Monday, November 28, 2022

Driving Across Glacial Lake Algonquin

You've heard about our visit to Barrie, getting that button on the dashboard pushed and visiting the gigantic Bradford greenhouses, so you have heard the interesting part of this story.  But for this post you have to let me indulge my interest in the glacial landscape between Meaford and Barrie, which I have always found fascinating.

To understand the landscape, the physical geology that underlies this area, we start with Blue Mountain which you drive straight toward east of Thornbury, only 20 minutes from Meaford.

As you go round the curve you get the view that everyone thinks of as 'Blue Mountain' with the first of its ski runs.  You can probably make out a couple of the ski runs at the Peaks Ski Club, but let me tell you about the geology.  This and the land for some distance to the south is the highest part of the Niagara Escarpment largely because of the Algonquin Arch which runs to the northeast, deep underground, pushing the entire landscape higher.  This is why the slope is so high (and the ski runs so long).

Blue Mountain itself is composed of Queenston Shale, a very thick geological formation that erodes fairly easily into long gentle slopes, perfect for - you guessed it - downhill skiing.  That it remains this steep is due to the hard layer of Dolomite at the top, the Manitoulin Formation, that forms a cap rock, keeping the shale from eroding even further back.  If you were to hike the Bruce Trail, which circles the top of the mountain, you would find it almost completely a flat plateau.

The waves of the former post-glacial Lake Algonquin lapped at the bottom of Blue Mountain, and that former lakebed provides the flat land between the slopes and the bay where we are driving today.  We will meet Lake Algonquin again below, after we pass through Collingwood and Stayner.

We have driven through Collingwood and Stayner now, but as we head further east, I am struck by how flat and level the landscape is, for this is a huge former bay of Lake Algonquin, and we are actually driving on the old lakebed, which here extends many kilometers inland from the sand dunes of Wasaga beach today.

There are some interesting old barns, this one added to several times.

The Nottawsaga River drains through the huge Minesing Swamp in the middle of this area.  I once canoed this route, starting 25 miles south and pulling out just a short bit north of this bridge.

A few very modern farms too; this one was particularly impressive.

Farmers were active too on that sunny warm day, either harvesting the last of the corn, or as here, ploughing the fields after the harvest was complete.  We hardly ever see a mould-board plough any more, that actually turns the soil over, farmers use chisel ploughs like this one to loosen the surface but minimize erosion.

You do eventually come to the end of glacial Lake Algonquin, about the village of Minesing, but sorry, I did not get any pictures there.

Barrie is southeast of the ancient lakebed; on the way home though you are soon back down on the lakebed of post-glacial Lake Algonquin just west of Barrie, that same very flat landscape.

As you head north and west you can eventually see the shadow where the flat landscape will end, the Niagara Escarpment running south of Collingwood.
As you get closer coming west out of Collingwood, you are again driving straight into Blue Mountain where the post-glacial lakebed ends.  (I really just took this picture for the looping hydro wires).

After you pass Blue and drive through Thornbury, you get a very similar view, but this is not Blue Mountain at all, nor is it the Niagara Escarpment.  This is the bluff of the Blue Mountain Formation, carved into a steep slope by that same post-glacial Lake Algonquin.  I am sure it confuses many people driving  between Thornbury and Meaford (if they stop to think about it at all), but it is quite different geologically.  There is no dolomite layer on top of this huge slope.  Someday I will have to sort out the geology of the Meaford area and write about that.  Hope you enjoyed my geology tour!

Friday, November 25, 2022

Bradford Greenhouses Garden Gallery

CAUTION!  Far too many photographs, scroll through quickly!

After several posts describing our big snowstorm last weekend, I am taking you back to Barrie.  Remember when we learned about the button on the dashboard, a very easy fix and much appreciated!  

To pick up the story, after leaving the car dealer, and braving a couple of miles on Hwy. 400, we found Bradford Nursery which Mrs. F.G. wanted to visit and spent an enjoyable hour or two exploring the galleries.  It was huge!  Not actually our kind of place, but Mrs. F.G. hoped she might find the odd interesting plant, so that is what she was looking for.  

I did not realize that polar bears were a big part of the Christmas story, but they were what welcomed us here.

There was more greenery available than you could shake a stick at, but for people who are used to going out and cutting their own, this was an expensive way to get it!

And I am pleased to report that they had quite a good collection of Furry Gnomes.

But it was the plants that Mrs. F.G. was interested in, the house plants specifically.  I think that is going to be her new winter hobby this year.

So we found our way (past the furniture and clothing sections) to the house plant section.  It was a huge area!  Here is a selection of what I saw.

