Part 30: Centre Road to Prince of Wales Road
Date: Wednesday 26 June 2019
Start: Centre Road at 10 Side Road, Whitfield
End: Prince of Wales Road at 20 Side Road, Honeywood
Distance covered: 10.2 km
Total distance covered: 362.9 km
354A & B. It takes us more than an hour to get our cars to our hike’s start and end points this fine morning. Following GPS, we descended a steep, rocky road little better than a stream bed, only to find it blocked by fallen trees, possibly deliberately placed or left. By the end of today’s hike we have become familiar with the real meanings of two signs seen frequently in this neck of the woods. “No Winter Maintenance Beyond This Point” means “No Maintenance, Period” and the road is likely to be impassible. “No Exit,” on the other hand, means “This May Be A Through Road, But We Local Residents Don’t Like To Be Disturbed, So Keep Out.”
355. For us city dwellers, two unusual things stand out in this image of a farmhouse near the start of our hike. The first is washing hanging on a line to dry. This is not a common sight in North America these days, though both Mike and I are old enough to remember when this was a standard household practice. These days a washing line connotes the shameful inability to afford a dryer. But is there any more energy-efficient way of drying clothes on a fine day that to expose them to the inexhaustible rays of our neighbourhood star and the air currents it causes as it heats the atmosphere? And then partly cut off by the right edge of the image is the second unusual thing …
356 … namely, a giant photovoltaic solar panel, suggesting that the inhabitants of this farmhouse are using the sun for more than just drying clothes. These rural folks are way ahead of the game. If we are to survive in our crowded, energy-hungry cities, in the future we’ll have to see far more washing drying on communal lines, and if our urban air is clean enough to hang washing out, it’ll be thanks to the widespread use of solar-generated electricity.
357. A colourful roadside display of cranesbill, that has probably escaped from a nearby garden. Cranesbill is another name for the “wild” geranium; in fact, geranium derives from the Greek word for crane (the bird). The seed-dispersal mechanism in some species of geranium resembles a crane’s beak.
358. These are yellow lady’s slippers, a.k.a. moccasin flowers, native relatives of the orchid family. The big hole in the “slipper” entices a bee to enter, looking for nectar. There isn’t any nectar, but as there’s no room to turn round, the bee must exit through another narrower hole at the slipper’s toe, where it becomes coated with pollen. The bee (clearly a young, callow insect) then repeats the procedure in another lady’s slipper, pollinating it from the first.
359. Pine River Fishing Area is the first stretch of open water we’ve seen for some time. Once a millpond produced by a dam on the Pine River (a tributary of the Nottawasaga), the pond has recently been restocked with brook trout, though there was no one fishing when we walked by.
360. This small but striking mushroom was standing alone close to the Trail. At first glance I identified it as the yellow type of Amanita muscaria, the fly agaric with its notorious hallucinogenic properties. However, more research has half persuaded me that it is actually the related Amanita flavoconia, a.k.a. the yellow patches mushroom. If so, it’s probably poisonous. Mycologists are typically vague about whether certain wild mushrooms can be eaten: mushrooms are very difficult to identify correctly, and experts can’t really afford to be wrong in their advice to the public about edibility.
361. This wooden barn-like structure stands apparently abandoned on Prince of Wales Road south of 20 Side Road. It has two storeys, a basement, and no windows. Signs warn trespassers away. Is it an old mill? (A small, energetic creek flows a few metres away, and the pioneering settlement of Horning’s Mills isn’t far away as the crow flies.) Is the landowner planning to renovate it, or move it to a heritage site?
362. Field horsetail in the vegetative stage makes a fuzzy green border of this small creek. This weed, which has very ancient antecedents, is, ironically, especially poisonous to young horses.
363. Prince of Wales Road? This thoroughfare begins as the northern extension of Highway 10 and dwindles to a narrow twisty lane that serves as the Bruce Trail for a kilometer or more. It was opened in 1860, the year Edward, the eldest son of Queen Victoria, came of age. That year he made the first ever tour of North America by a Prince of Wales, visiting Montreal, Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Hamilton, and Toronto among other places. He probably never set foot in Mulmur Township, but his mere presence in the Province of Canada evidently delighted the local inhabitants enough to name a road after him. Edward would have a long wait to become King Edward VII, as he was 59 when his mother died in 1901. The current Prince of Wales, 70 years old, is still waiting to become King Charles III.