Lake Simcoe and Simcoe Day

 Nothing beats the lake in the summer, and spending time at the cottage on Lake Simcoe is about the way to spend Simcoe Day in Canada.

I didn't know much about Simcoe or what we were celebrating, so had a read to find out more.

The Civic Holiday of Simcoe Day is on Monday, August 4 and many Canadians are looking forward to a mid-summer long weekend.   I had to come home early for work, but the holiday goes by different names in other provinces and even in different cities in Ontario.

In Toronto,  it is known as Simcoe Day, named in honour of Maj.-Gen. John Graves Simcoe, the founder of York (later known as Toronto) and the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada.  Toronto City Council designated the first Monday in August as Simcoe Day in 1968.

In Ontario, the day is referred to as Emancipation Day, marking the end of slavery in the British Empire. Across the province it is known as the following: Colonel By Day in Ottawa, Joseph Brant Day in Burlington, and John Galt Day in Guelph.

Outside of the province, the holiday is known as as Natal Day in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Regatta Day in Newfoundland, and British Columbia Day in British Columbia.

Many Canadians have the day off to celebrate the second long weekend of the summer. But why do some get the day off and others don’t?

The day is not an official statutory holiday in Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia, but rather a public one, so some provincial workers don’t necessarily get the day off. However, it is a statutory holiday in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, and Nunavut.

Since Civic Day is not considered an official statutory holiday in Ontario, businesses are not required to close on Monday under the provincial Retail Business Holidays Act and may open at the discretion of the municipality.

So Who was John Graves Simcoe?

A portrait of John Graves Simcoe, painted by Jean-Laurent Mosnier in 1971. SOURCE: Toronto Public Library

John Graves Simcoe was born in Cotterstock, England, on Feb. 25, 1752.
Simcoe was appointed the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada in 1791 after the province, now known as Ontario, was created under the Constitutional Act of 1791 in September. He moved with his family to the newly-created province in November of that year.

After returning to England in 1796, he resigned as lieutenant-governor. In 1806, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the British Army in India, but became ill before taking command and died on Oct. 26 at the age of 54. He is buried in Wolford Chapel, near East Devon in southwest England.

A speech by John Graves Simcoe, lieutenant-governor of the Province of Upper Canada, proroguing the fifth session of the provincial parliament of Upper Canada in 1796. SOURCE: Toronto Public Library

What were some of John Graves Simcoe’s contributions?
Well other than the beautiful Lake Simcoe, in his namesake where I spent some on, during his tenure, he abolished slavery in Upper Canada in 1780 before it was completely abolished by Britain’s Slavery Abolition Act in 1783-4.  Pretty impressive!

He also established towns, built roads and infrastructure, implemented trial by jury, and gave land grants to those who fought alongside the Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War.
According to the government of Canada’s website, Simcoe built Yonge Street with the Queen’s Rangers military unit. He also named many of Ontario’s towns, including Pickering, Georgina, Scarborough, and Uxbridge.
In 1793, Simcoe created a garrison to protect the town of York on the site of the current Fort York National Historic Site. The fort was burned by the American military in 1813 during the War of 1812, which lasted from 1812-1815, but was rebuilt by the British on the original site soon after.
There are several places named after Simcoe in Ontario: Simcoe Street in Toronto, Lake Simcoe, University of Toronto’s Simcoe Hall, Simcoe Island near Kingston, Ont., and the Simcoe Fairgrounds, to name a few.

Hilton FallsConservation Area

My new favorite escarpment.  It's half the distance to Hamilton; like Hamilton it is surrounded by some of the best natural beauty areas I have ever seen.  There are also quite a few other Conservation areas in the area as well like Kelso, Rattlesnake, Crawford Lake, Esquesing, Robert Edmondson and Mountsberg.  All of them are responsible for that gorgeous piece of glacier rock, known as the Escarpment.

Hilton Falls Conservation Area located in Campbellville, Ontario is a conservation area known for its ten-metre waterfall and hiking trails.

It constitutes 645 hectares and also offers mountain biking, cross-country skiing.

Some one else took the time to create an amazing site, I don't want to undermine their efforts.  Here's the link!

The Cheltenham Badlands

Well I wanted to find some interesting geographical pictures, while feeling like I wanted to see something different while trail blazing.

This certainly did the trick, and it's located right here in Ontario so no need to look way out west in Alberta for our version of the Badlands.

