Part 21: Chinguacousy Road to Escarpment Side Road
Date: Wednesday 17 October 2018
Start: Chinguacousy Road, Caledon
End: Escarpment Side Road, Caledon Village
Distance covered: 13.3 km
Total distance covered: 269.3 km
257. We’re on the Grange Side Road in Caledon, the horsey hub of southern Ontario: “breeding farms, coaching and training facilities, riding schools, boarding stables, equestrian ranches, suppliers and a wide range of equestrian events.”
258. Horses in this neck of the woods mean pretentious portals protecting princely pastures …
259. … but this gateway is one of the few that does acknowledge the world outside the estate.
260. A touch of sunshine lights up the autumnal woods:
Needs not the foreign aid of ornament,
But is when unadorned adorned the most.”
– James Thomson, “Autumn”
261. Mike goes down the almost sheer face of the Devil’s Pulpit with the help of a steel cable. This is one of the longest, steepest descents we’ve had so far. This area was known for its quarrying in the mid-19th century. The pinkish whirlpool sandstone used to construct the Ontario Legislature Building (a.k.a. “The Pink Palace”) at Queen’s Park, Toronto came from around here. The Credit Valley Railway (opened 1879), which we cross just before our descent, was built to get the stone to town. This line still operates as the Orangeville-Brampton Railway.
262. The 1884 brick schoolhouse on Chisholm Street near the banks of the Credit River in Brimstone has been extended and turned into a private dwelling. The old schoolhouse part still bears a Latin inscription, “Pro Bono Publico” [For the Public Good], and the extension now has one too. “Et in Arcadia Ego” is a very interesting phrase. It means literally “Even in Arcadia [am] I,” and because Arcadia was a beautiful valley in Greece associated with pastoral bliss, the 2015 inscription suggests something like, “I’m in heaven here in the beautiful Credit Valley.” But “Et in Arcadia Ego” was the title of some Renaissance paintings, including a famous one by Nicolas Poussin, with a much darker theme. His painting shows shepherds and a nymph gathered around a tomb that bears the phrase “Et in Arcadia Ego,” suggesting the meaning, “I [Death] am here, even in Arcadia.” In other words, even in Arcadia (or the Credit Valley), you can’t hide from the Grim Reaper.
263. A reminder by the banks of the Credit that the important 1973 Act aiming to preserve the Niagara Escarpment was passed by the minority Progressive Conservative Government of Bill Davis, whose Brampton riding included this part of Caledon. As we have seen, the Escarpment is perpetually under threat from suburbanization and the quarrying industry. It is to be hoped that future governments, regardless of political stripe, will recognize that protection of the Escarpment is a matter transcending short-term partisanship.
264. This is one of the forks of the Credit River viewed from the bridge at the end of Dominion Road. Near here several creeks coalesce to form the 90 km long river that eventually flows into Lake Ontario at Port Credit, Mississauga. The river’s strange name comes from the French “Rivière au Crédit.” This takes us back to the early 18th century, when French fur traders met with members of the Mississauga (an Anishanaabe-speaking First Nation) at what is now Port Credit and advanced them goods on credit for furs to be supplied the following spring.
265. The narrow Valley of the Credit is quite spectacular. Inevitably, the wealthy have colonized the edge of the Escarpment and cleared the tree cover to give themselves an uninterrupted view.
266. We meet this gentleman climbing the hill out of the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. He tells us that his little dog, warmly dressed against the cool wind, is too old to climb such a steep hill comfortably and needs a lift.
267. This official Bruce Trail Conservancy metal sign greets us as we leave Forks of the Credit Provincial Park and are about to set out along Puckering Lane. No blazes along the Trail “due to circumstances beyond our control”? Did the BTC run out of white paint, or could they find no volunteers to apply it? There is certainly no shortage of trees along Puckering Lane to waymark. We consult our bible, the Bruce Trail Reference Edition 29, which declares in boldface: “Blazes and signs from the park stile to McLaren Road may be missing or may not be visible due to ongoing vandalism.” How on earth do you vandalize a white blaze? And why would you do so?
268. There are plenty of other signs along Puckering Lane. This is how they look, and it’s no exaggeration to say that they are affixed to trees every twenty metres. What on earth is going on along this quaintly-named, peaceful country lane? It’s not till we get home and do a little research that we get a handle on what has happened. A Bruce Trail blog from 2012, describing an encounter between hikers and a local resident, offers the best clue. It would seem that the vandals are the wealthy owners of property along Puckering Lane. Claiming to suffer from drug-taking, sex-crazed trespassers, they decided that the Bruce Trail was to blame, so they would punish it by obliterating the blazes. Such an act is, of course, ridiculous and totally counter-productive. We Bruce Trail hikers are the last to behave in disrespectful ways on private property. (Puckering Lane itself is a public road.) But if you remove our blazes, we are much more likely to stray inadvertently onto private territory as we try to locate the Trail! Puckering Lane provides a startling example of the almost crazed sense of entitlement currently afflicting some of the wealthy suburbanites colonizing Escarpment lands.
269. A wild turkey has an altercation with a squirrel (hiding behind that rock) on the front lawn of a house on Puckering Lane. These large birds, from which domestic turkeys are descended, love nuts, and a nut is undoubtedly the cause of the argument with the squirrel. Wild turkeys only fly short distances. They roost in trees overnight, but they prefer to walk around on the ground during the day.