We have visited this conservation park a number of times since discovering it first in April 2006. This is a small 13-hectare area located in a gorge on the north-east side of the historic village of Belfountain. Niagara Escarpment talus slopes provides habitat for ferns such as rock polypody, maiden-hair spleenwort and daisy-leaved grape fern.
To get to Belfountain Conservation Area, we always take Mississauga Road from the 401 and go north to the village of Belfountain. The Conservation Area is .5 km north and east of the main intersection of town.
The conservation area has several unusual attractions: a miniature Niagara Falls, a man-made cave with concrete stalagmites and stalagtites, and a suspension bridge over the Credit River. There is also a fountain of inverted bells, covered with a thick coat of mosses.
This conservation area is named after the lake, which is the focal point. The lake is a naturally occuring kettle lake that is a legacy of the last galacial age in Southern Ontario.
The dense forest surrounding the lake makes it very wild even though the area is located few minutes away from the city of Brampton. The dense forest was our focal point though we had a whole day devoted with our relatives to boating, fishing, playing and bbqing.
There are over 8 kilometers of scenic natural trails within the conservation area. We found them to be less used and quite wild. Light values were low and we could not take many pictures.
We rented a boat for fishing. We thought that we were lucky in having the boat because of the big demand for them, but in the end we found out that fish were more lucky. We did not catch much. The lake is stocked with fish reared in the hatcheries of Glen Haffy Conservation Area. In order to reach the lake, we had to climb down about 40 steps of a wooden stair.
We occupied one picnic spot (there are 14 of such sites) and prepared the bbq, while the younger lot played football and soccer.
In order to get to the area, take Highway 410 north from Highway 401, which becomes Heart Lake Road. You will find the Conservation Area on your right hand side at 10818 Heart Lake Road.
We continued driving north on Winston Churchill for 2 kms after Terra Cotta to reach the Conservation Area on our right hand side.
Since the entrance offices are usually unmanned, the parking fee of $5.00 has to be paid manually by inserting exact amount in one of the envelopes piled up under a shade. The receipt has to demonstrated across the dashboard, because the watchman do check the vehicles parked inside the area for payment of fee.
When we visited the conservation area in mid-September 2006, it was raining, visibility was low and humidity was high. There were many trails to take and there is a link to the well-known Bruce Trail, as well as trails suitable for cross-country skiing. Its trails also connect with those of Silver Creek Conservation Area and Scotsdale Farm, just to the south. We decided to take the one going around the lake. The hike turned out to be quite exciting.
Terra Cotta Conservation Area consists of 408 acres of rugged terrain on the Niagara Escarpment. It provides habitat for a wide variety of wetland plants and animals.
We took the Creditview Road from Steeles Avenue West in Brampton and drove in northerly direction. The road twists and turns through beautiful riverside homes and tall trees of Brampton. One has to be careful, because there are many blind turns. Children seem to play in sprawling lawns in summer months and bicyclists abound.
However, unfortunately, we had to take a detour when Creditview Road reached Bovaird Avenue. We had to turn right to Chincagousy Road and then turn back to Creditview Road after Bovaird.
Once we left Brampton, the views along the road became very beautiful. For one, the road itself started going up and down the hilly area. The bicyclists here were seen toiling but enjoying every bit of it. Ultimately, we reached Caledon Hills where there were horse stables on both sides of the road. This area was a haven for hikers and bicyclists.
The road climbed a sharp rise with a sharp turn, continued for 5 more kms and then dropped sharply along a bend (a double trouble) to meet with LaGrange Road. We turned east on LaGrange and ended up on Hurontario Road (i.e. Highway 10). We headed south from here back to Brampton and then Mississauga.
The entire Peel District offers many spots for observing wildlife and birds. Birds, especially, can be observed at many conservation parks, gardens, and even in the backyards of residential homes.
Mammals are difficult to sight, but if you are patient, mother nature will reward you with a sighting of coyotes, deers, skunks, woodchucks, and even beavers.
May and October are the best months for watching birds as they migrate through the region.
As spring comes, so does the Red-Tailed Hawk (see picture), which can be observed sitting on telephone cables and on top of electric poles for long periods of time waiting for prey on the ground. A pair of Canada Geese will be often seen with their chicks following them even on busy roads. Put a birdfeeder in your backyard and Cowbirds, Common Gackles, doves, Toohies, and even shy Blue Jays will flock in.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. In 2005, my husband decided to take snapshots of birds in our backyard. We counted 15 different species in peak summer months. But do remember that many species do not visit backyards.
