Restoration Work of Kingston Mills Locks

Parks Canada started restorative work on the locks and infrastructure around it in November 2018.  It will take three winter and spring seasons to complete it. The work will stop at the end of April of each year to allow for the opening of the Rideau Canal early May.  It’s hard to believe but that is only a bit more than three months from now.

The first step was to built extensive enclosures over the locks so the space can be heated with propane. The photos will give an impression of the extent of the construction site.

Enclosure of the west side of  the first lock at Colonel By Lake. When finished, the lock space can be heated and the restoration work can be started. The logistics are extraordinary and the work will involve removal and replacement of damaged limestone blocks, backfill and grouting. In fact, it will involve a total overhaul and rebuild of the stone works.

Enclosure in progress on the East side of the lock.

The picnic area is now a staging and logistics area. This will be restored again to a grass covered camping and picnic area in April-May, we imagine.

The lockmaster’s office grounds have become a storage area for propane tanks and piles of scaffolding.

All the while the lake level is low and will remain extreme low to  allow the restauraton work to proceed. The run-off below the weir creates a nice winter scene.

From the Parks Canada website: Kingston Mills Lock Rehabilitation is part of an unprecedented $3 billion dollars investment over 5 years to support infrastructure work to heritage, visitor, waterway and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas across Canada. These investments represent the largest federal infrastructure plan in the 105-year history of Parks Canada.

For more information go here: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/on/rideau/visit/infrastructure/kingston/ecluses-kingston-mills-lock

 

Advertisements

WINTER MIGRATION 2018

Jackie Duffin and Bob Wolfe, neighbours on the Aragon Road, sent us early morning photos of water birds congregating on a thin sheet of ice that had formed overnight on Colonel By Lake

“On 22 Nov we woke up to find the lake had frozen with the extreme early cold….(the only year it happened earlier was 1995). But more amazing was the massive number of geese and some ducks that had flown in the evening before and remained there overnight. At first we couldn’t tell it they were floating in the water or sitting on top of the ice. As it got brighter we learned that it was the latter. They were huddled to keep warm — and to our amazement a lonely swan showed up too. By the end of the day they had all flown away.”

The photo below is especially beautiful with some of the birds in focus while others are resting in the early morning fog that hovers over the cold surface. To the right of the standing geese seems to be a little open water with two geese floating in the opening.

Why don’t their feet freeze to the ice? I looked it up on Google: Ducks, as well as many other birds, have a counter-current heat exchange system between the arteries and veins in their legs. Warm arterial blood flowing to the feet passes close to cold venous blood returning from the feet.”

That means the arterial blood flowing into the feet has given off its heat-energy to the the venous blood that is being returned to the body. And that means the cooled arterial blood flowing into the feet doesn’t lose much heat to the cold ice.  In this way only five percent of body heat is lost through the feet. In fact the feet are close enough to the temperature of the ice that they don’t freeze to it. A wonderful evolutionary heat exchange system.

Why don’t  waterfowl  that float and swim in ice-cold water not become hypothermic and die? Are the feathers and down so well organised in layers that the skin doesn’t get wet? And therefore the body doesn’t lose much heat? After all we would die from hypothermia in less than a few minutes if we were submerged in water at zero degree Celsius.

Google: “If you can watch some ducks for a while you might notice that they spend a lot of time nibbling their feathers with their beaks. This is called preening. While the duck is preening she is spreading oil all over her top layer of feathers. The oil comes from a special place near her tail called a gland and when she spreads the oil over her feathers it makes her feathers waterproof. The water can’t get through the first layer of oily feathers and so all of her feathers underneath stay dry and fluffy and keep her warm all over.”

A view from the Wolfe/Duffin property on Colonel By Lake, just north of Kingston Mills on the Rideau Canal between Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario.

Among the many geese there is one lonely swan.

This could be a mute swan, a trumpeter, or a tundra swan. It is difficult to see from a distance like this. It’s most likely a mute swan, the ones we see each spring and summer on Colonel By Lake and in the River Styx. These swans are an introduced species from Europe and Asia. They have an orange coloured beak and an elegantly curved neck while swimming. Tundra and trumpeter swans have a black beak with a straight neck and are more in groups. We saw them last week on our visit to the Opinican Resort at Chaffeys Locks on Lake Opinican about forty kilometers north of Kingston on the Rideau Canal.

We hope you like the photos of a very late fall migration on our doorsteps.

