John Lach Remembers

This story of five children, orphaned at one to eight years of age, taken in by the Catholic Church ,shows a time when our society had a very different approach to wellbeing and mutual responsibility.

The Lach children: John, Mary, Greg, Henry and Michael grew up during their first years of childhood at the Heathfield Orphanage that was managed by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.

heathfield_landmakrs_p43_bychristinehamelinHeathfield, known as the Providence Motherhouse – the term “motherhouse” refers to the official home base of a religious congregation – continued throughout the early years of the Great Depression and provided employment for many workers. Built of limestone quarried in the Kingston area, it was officially opened on July 6, 1932, and housed the novitiate and general administration of the congregation,  stood in the middle of a hayfield. From:

When the children were four to twelve years old Wilma and Cecil Graham welcomed them in their family on the Aragon Road farm. John Lach remembers…


John Lach Remembers

By Henk Wevers

October, 2016

John and Linda Lach were harvesting firewood on the Hydro right-of-way at the Graham farm just north of the Aragon Road. The Hydro had cut trees to protect the lines from making contact with tree branches and beautiful hardwood was available for pick-up.

I introduced myself and the two took a break while we had a chat. Following our impromptu conversation, we came together at a later date to talk about their connection with the Graham family as part of the history of the Aragon Road. Here is John’s story.

John’s father, Joseph Lach, emigrated from Poland to Canada when he was 16 years old. This was before the second World War in the depth of the Great Depression mid 1930-s.  He somehow found work with the rail roads. He married Doris Davies in 1943, their first child John was then on its way, a silent witness at the wedding, he was born on Aug 18, 1943, followed by sister Mary in Oct 1944, brother Greg in 1946, Henry in 1949, and Michael, aka Mike, who was born in 1951.

Shortly after the birth of Mike, the father and family’s breadwinner died and Doris was left behind with five children, including the 10-month old baby Michael. This was at a time when little social security and organised, tax funded, community care existed. It was insurmountably tough for the mother to keep the family going.

Doris worked at the British American Hotel on Ontario Street. The hotel built in 1807, was famous not the least because Dickens slept there on his visit to Kingston in 1842, and Sir John A. was often seen there to guzzle his favourite drink. The hotel burned down in 1963. [i]

After her husband’s death she was utterly dependant on this job to provide for her five children ranging in age from ten months to eight years. To care for this large family and at the same time working full shifts at the hotel was overwhelming and depression set in.

As hard as she tried to make it work, Doris had to give up her children ranging in age from less than a year to eight years  old. A brother of Doris was willing to take them into his family but since they were Protestant, the Catholic Arch Dioceses of Kingston was not in favour of this arrangement and the church stepped in. The children were moved to the Heathfield Orphanage run by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. The Sisters owned the convent, a thirty-acre property just outside the western limits of the city, now 1200 Princess Street. In 1941 the villa situated on the property became a home for needy children.[ii]

Mary joined the girls in the orphanage, and her four brothers were housed in the boy’s section of the children’s home.

John and other children in his group had a caregiver who was in her thirties.

“She was strict but kind. Before we had to go to bed she would slip into the kitchen of the Mother House and make us a slice of bread with brown sugar on top. Man we liked those.”

John’s smile and beaming face showed that the memory was still vivid.

“Yes, we were well taken care off. There was strict discipline though, if you didn’t behave, you would get the strap. Those nuns were good at that, too.

“Christmas dinners for the kids were offered in La Salle Hotel and for good measure at the Steel Workers Hall the next day. In the summer we had picnics at the conservation area near the DuPont factory on Front Road. That area was also used for camping by the Girl Guides. The kids in Sunnyside Children’s Centre on Union Street, a non-denominational orphanage, and the Catholic ones from Heathfield would be picked up by school bus and taken to these events together.[iii]  [iv]

“Every Sunday the Heathfield children got an in-house movie. They were all films about nature. After 1950 the orphanage had also access to a TV, children and the nuns would watch at certain times.”

John remembered with much relish his role in a Nativity Scene that was set up in the window of James Reid Furniture on Princess Street.

