Thursday, 31 July 2008

Niagara Escarpment - Mount Nemo Conservation Area

Wikipedia describes the map above:

"The Niagara Escarpment is the most prominent of several escarpments formed in the bedrock of the Great Lakes. It is traceable from its easternmost point in New York State, starting well east of the Genesee River Valley near Rochester, creating one large and two small waterfalls on the Genesee River in that city, thence running westwards to the Niagara River forming a deep gorge north of Niagara Falls, which itself cascades over the escarpment. In Southern Ontario it stretches along the Niagara Peninsula hugging close to the Lake Ontario shore near the cities of St. Catharines and Hamilton and Milton where it takes a sharp turn north toward Georgian Bay. It then follows the Georgian Bay shore northwestwards to form the spine of the Bruce Peninsula, Manitoulin, St. Joseph Island and other islands located in northern Lake Huron where it turns westerwards into the Upper Peninsula of northern Michigan, south of Sault Ste. Marie. It then extends southwards into Wisconsin following the Door Peninsula and then more inland from the western coast of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee ending northwest of Chicago near the Wisconsin-Illinois border."

West of Toronto is Mount Nemo Conservation Park, a part of the Bruce Trail System on the Niagara Escarpment.

[2] Mount Nemo is an elbow in the Niagara Escarpment north of the City of Burlington, Ontario. The limestone cliff edge, fractured with crevice caves, is covered with an old cedar forest. Part of the Bruce Trail, it is a popular location for hiking and... surprise surprise... rock climbing. Although I have more of a spectator view of rock climbing, my bones are becoming too old for this sport, thus I leave it to the more adventerous. It is enough that I can walk portions of the trail.

[3-Rock outcrop]

Mount Nemo Conservation Area is operated by Conservation Halton. It has five kilometers of hiking trails that connect with the Bruce Trail.

[4-View from Mount Nemo]

For more information on the Bruce Trail system check out the link on the side bar under CONSERVATION OR NATURE CONNECTIONS: Green Belt - Niagara Escarpment and Bruce Trail.

Research: Wikipedia, Bruce Trail
Photo Credits: [1]-Wikipedia, [2]-Jaydee001, [3]-photografist, [4]-swatiskaboy.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Tuesdays For Travis - Obabika River Provincial Park and Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park (Temagami Ontario)

[1-Lady Evelyn Lake]

These parks are 40 km NW of Temagami. Water access from Lady Evelyn Lake via Mowat Landing on the Montreal River, or from several access points on Lake Temagami.

Along Obabika's varied, rough shoreline, outcrops of polished bedrock mingle with boulder fields, sandy beaches, and wetlands. The park encompasses a large area to the east of Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park. It includes the south portion of Lady Evelyn Lake, as well as a section of old growth forest north of Obabika Lake. From here, the Obabika River meanders southwestwards to connect with the Sturgeon River. A large wetland area provides ideal habitat for moose.

[2-Shedding Cow moose with calf]

Located where northern boreal forest and southern hardwood uplands meet, the Temagami region has a unique mix of forest species: boreal jack pine and spruce, usually found in the north, and old growth red and white pine, more typical of southern forest. The area played a key role in the re-introduction of the peregrine falcon into Ontario, which is still considered an endangered species in the province. Other nesting birds to watch for are: osprey, golden eagle, great blue herons and merlins. Another endangered species in Temagami is the Aurora trout. With its striking iridescent colouring, this beautiful fish is native to only two lakes in Ontario — both in this region.

The inspiration and wonder of the area were brought to millions around the world, in 1907, when Archie Belaney, Grey Owl, arrived in Temagami. He was employed by the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests as a ranger and the cabin he frequented still exists on the Mississagi River. His subsequent books and extensive lecturing in Britain and the United States brought tremendous attention to northeastern Ontario and the issues surrounding wildlife conservation.

The area is rich in native culture - archaeological evidence of aboriginal peoples dates back 6,000 years and continues today with the nearby community of Bear Island on Lake Temagami. The rich forests have also attracted loggers to the area. A number of old lumber camps are located along nearby shorelines. Several modern logging access roads also cross the park.