This would be BEATTY-SKALIN HOUSE built c. 1825 (1125 Willow Lane).
This structure is possibly the oldest remaining house in Meadowvale Village, although somewhat altered from its original appearance. John Beatty may have built it, and it later belonged to James Crawford before Crawford sold his mill and holdings to Francis Silverthorn in the 1840s. Willow Lane was once known as Water Street, which was appropriately named since Water Street homes were severely flooded by the Credit River on many occasions during spring thaws. The flats behind the homes along Willow Lane were once the site of many of the village's biggest industries. By the 1850s, the Johnson brothers were operating their Mammoth Iron Works and Foundry here, and an extensive cooperage was needed to support the operations of the grist mill. There was also row housing for the coopers which was known as "Quality Row". There was a carriage maker, a blacksmith and a Mr. Stillman who operated a successful cheese factory on the Willow Lane flats around the turn of the century.
The lazy course of the Credit River belies its importance to the establishment of Meadowvale village. The founding of mills in 1845 at Old Mill Lane along the course of the river provided the single greatest incentive to the growth of the surrounding community. The early mills operated by Simpson and Crawford paved the way for new growth. Francis Silverthorn, son of one the Township’s first pioneers, arrived in Meadowvale, purchased a portion of John Crawford’s mill allowance, and entered into competition with John Simpson. He built a dam and millrace and erected a large sawmill. Silverthorn expanded his complex in 1845, constructing a large grist mill. In 1853 tragically the mill and its 10,000 bushels of wheat burned. With new financial backing from the Bank of Upper Canada, Silverthorn quickly rebuilt. Unluckily the wheat market collapsed in 1860 following the Crimean War, and the firm of Gooderham and Worts took over operation of the mill. After the departure of Gooderham and Worts in 1880, the grist mill fell into disuse by the 1950s and was demolished in 1954.
They called APPLE TREE INN establish c. 1858 (7053 Pond St.) a Tea Room because serving alcohol was illegal.
Luther Cheyne, who served as the village’s first postmaster in 1854, built this residence in 1858.
Throughout most of its existence, the structure has served as a private home. In 1920, however, Miss Yates and Miss Beardmore acquired the house and opened a tea room, which remained in business until 1944. The proprietors had the distinction of offering the only place in the village
where a visitor could find a room and refreshment after the prohibition movement had forced the closure of the other public houses in Meadowvale. During the summers of 1920 and 1921, the tea room catered to the students of the Ontario College of Art who traveled to the area to sketch and paint the local scenery. The Apple Tree Inn is now a private family dwelling.
This is ORR-MEAD HOUSE built c. 1870 at 1101 Willow LaneThis property exhibits an interesting history, and past owners include several prominent families in the history of Meadowvale Village, including the Gooderham, Orr, Southern and Mead families. The large main house is the newest addition to the property, having been built in 1999 by the Mead family, incorporating parts of an 1890s inn that was originally in South Carolina. Also on the property
are the buildings that served as Johnson’s wagon shop and blacksmith shop, built circa 1870. An earlier residence, built circa 1860, also remains.
About 1 Km to the south of my home there is a picturesque and easy to do hiking trail that passes by the community's flood control area and wild plants. So here you are - a perfect wild trail in the urban community.
This trail is used mostly by hikers, joggers, cyclists and dog walkers. The water body itself provides a habitat for a number of waterfowl and turtles.
One can enter the trail from the west entrance located on the Second Line, close to Sombrerro Drive.
Yes this was at MEADOWVALE COMMUNITY HALL, built c. 1871 (6970 Second Line W.)
Built on land donated by the Simpson family in 1871, the present Community Hall served as Meadowvale Village’s second school house. The first had been built in 1851 at the corner of Barberry Lane and Second Line. After the construction of this building, the first school was
converted into a private residence, and was lost during a fire in 1974. Unlike larger communities in the region, Meadowvale did not have a grammar school, so students wishing to receive higher education had to travel to either Streetsville or Brampton. In 1959, a larger, more modern
public school was built to service the community. Since 1968, this building has been used as a community hall. Extensive repairs were undertaken in 1980-81 to reinforce the roof and foundations and to provide an adequate water system. Additional restoration work was done in 1993.
On September 17, 2011, the little village of Meadowvale celebrated its 175th anniversary. My family and I hiked down that day and participated in the celebrations.