 Click on the icon  of the mute swan to go to the INDEX of this site

 

Wild Turkeys Invade Conservation Area

This wild turkey visited us in the late winter of 2017-18 together with her or his mate. Little did we know that they might well be the couple that populated the Cecil and Wilma Graham Memorial Park on the Arragon Road, adjacent the conservation area on Casey’s Island, a large wild piece of land protruding into Colonel By Lake and Esther Marsh Bay.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018 when mother and father were observed in the meadow that is part of the Graham park with several tiny chicks that had the greatest difficulty navigating the trail that the parents left in the tall grass.

Then, we  recently received these photos from Bob Wolfe and Jackie Duffing residents on our road and avid nature watchers.

An invasion of young wild turkeys in their garden, attracted by the seeds left in the grass below the birdfeeder. How many juveniles do you count? And did you notice the chickadee on the feeder wondering what in the world in going on below?

After a good meal there needs to be time to rest. What better than a garden bench and chair?

Here is a bit of information about the introduction of the wild turkey in the Ottawa Sun: The last native wild turkey in Ontario was recorded in 1902. Generations later, Ontario wanted to provide birds for hunters. The Ministry of Natural Resources brought American turkeys into southwestern Ontario in the 1980s, and in 1997 released the first couple of dozen in Eastern Ontario, in Renfrew County. The ministry described them at the time as “like a grouse on steroids.”

But these are different birds than the native Ontario ones — a bird that is hardier in cold, happy to browse in farm fields, not afraid to live near people, and able to multiply fast. Today, there are many thousands here and in West Quebec, and more than 70,000 across Ontario. 

 

A QUIET MOMENT IN NATURE

Mid August later in the afternoon nature seems to take a break from the feeding frenzy and the fight between the species to survive. Cormorants rest on old tree stumps in Colonel By Lake left over from the flooding of the banks for the Little Cataraqui River to finish the Rideau Waterway at Kingston in 1832. Other waterbirds hide along the water’s edge protected by the dense shrubs, overhanging trees and dead branches. Here are some of those that I discovered with my binoculars and then tried to photograph.

A solitary wood duck resting in the curve of some old roots and stump that floats in the water partly stuck in the mud or the shallow bay that is  part of the Kingston Mills Marsh, a provincially significant wetland. Look good and there are two painted turtles sunning just in front of her.

A male wood duck swimming lazyly among the waterlilies and occasionally taking a nibble from the duck weed that floats on the surface of the clean water in the bay.

A green heron stands like a rigid sculpted figure on a log near shore and near our dock. It shares the space with a family of painted turtles unlikely company.

A solitary sandpiper visits our bay. I have seen flocks of these from our boat, feeding on the dense carpet of water lily leaves where there are many insects on the wet leaves and small critters in the water. These small hyperactive birds are irregular visitors on Colonel By Lake. They breed in the northern part of Canada but are migrant throughout the Great Lakes area in Canada and the US. They winter around the Gulf of Mexico. When the conditions are good they gladly seem to take advantage of the food supply on our lake during their migration.

Wood ducks got the name because they like to perch in old dead trees near the water, these two seem to have found the ideal spot. They blend in with the tangle of branches and weeds, but obviously the area is good for their health, they are fat and plumb. This might be a pair because there were several younger looking ducks of the same family around in the water to just float of feed.

Can you spot mother duck sitting satisfied on a branch while her flock are busy to paddle around in the water and snack on the weeds?

WHEN A TREE FALLS IN THE FOREST…

A more than 150 year old oak tree didn’t fall in our forest, but it shed a large branch in a violent windstorm one night. The trees around it didn’t protect her. The branch was almost as old as the trunk. In the middle of the night a sound different from howling wind caught our ears, it was a rushing then crashing sound as if an electric bolt from a thunderstorm had hit the tree. The next day showed the damage.

Almost a year later, Mark Fleming, a resident on our road started to cut boards out of the branch to make a coffee table and other pieces of woodcraft. Here is a photo reportage you might enjoy.

Mark cut the boards that are from one to 1.5 inch thick with a chainsaw guided by a portable saw jig. The very broad cut at the crotch of the branch was cut free-hand. The piece that came off is now a very artistic coffee table.

 

 

The Old and New Graham House

You might remember this… October 2016. Cecil Graham’s former rental property was for sale on a 10 acre piece of land. The house was initially trucked in from across Colonel By Lake. It was a small wood-frame house  and Cecil clad it in Angel stone. When the property sold they dismantled the old little house and build a three thousand square foot house instead.