The only facilities you will find here are wilderness campsites and portages. Canoeists should be skilled and equipped to meet the demands of varying water and weather conditions. Topographic maps for navigation are essential.

This waterway park invites backcountry canoeing, nature exploration and wildlife viewing. Boating and sportfishing are popular on Lady Evelyn Lake.

Numerous waterfalls are found along the Lady Evelyn River. The most impressive is Helen Falls which drops more than 25 metres. The Ishpatina Ridge is the highest point in Ontario where the Precambrian bedrock rises to a dome. At the boundary between the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence and the Boreal forests, the park has a wide range of vegetation types. The area is well known for its old growth white and red pine ecosystems.

Wildlife species such as bear and moose are plentiful in the area. The many deep lakes and fast-flowing streams are ideal for lake and brook trout.

[3- Racoons]

Anyone who has ever camped in Ontario is certainly aware of the most likely night visitor, i.e., the raccoon (Toronto is full of them, due to numerous ravines and a more than ample food supply: garbage).

[4- Temagami River]

Research:; Ontario Outdoors.
Photo Credits: [1][2]-bobcatnorth, [3]-jack1962,[4]-vondruid

Sunday, 27 July 2008

MY TOWN MONDAY - Isaac Brock (War of 1812) Part 1

“The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent.“

Statement during an early stage of the War of 1812 by Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William Duane (August 4, 1812)

When war had been declared, some Americans thought the British colonists to the north would enthusiastically flock to the banner of freedom. It never occurred to Jefferson that the Canadians might not want to join the Americans—especially the settlers of the Niagara region, many of whom were Loyalist exiles from the Revolution.

From a brief excerpt at of Pierre Berton’s “The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813:

“To America’s leaders in 1812, an invasion of Canada seemed to be "a mere matter of marching," as Thomas Jefferson confidently predicted. How could a nation of 8 million fail to subdue a struggling colony of 300,000? Yet, when the campaign of 1812 ended, the only Americans left on Canadian soil were prisoners of war. Three American armies had been forced to surrender, and the British were in control of all of Michigan Territory and much of Indiana and Ohio.”

[1] A key British player in the War of 1812 was Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac Brock.

Isaac Brock was born on the small English Island of Guernsey in 1769, the same year as Napoleon and Wellington. He was the eighth son in the family and, following the example of three older brothers, decided early on to make a name for himself in the British army. Brock began as an ensign in the Eighth Regiment of Foot (The King's) in 1785 and went on to become a captain in the 49th. After serving with this regiment in the Caribbean, he purchased a lieutenant colonelcy in 1797 and became the regiment's commander.

In 1801 Brock learned military tactics from his association with Nelson during the Battle of Cophenhagen, in numerous opportunities to participate in the formal and informal planning sessions when Nelson exhibited his belief that “the boldest measures are the safest” when he tried to promote aggressive tactics against the Danes. After serving with Admiral Nelson in Holland, Brock was ordered to bring his regiment to the Canadas where he arrived in 1802.

[2] The Citadelle—the French name is used both in English and French—is a military installation and official residence located atop Cap Diamant, adjoining the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, Quebec. This citadel is part of the fortifications of Quebec City, the only city with extant city walls in North America. This sunken or flat citadel, typical of late 18th century and early 19th century castrametation. Brock was stationed here for a time.

Brock's capabilities as a commander were well known by this point. He was a demanding but fair and humane officer who had earned the sincere respect of his men. Brock's considerable military talents allowed him to fill many positions during his tenure in Canada. His numerous postings, from Montreal to York (Toronto) and from Fort George on the Niagara frontier to Quebec, allowed him to gain a good knowledge and appreciation of the colony and its inhabitants. He commanded the garrison in Quebec, and following the Chesapeake incident of 1807, in which a British frigate battered an American ship into surrender to reclaim four alleged deserters, when war seemed imminent, Brock found himself in command of all British forces in Canada but was unable to call out the provincial militia as he had no muskets available. Assessing the colony's strategic situation, Isaac Brock felt that the only tenable post was Quebec, and he remained skeptical that even that city could be held against a determined foe. Although he feared the worst, the diplomatic crisis soon passed and the war fever abated somewhat. While in Quebec, Brock noted that “every American newspaper teems with violent and hostile resolutions against England, and associations are forming in every town for the ostensible purpose of attacking these Provinces.”