“I was dressed up like Joseph among the Kings and the Shepherds. We would stand there and tried not to move or blink while the people outside the store stood on the sidewalk staring at us and making all sorts of comments which we couldn’t hear but from their gestures you could see they had a good time and so did we.”

“How did you and Linda get together, John?” I asked switching away from John’s youth to his early adult life.

They both smiled and looked at each other a bit hesitant. Should we tell?

“Well… I had a girlfriend, but it wasn’t going anywhere. One day I drove in my prized cream coloured Chevy Impala that had bright red stripes, red leather interior, and what was called a “rag top” that could open up and folded back just after the rear seat. I was behind the wheel all dressed to the tee, with the ragtop open, on my way to this girlfriend’s house. She lived past Odessa.  Just before Odessa coming from Kingston I had to stop for a herd of cows that were driven across the road by a young girl. She was barefooted and stood there confident in the middle of the road, stopping the traffic and letting the cows cross. She was in control of everything, for sure. I was impressed and right there and then got interested in her and we chatted bit. I didn’t continue to where I was going, and the rest is history. We got married in 1969 and after a couple of year renting a house, we bought one in Odessa, fixed it up nicely and lived there ever since.”

“It was June 21, 1969,” Linda added with a smile on her face.

She looked at John as if she still was the young woman-farmer in the middle of the road, shy and barefooted. She was used to tramping around barefooted in the pastures and freshly cut hayfields, even enjoyed it.

John and Linda shared proudly that they got two children, now both married, and have four grandchildren, two girls and two boys not too far from Odessa in Brockville and Ottawa.

“So what else happened to the Lach children at the Heathfield Orphanage?” I asked.

“In 1955 after four years in the orphanage, all of us were taken in foster care by Wilma and Cecil Graham, a farmer with a large stretch of land on the Aragon Road. I was twelve then and Michael the youngest was four. The Grahams had no children of their own but had several foster children over many years.[v]

“Wilma cooked good meals in a pressure cooker and we were well fed. She cooked on an electric stove in the summer kitchen on the side of the house, and in the winter on the woodstove in the large kitchen inside the house. All the food came from the farm’s own garden for all of summer and winter. We’re well fed, but we’d to work to help with all the chores on the farm. It was hard, you better believe it.” [vi]

Cecil  Graham came himself from a hard working farmer’s background and in the 1950-s it was not uncommon for children to work many hours before school and after school in the farming operation. Even in 1961, in Canada forty percent of boys age 14-19 were gainfully employed and not in school.[vii]

The Lach children did go to school and had to work hard on the farm: from 6 to 8 am was time for chores, and a quick breakfast. Then it was off to the corner of Fitzpatrick Road and the Aragon Road where the school bus picked the children up. After school, other chores were waiting.

“Haying time was particular busy,” John recalls.

“Cecil’s brother Matt would drive a two horse team to mow the hay, Cecil’s father would drive the raking machine also with a two horse team, and Cecil drove the tractor to gather the hay and bail it. The square bales would be thrown out of the bailer and I being the oldest of the Lach siblings, I was about seventeen then, would stack the bales on the wagon. You needed to be strong and quick because you had to keep up with the machine that spat out the bales. You couldn’t stop because that shut the whole shebang down. That was before 1961.”

horse-team-cuttingA two horse mower at work similar environment as the Graham fields. See:

The Lach kids were kept busy on the farm, each according to their age and strength, and that gave them little time for anything else.

“We were ‘babe in the woods’ when it came to city life,” John said.

“The only contact with the city was on Sunday when we would go to church at 6.30 am Mass. Then after coming home and milking the cows, no more work, for once.

“Leisure time meant resting somewhere in a quiet space around the farm, reading some comic magazines or books, and in the summer swimming in Esther March Bay off the ‘island’ that Henry had named ‘Paradise.’ [viii]

“I went to school on Battersea Road in Sunbury. The building is still there, on the left if you head north. It became a candle factory and now it looks somebody restored it into a house?

“Did grade 7 and 8 there, and after that I went for one year to Kingston Collegiate & Vocational Institute, KCVI, in the city.  Coming from a farm you were different, had this smell from milking cows, they teased me about it. Then with the chores every morning and afternoon and the homework it made it all very hard.

