On the edge of the Canadian Shield

I am quoting here. Someone much more learned than me wrote this, and more, here:

This is what the Canadian Shield looks like. For 8 million square kilometres.

“The Canadian Shield is a large geographic area in eastern and central Canada composed of bare rock dating to the Precambrian era (between 4.5 billion and 540 million years ago). It is also called the Precambrian Shield, or Laurentian Shield. In total it covers approximately 8 million square kilometres. The Canadian Shield is made up of some of the planet’s oldest rock, largely granite and gneiss. The shield is mostly thin soil lying on top of bedrock, with many bare outcrops and thousands of lakes. This was caused during the last ice age, when glaciers covered the area and scraped the rock clean as they moved.”

Full credit to the folks at Worsley School in Northern Alberta for that well-written and helpful definition of what may very well be the defining piece of Canada’s geography. (Worsley sounds like a good school to go to!)

But back to Queensborough.

To get to Queensborough from points south (as people used to say), you go north from Highway 401 at Belleville, taking either Highway 37, which goes through the village of Tweed, or Highway 62, which takes you through the village of Madoc. From Tweed you go northwest a bit; from Madoc northeast a bit. And voilà: you’re in Queensborough.

Belleville is an attractive small city on Lake Ontario’s beautiful Bay of Quinte. When you drive north from it, whether on 62 or 37, you go through pastoral green rolling countryside: prosperous-looking farms with big, well-maintained barns and silos, fertile fields, nice farmhouses; and some very neat and tidy suburban-type bungalows with large, well-cared-for yards. Oh yes, and cheese factories, attesting to the milky production of the local dairy farms.

That same landscape continues more or less to Tweed and Madoc. But then as you continue a bit further north, you hit Highway 7 (or “Number Seven Highway,” as people used to say) – the TransCanada. And all along the TransCanada, at least in this neck of the woods, are the sheer faces where the rock was blasted through to make the highway possible. You are on the edge of the Shield.

The road to Queensborough from Madoc, which I have probably been over about fifty thousand times in my life, crosses over Number Seven Highway and continues north for a bit, to Hazzards Corners. Along that Madoc-to-Hazzards section of what is now called Cooper Road, there is again rolling, pleasant farmland. At Hazzards you turn right on Queensborough Road (the roads all have names now; they never used to) and before long it takes a sharp 90-degree left turn. As you follow that turn, chances are good that you’ll see Harold Harris out on his tractor, plowing or harvesting his fields. The Harris farm and (on the other side of the road) the McKinnon farm have practically the last bits of good farmland before you hit the Shield.

But a little bit on, there are two last farms, one run by Angus McKinnon (who was my schoolmate, and is the son of Don and Madeleine, whose farm is across from Harold and Pauline Harris’s) and his wife and family, and one whose owners I do not know, but when we lived there was owned by Allan and Ella Thompson.

And then it’s the Shield.

As the Worsley folks say: “thin soil lying on top of bedrock, with many bare outcrops and thousands of lakes.” Rocks poking up through that thin soil everywhere. Lots of trees. Lots of lakes. Not much else.

But it’s a landscape that defines so much of Canada. Think of Tom Thomson’s paintings. “Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver.” Algonquin Park. Hardscrabble farmland; immense beauty. Frontier.

Queensborough is on the very edge of the Canadian Shield.

1 thought on “On the edge of the Canadian Shield

  1. I also grew up on the edge of the Canadian Shield, near Midland and Penetanguishene, on a peninsula jutting into Georgian Bay. Man, that’s SOME shield!

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