[3-Inside the Citadelle] The Citadelle of Quebec still survives, as the largest citadel still in official military operation in North America, after more than two hundred years of existence.

After being made a major general in 1811, he was assigned command of all troops in Upper Canada. Over these years, Brock frequently requested that he be allowed to return to Europe to fight in the war against Napoleon. But his stay was extended when Lieutenant Governor Francis Gore was called to England indefinitely and Brock became the administrator of Upper Canada.

Writing to his brother in 1811, Brock lamented that, "You who have passed all your days in the bustle of London, can scarcely conceive the uninteresting and insipid life I am doomed to lead in this retirement." Little did he know his fame and fate would hinge on the leading role he would soon play in the drama that was to unfold in a far away colony.

As word spread of the American Congress's increased calls for action against what they felt was unlawful British action on the high seas, Brock realized that he was in a unique position to prepare for hostilities. Governor General Prevost, like most other British officials, believed nothing would come of the issue. But if the Americans were to invade Canada, many of these same men would have believed that forces in Canada could do little to stop them. But Brock was always ready for a challenge, and by early 1812 was reinforcing defenses as well as courting many First Nations regarding a possible alliance. Being Upper Canada's administrator allowed Brock to amend the Militia Act in such a way as to make use of all possible volunteers and to step up training.

Isaac Brock was 42 when war eventually broke out in June 1812. The situation in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) at the time was scarcely better than five years previous. Of the 5,200 regulars in the colony, 1,200 were stationed with Brock in Upper Canada and of the 11,000 militia, Brock estimated that fewer than 4,000 could be trusted to fight. Even the population's loyalty to the British cause gave rise to serious concerns. Most of the province's inhabitants consisted of United Empire Loyalists and of "late Loyalists" who had just recently arrived from the United States. Many of these felt no great attachment to the British crown and a great number of them did not doubt an American victory. This prompted Brock to remark: "Most of the people have lost all confidence. I however speak loud and look big!"

In the summer of 1812, while General William Hull’s American Army of the Northwest, consisting of 600 regulars and 1,600 militia, was hacking its way northward through the forests of Michigan, William Beall was aboard the schooner Cuyahoga Packet, drifting calmly up the Detroit River to rendez-vous with Hull at Fort Detroit. Beall, an assistant quartermaster general, considered himself lucky to travel by water. The alternative was to accompany Hull on the forced march through mosquito-infested terrain in the heat of early July.

Beall had relieved Hull's troops of some of the heavier supplies, including the army's musical instruments. He had also taken on board thirty or so regular soldiers who were too sick to make the journey overland. Hull's son and aide-de-camp, Abraham, thought it wise to pack the general's personal belongings on the boat, including his journals and all his correspondence with U.S. Secretary of War William Eustis. Nowhere in his recent letters does Eustis state clearly just how close his country is to declaring war on Great Britain.

On the Canadian side of the Detroit River, at Amherstburg, a young French-Canadian officer of the Provincial Marine can make out the Stars and Stripes waving on the schooner as it drifts casually by the British fort. Lieutenant Frederic Rolette is about to add to his reputation as a bold and quick-thinking officer. He orders six armed men into a longboat and they row vigourously towards the larger American ship.

The Cuyahoga's captain, Luther Chapin, was likely expecting greetings from the usually-friendly Canadians. Instead, he was shocked to find himself staring down the barrels of six muskets as Rolette ordered the mainsails lowered. Chapin looked to a confused Beall for orders, but one warning shot from Rolette is all the persuading the captain needed to bring his vessel to a stop.

Rolette boarded the schooner to find the thirty American soldiers on deck - a force six times the size of his own party. Lucky for the French Canadian officer, all the Cuyahoga's arms are stowed below decks and the Americans are too sick to fight. As Rolette orders everyone locked-up, he informed Beall that news of the United States' declaration of war had arrived in Amherstburg the previous evening.

