Ensuring the beauty of the Bay of Islands, Ontario is maintained for today and future generations.
It is with great excitement that we will be gathering together again for the Bas Bleu Book Discussion in July 2022. There are some notable changes to our group, given that our second (Ann Thoburn) dear founder, Marianne Schafer, along with husband Mike, have sold their camp. Marianne’s contributions to the Bay are innumerable. The Bas Bleu Book Discussion (Marianne prefers the term Discussion instead of Club) is one of her long lasting and integral contributions to life in the Bay, through enhancing our feeling of community with literature, discussion and friendship. Marianne has given to me her impressive journal which chronicles all previous books, camp locations, participants and discussion leaders. Amazing! We will ensure that her legacy and spirit continue through the future book discussions with the intricate keeping of the journal and our love of literature with our friends in the Bay.
Thank you Marianne. You are so missed.
Below are the details for the 2022 Bas Bleu Book discussion. All are welcome to join us so please share this information with those who are new to our community or who are unaware of Bas Bleu. We look forward to seeing everyone there!
Book: The Sisters Brothers by Canadian Patrick deWitt When: Thursday July 21, 2022, 9:30 am for a prompt 10:00 startWhere: Bluebell Island, Home to the Scott, Allison and DeVoe Families
Save the Dates! You're Invited!
The BICA Board of Directors is excited to announce the summer schedule for 2022! BICA members can once again look forward to our favourite events after a two-year hiatus. We have made a few changes this year, particularly to the AGM and the August Long Weekend so be sure to mark your calendars. More details about each event will follow in future communications as we firm up plans. Saturday, July 16 -- Celebration of Heaven’s Gate – This event is sponsored by the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy with the help of BICA volunteers and will include a hike and a gathering at the community center. Saturday, July 23 -- Fish Derby and Fish Fry – Baker Island TP2430 Saturday, July 23 -- Sunday, August 7 -- Love Your Bay Every Day! We kick off two weeks of loving our Bay including shoreline cleanup of Styrofoam and plastics as well as phragmites cutting. We will need your help so please be sure to volunteer a few hours during these two weeks! Thursday, July 21 -- Bas Bleu Book Club Saturday, July 30 (Note 3:00PM start time) Annual General Meeting with wine (& beer) and cheese to follow, Ruby Island TP2567 Sunday, July 31 -- Afternoon Sailboat Race Saturday, August 6, 4PM -- Social/Raffle/Auction, Monarch Island TP2570P.S. We are now accepting membership fees for 2022. Sign in to manage your account and pay your dues by clicking here.
GBA is supporting Georgian Bay Forever (GBF) and the two MPPs who have proposed Bill 279 which will require new clothes washing machines to have filters installed. This legislation is the result of GBF’s successful research projects in Parry Sound and Collingwood, which clearly demonstrated that installing these filters reduces microplastics pollution, helps protect the water, environment and ultimately anyone in the area consuming the water. Bill 279 received unanimous approval at First Reading and we are asking for your support on a letter writing campaign to MPPs to ask them to get this Bill passed before Queen's Park rises in June for the election. Visit this webpage for details on how to support the campaign by sending a letter to Queen's Park: https://bit.ly/33q2QJ2
The Fall GBA Update features the Bay of Islands and our community in articles written by BICA's own Liz Phillips. On page 8 you will find an article titled Return to the Bay: US Residents Get Back to their Happy Place. And on page 10 another article called Keeping Members Engaged During Covid. For more reading, this Fall's FOCA News was also recently distributed and can be accessed here.Happy Thanksgiving to all our American members! We are wishing you a joyous reunion with friends and family.
This note touches on geologic, forest, soil, and human use of Heaven’s Gate and the La Cloche with a view to understanding a bit more about what is there and why the area is special.
There are obstacles to understanding the La Cloche’s past. The first is grasping the time span. Each step took more time than we can imagine. But it has not stopped, and we can see it. Trees are taller in our time. Put a piece of limestone under a downspout for 20 years. It will erode an inch or so.
Secondly, the forces are beyond our experience. We can bend steel; but cannot move or bend plates of the earth. We can estimate the power and time needed; but the numbers are beyond our ken.
Third, facts and information to test the opinions we rely on in lieu of facts are sparse.
And a caution: This note is recent gleanings by an amateur, not insights of a disciplined professional.
Ancient Geology, In Stages
None of this has ended. It is happening so slowly we don’t notice recent changes. But the plates are still moving with a minor tremor every few years. Erosion continues and sediments are still being laid.