And this… July 2017.

And the newly built house…

June 2018, the new house was built in part on the old foundation, Why? Maybe that way the planning department allowed two extra lots to be severed for a small estate development of three houses.

Spring 2018, Unusual Sightings

 

This creature walked from our front door to the back door and then around the house to offer us a good look.  Our daughter from Burlington looked up from her reading and said, “What in the world is THAT? ”  There would be one more and as a couple they strutted towards the edge of the woods and disappeared. 

Wild turkeys, they were. This was early March 2018. These birds are surprisingly big and well fed after a harsh winter. They must know a thing or two to survive and do remarkably well around our area. 

Later in April I saw two wild turkeys flying overhead, crossing the lake towards Kingston Mills. The had a powerful wing beat like Canada geese. Very good flyers. Their red throat flaps were swinging in their bodies’ slipstream.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

It’s early spring. The ice still covers our bay at the north-west corner of Colonel By Lake. Our granddaughter from Burlington spotted a river otter near shore. It entered the water through a soft spot in the ice and every few minutes appeared with a small fish in its mouth. A quick thrust with its neck and gobble, gobble the fish was gone. The otter eagerly slipped back in the water, to catch its next snack. It repeated this ritual for at least half an hour. Otters are here during the winter and summer. They have a very interesting breeding habit, and are well adapted to our climatic extremes. They prefer unpolluted bodies of water, so we should be happy to have them as our neighbours.

It was difficult to photograph the animal with the white snowy background and the dark blackish wet furcoat of the otter contrasting so much. We hope you enjoy this photo.

River otters are abundant in areas where the shore of a lake or other body of water offers many natural nooks and crannies under fallen trees or abandoned dens of beavers and muskrat. Colonel By Lake does offer such a natural littoral area especially in the many shallow bays.

++++++++++++++

Our Mute Swan couple is back on our part of the lake. As soon as the ice was gone in the canal and in other areas of the lake where the current is strong, the water birds were back. It seemed as if they were lingering nearby on Lake Ontario and move inland as soon as they can, to claim possession of their breeding territories.

We assume this is one of the breeding couple, the male most likely, scouting out this part of the lake that was their breeding area a year ago, in 2017.  The open water is nearby. March 2018.

Here they are: the Mute Swan couple that bred last year across form our place along the shore of Edenwood Park. The collection of ducks don’t seem to bother the pair, but the swans do go after geese with a vengeance. We have seen one of the swans pursue a nearby goose across the lake and then back towards Kingston Mills, gradually closing the distance between them. We  imagine that the goose is in a bad spot when the swan catches up with the intruder. April 8, 2018.

 

RURAL ROAD MAINTENANCE 2018

City road maintenance crews started work on the Aragon Road, March 2018. As a result of complaints about the methods of brush clearing in 2015 the Rural Advisory Committee discussed with the Manager or Road Maintenance a policy for improved brush clearing.  Aragon Road citizens argued that it could be considered a heritage road and should be maintained with this special status in mind.

The current march 2018 brush clearing  has been completed, and the results are  in: well done, compliments to the road maintenance crew who executed the work plan and stayed in touch with citizens on the road. Thanks also to Bill Linnen, Operations Manager Public Works and Adam Mueller, Public Education and Promotion Coordinator Public Works who communicated with Bob Wolfe , member of the Rural Advisory Committee and a citizen living on the Aragon Road.

The Volvo Busher in action after clearing smaller selected trees by the forestry crew, which worked selectively and sensitively with chainsaws along the forested areas that make the Aragon Road so special.

Citizens living on the Aragon Road have on multiple occasions before the Rural Advisory Committee and through the Planning Department, emphasized that the Aragon Road should be considered a heritage road.

It is a “forced” road, which is different from the county road system that British surveyors laid out in the late 1700-s.  A forced road has spontaneously developed from an early path between farms to a dirt road and a gravel topped paved road without any formal road allowances. The special legal features of the forced road has come up on Amherst Island in conjunction with the wind-farm.

In a report to council earlier this week, Dave Thompson, the township’s director of infrastructure services, wrote that ownership of road allowances on the island evolved in a “radically different manner” from the rest of the municipality. The forced roads on the island generally evolved from commonly traveled routes and were built without official Crown surveys and public ownership. Click HERE for the full article in the Whig Standard.