“After the first year I dropped out and worked full time at the farm for about two years. Then I had enough and joined the army for a couple of years, in 1961, when I was eighteen.

“Then after six years of army life, I de-listed and came back to the farm for about three years. I left again and worked in a car-wash for a couple of years before I got a job at Garnet Compton in the city at the corner of Princess Street and Collins Bay Road. The business sold washing machines and stoves. He was a very good man. He trained me in all the electrical and mechanical work needed for the repairs and home installations. I worked there for twenty-four years until 1989 when Garnet died and the business was closed.

“But I got another job in the same line of work at R.B. Knapp Appliances. They might be still there on Sydenham Road, as far as I know. Worked there for seventeen years and then in 2008 I retired at 65. We have a nice house in Odessa with a bit of land around it and we have a good time, Linda and I.

“Mary my only sister and second oldest of the siblings, worked her whole life on the farm and did part-time housecleaning and gardening for other families. Some of these people became good friends. She did some travelling during brief vacations and has been retired and living on her own in the city for the last several years now, still doing some housekeeping work for others.

“Greg, the second oldest boy was three years younger than me, we considered him the smartest of the lot. He finished high school but only because he wanted to study. When the chores and the homework just got too much he complained to the social worker who looked after the foster care and she talked to Cecil. After that he did not have to do chores before going to school in the morning and he got two hours every night set aside for his homework.

“After graduation, Greg went to work for the Fairbank Morse Locomotive Company on Ontario Street. Worked there till 1968 when it closed the business. He then went to Orillia in a machine shop as a tool and die maker, and from there he got an office job at IBM in Toronto, some combination of computing and inspection in the manufacturing part of the company. He retired early and lives now in Alberta with his wife and three children. She was a registered nurse in the hospital there. And now they have this nice camper-van and go south in the winter. They have this ‘snowbird’s life.’

“Henry worked his whole life on the Graham farm, and since Wilma passed away just recently, he helps out with the cleaning and downsizing of the farm and barns. He has been going a little slower after he reached his pension age, but he is the happiest when he can be around the farm and enjoy the country side.

“Michael finished high school and then went to St. Lawrence College to earn his certificate in small engine repair. He did well but passed away when he was only fifty-one.”

Around Farm and Field

John recalls, “When Cecil died in 1994 there were nine transport loads of cows shipped to auction and then Wilma, with the help of Henry kept some cows on the farm until she died in May 13, 2013.

“Henry also bred sheep on the farm at the corner of Maple Lawn Drive and Battersea Road. That had been the farm of Cecil’s parents. Cecil’s parents and their other son, Matt had farms side by side on Maple Lawn Drive. Cecil’s parents’ farm-house is still there and that farm is now owned by Mr. John Turner. Matt’s farm has been severed in some building lots where the large homes have been built in the early 2000-s but there is still land left there.

“That angle stone extension on Wilma’s house, here on the Aragon Road, was added after Cecil died. The same stones that were used around the little bungalow that sits at the east end of the Graham property, on ten acres of land. It’s now for sale. Cecil had it trucked from the Isle of Man Road to Aragon Road and put it there on its foundation.

“It wasn’t the only building that Cecil moved. He and a team of family and neighbours also relocated a large barn on their property from the south side of the Aragon Road to the north side, where it sits on a limestone foundation wall. It’s the one that is parallel with and closest to the road. They used a 1953 John Deere AR tractor and rollers the get it out of the field over the Aragon Road, which is a lot higher than the land where it sat. Then it was pulled further up the hill, to the left of their driveway, where it is now one of a group with two other barns and a three bay driveshed.

“Cecil wanted to keep the Aragon Road as a rural road with trees, and he opposed a planned subdivision that Mr. Chippier had surveyed and laid out on the land opposite of Jack Colden’s house, north of the road, just west of Fitzpatrick Road, about 75 acres. Cecil won that fight and the development came to nothing.

“The big house on the lake across the road from that land, was built by Chippier who owned a Tim Horton’s store, on Princess Street, corner McDonnell. Chippier sold the house to Jack Colden in 1983 who also bought most of that land on the north side of Aragon Road. It’s still used for taking hay off. It’s for sale again, I noticed.

