Thursday, 30 August 2012

Martha Webber on the Destruction of the Beaver Pond Forest

Martha Webber, renowned Kanata/Ottawa botanist, naturalist and educator, wrote the following in response to the news of the final complete clear-cutting of the Beaver Pond Forest in the South March Highlands. It is posted here with her permission.

Is there no way to end the destruction? This old growth forest is not only a refuge for wildlife, First Nation artifacts, but unique in its location within an urban boundary. Ottawa's version of Algonquin park, with trails accessible by foot, bike or public transit in use year round by residents and guests to the city. The "lungs of the world", so called because of air purification, reflected in the health of our citizens. Even on the hottest days of summer, those who walk its trails benefit from clean, fragrant air and escape from constant city noise. Autistic children respond well to this, all of us benefit. Such a walk in Japan is called "forest bathing" for stress reduction and health support. There is still sufficient forest standing to become a city park which would soon recover the cost as an ecotourism attraction.

There are already more new families in proliferating developments than there are schools and other supports available. No consideration is given to endangered plants and animals, even to flora and fauna in general. They have no rights when measured against development money and influence. So much money is available today for major city projects, if some could be postponed ? A forest must be a certain size and quality to support a viable wildlife food chain, and ours is being decimated.

There is so much money being spent in this city today, some of these targets could be postponed for a while. A layer of smog already overlies the city on hot days, without the ancient forest we will require some sort of filter to breathe, as in other major cities like Mexico City, or Toronto, and children and seniors will be especially at risk.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

"Tour de Sudbury" - Cycling in Sudbury

Our hometown of Sudbury is not known for it's cycling infrastructure or even for a positive attitude towards cycling but there are organizations like the Sudbury Cyclists Union, the Rainbow Routes Association and the Sudbury Cycles Project that are trying to change that and there is even a proposed Bicycle Technical Master Plan For The City of Greater Sudbury.

It was the Rainbow Routes Association map of non-motorized trails in Sudbury that inspired us to try out some of the cycling routes in Sudbury as they did look promising.

We mixed a combination of Sudbury history and waterways in our route selection.

Looking to the history of Sudbury:

The City of Sudbury was founded in 1883 at a point on the railway known as Sudbury Junction, where the branch line to Algoma Mills joined the main line of the CPR. Prior to the establishment of the mining industry, (which occurred around 1900), Sudbury's stability and growth depended both on the railway and on the lumbering industry. (Source:)
We decided to create a route that started by following the historical Junction Creek along the Junction Creek Waterway Park and then went around Ramsey Lake and through the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area

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We started our ride at the Rotary Park by the Adanac Ski Hill in New Sudbury wwhere the City is building a BMX park and followed the Junction Creek Waterway Park pathway to downtown





It was a very enjoyable ride along a very scenic hard-packed gravel path. For the most part it was well signed and even on my Backroad Mapbooks background map on my GPS.

However when we came to transition to the connection to the "Tour de Sudbury" route along Ramsey Lake we had to rely on our map along with our previous knowledge of Sudbury to make the connection.

It was unclear from the trail map whether the route around Ramsey Lake was on a dedicated path or on the road, although the fact that it followed the roads exactly (except where it went through the conservation area) was a pretty good clue that it was mostly a road route, although most of it was on some of the few marked bike lanes that exist in Sudbury. It was still a pleasant ride and traffic did not seem threatening at all.

The most interesting part of the ride along Ramsey Lake began when we left the pavement and entered the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area and were away from "civilization" for awhile. You definitely wanted to be on a hybrid and not a high-end road bike in this section especially for a few loose gravel downhill sections. The scenery was lovely especially near the boardwalk.


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And it stayed interesting when we rejoined the pavement at South Bay Road and what must have been the steepest uphill I have ever ridden. Thanks to our Ireland bike tour I was able to climb the whole thing, albeit with some rest stops.

After a few more ups and downs it was back on the flat and continuing our ride till we stopped at Science North for lunch, then on along the pathway along Ramsey Lake through Bell Park, back over the old Iron Bridge and and back along the creek to the start of our very enjoyable journey.


We hope to check out some more of the cycling opportunities in Sudbury on future trips up north.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Ireland Bike Tour - Post Bike Tour Slide Shows

After the bike tour we stayed in Ennis for a few days and took a bus to Limerick for a day tour.

The most interesting observation we made was that while Ennis had narrow streets with one lane one way traffic and narrow sidewalks, much of Limerick had wide streets with one lane one way traffic and very wide sidewalks. And both towns had portions of their centre cores that were pedestrian only.

While in Limerick we visited King John's Castle.


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The slide shows above portray the streetscapes and scenes of Limerick, followed by King John's Castle. The slide show below features those wonderful red Irish flowers in Ennis.


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Sunday, 19 August 2012

Ireland Bike Tour - Cycling Day 6 Slide Show

This was the longest ride of the tour but not too bad as far as hills go, except for the last ride into Westport, up and down and then back up and down again. Lots of scenery but not too many photo stops because of the long ride and then drive back to Ennis in the van.


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The slide show above starts with the obligatory photo of a rainbow in front of a mountain and features more of the Irish landscape, including hills and streams, and of course sheep, as well as the Irish famine memorial.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Ireland Bike Tour - Break Day Slide Show

We took today easy, went for a walk near the lodge on Lough Inagh in the morning and managed to talk Jeff into driving us to the Kylemore Abbey in the afternoon where we explored the grounds and the remarkable gardens. There is some real interesting history about this place.


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The slide show above features the mountains and landscape near the lodge followed by the Kylemore Abbey and gardens.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Ireland Bike Tour - Cycling Day 5, Sheep Shearing, Flowers and More Slide Shows

If you’ve ever been to a county fair or watched a movie about Australia you have seen sheep sheering, but usually with electric shears. In this part of Ireland they use hand shears and probably sheer the sheep faster and cleaner than with the electric ones. This was a great day for photos, including a good number of flower close-ups. There was a really great mountain behind our Lodge that I was so tempted to try to climb up.


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The slide show above features more of the Irish landscape including ruins, mountains, streams and beaches, as well as sheep and sheep shearing and ends with lovely views from our hotel.

The slide show below features Irish flowers.


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Saturday, 4 August 2012

Ireland Bike Tour - Cycling Day 4, Discovering Ireland's Sheep Slide Show

Today was a day at the beach as we stopped at a wonderful little beach along the route, as well as made a visit to the lovely town of Clifden. More scenery, and did I mention the sheep. The sheep in Ireland seem to have priority over the roads, followed by bicycles and then cars.


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The slide show above starts with a view from our hotel dining room followed by views of the grounds, then it's on to the landscape with an emphasis on geology. We have our first encounters with Ireland’s sheep, as well as stop for a visit to a lovely beach. Final views are from our new hotel room window followed by a visit to the town of Clifden.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Ireland Bike Tour - Cycling Day 3, The Aran Islands Slide Show

Most of the day was spent on one of the Aran Islands. It was a great day for photography as it was actually sunny and there was so much to photograph, from a remarkable fort to literally hundreds (maybe thousands) of stone fences from millions of stones dividing up the tiny allotments that people had to tend to survive from farming. Did I mention the dolphins swimming around in the harbour beside the ferry, which unfortunately we took no photos of.


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The slide show above is mostly concentrated on the remarkable landscape of the Aran Islands followed by some photos of the mainland landscape ending at The Cashel House, a lovely country inn sitting beside Bertraghboy Bay.