Beall and his men offer no resistance, no doubt convinced this young lieutenant is somehow mistaken. As a final touch to the proceedings, Rolette discovers the stash of musical instruments. He then proceeded to sail the Cuyahoga into Amherstburg while the humbled Americans play "God Save The King."

Only upon closer inspection of the captured goods do the British realize their good luck. General Hull's correspondence with Eustis describes in detail the army that is presently marching north towards Detroit; the strength and morale of its regiments, the state of supplies, and possible offensive strategies. Hull's personal papers betrayed his growing concerns about facing native warriors in battle. All of this information was forwarded to Brock who used it to develop his strategy for attacking Fort Detroit.


My Town Monday is the brainchild of Travis Erwin. His link is on the sidebar: where you will find other My Town Monday posts from around the world.

Research:;; Wikipedia; The Invasion of Canada: 1812-1813 by Pierre Berton.
Photo Credits: [1]-wikipedia, [2]-Diof CC=nc-sa-flickr, [3]-LukeGordon CC=flickr.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Favourite Places to Relax

Travis Erwin posted today about his three favourite places to relax and recharge his energy.

First and foremost, my favourite places begin with Banff National Park. The photo below shows Mt Rundle set behind the Vermilion Lakes. My next visit there will be to attend a writers workshop at the Banff School of Fine Arts.


My second favourite place is the National Art Gallery in London, England where I spent two Sunday afternoons per month when I worked overseas almost ten years ago. It was a good place to view the masterpiece works of art, see the special exhibits that came from Europe which included the Dutch impressionists, and sit on benches near a portrait or a scene of any particular piece. They were all wonderful.


The National Gallery, located on the north side of Trafalgar Square, has over 2,300 paintings, most on permanent display. The collection ranges from early works by cimabue, in the 13th-century, to 19th-century Impressionists, but its particular strengths are in Dutch, early Renaissance Italian, and 17th -century Spanish painting.

The gallery has flourished to international reknown since its inception in the early 19th-century. In 1824 George IV persauded a reluctant government to buy 38 major paintings, including works by Raphael and Rembrandt, and these became the start of a national collction. The collection grew over the years as rich benefactors contributed works and money.

One of my favourite painters is George Stubbs and this painting of Whistlejacket was on exhibit while I was in England. The National Art Gallery rotates their paintings for display as they have more paintings than available space.


A third favourite place I go for relaxation is the Bruce Trail System which runs along the Niagara Escarpment.

[4- Niagara Escarpment near Campbellville]

[5-Niagara Escarpment - Bruce Trail with hawk soaring - click to enlarge]

[6-Bruce Trail on the Niagara Escarpment]

These photos are taken on the Bruce Trail near the Town of Campbellville (northwest of Toronto).

The Bruce Trail System is the longest public trail system in Ontario from Queenston to Wiarton of 845 km of main trail. My favourite hiking spot is from Milton to Beamsville where the trail hugs the ancient shoreline of Lake Iroquoia, an area famous for waterfalls.

Photo Credits: [1]-Cuppojoe CC=nc-sa-flickr, [2]-wallyg CC=nc-nd-flickr, [3]-courtesy of wikipedia, [4][5]-bobcatnorth CC=nc-sa-flickr, [6]-Stephen Downes CC=nc-flickr.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Neys Provincial Park, Ontario

[1] Neys is within the Central Boreal Forest Region of Ontario and is home to a predominantly coniferous forest. Neys is home to a wide variety of species of flora and fauna, including the Bunchberry, Labrador Tea, blueberry, larch, and maple. A small herd of woodland caribou, among the last of their kind, roam the region. Other wildlife include: moose, bears, wolves, foxes, deer, ruffed grouse, loons, great blue herons and bald eagles.

Immortalized on canvas by The Group of Seven, this remote and rugged peninsula promises silhouettes of rocky islands polished smooth by icy blue waters. Only the hardy survive here, including sub-Arctic plants and a rare herd of woodland caribou.