“That limestone house just east of the boat ramp, that’s where Dr. & Mrs. McCuaig lived. He was Superintendent of the Rockwood Psychiatric Hospital.[ix] They had cattle on what’s now Keirstead’s farm at the end of the road, they rented that land from the Co-op.[x]  Their cows often broke out and then we herded them back over our fields south of the Aragon Road and the road itself. That was something else…

“And did you know that the house on Fitzpatrick Road had a native person renting part of the house and he had four wolves in a pen about two years ago? Henry delivered hay and straw for bedding. Sometimes you could hear them howling. That person left after about a year ago.”

End notes:

[i] Former Kingston firefighter recalls one of the more spectacular fires in the city. The Kingston Whig Standard.


[iii] Despite dissolution, Sunnyside’s work will continue. At:

[iv] Queen’s archives: Orphans’ Home and Widows’ Friend Society, which established and maintained an orphanage in Kingston from 1857 and 1947, and since then a home for children called Sunnyside Children’s Centre on Union Street, Kingston, ON.

[v] See Wilma remembers at:

[vi] Pressure cooker at:


[viii] See Wilma Remembers. At:

[ix] Kingston General Hospital, A Social and Institutional History.

[x] See Marjorie Allen story at:


colours oct 2011 graham prop.ajpg

The Graham Farm on our Aragon Road. Photo by henk Wevers fall 2015.

To read more about the Oral History by people who lived on the road click the photo of Graham’s barn yard, below.

graham cows barn nov 2014 b


October Glory on the Aragon Road

he Aragon Road exploded in a full spectrum of Fall colours. It happened almost instantly around October 17.  We all thought that the drought had put the trees in a period of dormancy and that we could not expect much colour. Well maybe because of the drought the trees are now happy that late fall and winter are over the horizon and they can take an extended period of rest. Here is a photo essay of what you see along the road when going to work or just when out for a stroll…

The new Header photo of coloured maples with Colonel By Lake in the background was taken by Jackie Duffin on our road, many thanks for sharing the picture.


In the field on the north side of the road looking towards the Graham farm


At the Graham farm on Aragon Road





From the boat ramp going east towards the end of Aragon




The oldest and grandest tree on the Aragon Road at the Wolfe’s limestone heritage house just past the boat ramp. Trying to keep up in old age with all the colour around it.


To go to the INDEX for a listing of all the posts and stories click on the photo below.



The ospreys have fledged and it is time to update our neighbours on the nesting success of the couples that build their “homes” along Colonel By Lake and the River Styx. Here are the locations from 2002 to the last update of 2013, three years ago. What has changed in the last three years? This is the latest for 2016.

osprey map 2013

The “big star” in this map is the couple that started their nest in 2002, the first osprey settlement on Colonel By Lake since we monitored them. Jack Colden had erected a telephone pole with a 6×6 nest box on top two years  before and in 2012 the couple started to make their home. For more click here.

The nest toppled over in the spring of 2014 just before the arrival of the birds from their wintering grounds in Florida. The pair moved to another empty platform about 200 meter to the east, also set up by the Coldens just as an extra site , in this case a good backup. There, the ospreys successfully hatched two young each year from 2014 to 2016. This couple produced over the years more than thirty offspring. Survival rate in the first year is about fifty percent, so probably fifteen or more of their young have families now and some of these are around our area on Colonel By Lake and the River Styx.

osprey dickinson july 19 2016 This is the original nesting area on Colonel By Lake. The parents might be the 2002 originals.  Here one parent and a young is shown, the other young is inside the deep nest and the second parent is hunting for food. Photos by Henk Wevers.

osprey dickinson july 19 2016 b

At the end of June and early July the first chick is almost the 2/3 the size of an adult and they start to flex their wings. First one, then the other wing can be seen  spreading awkwardly over the edge of the nest. This young is almost ready to fledge and leave the nest which happened a few days later on July 21. The family does gather around 6 pm for supper and one can see the two adults and two young on the nest, eating and hanging around…

On the River Styx …

osprey river styx july 2016 hwA couple have built their nest since 2011 on this large dead tree stump dating from the time that the Rideau Canal was built. It sits in a large bay a the north-west end of the river. In this photo one parent is hunting while the other watches over two young.  The young sit side by side their bodies seemingly one with the youngest in front of the older sibling. in front of that pair it looks like there is a third young a body with dark juvenile feathers is crouching low in the nest. Anyway this couple has been very successful in producing young during the last five years. Note the difference in size between the oldest and younger siblings.