More Recent Geology, Five Ice Ages
We’ve had five ice ages. The first started 35 million years ago. The ice was two to four miles thick. The weight pressed the ice out and the ice front moved away from the center. Snow at the front increased its area. Soil and loose rocks were picked up into the glaciers and carried south. Ice melted and everything fell out. Some washed to distant oceans, some stayed nearby as sand dunes or southern soil. The Michigan is sand dumped by the glacier. Today we are in an inter-glacial period between the fifth (most recent ice age) and the next one.
For Heaven’s Gate and the La Cloche, ice and melt waters scoured and rounded the mountains. The scouring left striations and scratches in the hills that show the direction of glacial movement. And there are visible concussions where rocks falling from the glacier, struck the mountain left bruises.
As the glaciers melted there were several related changes.
The Ice Ages sterilized the soil. As a result, there are no native earth worms in the area and soil bacteria and fungi are very different from those found in unglaciated areas farther south.
Soils and Vegetation
At Heaven’s Gate and in much of the La Cloche soils got a head start. Areas that rose out of the lakes as melt waters were reduced in volume and as land rebounded had the advantage of bringing lake sediments into the air and with them a mix of near shore vegetation. They also enjoyed fertilizer from fish and water plants. This is apparent in the south facing valleys with their rich vegetation.
And it helps explain why near shore areas have better soils than higher areas. Elevated areas are bare rock, wind exposed, 4 degrees F colder because of altitude and have a shorter growing season.
Manitoulin soils have limestone ten feet below and sand and clay from the glaciers. In the La Cloche, the limestone is now hard glass-like quartzite and can’t contribute to soil. Soil formation here relies on vegetation. This is an important distinction between north and south.
The total absence of native earth worms and presence of unusual soil bacteria and fungi means the soil has no distinct layers. Without worms, leaf litter accumulates in deep slowly rotting layers. It is difficult to see a difference between soils a foot deep versus four feet. With earth worms, litter breaks down in a year and soil has distinct layers. In addition, worms change the fungi and bacteria that make soil nutrients available to plants, often specific to individual species. Worms kill off the unique fungi making the soil unsuitable for many native mushrooms, North American orchids, and trees. Worms of any kind should be kept out of the North or much of what is unique will be lost.
Vegetation, soil, soil bacteria, fungi, is all new since the melt. We have an idea of what was growing based on studies of pollen in lake sediments. Again, in stages:
1 From the melt about 10,500 years ago until 7,500 years back the area was spruce forest. Spruce can exist in poor cold wet soils and cope with high winds. Think Newfoundland.
2 Spruce and Jack pine were replaced by White Pine and Birch roughly 5,000 years ago.
3 And 4,000 years back hemlock, maple, some oak, and elm, warmth loving hardwoods appeared. Hardwoods mark the north south boundary by being found only in the protected valleys with longer growing seasons and older deeper soil.
4 Varying with altitude and distance to the lake some of each of these forest mixes remain. Heaven’s Gate’s forests have been stable for 2,500 years despite fire and forestry. These ecosystems evolve slowly, only adding hardwoods in four millennia. It’s what healthy ecosystems do.
Native people arrived soon after the melt. Less than 2,000 years. (I don’t know of any signs of native settlement on Heaven’s Gate.) The south slope is a deer wintering ground and still good hunting.
1649, Iroquois fought Ojibwa at the potholes just west of Heaven’s Gate. It was the last try by the Iroquois to move north. Perhaps it gave the French another 100 years in North America and may have meant Ontario did not come under early English control as part of New York or Pennsylvania, and stayed separate from the 13 Colonies and so British, then Canadian.
I think the top of Ararat was used for a survey beacon (1820) to help settle the Canada-US border.
Also following the war, in the 1830’s and 40’s, many natives in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota migrated to Canada to remain under British rule and avoid the Indian Wars in the US.
1845 Wallace Mine was patented. It followed a more formal approach than the mine at Bruce Mines a few months before with a view to establishing stable relations with First Nations through the treaty process. Three holes were dug. Some nickel extracted. And there has been exploration in the 1960’s and 70’s, but no evidence of anything likely to be in demand in quantities that would attract interest.
Trapping and bounties greatly reduced cougar, wolves, and wolverines. They are recovering but wolverines have not been in the area in a long time.
Logging, primarily by the Spanish River Logging Company from 1882 to 1922 was a major change. The company wasted timber, falsified accounts, and took trees where they had no permit. The pilings near Swift Current and chains and eyes in rocks for holding booms are remaining signs of their time in Bay of Islands. The near shore of Heaven’s Gate was cut. Happily, the re-growth is similar to the original forest, though the oldest white pine are only 100 to 140 years old, rather than 150 to 500 years old. We will have 200 plus year old pine in six decades. And we still have cedar, hemlock and maple that were not cut and have two centuries plus notched up.
Future human activity. Keep earth worms out. Small forest fires if any. Hiking. Cross country skiing
Why Is It Special?