Of course they also had Poinsettas, and we bought three, two as gifts and one for ourselves. Ours is shading my laptop as I write this.

And then there were more Furry Gnomes.
And I look just about as shaggy as these gnomes at the moment!

So with our main reason for driving to Barrie dealt with (that button), we said good-bye to Bradford Greenhouse Galleries and headed home, a long but successful day.  And Mrs. F.G. took four new plants home with her.

Today it is drizzling and the snow continues to melt, a dull grey day.  Small bits of the garden and patio are now bare, all the driveways and the road are too.  It is supposed to hit 10°C tomorrow, so I think most of the snow will be gone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Our Snow is Melting Fast!

Although we got a snow dump of historic proportions last weekend, it is melting fast.  The sun has been out on and off, and the temperature is above freezing.  The difference between -3° and +3° is remarkable, and now it is +5°!   At this rate we will soon have no snow left.

A slightly different view for you, this one over the kitchen sink, with the sun shining brightly this morning.  Look at those shadows!

But I have been watching it melt.  This is the big drift that was curled over the edge of our roof.  Most snow vanishes by just evaporating (sublimation*, strictly speaking), but here you can actually watch it melting.

I kept at it as I watched the drips fall, and pretty soon I captured a drip in mid-air!

The dripping has speeded up since, and is now pretty well continuous.  Typical November weather here.

It is hard to even remember the scene 4 days ago!

* Evaporation is when a liquid changes to a gas, like water to water vapour; sublimation is when a solid changes to a gas, like snow directly to water vapour.  I have always been fascinated that the snow just seems to vanish rather than actually melting.

HELP - I am having trouble with certain keys on my laptop.  Quotation marks, accents, slashes, are all replaced by É.  Anyone got any bright ideas of what Ièm doing wrongÉ

Sunday, November 20, 2022

What Canadians Do in the Winter

They clear snow, that is what!  They either shovel, buy a snowblower, of if they are like me, they hire a snow removal service (in our case out of necessity).  I have frequently heard the noise of the snowblowers outside this weekend!

Our neighbours have had to break out the snowblowers each day the past three days!

Working together they can get a neat and complete snow removal job done in spite of it being about 16 inches deep.

And sometimes they will stop and take time for a chat with the work partly complete.  It has been a snowy weekend to remember!

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Snow, Snow and More Snow!

Well, at least we did not get the dump of four feet or more that Buffalo and area got, but we did get about two feet, and it is still snowing lightly with more to come.  It is early in the season for this much snow, but not all that unusual to get a big heavy snowfall at some point in November.  I love storms like this though, so I put together some pairs of photos from yesterday and today, for your viewing pleasure.  For your convenience I have repeated the photos from yesterday, first in each case.

The view out back - look closely!

Snow on the planter - a Viking coffin!

Our Ostrich has now become a Polar Bear, just a white lump in the snow.

Likewise, the big mushroom is simply another lump in the snow.

This was heavy wet snow, so this morning all the neighbours who still do the work themselves were out with their snowblowers and shovels, and two different snow blowing services were busy on the street.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Snow Squalls!

The visit to the plant nursery in Barrie will have to wait while I tell you about the snow squalls we are getting today.  You know winter is really here once we are getting serious snow squalls.  It is 8-10 inches deep now, more in places, with a forecast of up to two feet of snow over the weekend.

If you are not familiar with lake-effect snow, this is what it looks like on the radar (a photo of the computer screen, so the quality is pretty bad, but you get the idea).  Bands of snow develop over the open water of the Great Lakes, picking up lots of moisture, and then dumping sometimes huge amounts of snow once the moisture-laden winds hit land.  So the lake-effect snow occurs on the east side of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, and the east ends of Lakes Erie and Ontario.  On this image you can see it hitting just south of Buffalo, a patch east of Lake Huron, and a meandering band across Georgian Bay, hitting us as well as Owen Sound.

This is what the view out back looked like this morning, and there is probably twice as much snow now.  But the window is covered with melting snow, so I cannot get any up-to-date pictures out there.

There was 10" of snow on top of the planters; there is probably 16" now.

The new circular planters Mrs. F.G. put in this year are accumulating snow because of the rabbit-proof fencing she put around each one.

Our crane has buried his/her head in the snow, and become an Ostrich.

A very large pot has become a mushroom.

This snow is heavy and wet enough that it is sticking to the trees - and is very hard to shovel.  The temperature is hovering around 0°C.

This is the view across the street a short time ago.  When snow is coming down this heavily it accumulates very fast, and visibility when driving becomes almost nil.  We will see what the weekend brings; we may be on our own.  We are certainly not going anywhere!