Cold Creek Conservation Area is now open weekdays during the winter from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. King Township Parks & Recreation staff are on hand, at the visitors centre to rent out cross-country ski equipment (skis, poles and boots) and snowshoe equipment. Signage and trail markings have improved greatly over the years and trails are easy to follow. Cold Creek is located on the east side of 11th Concession, halfway between the 15th and 16th Sideroads. The main gate is usually closed on weekends but hikers and skiers can park at the main gate and access the grounds from there. Often, private and public functions take place on weekends and the public can access the area's interior for parking and activities. Pictured below is one of Cold Creek's three ponds. Photos by Barry Wallace
King Township residents could be forgiven if they were to be blindfolded and plunked down in parts of the villages where new housing construction looms over the landscape, and did not know where they were. Such is the expanse of the new subdivisions. Even the historic hamlet of Kettleby, with its main street that appears more 19th than 21st century, will soon have new housing on its its south-eastern flank. While Schomberg, Nobleton and King City will absorb their new streetscapes without much visual dis-connect, Kettleby's unique 'Brigadoon'-like existence may be comprised beyond repair.
In the blog previous I mentioned that I would recount the tale of Niagara Falls that appears in the 1844 book entitled THE WORLD AND ITS WONDERS. The book belonged to my wife's great-grandmother Elizabeth Glass who lived on a farm at Strange, in King Township, in the 19th and 20th centuries. The 11th chapter of the old book is entitled The Falls of Niagara. It starts by describing in inspiring terms, the upper Great Lakes of the early 1800s and their funnelling into the eastern end of Lake Erie and thunderous plunge over Niagara Falls, then regarded as one of the great wonders of the world. It quickly turns to a major issue of the day: the turmoil in Upper Canada surrounding the oppressive British government. The insurgents, headed by William Lyon Mackenzie, obtained possession of Nancy Island, which was situated about five miles above Niagara Falls. They fortified it and stockpiled it with weaponry provided by American sympathizers. The arms were destined for a rebellion against the government. The steamboat Caroline was an important supply vessel for the plan. However, forces loyal to the Upper Canada government made a surprise, night-time raid on the Caroline, at Buffalo. She was cast adrift, fully loaded, in the Niagara River and made her fateful journey downstream. It is described, in part, in the book thusly:
"Now broadside to the stream, she glided on, distinct in the still moonlight - then, whirled round by some eddy, her course was stayed, as if in a convulsive struggle to escape - then, on again, faster and faster yet.....she rushed madly into the rapids that precede the fatal plunge.....as she neared Goat Island, midway in the stream, at the very verge of the cataract, she glided into the fearful torrent's smoothness ere it leap below.....one moment more, and the fatal plunge is taken into the dark abyss; and then struggling and whirling from the chaos of waters - planks and beams splintered, and torn, and broke, are all that remain of the Caroline.
The wonderful etching above dramatically captures the Caroline's helpless plunge. It has probably not been seen by anyone in King Township for a very long time, save for those few who might, like my wife, have inherited copy of the ancient book. Below is another depiction which is readily available on the internet. While it wasn't regarded as such at the time, the end of the Caroline was a foreshadowing of the failed Mackenzie Rebellion, which sealed the sad fate of Mackenzie's main supporters, such as Jesse Lloyd of Lloydtown, in King Township, who died as an exile, far from home, in Pennsylvania, a year after the failed rebellion.
My wife Linda's great-grandmother, Elizabeth Lockwood, was born at Creeting St. Peter, in Suffolk, England, on January 21, 1842. She married Daniel Glass on June 18, 1863, in Toronto, Ontario. At the age of 97, she died on the Glass home farm, just south of the hamlet of Strange, on King Township's 6th Concession. She was known far and wide as "King's Grand Old Lady" One of her personal possessions that has survived to this day is a small book, published in London in 1844, entitled THE WORLD AND ITS WONDERS. It has 15 chapters and each chapter tells of the wonders of special places in the world, in the first half of the 19th century. Chapter 11 is entitled The Falls of Niagara. I will tell the story of Niagara Falls, in this chapter, on another occasion in the near future. On this occasion, I want to reprint the part of Chapter 11 that tells of the incredible, shrinking Lake Erie. It follows herewith...
"The three higher lakes - Superior, Michigan, and Huron, together cover an extent of fifty-eight thousand square miles, and their average depth is about nine hundred feet. Erie, which forms the next outlet towards the sea, is much shallower; its mean depth being only one hundred and twenty feet, and this depth has been gradually decreasing; so that it is almost certain, that in the course of years, what is now the basin of the lake will be filled up, presenting, instead of its present broad sheet of water, a fertile alluvial plain, watered by the St. Lawrence and its tributary rivers, which would then connect the lakes between Huron and Ontario by a stream of between two hundred and three hundred miles in length".
