Monday, July 13, 2020

Wyevale(ish) to Midland

The road was busy and loud for much of last night, making sleep difficult. We finally decided to get up and underway around 7:00 am, consuming a breakfast of bread, jam, and water before packing up and heading out.


We continued down the gorgeous, treed trail, enjoying the cool green tunnel, even though today was another cloudy day. About a kilometer down the trail we discovered a great place to camp, that likely would have been much less noisy ... but such is life.
 

About 3 km down the trail we came to the village of Wyevale. From the trail we mostly saw a row a houses, with a few new developments, a central park, and a variety store. We stopped for a hot coffee and banana loaf in the store, and sat in the park to enjoy it.

 
 

Around Wyevale we found lots of colorfully painted insect houses on posts along the trail. They were tall and narrow, with long slits in the front, which isn't a design we were familiar with. There were also signs posted that an emerald ash borer study was ongoing in the region.

 

As we left town again the sky began to darken and the breeze picked up a little. We kept one eye on the sky as we continued along the treed trail, passing through a lovely pastoral landscape. The air smelled of fresh pine needles from the tall white pines, and to the east we could watch the tall grains moving across the fields like waves on the ocean. There were also some interesting barns to be photographed.
 



Around mid-morning the skies opened up. At first we felt just a few drops, then a few more, and then it rained really hard. The shower only lasted for about 20 minutes, but a lot of water fell, and the humidity skyrocketed after it stopped.

One of the interesting things about this region were the signs posted along the trail with historical information about this route. At one point we passed the site of the Huron-Wendat settlement of Ossossane, which was the capital of the Huron Confederacy. In 1637 it became the location of the first European church built in Ontario. In 1639 the church was moved to Saint Marie.

Another plaque told us about the Petun people, who were allies of the Huron-Wendat nation. They occupied 9 or 10 villages in the area between here and Toronto, and when Champlain came upon them in 1616 he observed them planting tobacco, and called them the Petuns, which is a 17th century French word for tobacco.

 
 
 

As we approached Penetanguishene the landscape became much more hilly, and we found ourselves walking among tall sand dunes that were covered with white pines, oak, and maples. The last section of the Tiny Trail was absolutely gorgeous. It became an undulating paved trail that followed the contours of Copeland Creek through a mature deciduous forest.

 
 

The loud calls of a Scarlet Tanager echoed through the misty, damp trees, coming from somewhere high overhead in the distance canopy. These were joined by the descending trills of a Hermit Thrush. In the distance the loud 'teacher, teacher, teacher' call of an Ovenbird could be heard. We passed a few sets of walkers and cyclists as we made our way through the park, and a very high energy golden retriever ran circles around us as we walked, his ears flying behind him and his long pink tongue lolling.


Eventually we ducked under a metal tunnel, walked a short stretch of trail, and then emerged onto the road along Georgian Bay. A new housing development was being constructed where we emerged, but we soon made our way around it to the shore of Georgian Bay, and the Penetanguishine Rotary Champlain Wendat Park. The view from this park is spectacular, because you look across the water at the rising green hills of Awenda Provincial Park.



The waterfront park in Penetanguishene stretched out along the coast of Georgian Bay. The trail followed a two-lane paved bike path through the green space, which contained a skate park, a marina, lots of benches, trees, and landscaped areas, and a small sandy beach. Much of the park was dedicated to telling the story of the Huron-Wendat people of the region and the explorer Samuel de Champlain.

 
 
 
 


In 1615 the French Explorer Samuel de Champlain landed on the shores of Georgian Bay. During his time in the region he formed strong alliances with the Indigenous peoples of the region, particularly the Huron-Wendat. He was on his seventh voyage to New France, when upon arriving in Quebec he learned of rising tensions between the Iroquois and his traditional allies, the Anishnabe and Wendat. Champlain gathered an army of 400-500 Indigenous warriors and attacked an Iroquois stronghold in what is now New York. After getting wounded in the battle he returned to this area to recover.

 

Partway through the park there was a wide brick promenade running straight out into the water along a landscaped pier. At one end was a bronze statue of 'The Meeting' which took place 400 years ago between Chief Aenon of the Huron Wendat people and Samuel de Champlain of France. The statue is a celebration of two cultures, faiths, and peoples coming together.























Farther inland bronze statues lined both sides of the promenade. Framed at the inland end of the walkway was the imposing, double-steepled St Anne's Roman Catholic Church up on the hilltop.


The park also featured several sheltered coves and ponds for birds. In one of these Sean spotted a Green Heron patiently fishing in the duck weed. A group of Cedar Waxwings was foraging for berries in the bushes at the pond's edge. As we turned to leave, a Song Sparrow let out an enthusiastic warble.

 
Another interesting bird we came across in the pond was a very light coloured Canada Goose. It wasn't albino, since its head and neck were black, but its feathers were much lighter than those of the other birds in its flock. It didn't seem to have any trouble fitting in.




At the far end of the beautiful and historically rich park we stopped at an old favourite hangout of ours - the 'Dock Lunch' restaurant. They serve delicious veggie burgers and milk shakes, and we decided to stop in for old times sake. Consuming that much food wasn't conducive to hiking another 15 km though!

 

After leaving the waterfront park we had a steep climb up into downtown Midland. We huffed and puffed up the main street, with its retirement homes, restaurants, Irish pub, small shops and boutiques. We then continued on to a stretch with outdoor plazas and box stores. After that we wove through neighborhoods, climbing all the while, and weaving a very confusing way among the streets until we found the trailhead.

 

Once we picked up the trail we had another beautiful stretch of walking on a paved trail through mature deciduous forest. There was a nature scavenger hunt going on in this stand of trees, with laminated photos of animals tied to trees throughout, so we kept an eye open for any lucky finds.

 
 
 
 

The trail through this section was very steep, descending straight down to wooden bridges over small creeks before climbing back up again. As we wove and wound through the trees we heard a Black-throated Blue Warbler, a Black-throated Green Warbler, a Winter Wren, and lots of Black-capped Chickadees giving their friendly chatter. In the background, a Swainsin's Thrush gave it's beautiful song.

After this lovely forest we emerged onto the waterfront in Midland. In some ways, this was a lot like Penetanguishene, but with less emphasis placed on featuring the cultural history of the region.

 
 
 
 

We made our way around a waterfront park on a paved bike trail. At one point the trail was flooded with a few inches of water, the waves from the lake gently lapping across the puddle. As we stopped to switch to sandals a family with three kids rode by on bicycles. The girl sped up at the sight of the water, covering her brother in a wave of cold water. There was lots of happiness and shrieking.


As we waded across we spotted a beautiful Map Turtle sunning itself on a log nearby. A little farther on was an Eastern Kingbird nest, where an adult was busily feeding nestlings.



One of the features of the waterfront in Midland is a large set of silos with a beautiful painted mural on them. The ADM Milling Company is still fully operational, and as we made our way around the silos we could gear the machinery at work inside.

 
 

We walked through a grassy park, past a marina, and alongside a fancy and very busy waterfront restaurant. From there we followed the road around the harbour for a stretch, and then found ourselves walking along a very high end trail, complete with discreet light fixtures, that ran between a row of houses and their private docks. We got some funny looks in this stretch, like perhaps the affluent residents of the waterfront properties didn't appreciate riffraff on their promenade.

 

At the far end of this neighborhood we wove through streets back to a rail trail with a bridge over the busy highway 12. We have now reached the far edge of Midland, and have a night to enjoy the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay.


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