Lake Wabukayne Trail runs south from Lake Aquitaine and forms a 4.9 km loop around the second lake.  The trail was laid out in 1976 when the sewage system was set up for the new development.  Mature pine trees now line the trail along one section and the one pictured below is leaking pine resin.  This material, when collected and lit, makes an excellent candle that can burn for hours.


The county atlas above shows that almost every farm in the area included a large orchard. Orchards are illustrated as rows of dots, usually near the larger square dot that represents the house.  Many apple trees remain in the parks and they are in blossom this weekend.


Lake Wabukayne is named after Chief Wabukanyne of the Eagle Clan of the Mississauga Natives who lived at the Credit River.  His name appears on the “First Purchase”, the treaty of 1805 which sold much of the GTA to the British Government, and translates as White Snow.  In 1829 Henry Cook settled on Lot 6.  The farm stayed in the family with Peter being the owner at the time of the atlas above.  In the 1940’s Cecil Cook built a dam across Wabukayne Creek to create a cattle pond on the property.  When the planned community of Erin Mills was built the pond was converted to serve as flood control and was renamed after the creek that feeds it.  It has since regenerated and is home to many species of wild life.  Wabukayne Creek flows into Mullet Creek and eventually over a secret set of waterfalls before making it to the Credit River.  The picture below shows the dam that controls the water level in Lake Wabukayne.


Lake Wabukayne includes a unique floating island.  This island provides a safe habitat for ducks and other wild life.  As well as providing protection from wind and wave erosion the roots from the floating plants also help to filter the lake.  The floating island can be seen in the picture below surrounded by a series of white buoys.


The Meadowvale Community Centre officially opened on Jan. 23, 1982 and would have made a great place to park for a hike around the two lakes except the parking lot is not accessible at the moment.  After 3 years of planning, the 30 year old community centre was shut down in July 2014 for extensive updates and expansions.  It is scheduled to re-open on Oct. 22, 2016.  Parking is scarce in the neighbourhood but some can be found at the Meadowvale Town Centre.  This retail mall was opened on Jan. 25th 1978 to serve the planned community.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 maintaining 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.


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.


Google maps link: Cawthra Estate

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Erindale Hydro Electric Dam

Sunday Oct. 19, 2014

Sunday morning was cold at only 2 degrees.  To access the parking lot at Erindale park you have to drive through a break in the wall of the old Erindale Dam.

In 1902 Erindale Light and Power Company was formed to construct an hydro electric generating plant on the Credit River at Erindale.  This large scale engineering project ran into several delays during construction and didn’t begin producing power until 1910.  A dam was constructed across the valley flooding it and creating the 125 acre Lake Erindale.  A power generating plant was built on the south end of town at the bottom of Proudfoot Street.  A tunnel was constructed to connect the two.  The power plant operated from 1910 until 1923 supplying power to Erindale and New Toronto. It was closed when Ontario Hydro began to supply the area with power from Niagara Falls.  In 1941 the lake was drained and the dam was blown up.  Between 1961 and 1965 the former lake bottom was used as a sanitary landfill.  It has since been covered over with clean soil and Erindale Park has been created.

From the top of the old dam the view across the old lake bed gives you a good impression of the size of dam and the lake it created.


Walking north along the east side of the river we came to this shopping cart which has obviously been standing in the river when the water was much higher.  The shiny coffee mug on top belongs to a clever angler who is fishing near by.


As you head upstream from the old dam there is a foot bridge that will allow you to cross over the river to explore the ruins of the dam on the other side.  This photo shows one of three old water control structures that are in the river above the dam.  There are six fishermen in this picture (how many can you see?) and the shopping cart.


When settlers first arrived the rivers around Toronto were filled with Atlantic Salmon.  Pollution, deforestation and the construction of dams resulted in their extermination within only a few decades.  In the 1960’s and 1970’s large numbers of Chinook salmon were stocked in the rivers. The eggs hatch in May from the gravel beds where they winter and and the fingerlings make their way out into lake Ontario.  They will die if they stay in the river until the water warms up. They spend four to eight years in the lake attaining a size of up to 40 pounds before they make their only spawning run.  Then they will migrate from the lake into the same river in which they were born.  It is estimated that 20,000 Chinook make the trip up the Credit River each fall.  After spawning they die and their carcasses litter the river providing easy pickings for the local birds. The fish in the picture below was a recent catch from one of the people fishing in the river.  It looked to be about 25 to 30 pounds.


The expression “busy as a bee” applies to this little creature.  Although the weather was too cold for most bees a few industrious ones were busy collecting pollen from late blooming Canada Thistles. This purple flower is coated with white pollen.  The bee is collecting it and storing it in the hair all over it’s body.  Bumble bees can’t fly unless their wing muscles are at least 30 degrees C.  On cold days such as this they beat their wings at the rate of 130 times a minute to raise their body temperature enough to take off.


The Bulrush or Cat-o-Nine tails grows in wetland areas.  There is a stand of them growing close to the base of the old dam.  Various parts of the plant can be eaten and were part of the native people’s diet.  This makes them valuable as an emergency source of food in a survival situation. Peeled stems or leaf bases can be eaten raw.  The roots need to be cooked and peeled but they also are edible.  The roots can also be used as a poultice for burns and wounds.  Care must be taken not to eat bulrushes that grow in polluted water as they are a bio-mediator which absorbs pollution.  Signs of contamination include a bitter or spicy taste.


At the foot of the dam on the west side of the river is a small mill race where the water is standing still.  The leaves floating on the water lend a sense of calm to the scene.  In the middle of the picture is a tire that appears to be standing on top of the water.  A close look at an enlarged photo shows the green neck of a male mallard duck which is having a bath just to the right of the tire.


St. Peter’s Anglican church stands on the hill top on the corner of Mississauga Road and Dundas Street.  The first building was opened in 1825.  It was replaced with this stone building in 1887. Roy Ivor, who ran the Winding Lane Bird Sanctuary across the street, is buried here.


The north entrance to the water tunnel is located in the woods at the end of the last parking lot. This stood at the edge of Lake Erindale and a pair of sluice gates was used to control the water flow into the tunnel at the bottom.  This structure is decayed badlly and has a small forest growing in the open area inside the mouth.


This photo was taken by holding the camera inside of the tunnel as it heads under Dundas street.  This is in effect the head race for the power mill.


The tunnel passes under Dundas Street just east of Proudfoot Street.  It then emerges just past the end of Proudfoot Street where the river doubles back on the edge of town.  The power generating plant stood here until it was removed in 1977.  The picture below shows the power station and the tail race where the water was returned to the river.