It is now almost 170 years since this amazing supposition was made, with no credit of scientific fact. We all know that Lake Erie is today as it was then. According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which has been tracking Lake Erie's levels for over 150 years, water depth has averaged 210 feet and has never fluctuated more than 6 feet in depth in a century and a half. The most recent figures show that lake Erie has rebounded to at or above average levels. Moreover, Great Lakes water levels are now controlled my modern man with canals and locks and dams.
The East Humber River churns beneath one of the three wooden bridges on the grounds of the Kingsbridge Centre, on Jane Street, south of the hamlet of Kinghorn.
Large Cedars and Creek Willows tower above the deep river valley, through which the East Humber flows. It is now late January and the river is flowing free of ice, from bank to bank. Mild weather has kept the Humber ice-free on its journey across all of southern King Township, so far this winter.
Above, the mild, open winter and unfrozen river have allowed beaver to come out of their dens for fresh supplies of young saplings. Water-lilies are the beaver's favourite food, but in winter, birch, poplar and willow trees are stored and eaten. Below, snow flurries engulf a group of Kingsbridge conference participants preparing to test the archery skills.
The Laskay Emporium is pictured above, around 1950, and shows two of the general store's former owners and operators making some sign adjustments. On the left is Robert Arbuckle who bought the store in 1949 from Charlie Black, on the right. The Laskay Emporium lives on at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto. 2012 is the 167th year of its historic existence.
A wood stove was a feature of the Laskay Emporium for over a hundred years and was still in use when this photo was taken in the 1950s. Rubber boots hang overhead and huge jars and packaged goods sit on the counter. Lower down, on the corner of the counter is a bottle opener and a can suspended below to catch pop bottle caps. The pop cooler was located just behind the stove. On the wall in the background was the wall-mounted, hand-crank telephone above a sloped counter and in front of that a large, hand-hewn, wooden chopping block.
Advertising signs were as ubiquitous in the 1950s, as they are today. In this picture, signs can be seen for Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Canada Dry and Orange Crush. For this writer, Orange Crush was always my 'pop' of choice when I visited the store in the late 50s. I always got a hunk of cheddar cheese to go with my drink. The huge wheel of cheese was kept under a glass bell jar, on the chopping block.
These photographs belong to Betty (Arbuckle) Dew, of King City. Her father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Arbuckle, were the last owners/operators of the Laskay Emporium. In its final years of private ownership the Laskay Emporium had lost its grandiloquent moniker and was known more simply as Arbuckle's Store. They donated the building in 1960 to the Dalziel Pioneer Village, today known as Black Creek Pioneer Village. Betty Dew has recently made these photographs and other materials available to the King Township Archives and to the King Township Library's Timeless King Online website. Owners and proprietors of Laskay Emporium, over the years, included:
1845 - 1856 - Joseph Baldwin
1856 - 1882 - Henry Baldwin
1882 - 1887 - Unknown
1887 - 1920 - George Teasdale
1920 - 1932 - Wilfred (or Wilbert) McCallum
1932 - 1949 - Charlie Black
1949 - 1960 - Robert Arbuckle
1960 - 2012 - Toronto Region Conservation Authority
Photo by Barry Wallace
The preserved Laskay Emporium know welcomes visitors and history buffs at Black Creek Pioneer Village.
This section of the Oak Ridges Trail is on the east side of King Township's 10th Concession, between the 17th and 18th Sideroads, south-west of Schomberg. Alternating low and higher temperatures, well into January, have left patches of open water and unsafe ice in several spots, but this trail is a delight to walk along.
This new King Brewery vehicle has been on the road now for about six months. I photographed it at the brewery's plant in Nobleton where I spotted it for the first time a few days ago. It certainly seems to enhance the brewery's image as a high quality beer maker and importer. In its 10-year history the brewery has won its fair share of awards for its products. It was just over a year ago that the King Brewery was purchased by Beer Barons. Phil DiFonzo, the founder of the brewery, has remained in his role as brew-master. The company now also imports premium European brews. Go to www.beerbarons.ca for more info.
barn n. Middle English (probably about 1200), developed from Old English (about 950) berern, literally, barley house.
In this world of newfangled building materials, let us celebrate the return of the wooden barn to our countryside. For many decades wooden barns have been an endangered species... vanishing landmarks. But as evidenced by the photos above, their relegation to historical footnotes appears to be reversing somewhat by these new, old barns. They seem to be part of a nascent trend hereabouts and worthy of our encouragement. In the 1972 book The Barn, architect Bill Lacy says, in the foreward: "...man naturally knows how to build good and true buildings". That natural talent is definitely expressed in simple, functional and serene designs, such as the 'shed roof' pictured at top, fast-forwarded into the 21st century with the addition of solar panels. May the trend continue.
The Shur-Gain feed mill in Schomberg always seemed to occupy a solitary site on Hwy. 9, at the top end of Main St., but now appears from some angles to be swallowed up by the village's newest housing subdivision on the south-west corner of Hwys. 27 & 9. The view above clearing shows the startling juxtaposition of the old and new.