These are called the Cheltenham Badlands and I think you'll agree its a very mars-like and bizarre sight, with its' barren and windswept red hills and gullies which are so very similar to our western friends.  This area is hidden in the valleys and peaks of Caledon Hills.

If you are wondering what makes the Queenston Shale ground so red, it's caused by iron oxide, while the narrow greenish bands show us where the groundwater has transformed the rock from red to green iron oxide.

The real cause behind it just isn't science, this phenomenon was created by poor farming practices over 80 years ago sometime during the 1930's which caused overgrazing of the land, and the result as you can see is the exposure of the Queenston Shale that supports little or no vegetation at all.

If you are inclined to come here with your camera, don't do after a rainfall or when the ground appears soft.  It spans a vast area, although I found the best location to get the easiest and quickest access is along Old Base Line Road, just east of Creditview Road.

You'll notice some parked cars along the side of the road with eager visitors stopping by for a peak.

Kelso Conservation

Kelso Conservation Area is located near Milton, Ontario and is owned and operated by Conservation Halton. This park has an area of 3.97 square kilometres and contains Lake Kelso which was built for flood control of Sixteen Mile Creek and has a sandy beach for swimmers in the summer and is also open to non-motorized watercraft.

Glen Eden Ski & Snowboard Centre is located in the park and offers downhill skiing and snowboarding during winter months. In addition, the Halton Region Museum is also located on the Kelso grounds. The park also features marked mountain biking and hiking trails.

Some of these pictures here were taken of the Halton Museum, but was closed when we were there.
Also there is a beach onsite called Lake Kelso.  It's actually a man-made reservoir which was created to control the flooding of Sixteen Mile Creek. It is found within Kelso Conservation Area and is maintained by Conservation Halton.

One of the founders of Conservation Halton, Allan Day, recalls that before the reservoir was built, "Milton used to get flooded every spring thaw. Milton's main street would get flooded." It was Day who convinced the previous landowner to sell his property to the Sixteen-Mile Creek Authority in 1961. The authority purchased the land for $40 000 before erecting a $325 000 water control dam a few years later.

The strange thing about it is the wires that are directly above the lake.  I had to find out what they were there for, and surprisingly a lot of people didn't know, except for one wizened older man who said it was for the birds? The picture is pretty washed out, but at least you can see the wires.  Have you ever seen anything like it before?

Humber Arboretum Trail

A must-see through the Humber Valley is the Humber Arboretum. It's a really beautiful trek in Toronto’s west end. It covers over 250 acres of botanical gardens and natural, wilder areas that surround the West Humber River.

The Arboretum is located just behind the Humber College North Campus at the intersection of Humberline Drive and Humber College Blvd., so there's lots of parking available.  If you'd rather take a bus or go on foot, it might be of interest to note that there is an express bus from Kipling station to the college.  Terrific way to get there and save on gas.

Once you arrive, you can choose either to take in the beautiful surroundings of the manicured lawns and flourishing flora at the Botanical Gardens in the Arboretum first, or take a walk through many of the marked nature trails through the Arboretum.  I liked the "Meadow Walk" which had 3 separate gates.  Others include the "Survival Path", "Boardwalk", "Beech Vista", "Woodland", "Pondview" and "Garden Circle".  All these nature trails are encompass the Arboretum and excellent tools for educational purposes as well.

The areas surrounding these paths are filled with meadow flowers and forested areas of over 1700 different species of plants and old and new native trees.   The trail paths following out of the Arboretum will take you northwest from this point towards Humberwoods Park in the direction of the Indian Line Campground where you will come across the Claireville Dam & Reservoir, constructed in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel.

Further northwest still is the Claireville Conservation Area, which is an 848-acre natural and forested area located on the border of Toronto and Brampton. It is one of the largest tracts of land owned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). Not all trails in here are accessible on bike, which is why it is sometimes a good idea to leave your bike at home.

Claireville is an unsupervised conservation area and supposedly has coyotes and deer (I've only seen a few bird species, though). Although Claireville is a passive conservation area, so it's popular with ‘birders’.  So, if your photographic interest is birds, then this is a good find.   I will be returning soon before summer's end to take a look at Claireville Conservation Area.  Unfortunately I have little patience unless I am alone to take any wildlife photos.  If I happen to see something, I will do my best to capture it.  Maybe you will have better luck!

For now, I am just content to take pictures of scenic landscapes. If you enjoy looking at the scenes, the photos will take care of themselves.

Happy Trails!