Other nests on the map have disappeared over time some because the natural trees they had used to build their nests toppled over in mid-season, or might have been raided by raccoons. These nesting sites  were abandoned the following year. One nest at the end of Aragon Road that the Keirsteads erected on the side of the canal was abandoned in the early breeding season in 2015 and 2016. Two years before that the couple produced two young each year for three years in a row.

Lately we see them huddling together on  a tree stump enjoying the fruits of their work building a robust nest. Hopefully this will be their next year’s domicile at the entrance to the canal between Colonel By Lake and the River Styx.

osprey harriet point july july 31 2016

osprey harriet point july july 31 2016 b

It is amazing how they have woven the branches together to make a nest that can withstand the winter. One would think that a couple that can built such a nest would be successful in hatching two or three chicks and bringing them up to young adults that can migrate this coming September to winter ultimately in Florida or somewhere along the Atlantic coast or other open water, during our winter.


New to our area is a Bald Eagle couple that was discovered by Mark Fleming in the early spring of this year. Its nest is located in a large mature white pine tree near the marsh at the north-west corner of the River Styx. That is also the location of a couple of Mute Swans who swam around that corner of the Rideau with three young and then later only two. There are many more breeding Mute Swans along the river going towards Lower Brewer Mills Locks. Bald Eagles are also observed along the Rideau Canal in the quiet wetland areas of the large lakes farther east, according to Parks Canada staff.

bald eagle young fleming jyly 2016

A young bald eagle photographed by Mark Fleming one of our neighbours on the Aragon Road who is a serious nature photographer who takes his kayak out on the water to scout for wildlife in the marshes and shallow water of Esther March Bay and the River Styx and parts of Colonel By Lake. For more photos of the bald Eagles click here.


To go to the INDEX, click on the icon  below another photo of the Bald Eagle by Mark Fleming.

mark fleming bald eagle a


Do we really want a flock of Canada Geese on our lawn?

It’s that time of the year that the parents and their young come together and invite themselves on our manicured lawns. From east to west, have a look…

geese in rocky-point-park

Canada geese at a city park in Port Moody, BC. Snoozing after a stressful lunch on the well manicured lawn of this waterfront city park. Source: CBC news article.  And if they get thirsty, the parks and recreation department is there for them…

canada geese in city park Port Moody BC


Canada Geese are wonderful birds, especially in flight when they come in low overhead, to land on Colonel By Lake.

Most Canadians can enjoy a majestic V-shaped flock winging their way to and from their breeding grounds.

They love short cut grass and gobble at least a pound and half a day of this diet, complemented with weeds and silt from the bottom of our shallow waters. Grain and corn in the fields along Battersea Road will complement their diet. They need also about half a litre of water.

A bit less than half of their total intake comes out at the other end each day to fertilise your lawn.


Along the Aragon Road some of us offer as many amenities as Port Moody. Have a look.

edenwood house geese eJust under a hundred visitors. That’s a bit less than a hundred pounds of fertilizer aka “CGP”. The photo was taken after the owners of this house opened up their view of the lake by uprooting the shrubs along their shore line. Then they improved the lawn to reflect a city park and presto, the Canada Geese moved in. Notice the inviting  shoreline with its low slope up to the short cropped grass: the geese’s salad bar. 

Other favourite sites for Canada Geese are at the end of Aragon Road.

 While several lots have left the shrubs and trees along the shore to protect the clay bank and absorb runoff, in other areas the lawn stretches up to the water’s edge. It is there that the geese enter the lawns in very large numbers.