The Ontario Power Authority's York Energy Centre, also known as the 'Peaker Plant' is nearing completion, at Ansnorveldt in the Holland Marsh, in north-east King Township. Despite a massive community protest about the Peaker Plant's location, the province prevailed. The location makes sense from a logistical standpoint, given that four major electrical power lines intersect immediately south of the Peaker Plant's location, and Hydro One's Holland Transformer Station is immediately south of those lines. It seems sensible to congregate all these utilities in the same area. Not many, including me, now argue that the new plant is not needed. But today, as I walked the Cawthra-Mulock Trail and hiked beneath the myriad of towers and wires that rise above the western end of the trail, there was not a bird to be seen or heard. It was deathly quiet. Not even the ubiquitous Chickadee was present. I hike all over King Township pursuing my birdwatching hobby. I have also walked the Cawthra-Mulock Trail many times, in all seasons. The trail and fields beneath the towers there are always short of bird-song. It's almost unique in the township. Is there a connection? What other explanation could there be? Please comment if you wish. BtheB
Pictured above is a section of the University of Toronto's Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hillin King Township. The knoll, top-centre, is the site originally called Jokers Hill. Below, another view.
Photos by Barry Wallace
Pictured above is the view from atop Jokers Hill looking westward across the Oak Ridges Moraine.
Jokers Hill Farm was the name of a huge country estate atop the King Ridge and straddling Dufferin Street, north of the 19th Sideroad in King Township. According to the UofT's KSR website, the lands that include Jokers Hill were originally assembled by Colonel R. S. McLauglin, founder of the Canadian arm of General Motors. In 1952 he gave the estate to his daughter Billie and her husband, Major-General Churchill Mann. The couple were great horse people and according to legend, Billie Mann's favourite horse, Joker, liked to escape and climb to one of the highest points on the property (that's it, pictured above). The spot commands an outstanding view of the western Oak Ridges Moraine. On one of their retrieval journeys up the height of land, Billie Mann said to her husband: "Church, you must build me a house right here and we will call it 'Joker's Hill'. " The entire sprawling estate became known as Jokers Hill (minus the apostrophe), and many years later was owned by Murray and Marvelle Koffler (Shoppers Drug Mart). The Kofflers gifted Jokers Hill to the University of Toronto in 1995. Today the scientific research facilities at Jokers Hill are world-class. Moreover, the legend of Joker and his hill continues. Please comment if you wish. BtheB
The historic Crawford Wells General Store, on Keele Street in King City, was built about 1863.
After almost 150 years it ceased to operate as a general store last year, but has just reopened as a presentation gallery and sales office for one of the new King City housing developments that are dramatically changing the appearance of the village. Apparently, the old Crawford Wells sign has been stored away and may be available for a new life, once the 'King Station' housing developer vacates the building. Many villagers are eagerly anticipating the next reincarnation of this venerable landmark.
This guardian burro, on the King-Vaughan Townline between Keele and Jane Streets, is usually very dutiful and is always standing at attention when I see it, but it seems to have decided that there was no threat to its horses on this very cold morning, with the thermometer reading -16C. It seemed determined to ignore me until I stepped on some snow and ice and noisily slid into the steep roadside ditch. That made its ears perk up as he turned to give me a requisite glance.
Residents of King City are getting used to that fact that an honest-to-goodness, towering, first-ever, 4-storey building is being built on the village's western edge. The village has never known anything of this immensity before. But a year from now, some of those 'incredualists' may very well be living in this latest entry into the new-housing tsunami that has struck our quiet little burgh. King City will burgeon from 6,000 to 12,000 inhabitants in just a couple of years. God help us all.
If your going to heat your home with wood, during a Canadian winter, you had better know a thing or two about stacking firewood. Whoever dwells at this Keele Street home, in King City, certainly brings some orderliness and imagination to the task at hand. You have to really admire that layered carousel with the turreted cap, in the foreground. Well done, buddy.
Way ahead of schedule, the Holland Marsh canal relocation continues to benefit from what has been, up until now, a mild 2011/12 winter. One has to wonder how many residents of King Township, particularly those who seldom visit the northern areas, really have an idea of the scope of the project. When completed, the 'Marsh' (also known as Ontario's Vegetable Patch or Salad Bowl) will be able to withstand a 50-year storm event, provide enhanced drainage capabilities and make roads safer. Several drowning deaths have occurred over the years as vehicles have plunged off unprotected roads into the adjoining canals. In all, 28 kms. of canal will be either mostly and fully relocated, or widened and deepened with enhanced guard-rail protection. In addition to the $26 million canal costs, there is an additional $57 million in municipal and provincial expenditures on roads, highways and bridges. Moving this canal is truly an impressive example of engineering and execution. It is the largest drainage project in Ontario being done under the Drainage Act. Despite all the activity, the 'Marsh' continues to be a great spot for birdwatchers (like me) to spot Snowy Owls and hawks in the winter and lots of herons and waterfowl in the summer.