The picturesque village is located at the junction of Old Derry Road and the Second Line and about 1 km from my home. It was first settled in 1820, near to the Credit River which provided the power for the mills and foundry that were developed in the area. By the 1850s Meadowvale had two hotels, a wagon shop and a school. Later the area became popular as a haven for artists. Many of the homes were built in the mid-19th century and are still standing. In 1980 Meadowvale Village became the first heritage conservation district in Ontario.
Strolling through Meadowvale Village offers a remarkable chance to glimpse streetscapes frozen in time and a landscape of the past. Much of the village remains little altered from the mid 19th
Two doors south of Rosemary lives his son Terry Wilson, who has built a model of Meadowvale Village as it existed in the 19th century.
According to Terry, residents may tear down a building due to poor condition - IF they have permission from the Heritage Review Committee and as long as the building doesn’t have historic designation.
Terry will be first in line to salvage the materials, all of which he uses in his Olde Meadowvale Miniature Village he has built in his backyard.
More than 1,000 people trampled through Terry’s yard on September 17 to see his village-in-miniature. “I took people through 50 to 75 at a time and the line ups went on all day,” says Terry with great fulfillment.
Terry, a retired history teacher who is a third-generation Villager, started building his miniature wonderland 14 years ago as a hobby. His mother Rosemary worked alongside Terry, and the mother-and-son team used photos of original village buildings as their inspiration.
Terry designs and builds about two buildings a year, adding to his village scene, which now consists of two mills (one with a water source from a creek), a school house, general store, mercantile shop, emporium, blacksmith’s shop, a millworker’s cottage, a train station and out buildings.
Each is decorated with period furniture, knick knacks and clothing or dry goods which Terry and Rosemary have found, sourced or donated.
Rosemary, who lives just two doors from Terry, has a miniature museum and a library in her backyard. For several decades, Rosemary has been signing out library books to local school children and Ontario history books to adults.
Terry’s mini world is not so mini. “My yard is 300 feet deep which allows me room to set up the village,” says Terry. “The buildings are mostly 9’x 6’feet; large enough to step inside.” Terry begins his backyard tour at the miniature train station, and although there’s no real train, or even tracks for that matter, he will take you on a journey back in time.
“It’s about using your imagination to experience things as they were. We are all kids at heart who love to pretend. Young kids and adults grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and they love to relate to a simpler time. People who visit here tell me it’s a surreal experience.”
Each fall, Terry again welcomes visitors as part of the Doors Open Mississauga event (on October 1 this year). The village is open for “special occasions” only, although group tours can be arranged by reservation.
Each Christmas, Terry decorates the village with heritage decorations (no icicle lights here) and is contemplating inviting the entire village over for an evening of old-fashioned fun and carolling.
“I have never taken a dime for the tours,” says Terry. “I do this because I love doing it and love this village. If people want to donate money I suggest they donate to a heritage building in their own community.”
People dropping by and asking for a tour are constant in Terry’s life. He admits he sometimes obliges, but more often he sets up an appointment. “I estimate I get about 1,000 people a year visiting. This year will likely be double that. I’d say about 7,000 people have visited the village. I now have a sign on the lawn which reads: Please Don’t Enter. For Tours Call 905-564-8632."
K2 and his humans entered from the east side entrance which is noted for huge grounds where visitors go picnicking and playing games. There are shelters and BBQ facilities here. Besides, visitors have long trails for hiking and cycling.
The pack hiked on portion of Culham Trail that passes through the Conservation Area. This 18 km trail is nearing completion. It is designed to provide pedestrians and cyclists with a route from Erindale Park up the Credit River Valley to the City of Brampton and offers them the chance to enjoy the area’s natural and human history. The trail passes by remnants of old homesteads, orchards, dams, rail and mill sites, and connects many green spaces in the City of Mississauga.
Needless to mention, it was an early morning and the party did not meet many people.
K2 and his humans reached the Credit River (picture # 1). K2 was confused by so much of water that looked different to him. (picture 2)
Credit River meanders all the way from its origins in the Dufferin County to our North down to the Lake Ontario. Living to its character, it twists and turns through the Conservation Area, passes through Old Derry Road, into the fields where one can see deer by the dozens grazing and geese by the hundreds pooping.
Credit River offers fishing and many anglers come to it for trying fly fishing. Dog owners bring their retrievers to it to let them swim and fetch something. There are trails by the edge of the river that one can hike on (picture # 3 and 4). These trails are easy to negotiate, but they can run shivers through one's spines when taking them at dawn or dusk for they are dark, quiet and lonely, except for few into physical activities.