Monday, November 27, 2023

Trout Hollow and John Muir

This hike took place in May 2016, but I'll include it here to round out the story of John Muir at Trout Hollow.  A few months after learning all about the power plant here from my friend Glen, I went on a public walk with Robert Burcher, local author of 'My Summer of Glorious Freedom', the  story of Muir's time in Ontario.  

Bob told us the story of Muir's time in Trout Hollow and pointed out relevant spots as  we walked.  Here he's showing us a map of the valley, including the location of the cabin where Muir stayed, and the sawmill itself.

We walked down through the woods on the same trail as before.  The new beech leaves tell you it's spring.

We came out to the river where you can see the remnant concrete wall of the old dam  on the left.   Muir's cabin was in the forest above the riverbank on the right of the photo, down and to the right of that high bluff.

Here we are in the small spot where the cabin once stood,

If you're wondering how we know this story, Muir himself left a sketch of the cabin, and letters written to people he knew in Meaford.

There has been an archeological dig which revealed shards of pottery from the time.

This would have been the approximate view Muir would have had out through the trees to the passing Bighead River.
And this depression full of tangled trees was the location of the Trout Sawmill.

Bob talked about Muir's plant collecting too, showing us an illustration of his specimen of the rare Walking Fern.  Muir grew up in an intensely religious family, and came to Canada as a conscientious objector during the American Civil War, but his real interest was botany.  The short online biography by the Sierra Club simply leaves out these years.

We came out along the shoreline of the Bighead where we found a beautiful specimen of Serviceberry in full bloom.

Then it was back through the woods and up the now overgrown old road to our cars.  Needless to say I found the walk fascinating and promptly bought a copy of Bob's book.  I knew the story of John Muir of course, as I'd taught environmental science, but I never knew about his time in Ontario.


  1. I would not have known anything about John Muir, had it not been for the Alaskan cruise. The naturalist did mention his time in Ontario.
    There is something so interesting about walking in the paths that we know that those long passed walked and studied. Thanks for sharing this hike and its photos with us.

  2. I think I only know that story because you've mentioned it before. You did though get me Googling his life which was very interesting. Wikipedia has a very full account.

  3. As a lover of Muir from his various trips, sayings, and parks in the US in his honor...I'd not heard about his Canada years. Thanks. How wonderful to walk there in an area he knew well for a while.

  4. This is interesting to me but must have been doubly so to you.

    And yes, I am a Habs fan through thick and thin. These are thin times. 😎

  5. Ditto! It's been so lovely to see these experiences of Muir in Canada. And to learn it from you is doubly wonderful.

  6. I too would have found this historical hike fascinating. I just finished a book a few weeks ago about two people skiing the John Muir trail in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains.

  7. It's unfortunate that John Muir didn't have more of an influence on forest management in the U.S., he had some, but not enough.

  8. you have i lot of great hikes to reflex on!! muir sounds like an interesting, wonderful man!!