[2] Pink Lady Slipper Orchids

For the fishing enthusiast: rainbow trout, bass, lake trout, whitefish and salmon share the waters of Lake Superior.

If exploring the rugged coast of Lake Superior in a canoe, stick close to shore. Lake conditions can change rapidly. Bring your own canoe or rent one at the park.

[3] Aquasabon Gorge

Another feature of this provincial park are the Aquasabon Falls and gorge located right off Highway #17, a mile or so west of Terrace Bay. Water roars over a granodiorite cliff that is more than one hundred feet high and cascades into the gorge carved through massive headlands that run at ninety degrees to the falls.

[4] Aquasabon Falls

Photo Credits: [1]-J.S.W. [2]-Bay Blunderers, [3][4]-upertra

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Tuesdays for Travis - Bon Echo Provincial Park

[1] This great park is half way between Kingston and Ottawa, Ontario.

Long a favourite destination for painters and photographers, this park north of Napanee is renowned for Mazinaw Rock. This 1.5-kilometre sheer rock face rises 100 metres above Mazinaw Lake, one of the deepest lakes in Ontario, and features over 260 native pictographs – the largest visible collection in Canada.

[2] The pictographs include pre-17th c. depictions of Nanabush (rabbit-eared Ojibwe mythical character) painted by Algonquian locals.

The Nanabush, also known as the Trickster, who is half spirit and half human. He is creator and spoiler, hero and clown, capable of noble deeds and gross self-indulgence. He is unpredictable, one minute inspiring awe for his creativity, the next moment provoking laughter at his foolishness.

In one story of many, Nanabush convinces all the animals that he has a new song to teach them. But in order to learn the song all the animals must sit with their backs to Nanabush. While Nanabush is singing, Owl peeks and sees what Nanabush is really doing. Owl's warning causes all the animals to flee. Rabbit is still caught in Nanabush's grip. In all the excitement, Nanabush pulls on Rabbit's ears and feet. The result is a new shape for Rabbit. Both his ears and feet are long.**

Most of the pictographs on Mazinaw (which means "painted") rock represent a result of a vision quest, ceremony or acknowledgments of spiritual assistance. As no native groups have claimed these paintings, it has been difficult to determine their meanings.

For fishing enthusiasts, lake trout, yellow pickerel, small and large mouth bass, lake whitefish and northern pike are here.

[3] Due to its location, Bon Echo offers a unique chance to see species typical of both northern and southern Ontario, such as deer, moose (photo), black bear, red fox and beaver.

**Nanabush and the Rabbit as described by Dan King.

Photo credits: [1]-Reiver CC=nc-flickr, [2]-Goldring CC=flickr, [3]-ZaNiaC CC=nc-nd-flickr.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

My Town Monday - Osgoode Hall (Toronto)


Osgoode Hall, now a National Historic Site of Canada, occupies six acres that had been acquired by the Law Society of Upper Canada in 1829. The name Osgoode Hall honours William Osgoode, the first Chief Justice of the province. Osgoode Hall has withstood more than ten major restorations.



The front facade kept its original 1860 design although the original building had been built in 1832. The final expansion was completed in 1891.

[4] East side of Osgoode Hall showing addition and older section to the rear.

[5]Ceiling detail in Great Library

[6] Ceiling of the main reading room in the Great Library

The interior of Osgoode Hall reflects 19th century architecture. Convocation Hall has various stained glass windows detailing the history of law. The Great Library has detailed plastering in the ceiling and cork floors. The rotunda has inlaid tiling on the floor with arched pillars. On the walls hang oil paintings of former Chief Justices of the Province.

In 1842, the city's northern limit was Dundas Street with the west boundary at Bathurst Street. In 1851 Osgoode Hall had streets surrounding it rather than farm fields. In 1858 there was an addition of an iron fence surrounding the landscaped grounds to keep cattle off the grounds.


In 1855 the court system was expanding, requiring more space. The firm of Cumberland & Storm were selected as they had designed such notable buildings: University College, St. James Cathedral, the 7th Post Office, several county courthouses, schools, and private homes in Ontario.

The Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII, opened the new addition on September 8, 1860.

The Rotunda features 19th century paintings, a skylight, a tile floor installed in the late 1850s. In the centre stands a statue to commemorate World War II.

Courtrooms #2, 3, & 4
The Courtrooms were designed between 1856 and 1860. Rosettes, cornices and figures are carved into the woodwork in Courtroom 3. The recent restoration of Courtroom 4 included extensive research of archival documents, photographs and site testing, such as paint sampling. The room is now believed to resemble its 1860s appearance quite closely.

[9 -Great Library: American Room]

The American Room was built in 1895 and features a stunning cast iron spiral staircase. The area was designed to provide as much wall space as possible and features a second level.

[10] The library holds nearly 17,000 books. The electrical fixtures in the room are the original design.

[11 - Great Library fireplace]

Within the Great Library is the Main Reading Room which houses the largest private law library in Canada with about 125,000 volumes. Some date back to the 16th century. Designed in 1857-1860, it features original etched glass windows, distinctive craftsmanship of the era, and a marble statute as a memorial of World War I, at the east end of the library . See photo No. 12.


Research: Ontario Archives,,, wikipedia.

Photo Credits: [1]-wikipedia, [2]-fortinbras CC=nc-sa-flickr, [5]-jennyrotten CC=nc-nd-flickr, [6]-ettml, [3][4]-bobby meneses, [7]-gbalogh, [8]-swilton, [9]-tracer, [10]-pkwok28, [11][12]-swilton.

My Town Monday is the brain child of Travis Erwin. You can find his link on the sidebar on the right.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Brown Bears (Grizzlies) of the Rocky Mountains

[1] Shelley Munro and her husband are going on their holidays to the US and taking a special side trip to Campbell River, B.C., to see a grizzly bear tour. Shelley commented that they don't have scary animals in New Zealand. Are they in for a treat!

Their tour guides will take excellent care of them, providing instructions on what to do and what not to do.

[2] The grizzly bear (Brown Bear) has the reputation of being the most ferocious and dangerous mammal in North America. Grizzlies vary widely in body shape, colour and in the shape of their heads. The tundra grizzly is often creamy yellow on the back with brownish legs and underparts. In the Rocky Mountains, the "silver-tip" phase is dominant. Adults weigh from 136 to 526 kg and are prodigiously strong.

[3 - Campbell River fishing]
Grizzlies when irritated will sometimes shift their weight back and forth on their front legs before "roaring" (which is very loud) in the hopes of scaring off the intruder. Or they will get up on their hind legs to see better over the terrain. They have an excellent ability of scent detection.

Although grizzlies will, for the most part, avoid contact with humans, they are sometimes unpredictable and should be given plenty of room. They move with a slow shambling walk, the low-slung head swinging from side to side. They can move very quickly, however, and even horses find it difficult to evade a rushing grizzly.

[4] This powerful animal once inhabited almost all of western North America but, with the advent of the Europeans, their numbers were reduced until now they are restricted mainly to the Canadian Rockies and Alaska, and in reserves in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington, USA. The grizzly's preferred habitats are deserted rivers, wild mountains, thick and dense forests, open meadows, and large valleys. Its favorite food is fish, so the grizzlies are mainly found by deserted rivers.

[5] Females with young cubs will usually be found in the rugged terrains and basins, where males usually don't go. The females' estimated land range is estimated to be 200 to 600 square kilometers; the males' land range is estimated to be 900 to 1800 square kilometers. The grizzly's range can vary depending on the quality and quantity of the food that is available. As human populations have grown, the grizzly's range has gradually shrunk. The grizzly is well-adapted to its wilderness life and lives an almost solitary existence.

[6] Grizzly bears are very strong and large animals. Their size and weight are variable depending on the availability of food, and the climatic conditions. The adult bears stand approximately 100 cm tall on all four legs. Their body length is just over 200 cm, and their weight varies from 330 to 825 pounds. Grizzly bears have heavy stout bodies with strong muscular legs.