 The City of Oakville says this: “Geese are attracted to mown lawns that stretch down to the water. To deter them allow native vegetation, including longer grasses, to grow at the water’s edge.” Click here for full article. 

alan point drive google earth cropped

 Once they have easy access areas to short cropped lawns, they will come back year after year. We posted a re-print from Ontario Nature Magazine in making shorelines more geese proof, you can access it by clicking : “Bringing Nature Back to the Cottage.” 


For the INDEX and its list of all posts and stories, click the photo below. It was taken just at the entrance of the canal to the River Styx.

We hope you like our website, the feedback we receive is kind and informative.

geese family aug 2015 b


Boating on the Rideau offers a unique perspective of the beautiful undisturbed shoreline harbouring much wildlife among the varied natural shoreline: Blue Herons, Osprey, even Bald Eagles, and the ever graceful white Mute Swans floating serenely on the water. This is a shy wading bird the Green Heron, one of the smallest of herons. Photo: Henk Wevers.

bl green or least bittern heron draper bay june 19 2016 a

That is one of the reasons the historic waterway between Kingston and Ottawa received its world heritage designation in 2007. Here is what the UNESCO website calls it: The Rideau Canal, a monumental early 19th-century construction covering 202 km of the Rideau and Cataraqui rivers from Ottawa south to Kingston Harbour on Lake Ontario…

But there is a lot of pressure from developers to sell estate lots along the same waterway, see the latest a twelve lot subdivision bordering on the canal between the River Styx and Colonel By Lake.

isl of man real estate lots cropped

Waterfront is attractive but with restrictions written into the approval document make access to the water impossible. The Council of the City of Kingston approved the development reluctantly after the developers had taken their 2012 plan to the Municipal Board of Ontario, and won. The latest planning report dated 2016 includes minimal setbacks from the high water level of 40 metres, with no disturbance to soil or vegetation. Prospective purchasers to be advised that these are not water access lots. We can only hope that the purchasers of these lots will follow these guidelines and that there is no creeping deterioration of the natural environment at the fringes of this development.

Bobolinks are nesting here and are impacted by lots 2 and 3 and the developer has to take measures to mitigate this.  Will that prevent the disappearance of habitat for this protected bird? Will there be follow-up by field naturalists or biologists?

Bobolink male with his characteristic white back, “a tuxedo worn backwards”. By clicking the photo you will be taken to the source of this photo where you can read more about birding.


This is the aerial view from Google Earth.

isl of man july 2016 google earth

The parcel of land, sixteen hectare will have thirteen estate lots. It is just opposite the Allen Point development, seen on the left bottom.. The new development is bordered on three sides by the Rideau, with sensitive wetland just below the middle of the photo. The shoreline is protected by existing vegetation such as trees and shrubs. But will the City be vigilant to check that the forty meter setback from the shore will remain as is? Or will the owners of houses bordering the canal be tempted to cut “here and there”, so that over time the natural shoreline gets denuded?

There is a tree inventory of the site with 180 trees located along the shore line and in clusters on the property.  A tree conservation plan will be required as a draft plan condition which includes the 40 meter setback from the high water mark as said before.

isl of man july 2016 list re conditions

This is a copy of the most salient issues and conditions. (Page 117 of Report PC-16-017). Note point 3 where it states that the shoreline will be stabilised. How will that be done? Currently it is a natural clay embankment that resulted from the digging by hand to enlarge the Cataraqui Creek in 1830-s. It also shows the thick layer of clay that overlays the limestone in the fields north of the Aragon Road that have been declared Prime Agricultural land because of that fertile clay based soil.

By the way: The development will have a publicly owned park.


To go to the INDEX for a listing of all topics on this website click the icon below.

isle of man Bobolink,_Mer_Bleue



Wildlife in June

June is an amazing time in the animal world.

heron green july 2016 a

A Green Heron perched on a branch in its favourite spot along our wooded shoreline.

A green frog keeps a wary eye on its environment in the hopes not to  be caught.

frog green july 2016

heron blue july 2016 a

This large Blue Heron wades stately to its fishing position, chasing away the Green Heron from its favourite spot and scaring the life out of the green frog.

