Tag Archives: Sixteen Hollow

Hiking The GTA – A 2015 Monthly Review

January 1, 2016

Hiking the GTA was able to visit 86 different places in 2015 where we were able to see some truly amazing things.  Each season has it’s own beauty and there are always things to be discovered. Over the course of the year more people became aware of the stories we were publishing and readership increased dramatically.  Therefore a David Letterman “Top Ten” list would really only focus on the more recent stories.  For that reason we present a review of the year 2015 by looking at the most popular post from each month.  A brief outline of the story, a picture from it and a link are provided below.  Thanks to everyone who read one of our stories this past year.  I hope some of you were able to get out and enjoy some of these sites yourself because they are all interesting in their own way.  Plus, you never know what wild life you’ll encounter.

Graydon Hall was released on January 10th.  It visits a former millionaire’s estate finding plenty of evidence of it’s past usage.  The abandoned pump houses featured below are part of the former irrigation system.

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The Arsenal Lands was released on Feb. 7th.  The abandoned water tower and rifle inspection building along with the former rifle range made this an interesting hike.  One of the baffles from the rifle range is featured below.

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Military Burying Grounds was published on March 22 and re-posted for Remembrance Day. This hike visits the two nearly forgotten places where our early military dead are buried in downtown Toronto.

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Originally published on April 19th and recently given a Throwback Thursday release Guildwood Park where the inn is currently being restored.  The post looks at the Guild Inn and it’s history along with several preserved pieces of early Toronto architecture.

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May saw the release of Dufferin Creek which featured the remains of a 150 year old plank road that ran up Dufferin Street near Finch Avenue.  It is related to Garbage Park which was a post featured in The Toronto Star.  The spikes in the planks from the old road are 2 inches thick and 3 feet long.

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The first day of summer saw the release of our most popular post of all time.  The Newmarket Ghost Canal features the remains of the nearly completed but long abandoned attempt to link Newmarket to Lake Simcoe by a canal.

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In July we completed our first 100 posts on Hiking the GTA and issued a review called Greatest Treks.  One of the most interesting hikes of the month was The Stonecutter’s Dam.  We visited an old dam near the Forks of the Credit which is made of blocks of cut stone.  It also sports a rare stone penstock as seen below.

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On August 15th we checked out Kerosene Castle in Oakville.  The castle was built by Richard Shaw who was refining coal into kerosene in a factory across the street on Sixteen Mile Creek. Until it blew up, that is!  When we got looking at the pictures we saw that one of them appears to have a large face in the oriel window.  It doesn’t show up in any other pictures we took that day.

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September 12th we visited the Ghost Town of Sixteen Hollow to see what remains of the formerly thriving mill village on Sixteen Mile Creek.  There is plenty of history here but all that remains of the original village is the church and the some newer bridge structures.

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October featured a discovery related to the Caledon Aerial Tramway which made for an interesting hike.  On the 24th we found the 2 inch steel cable on The Cox Property. The underground chamber for the cable is seen below.

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in 1962 a quarry blasted a gap in the escarpment near Milton.  We visited The Gap on Nov. 14th in a hike that went on to become the second most popular story so far.

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December was a busy time but it was an interesting month of hiking as well.  We were back in Oakville on Sixteen Mile Creek on Dec. 13th when we visited The Vandalized Memorial to Taras Shevchenko.  The museum was burned down, the monuments stolen and the site abandoned.

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Thanks again for reading Hiking the GTA in 2015 and we hope you all have a great 2016 and enjoy the trails!  We’re looking forward to many great hikes this year ourselves.

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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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