[7] They have a big head, short tail, small rounded feet and ears, and hind feet with five toes each. The grizzlies have a distinctive muscular shoulder hump, and the claws on the front paws are large, strong and slightly curved. The claws are brown and are used mainly to dig food, ground squirrels and mice. The length of the front claws are often 9 cm long. The grizzlies are covered with heavy shaggy fur. There are many different color phases including black cinnamon, red, blond or a mixture of these colors. The name “Grizzly” comes from the silver tipped grizzly hair that the bears develop when they are older.


Grizzly bears are usually peaceful animals. They try to avoid a fight and run from danger, but they are short tempered and get angry easily and quickly. They are fierce fighters and will attack anything that seems to threaten them or their cubs, food or home. The grizzly is a very protective animal. They will become violent if their cubs are attacked. If it is cornered or attacked, it can be very dangerous.

[9] The grizzly bears’ diet consists of vegetable matter: berries, flowers, grasses, sedges, herbs, tubers, nuts of all kinds; animal carcass, fish, small marine animals, ants and other insects, honey, elk, moose, calves, and other small animals such as ground squirrels and marmots. Berries are the food that is responsible for a bear to attain the fat deposits necessary for survival during the denning period. The berries of choice are: buffalo berries, blueberries, huckleberries, cranberries, saskatoons, and crowberries. Because of their large size, grizzly bears regularly have a high caloric intake of food in order to maintain their size; they will eat up to 36 to 41 kilograms (80 to 90 pounds) of food per day. They are able to gain 11 to 23 kilograms (3 to 6 pounds) per day.

The breeding season for grizzlies usually occurs in June and July when the bears reach maturity around 5 years of age. The male chooses his mate and spends a month mating with her, then leaves to continue his solitary life. The female then finds or digs a den, where she will sleep through the winter. This is especially important for the pregnant female, whose cubs will be born during the winter. She will give birth to her cubs in January, February, or March (gestation takes 4 or 5 months). Average litter size is 2, but 4 is not uncommon. Weighing less than a pound, a newborn cub gains weight quickly from the rich mother's milk containing 33% fat. As they grow up, the cubs may increase their weight as much as 1,000 pounds. A deep bond unites a mother with her cubs, and she fiercely protects them from adult males and other predators, until they are 2 years old. Bears have a lifespan of 15 to more than 30 years in the wild.

Grizzly bears have few enemies except other bears and humans, when they go wandering into camp grounds. Grizzlies are hunted primarily as game animals throughout Western Canada in spring and fall. They are illegally hunted by both the landowners seeing the bears as a threat to their livestock, and poachers interested in their hides, teeth, claws and internal organs for the Asian medical market. For many years across North America, there has been voiced concern about the illegal killing of grizzlies, but there is a growing world medical market for bear parts, especially gall bladders; some poachers even film the death of the bear to show that the gall bladders are real.

In 1985, estimated populations of the grizzly were 1,200 in Alberta, 6,500 in British Columbia, and 4,000 to 5,000 in the Northwest Territories. The grizzly's population is gradually shrinking. The B.C. government estimates that hunting, poaching, and other human related activities are responsible for the deaths of 6,335 grizzlies every year. The natural life span of grizzly bears can be 25 years or more. Unfortunately, 95% of the grizzly bears who live past age 2 in North America die at the hands of humans from gunshots. People are the biggest threat to grizzlies not only because of hunters, but also because of the increasing human population and the resulting erosion of grizzly habitat.

Research: Columbia Mountains Institute

Photo Credits: [1]-TibChris CC=nc-flickr, [2]-Grizzly bear with salmon by Wildimages, [3] Macpablo Campbell River CC=nc-sa-flickr, [4][5]-gim2468, [6]-alison+brown, [7]-mckittre, [8]-Grizzlies fishing by csmellish, [9]-zpaperboyz w permission.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Dandelions Anyone...?

Where there are cubs mother is certainly nearby...

Although there have been issues with black bears, they are not on the endangered list.