And this one dries her wings perched on the rocky outcrop at the exit of the canal from the River Styx to Colonel By Lake.

heron blue july 12 2016

We saw the Black Crowned Night Heron in this photo below, fishing along our shore. This bird attracts small fish by moving its bill at a high frequency to mimic an insect at the surface. It works!

black crowned night heron june 19 2016 draper bay f

Then there’s there is the carp spawning, while  ducks and geese show off their young. Some mother ducks with twelve offspring in tow. Huge rafts of Canada Geese, with up to a hundred young and their parents, clustered together on  Colonel By Lake.

Robins are nesting at every corner of the house under or in the eavestroughs, or in the flower planters, in the crotch of a downspout  and in carports.

Ospreys fly in and out of the nest to feed their young who’s little heads stick out above the rim of their nests, along the Highway 401 near the Cataraqui river and along  our Colonel By Lake and the River Styx.

And then one morning you step out of the house almost on top of a monster snapping turtle on her way to lay eggs.

snapping turtle henk june 16 2016

This female was on our driveway on her way to a softer gravel and sand berm on the side of the tarmac. After her fear of me towering over her with a camera, she decided to walk towards the berm. Her rear end and tail look straight out of the Jurassic Park, photo below.

snapping turtle henk june 16 2016 bOn her way an inquisitive black squirrel came towards her and she ducked back in her shell. The squirrel stayed far enough away from this strange creature and lost interest. Slowly she stuck out her head, sniffed, looked around and proceeded to the green berm.

snapping turtle henk june 16 2016 cIt took a while to scout out the potential nesting site but finally she entered the “green zone” and slowly disappeared to do what instinct told her to do. Photo below.

snapping turtle henk june 16 2016 e

Jackie Duffin, our neighbour just east of the boat ramp, is an avid nature lover and she sent me this series of photos which is a very interesting continuation of the set above.  “Had some fun photographing this beauty,” She said.

snapping turtle jackie june 2016 c

snapping turtle jackie june 2016 d

snapping turtle jackie june 2016

After scraping sand and gravel over the nest she left this imprint. And after all that effort the chance is very high that a raccoon comes by during the night and digs all her eggs up and has a meal, leaving the shells as evidence. 

Here is a snippet from Wikipedia: The female can hold sperm for several seasons, using it as necessary. Females travel over land to find sandy soil in which to lay their eggs, often some distance from the water. After digging a hole, the female typically deposits 25 to 80 eggs each year, guiding them into the nest with her hind feet and covering them with sand for incubation and protection. Incubation time is temperature-dependent, ranging from 9 to 18 weeks.  

They start breeding when 15-17 years old and can live up to 40 years. That’s why it is so devastating when a mature female gets hit by a car. And many are.

To access the INDEX please click the icon below.

snapping turtle jackie june 2016 a

 Snapping turtles don’t speed.

Drive carefully

New Wildlife on Colonel By Lake 2016


duck mother eight young may 2016

During the 2016 spring migration old acquaintances came back, first the Canada Geese, many of which never left or migrated just a short distance where open water provided food. They have already bred large groups of offspring that flock together in the lake and in the river.

The Mute Swans were back in numbers with up to a dozen hanging around Colonel By Lake and with some of them setting up home on the River Styx in the large marshland at the north-western end of the river.

Ospreys returned to their old nests, the couple that inhabits the federal land beside the Dickinsons have been breeding there since 2003. Other nests at Casey Island and at Keirstead are occupied, and one nest on a large tree stump in the River Styx has also a breeding couple.

A pair of Bald Eagles has set up residence in a tree in the north-west corner of the River Styx. Here are some photos that Mark Fleming took. Mark is a neighbour on our road who loves to be on the water in his kayak and with his camera at the ready.

mark fleming swans 2016 aHere are two mute swans side by side, Pa and Ma perfectly lined up except for their heads. Cygnets have a comfortable ride. End of May, 2016, River Styx.

mark fleming bald eagle bA Bald Eagle watching over its nest site. A little later his or her mate flies in with food.

mark fleming bald eagle aAnd to prove the point, here is the nest with at least two young.

mark fleming bald eagle dThank you Mark for sharing these photos with all your neighbours and friends who are interested in the natural history of the Aragon Road. 


