Last weekend, my cousin arrived from Holland to spend a few weeks in Toronto with my family. On Simcoe Day — perhaps our strangest holiday — we decided to show him Ontario’s natural splendour.
Yes, it might look more like Colorado, but this photo was indeed snapped in Ontario. It’s from an area known ominously as “The Cheltenham Badlands” and is located right about here.
So what’s the story?
Ages ago, this part of Ontario was the edge of a shallow sea. Iron-rich sediment and the shells of sea creatures compressed together to form this reddish shale and now it’s part of the Niagara Escarpment.
But why don’t we see more of this in Ontario? That’s where us humans come in. A century ago, farmers cut the trees down, and the land was used for cattle grazing. In other parts of Ontario, shale is typically protected with layers of harder rock but here, heavy overgrazing and erosion left nothing but this scifi-ey landscape.
This handy sign had the full scoop (view it at full size):
It’s very interesting to see where vegetation surviving in the middle of the shale.
It’s also a great stage for some parkour… without the buildings.
This was only half of our trip. After this, we headed west to Elora Gorge.
Because of past electronics-related tragedies, I decided to play it safe and stow away my camera. The remainder of the afternoon was spent relaxing in a tube that moved rather slowly down the Grand River.
We took the scenic route home, passing through Ontario’s beautiful countryside.
(Ironically, I almost like my iphone photos more)