Tag Archives: Red Breasted Grosbeak

Hiking the GTA #100 – Amazing Animals

April 28, 2014 to July 18, 2015

Presented below is a gallery of animal pictures taken during the first 100 hikes on the Hiking the GTA adventure.

On July 21, 2015 I published my 100th post in this blog under the title Hiking the GTA #100 – Greatest Treks.  That post looked back at the creation of Hiking the GTA and listed the top 15 hikes as determined by activity on WordPress.  This post presents some of the amazing animals that we encountered along the way.  By hiking quietly and keeping off of the beaten path you have the opportunity to come face to face with some of the wide variety of wildlife we share our parks with.  Most of the animals are more afraid of you than you are of them and will disappear quickly.  In reality some of the plants in our parks are more dangerous than the wildlife.  The following pictures are in the order in which I took them except that I saved my personal favourite for last.  Links to the related articles are provided where additional descriptions of the animals are presented.

This White Tail Deer buck was following me through the woods along Wilket Creek on June 22, 2014.  This was the only creature I saw all year that made me nervous as I’m usually the one doing the following.


The little baby Cross Orb Weaver spiders in this picture are just hatching and look like grains of pepper leaving the egg sac.  The mother spider had previously brought a Daddy Long Legs spider into the web to provide a breakfast to the hatchlings.  Seen near Middle Road Bridge on Aug. 16, 2014


This Red Tailed Hawk was feasting near Barbertown on Aug. 23, 2014.


Also seen in Barbertown was this Dekay’s Brown Snake on Aug. 23, 2014


The Monarch Butterfly below was seen at the forks of the Don on Sept. 14, 2014.


Spadina House has it’s own resident fox as photographed on Dec. 21, 2014.

Spadina 74

This Snowy Owl was seen at the Adamson Estate on Jan. 24, 2015


This coyote was photographed in West Deane Park on Jan. 31, 2015


The beaver in this picture was seen in Etobicoke Valley Park on Feb. 28, 2015


This White Egret was fishing near the dam at The Old Mill on May 10, 2015.


The Red Breasted Grosbeak below was photographed in Norval on May 16, 2015.


This Trumpeter Swan, complete with tracking tag, was seen at the mouth of the Credit River and featured in The Ridgetown – Port Credit on May 23, 2015.


This Black-crowned Night Heron was published in The Forks of the Credit – The Stone Cutter’s Dam on July 18, 2015.  Unlike the Great Blue Heron in the cover photo it does not have long legs and neck.


Hiding in plain sight in the picture below is a new born White Tail Deer Fawn.  This is my favourite picture of the past year and was taken near the Barber Paper Mills on June 6, 2015.


This is just a sample of the some of the amazing animals we saw on our journeys in the first 100 hikes in this blog.  Many others were featured and many more will yet be photographed on future hikes.

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Norval on the Credit

Saturday May 16, 2015

Seventeen degrees under mostly cloudy skies but as the cover photo shows, when the sun came out it was a beautiful day.  Earlier in the spring we had made several visits to the Credit River, working our way north.  The next set of mills north on the river were at Norval on the Credit, now known simply as Norval.

In 1818 the natives ceded the last piece of riverfront for use by settlers.  The earliest pioneer in Norval was Alexander McNab, a loyalist who arrived in 1820.  His brother, James, was a veteran of the War of 1812.  James built grist and saw mills on the Credit.  The village was known as McNabville or McNab’s Mills until the post office opened in 1838 when the name was changed to Norval.  The village grew because it was a transportation hub and a main stage coach stop along the route from Toronto to Guelph.  It had several hotels, the usual blacksmith and carriage shops plus less frequent industries like broom makers and an ashery.  The photo below from 1910 shows the flour mill, grist mill and cooperage (where the barrels were made for shipping the flour).  We parked on the side of Adamson Street North looking out over the Credit River and the former mill pond, which can be seen in the cover photo.


Where Winston Churchill Blvd runs through Norval it is called Adamson Street after General Peter Adamson who bought the mills in 1838.  In 1845 Gooderham & Worts expanded their interests by purchasing the mills in Norval.  They acquired other mills along the Credit River including both Alpha Mills and Silverthorne Grist Mill in 1860. As you walk along you can see the east end of the Norval dam through the barbed wire fence. The picture below shows the hand wheel and gears that opened and closed the gates to control the water level in the mill pond.


The current bridge over the Credit on Adamson Street was opened in 1989 and replaced a wrought iron bridge from the 1880’s.  From this bridge we spotted the Red Breasted Grosbeak in the picture below.  Only the male has the bright red splash on the chest.


The original McNab house was built on the west side of the river, below the dam.  When Adamson took over the mill he put an addition on the house.  Today you can walk through the spot where the house had been without seeing a trace.  The Norval dam is seen pictured below from the west side of the river.  The cement construction indicates that this replacement dam was built in the 1900’s.  Earlier wooden dams were rebuilt on a regular basis as they didn’t last through severe floods.  The sluice gates stand on the left (east end) of the dam.  A fish ladder runs up the west side of the dam and the area near it is a fish sanctuary.


The sluice gates as seen from the west side of the river.  The steel wheels and rods that lifted the gates can be seen on the top of each one.  The sluice gates have trapped a significant amount of trees and branches that are building up behind them now that it is no longer kept clear.


The head race ran across Adamson Street and over to the mills which stood where McNab Park is today.  The flour mill burned down in 1930 and the grist mill was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel in 1954.  With the mills out of use, in 1961 the head and tail race were filled in and two of ten bridges in town were eliminated.  The remains of the mill foundations were removed when highway 7 was expanded in 1972.  From Mcnab Park you can see the foundations for an earlier bridge on the east side of the Credit.  With the arrival of the Guelph Plank Road in 1851, the Grand Trunk Railway in 1856 and the Toronto-Guelph Suburban Railway, Norval and it’s mills prospered.


Fiddleheads are very tasty when fried in butter.  They contain antioxidants and are high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  They are harvested when the young fern tips are still tightly curled. Unfortunately, this field has opened up a little too much.  We were probably three days too late to enjoy this year’s crop.


The Presbyterian congregation was the first to erect a frame church in town some time around 1838.  They replaced it with a brick church in 1878 and added the parsonage to the rear of the church in 1888.  In 1925 when many Presbyterian churches joined the newly formed United Church the Norval Presbyterian church elected not to join.  Lucy Maude Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, lived in the parsonage from 1926 until 1935 while her husband was pastor of the church.  During this time she wrote 5 of her 20 novels.  The church is seen in the picture below with the parsonage to the left.


The Weslyan congregation built a frame church in 1850 and replaced it with a new building in 1889.  Rather than the usual date stone the Weslyan congregation chose to date their building in the stained glass so that it can be read from inside the church and is in reverse from the street.  The Weslyans elected to join the United Church and today the Seventh Day Adventist congregation shares the building with the United Church.


The only congregation remaining in it’s original church building is the Anglican Church.  Their building was erected in 1846.



The carriage maker’s shop can usually be identified by the second story door used to dry painted parts.  We saw plenty of deer tracks but had to settle for the deer on the door of this building as our only sighting.


Perhaps this is a locally made carriage.


Norval is a village that is full of historic buildings and bridge foundations.

Google Maps link: Norval

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