The weedy areas of Colonel By Lake were the nursery for a few days last week, May 23-25 with lots of Carp mating. The entire day the sound of splashing and gurgling water whipped up by the large fish was overwhelming. Here are a few shots of the mating game. The carp are at least 75 cm to one metre in length.

spawning bass 8 may 19 10

carp spawning may 24 2016

carp spawning may 24 2016 dPhotos taken by Henk Wevers, from our dock in the shallow Draper Bay at the northwest end of Colonel By Lake. 


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floxes nice 2015

Four Historic Homes on Aragon Road

Congratulations to the owners of four homes on our Aragon Road that have been added to the Heritage Property List of the City of Kingston. These four are:  the John Hogan House at Aragon nr. 13, built in circa 1863; the Michael Burke Farm at nr. 204 built after 1861; The Corrigan House at nr. 384, built before 1860 and the Draper Farm at nr. 464, built prior to 1860.

farm hogan end of roadThe John Hogan House, now owned by Art and Thea Tidman.


colours oct 2011 graham prop.ajpg

The Michael Burke Farm, owned by the late Cecil and Wilma Graham


bob w house jan 2010 1200x 700

The Corrigan House, currently owned by Bob Wolfe and Jackie Duffin


quintin house oct 2013The Draper Farm, currently owned by Phil and Judith Quintin

There is one historic house left of the list and that is the house previously owned by the Lockett family, and currently owned by Jamie Carson and Catherine Dhavernas. According to Ryan Leary,  Senior Planner, Heritage, it will be added later.

I have no idea why it was not listed as it is built in the same period as the Michael Burke farm house, better known as the Graham farmhouse. The Locket house was original red brick but Colonel Fair would by farms, ‘modernise the farmhouse by stuccoing the outside,severing it off with a parcel of land  and sell it for a profit.

lockett house after renovation The Lockett house, now owned by Jamie Carson and Catherine Dhavernas 


The owners of these historical houses received a letter with extensive documentation about the farmhouses, an aerial view of the property, part of a historic map by Putnam and Walling, 1860, a section on the architectural merits of the house, historic data and the criteria used to assign the Cultural Heritage Value according to Ontario Regulation 9/06

The Putman and Wallling map is included in this website at:


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graham trees oct 14 2015 ineke

The Swans Are Back

The mute swans have come back in large numbers. Today we saw five swans landing in Draper Bay at the northwest end of Colonel By Lake. They joined several others who already enjoyed the clear water of the bay around this time of the approaching spring. Here is a group from around the same time last year. Given a chance we will try to take a photograph of the 2016 early arrivals.


They breed in the River Styx where there are much larger wetlands with less human traffic nearby. An invasive species they are nevertheless a beautiful sight.

Other recent arrivals are: Blue Herons, Kingfishers, Canada Geese, Cormorants, Terns, lots of ducks and …the Ospreys.

Have a great time observing the rich wildlife around our Aragon Road.

The photo in the heading of this blog was taken a few days ago with a decent camera and good telelens from across the bay.

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osprey esther marsh july 13 09 joung wings spread





We all thought to get off light this winter. By Christmas, Colonel By Lake was not even frozen over. Ducks, geese and even mute swans happily swam in the middle of the lake safe from the hunters. How wrong we were…

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After Christmas, the lake did freeze over and members of the Kingston Yacht Club quietly sailed their iceboats across the lake. There were more sailors this year than ever. Our bird feeder also saw different birds: six bluejays fighting with the cardinals and each other, just one mourning dove, lots of chickadees, and, surprise, five robins in the shrubs looking for the odd leftover berries?

ice sailing feb 2016 a

All very nice. And then suddenly we had the Arctic vortex that pushed very cold arctic air southward and we received the full blast on the weekend of February 13-14.


Minus 30 Celsius

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winter wow feb 2016 d

And today, February 16 we got the biggest snowfall ever, 45-50 cm all in one day!

I thought you might enjoy these photographs.

winter wow feb 2016 nicer a

winter wow feb 2016 nicer b

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