The following apt description of black bears is from Wikipedia:

"The American Black Bear usually ranges in length from 150 to 180 cm (60 to 72 inches) and typically stands about 80 to 95 cm (34 to 48 inches) at the shoulder. Standing up on its hind feet, a black bear can be up to 7 feet tall. Males are 33% larger than females. Females weigh between 40 and 180 kg (90 and 400 pounds); males weigh between 115 and 275 kg (250 and 600 pounds). Adult black bears seldom exceed 300 kg (660 pounds) but exceptionally large males have been recorded from the wild at up to 240 cm (95 inches) long and at least 365 kg (800 pounds). The biggest American black bear ever recorded was a male from North Carolina that weighed 880 lbs (400 kilograms). Cubs usually weigh 200 to 450 g (between 7 ounces and 1 pound) at birth. The adult has small eyes, rounded ears, a long snout, a large body, and a short tail. It has an excellent sense of smell. Though they generally have shaggy black hair, the coat can vary in color from white through chocolate-brown, cinnamon-brown and blonde (found mostly west of the Mississippi River), to black in the east (the same is generally true in Canada, the border being between Manitoba and Ontario). They occasionally have a slight V-shaped white chest blaze. The tail is 4.8 inches long.

Although black bears can stand and walk on their hind legs it is more normal for them to walk on all fours. When they do stand, it is usually to get a better scent or to look at something. Their characteristic shuffling gait results from their plantigrade (flat-footed) walk, with the hind legs slightly longer than the forelegs. Another reason for the apparent shuffle is that they commonly walk with a pacing gait. Unlike many quadrupeds, the legs on one side move together instead of alternating, much like a Standardbred pacing horse. Each paw has five long, strong claws used for tearing, digging, and climbing. When necessary, they can run at speeds up to 30 miles per hour (48 kph) and are able swimmers.

Black bears are found in a wide variety of habitats across their range. They prefer forested and shrubby areas but they are also known to live on ridgetops, in tidelands, burned areas, riparian areas, agricultural fields and, sometimes, avalanche chutes. Black bears can be found from hardwood and conifer swamps to the rather dry sage and pinyon-juniper habitats in the western states. Black bears typically "hibernate" during winter in hollowed-out dens in tree cavities, under logs or rocks, in banks, caves, or culverts, and in shallow depressions. Dens are normally not reused from one year to the next. While they do not eat, drink, defecate, or urinate during hibernation, it is not the true hibernation of smaller mammals since their body temperature does not drop significantly and they remain somewhat alert and active. Females give birth and nurse their young while hibernating.

After emerging from their winter dens in spring, they seek carrion from winter-killed animals and new shoots of many plant species, especially wetland plants. In mountainous areas, they seek southerly slopes at lower elevations for forage and move to northerly and easterly slopes at higher elevations as summer progresses. Black bears use dense cover for hiding and thermal protection, as well as for bedding. They climb trees to escape danger and use forested areas and rivers as travel corridors."

These photos were taken beside the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper in Alberta.

Photo credits: openg CC=nc-sa-flickr.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Tuesdays for Travis - Kananaskis Country - Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Kananaskis Country is located south of Canmore, Alberta just inside the western edge of the Canadian Rockies. Within this area are several provincial parks including the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park


The Upper Kananaskis Lake [photo 1] is primarily a Rainbow Trout fishery, which can be fished from shore either at the boat launch bay, or at the Inter-Lakes outflow end where a float tube, Pontoon Boat or other watercraft is recommended. Watercraft is available for rental at several locations in the area.


The Lower Kananaskis Lake [above] is predominantly a Bull Trout fishery with spring time offering excellent opportunities too.

The Bull Trout will rise to flies such as large skating Caddis, particularly at Sundown, however the majority of the sipping fish encountered on this lake will be Rainbows and Cutthroat Trout.

[3] Bow River in Canmore, Alberta.

There is world class trout fishing in the Bow River, mostly Bull Trout which are strictly catch and release. Some professional guides use flat bottom boats like the one in the photo.

Photo Credits: [1][2]-BugMan50 CC=nc-flickr, [3]-FotoguBkarten CC=nc-nd-flickr.