Age: Heaven’s Gate has both the oldest exposed rocks on earth and some of its youngest soils.
Undisturbed: In spite of cutting the forest is little changed in 4,000 years, 2,500 years for hardwoods. Bird life, vegetation, has carried on with rich variety and sanctuary for a dozen listed rare species.
Soils: Soil in glaciated areas had no worms and different fungi and bacteria leading to plant life that is denser, and more responsive to the change in seasons than that in the south.
Juxtaposition: The La Cloche and to a lesser degree, east Georgian Bay, Muskoka and the 1,000 Islands are where the North comes farthest south. We get the romance of the north and summers of the south. Bay of Islands has the best of this, as our north is rugged mountains, our south Manitoulin.
Heritage: Small but important parts of our history for natives and newcomers happened on and near Heaven’s Gate. Perhaps, a largely unmarked event that led Ontario to be Canadian. It is the setting for early and well-known Group of Seven paintings. The art is safe in galleries for a century. Now an important original is also safe.
We love it: Loving something or someone draws us closer and involves us. Becoming involved we enjoy it more; know we are part of it and have some responsibility for them or it.
Our most important use of Heaven’s Gate is to be thankful for it, and by extension, for all creation. If we let it, Heaven’s Gate connects us to nature and creation, each other, and the creator. It is where North best meets South and where we best meet each other and all we revere.
The final numbers are in for Love Your Bay Day – our community of volunteers cleaned up: 27 cubic yards of Styrofoam, plastic, and debris 5000 pounds of metal 6 propane tanks 3 car tires!! Thank you to everyone who supported this effort including NEMI for helping us to implement the grant from the Great Lakes Guardian Trust, and to Whitefish River First Nation for allowing us to use the landing to collect the garbage. It took the whole community to make this a successful event and the BICA Board thanks you! We also would like to thank Jo Cowan for baking 3 pies for our contest winners: Best Re-purpose – Thomas Drolet (old dock) Most Obscure – Jamie and Lindsay/ Mike and Marianne (melted porta-potty) Most Volume – Rick Fournier Now that we have made a huge dent in our shoreline garbage – some of it over 50 years old – we hope you will continue to Love Your Bay Every Day. One of the main objectives of the Bay of Islands Community Association is to preserve and to protect the Bay of Islands for generations to come. Please do your part to preserve and protect. If you see something along the shore, go get it. Secure your items in your boat and on your dock, including plastic bags, plastic bottles, and worm containers, all of which were common items found during Love Your Bay Day. Please dispose of your dock by taking it apart and taking the Styrofoam to the dump. We are lucky to have a landfill with so many options for recycling (and it’s free to us), so take advantage of it. Love your Bay today, tomorrow, and every day! P.S. Please be sure your BICA dues are paid up-to-date. If you have not already done so, join BICA and support the important work we do for our very special Bay of Islands.
I am often asked, "Why should I support the Bay of Islands Association (BICA); aren’t they just a social group?". While we do organize opportunities for our neighbours to get together on a social basis such as the annual family social and auction, book club, sailboat race, fishing derby, and, more recently, the open-mike Meet & Mix at the Red Dog Grill, BICA is much more than a social organization! BICA’s Objective/Mission is to preserve and protect the Bay of Islands. Some of our important ongoing activities: WATER QUALITY We regularly monitor the water quality throughout the Bay of Islands and the Whitefish River, and have recorded an extensive database over 15 years so trends can be highlighted. We have alerted others, including the Ontario Ministry of Environment, to high e-coli levels in various locations. FIRE FIGHTING We have assisted members with the purchase of fire-fighting equipment. We now have 32 camps with fire pumps and hose to readily fight fires before the MNR arrives. We also have developed a fire-alert phone-tree to readily notify our members of fires. INVASIVE SPECIES We recently purchased a Stihl brush-cutter and organized a work party to cut down Phragmites in an effort to control its spread. We have monitored other invasive species in our Bay, such as Zebra mussels, Goby fish, and Eurasian Water Milfoil. WATER LEVELS Several years ago, when low water levels were a serious concern, we attended meetings and made a submission on behalf of BICA to the International Joint Commission on Great Lakes Water Levels. We continue to work closely with the Georgian Bay Association as well as other groups dedicated to addressing this and related issues. COTTAGE WATCH We have established a Cottage Watch network throughout the Bay and provided each member with a sheet of unique number stickers to be put on items, so they can be readily identified if the item goes missing. We are regularly in touch with the OPP regarding break-in activity. WATER SAFETY We have held a number of water and boating safety seminars with the assistance of the OPP. We have determined the GPS coordinates for each member’s dock for quick access in an emergency. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION We meet annually with the Fisher Harbour management to ensure continued environmental protection of the area. Recently, we opposed the development of the Island Lodge into 16 cottage properties until a proper environmental assessment was completed. We regularly host a group from McMaster University who monitor the quality of our wetlands. NEIGHBOUR RELATIONS We meet regularly with our Whitefish River First Nation and the McGregor Bay Association neighbours to maintain a positive relationship and open communications. The Chief and the MBA President often are invited to speak at our Annual General Meeting. We have provided scholarships and sponsorships over the years to the Whitefish River First Nation. ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING We hold an AGM on the Saturday morning of the civic holiday weekend each year, usually at the Red Dog Grill. We always have interesting guest speakers at the AGM, such as the Executive Directors of the Georgian Bay Association, Georgian Bay Forever, and the Georgian Bay Land Trust, the Mayor of NEMI, and the chief of the Whitefish River First Nation. Everyone is invited to attend. GEORGIAN BAY ASSOCIATION (GBA) and FEDERATION of ONTARIO COTTAGERS’ ASSOCIATION (FOCA) BICA membership includes membership in the GBA and FOCA. These very important organizations lobby the Ontario and Canadian governments on issues that affect us all. It is essential that we have a strong collective voice when presenting our concerns. FOCA membership also provides a 5% discount on your cottage insurance. ARE YOU A MEMBER? If you own a home, cottage, or business in the Bay of Islands, you know how special this area is. We need everyone to join and support BICA in preserving and protecting the Bay of Islands. Our small annual dues (currently $85.00, 65% of which goes to GBA and FOCA) assists us in our efforts to protect and preserve our Bay of Islands. None of our annual dues goes towards funding social events. Please join BICA today and support the important work we do for you and our very special Bay of Islands. Join today! Thanks, Rick Sterne - Past President Island 2502 - west end
Emergency Planning It is your personal responsibility to be prepared in case of an emergency. By being personally prepared for an emergency you reduce the risk of further complications to yourself and possible harm to others providing assistance. What to Have: Communication device Proper Medical Kit List of personal medications and health issues Name of Family Doctor Location Marker ( Flares, Water Dye, Horn, flag ) Fracture board, Splints, medical dressings Blankets Call List. Professional (911) / Personal (List of people you can contact for assistance. Be sure to inform these people and confirm that they can assist you in case of an emergency.) Island Number and location including GPS coordinates Escape Route. Determine the landing you will be heading to (in most cases either Don McGregor’s in Birch Island or Whitefish Falls) as well as the means to get there Proper Flashlight and batteries What to do: Evaluate situation and stabilize. Contact 911. Be calm and answer all questions directly when asked. Be sure to indicate that you are in a remote location. KNOW YOUR ISLAND NUMBER AND LOCATION INCLUDING GPS COORDINATES!!!! Contact people on your emergency contact list (personal list). Continue to address emergency and prepare for evacuation. Evacuation: If mobile, proceed on escape route to predetermined landing where EMS can meet to assist or personally drive to hospital. If immobile and unable to leave location EMS will arrive at location with OPP escort. It is important to have all medical information along with family doctor and list of medications available. Air rescue will require a landing zone. Practice an emergency, including executing your escape route. Practice makes perfect and reduces complications in a real evacuation. This is personal responsibility that may save your life and protect those that are assisting. Emergency List: Create an emergency list and post it somewhere visible. Include the following: Call List: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Medications: Health issues: Island number and GPS Coordinates: Next of kin:
Beth Litchfield, the Supervisor of the Sudbury Bear Wise program, suggests the following proactive measures cottagers can take to keep bears out of their camps. Food and garbage are your primary attractants, but according to Litchfield, bears will consider anything that has an aroma as an edible substance, including lubricants, gas cans, toothpaste, soap, etc. Garbage should be kept in sealed containers and if possible in a shed away from the cottage. Make sure that when you leave you take your garbage with you. A good dose of Javex or Pine-Sol into your garbage containers will discourage bears because it takes away the odour. Baby diapers are very attractive to a bear and need to be well sealed and kept away from the cottage in a shed, for example. Make sure BBQs are cleaned up after use. Burn off the grill. Remove and clean grease containers underneath the grill. Keep meat residues in the freezer until you can remove your garbage from your camp. Wash out your recyclables containers. Don’t just rinse them. Don’t put your pies and other baking outside to cool. Refrain from feeding pets on the outside deck unless it’s at a time compatible with your mealtime. Remove your pets’ dishes after the meal. Store pet food away from windows. Make sure after you fill the boat that you clean up your gas cans, seal them up and store them away from your cottage in your shed. Use your composter for leaves and stems only, not for the fruit or vegetable part of the plant. Cover the contents well and turn it regularly. Bear boards, wind chimes, noise from a radio or TV and the smell of Pine-Sol can help keep bears away.