Another piece of information: When it  comes to forced roads, there is no standard width to be found in any legislation or common law decisions… From Township’s Solicitor Jim Baird of Township Asphodel-Norwood

Maybe it is time to consider different road maintenance policies for major highways, two lane highways, county roads and secondary rural roads many of which are forced roads with important heritage features.

See also: FOUR HISTORIC HOMES ON ARAGON ROAD

and: TREES ALONG THE ARAGON ROAD

and: HERITAGE ROAD AND PARK MAINTENANCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Wildlife Along the Aragon Road

Neighbours sent us some rare photos of the  wildlife along our road and in the River Styx. Enjoy!

Jackie Duffin photographed these turkey vultures roosting in a tree bordering Colonel By Lake. We counted fifteen but there might be more. 

Enjoying the midday rest after a heavy lunch? These birds eat almost exclusively carrion and one wonders where they find all that around here. I assume there is road-kill and in the fields there might be a lot of dead animals killed by predators and other causes?  In any case they are valuable for cleaning up our environment.

In flight one only sees the dark profile of the bird with its characteristic bend-up wing tips when soaring on a thermal updrafft, but in this closeup we see the primary wing feathers. Below the anatomy of a bird’s wing. Click the photo for more information.

Image result

+++++++++++++++++

Mark Fleming a professional photographer on our road took these photos of the bald eagles that nest in the marsh of the north-western tip of the River Styx.

This is the one young they hatched this year, 2017.

Parent number one and below number two. Mark tells us that subtle differences show who is the female and male. Any birders who can see the difference?

The young fledgling in flight.

++++++++++++++++++

Not all of us might like the cormorant but they are magnificent flyers skimming at low altitude over the water and the waves. This one is taking off by splashing its webbed feet on the water for extra lift.

The Ministry of the Environment must have done some culling because the numbers of cormorants on our lake is way down, compared with last year. Is it wise to interfere with nature?

To go to the INDEX click here.

 

 

Mince Meat Bucket; A Short Story

This story  that happened at Kingston Mills, is by Garth Scott a participant in Later Life Writing  at Cross Road Church, Kingston, Ontario, 2016.

+++++++++++++++++

What do a mincemeat bucket and Jaques Cousteau have in common? A lot more than you might think.

mince meat bucket b

I met Terry Walker in 1942 and we became lifelong friends. My friend could build cedar strip canoes, works of art. That someone can take some strips of wood and make from them a thing of beauty and utility never ceases to amaze me.

Terry always had a love for the water and for historical exploration and to satisfy these loves, in later life he became an accomplished SCUBA diver, exploring old wrecks in the water around Kingston.

Terry’s grandmother had a cottage at Kingston Mills and he and I spent many happy summer days on the water at the Mills, in a rowboat Terry had built. At the time we were both around twelve years old.

One day, when I called on my friend, he excitedly showed me his latest creation: a diving helmet. It would allow us to dive under the waters. Terry was certain there were historical artifacts present in the wreckage of an old boat whose timbers we could see from the surface of a small bay above the Kingston Mills locks.

Picture and inverted wooden bucket with a sort of rubber jacket securely affixed to it. The jacket was made from an automobile inner tube attached to the open end of the bucket. This went over your head with its rim resting on the shoulders. A drawstring threaded through holes in the jacket allowed it to be drawn tightly closed around the chest and arm openings. An eye hole cut in the bucket and covered with heavy celluloid and water proofed allowed underwater visibility. The air supply to the diver, who was to be me, consisted of a length of garden hose screwed onto a fitting on the top of the bucket. Air would be forced down the hose to the diver by a tire pump mounted in the boat on the surface. Thus outfitted I would be free to move around the bottom of the bay and explore. The simplicity of the diving helmet design was beautiful and I couldn’t wait to try it out. We agreed to begin our underwater explorations the following Saturday.

We didn’t reckon on Terry’s mother uncovering our  plan and she, being unwise in scientific matters, chopped the diving helmet to splinters and burned it.

Just imagine if Thomas Edison would have had a mother like that.

Terry did eventually explore the wreck without the helmet, and artifacts were recovered.

This is the water above the locks at Kingston Mills. The two cottages are from the time that Garth’s story takes place. However there are more cottages at Kingston Mills and it is unknown if Terry’s grandmother owned one of these or another.