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The Great Limestone Cliff Victoria County, Ontario Canada

Later periods, the Oligocene, Miocene, and Pliocene, saw North America gradually take on its present shape. During all these epochs, commencing in Carboniferous times, the forces of erosion had been busy in Ontario. Between the granite and the hard superimposed Black River limestone, and between the latter and the hard Trenton limestone, soft sandstones and shales had been laid down. As water, frost, and air carried out their slow work of destruction, these soft rocks were eaten away more rapidly than the others and so created two broad plateaus of hard limestone, each faced on the north (eroded) edge by a precipitous cliff, ranging from 15 to 150 feet in height. These cliffs, known technically as "cuestas," are still quite distinct today, although obscured in places by later glacial drift.

The Black River cuesta has been noted by many geologists. lt lies on the border between the limestone country and the granite country, and can be seen near Head Lake, in the Gull River valley above Coboconk, in the Burnt River valley, and at many other points.
The Trenton cuesta is a contribution of my own to the study of Ontario physiography. (For technical discussion see my article in the Canadian Mining Journal, Vol. XLII, No. 11, pp. 213-214.) It lies to the south of the Kawartha lakes, outside of the region of economic minerals, and it is doubtless for that reason that it had hitherto been overlooked.

It can be traced best by starting just at the left of the Grand Trunk Railway at Mackenzie's Crossing, four miles north of Lindsay. Here it appears on the Dark farm, crosses the Fenelon Township boundary and then turns west, paralleling McLaren's Creek as far as the 2nd Concession of Fenelon. The so called "Fenelon Hill," north of Lindsay, is chiseled down the face of this cliff, which is some millions of years in age. On Concession II, Fenelon, McLaren's Creek passes out through a wide valley in the escarpment. The latter turns north here and is easily traced as far north as Lot 10, Concession III, where it strikes west till due north of Cambray village. Here great glacial deposits of sand and gravel obliterate it, but it is found again just west of Islay. From Lot 15, Concession I, Fenelon, it cuts across to Lot 7, Concession XI, Eldon ,just west of the township boundary, Where it shadows the Glenarm road quite prominently. Thence it runs north till a little past Glenarm, then bends around to the west as far as Lot 10, Concession VIII, Eldon, where the C.P.R. passes through it. On Lot 10, Concession VIA, a creek, tributary to Balsam Lake, passes out through a swampy valley. The cliff next proceeds up the 7th of Eldon as far as Balsam Lake Station, where it forms a very bold bluff before turning on a southwestern stretch towards Argyle. At Argyle is another stream valley; but on Lot 11, Concession II, Eldon, the cuesta appears again and runs west into Ontario County on the 5th Concession of Thorah.

Every foot of this thirty-five miles of Trenton escarpment, west from the Scugog River to Ontario County, I have explored personally ,on foot or by bicycle. East of the Scugog, I have not yet followed it up so carefully; but I have located it at several points as far east as Pigeon Lake, and have no doubt that it is practically continuous right across the county. The Scugog flows out through a wide valley; but the cliff reappears on the Brien farm, just north of "Tillytown," and runs northeast behind Pleasant Point. It is steep here, but not precipitous. Following Sturgeon Lake for some distance, it turns down steeply west of Emily Lake; reappears to the east of Emily Creek; and, after circling north somewhat, runs down the west shore of Pigeon Lake. Here, on lot 18, Concession X, Emily, is the last outcropping which I have mapped personally. Scugog River Once Flowed South.

In the Pliocene Period, all rivers in this part of the country ran south or southwest, passing through the escarpment, and the plateau which it borders, by wide, steep sided, rocky valleys. None of the present local lakes were in existence Two small streams, which rose northeast of Fenelon Falls and near Bobcaygeon respectively, flowed southwards down the center of the two modern arms of Sturgeon Lake and joined their waters two miles south of Sturgeon Point to form the Scugog River. The Scugog then proceeded south, a little to the west of its present course. The business section of Lindsay was directly in the river bed. The river reentered present water channels about the Scugog Lake shore boundary of Mariposa Township, and then flowed south, to the east of Scugog Island, and out by Myrtle on the C. P .R. The modern Scugog Lake was then not in existence.

Another river, the modern Burnt River, had the same upper course as today, with its Gelert and Irondale branches. There was no Cameron Lake, and the old river crossed its present bed from the northeast to the southwest corners. Fenelon Falls was a low limestone ridge, over which no water passed; for the river flowed southwest through a great gap in the escarpment three miles north of Cambray village and on through Goose Lake on the Mariposa-Eldon-Fenelon boundary. About four miles straight north of Oakwood, it was joined by another river whose main stream was the Gull River flowing down through Coboconk. This latter river was augmented, in what is now the bed of Balsam Lake, by tributary streams from Northwest Bay and Corben Creek. It then flowed south, penetrating the great cliff by a steep gorge a mile and a half straight south of Glenarm. The combined waters of the ancient Gull and Burnt Rivers proceeded southwest along the upper valley of Mariposa Brook and left the county near Manilla Junction.

Still another river began in twin streams which rose in Head Lake and Deer Lake, Laxton Township, and flowed down the upper water courses of Perch Creek and Talbot Creek respectively; then formed a junction near Kirkfield, and passed to the southwest near Argyle and Lorneville.

All these rivers were of very long duration, and had worn wide, permanent channels through the hard limestone plateau, which sloped gently towards the south. At many points the edges of their valleys are still discernible; and the ancient drainage system was mapped out by scientists nearly a score of years ago.

Record of the Rocks

Victoria County


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