Ok, can you find the clues that reveal this late April scene to be the location of a pioneer homestead? Some years ago, my friend who owns this property, just as a bush lot, was lamenting that he had never found the site of any pioneer home on the 50 acres. I looked across the field, spotted a cluster of unique trees, and said "How about over there?" And I was right!
You can't see all the clues in this photo, but you can see two of them, the shrubs on the left and the taller trees on the right.
The first clue that there may have been a homestead nearby, was this old stone fencerow.
It's one of the most remarkable stone fencerows I've seen here, because it isn't constructed of smaller rocks or boulders piled up, it's just a line of enormous boulders! I can't even fathom how they moved these with just horses and pioneer ingenuity.
And here's the clump of shrubs. Do you recognize them by their growth form, or the remnant seed cases against the sky? I'm sure most of you have seen these, or even have them in your yard.
They're Lilacs, here with large swollen buds ready to burst into purple flower. I'm sure they're a very old variety, and have just slowly spread from some small original plantings.
And here's the other most obvious ornamental plant - Day Lilies! Just the common orange 'Ditch Lilies', but 150 years ago that was probably all the pioneers had.
Finally, the trees, though I can't blame you for not recognizing these at this time of year. They're Silver Poplar, or European White Poplar, with leaves that are actually white underneath, and maple-leaf shaped. Theyre another popular plant found around pioneer homesteads. I'll get a picture later in the season for you.
And crawling around in the underbrush under those trees, what did we find but a small pile of rocks that I expect was once the corner foundation of a log cabin.
Half-buried in the dirt, I found a red brick when I walked here Monday.
So this is a little flat patch, right in front of a stream, where I believe a small log cabin was built by the pioneers who homesteaded here, and planted a few Lilacs, Day Lilies and Silver Poplar to bring civilization to the wilderness that was then southern Ontario. Those plants were undoubtedly precious to people who probably travelled from Britain to make a new life!
At this time of year, there's even a little stream that is dropping down into a karst depression, and disappearing down a sinkhole. Hope you enjoyed our sleuthing expedition!