| May 14, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - May 14, 2009 Tour of an Eastern Ontario gemby Julie Druker

The Friends of the Salmon River bus tour disembark in Lonsdale and tour-goers get a look at the old mill ruins. (photo courtesy of David Field

On May 9, friends and members of the Friends of the Salmon River (FSR) - 50 nature enthusiasts - boarded a bus in Tamworth and set out on a day-long tour of the Salmon River. David Field, co-president of the FSR, organized the tour, an annual event that has happened since the group was founded in 2004 by Gray Merriam, also a co-president.

This year members decided to run the tour in the spring instead of the fall to give tour goers a different look at the landscape of this pristine river when it is running high in the spring.

On board the bus were FSR members and past board members geologist Dugald Carmichael, historian Michael Rehner and biologist/naturalist Don Cuddy, who provided a running commentary of all aspects of the river and watershed.

At Story Lake, at the top of the watershed, the toured disembarked and Carmichael spoke about the basalt pillows, smooth black forms on the side of the Arden Road, a particular geological feature unique to the area. He explained how they formed millions of years ago and throughout the tour he explained how a lot of the natural features in the area, such as glacial lakes and rocky outcrops, had formed. Field described the information as “fascinating since it puts the area in a context.”

Rehner, the historian, talked about the various villages in the area: Henderson, Harlowe, Lonsdale, Forest Mills, Croydon, and Milltown and put them in their historical context numbering the hotels, mills and naming who settled them and when. Rehner also read interesting news clippings from archives that related to each town.

In Arden he read from an historical archive about an Arden resident who owned a bull that enjoyed being ridden around town and who would knock on his owner's door asking to be ridden. Field explained, “It’s the kind of thing that makes history alive for people.”

Halfway up the Arden Road, the group stopped at an off-the-grid house with one of the earliest log buildings in the area, built in the 1830s; it is supposedly haunted by the knocking sounds of a woman who was confined to the attic.

Tour-goers learned what these small towns were like in the thriving 1860s when some had over 50 houses, numerous hotels, grist mills and various stores and other services, all of which came about because of logging and the availability of water.

Most of the tour-goers were residents of the area hoping to find out more about the watershed. According to Field the intent of the tour is “to spread knowledge of the Salmon River, its history and its ecology and through doing that, our hope is that there will be a greater appreciation of the area so that when we need support on issues there will be a supportive group of people.”

On Monday the FSR had planned a tree planting workshop at Beaver Lake for FSR members, who planned to plant 1200 riparian trees on their properties along the river, encouraging its continued ecological health.

The FSR are currently addressing various threats to the river's health and have taken the position that a dump located on the river's banks in Roblin should be closed. They are waiting for a response on that issue.

They are also drawing attention to recent changes to environmental legislation that allow projects like mini hydro projects to go ahead with less rigorous environmental assessment than previously required. This in turn could pose future threats to the watershed and the river.

Field, who lives on the river, has a vested interest in its continued health and has been an FSR member for four years and on the board for two. In his words, “We swim in it, ski on it and it’s almost our barometer for how we’re going to feel that day.”

For more information on Friends of the Salmon River, please visit www.friendsofsalmonriver.ca.

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