The Peterborough Examiner
Exploring the forest, deep in The Land Between
Ruins of Dickson’s 19th-century quarantine hospital are thought to lie in these woods
People were gathered in their hiking boots and jackets with binoculars around their neck and, in the case of Xavier Tuson, bird identification books in his pockets, ready to go into a forest and identify birds.
In addition to birds, there were a lot of other sights and information to catch the attention of the hikers. They were about to enter the Catchacoma Forest, an old-growth hemlock forest, which was recently identified as possibly the largest known of its kind in Canada with dominant trees identified in the150 to 350-year age range.
In the group was Leora Berman, chief operating officer of The Land Between; Marie Windover, community knowledge and citizen science leader for The Land Between and Kawartha Land Trust; Natalie, a student working on her master’s degree in forest conservation at the University of Toronto; a representative of AFER (Ancient Forest Exploration and Research); and others interested in birding and learning more about the forest community.
The forest is currently leased to the Bancroft Minden Forest Company. Selection logging is scheduled for fall/winter 20202021. One environmental group is asking for a moratorium on logging, others are asking for a more planned approach in this ecotone.
Protection of the seed trees, which assures continued forest growth and allows for natural renewal and habitat, is on the list. Old growth starts at 140 years of age, at which time the metabolism of the tree changes. Logging often happens as these are valuable natural resources, but intensive management is needed to ensure habitat for marten, fisher and woodpecker.
History is also involved. The road followed by the hikers was once known as Sodden Road, which eventually leads through Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park to Apsley. Sodden Road was connected to Buckhorn by Cadge Road, which then led out of Buckhorn to the northern tip of Sandy Lake and then north to the elbow between Big and Little Bald Lakes.
The current logging is not the first in the area. These old roads were in place to make logging of the 1800s possible. On Sodden Road, the location of Samuel Dickson’s blacksmith shop has been identified. A search is also on for Dickson’s quarantine hospital. When loggers were ill, they were quarantined, or in COVID-19 terms, isolated. It is thought that the ruins of this hospital are deep in the woods.
So this land of ours has developed a history both human and ecological. Those logging efforts of long ago are now part of our history and that story is worthy of preservation. And the history of an old-growth forest — ecological, scientific, educational — is demanding recognition and attention.
Oh, yes, and the birds identified: blue jay, ruffed grouse, northern harrier, pileated woodpecker, American crow, black-capped chickadee, golden-crowned kinglet, redbreasted nuthatch, whitebreasted nuthatch, American goldfinch, yellow-rumped warbler and northern cardinal.
Speaking of education ...
For those of you not currently involved in public school, there is a phone app, which has changed communication. It is called Edsby. No more notes to school saying a child will not be present on a particular day or will be leaving early. It is all communicated digitally.
And a teacher is able to communicate a student’s performance on an exam, a presentation or an unexcused absence. The school calendar is there and also what the students are studying.
Another digital possibility is School Cash. No more cash sent to school for a class trip. It is a school e-transfer. School Messenger is available to every school and includes classroom letters, school projects and can include links to community activities. No more questions about what you did in school today. It is all on the phone.