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Record of the Rocks Victoria County, Ontario Canada

The changes wrought in the appearance of Victoria county by a century of Anglo-Celtic civilization are surely startling. Yet the inconceivably great epochs of time which lie in the geological past of the world saw stranger sights yet, and we must know this earlier history of the county if we are to understand some of the commonest features of the landscape of our own day.

Norland on the Pacific Coast of Greenland

Some fifty millions of years ago, in the Ordovician Period of the world, there were only three great continents, none of which corresponded to the great land masses of today. An "Indo-African" continent comprised modern Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia, India, the East Indies, and the whole vast intervening bed of the Indian Ocean. A "Brazilian" continent included the northern half of South America, the West Indies, and the Appalachian system of the United States. And a third or "Greenland" continent stretched from Quebec on the west and Greenland on the north over the whole of the North Atlantic to Scotland, where a lofty range of "Caledonian Mountains" was washed on the east by the Pacific Ocean (for most of modern Europe and Asia was still under water). At the southwestern end of the Greenland continent, an "Algonkian Peninsula" ran across Northern Ontario and up west of Hudson Bay as far as Coronation Gulf. From this peninsula, a projection ran south into the "highlands" of Old Ontario. The central and western parts of North America were not yet in existence and the waves of an even greater Pacific than that of today rolled over South Victoria to break on the stern granite shores of the continent near Uphill, Norland, Dongola, and Burnt River. Had modern man lived at that time, he could have sailed straight west from Norland to Edinburgh, Scotland, without changing his course. And had he sailed east ward, he would have witnessed tremendous volcanic eruptions in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, then at the extreme north of the Brazilian continent. However, man was not yet on the earth. The highest forms of life were still only molluscs, which, in some cases, had shells fifteen feet long.

Practically all land at this time was granite rock, formed by the original cooling of the earth's surface and now emerged from beneath the oceans as three great mountainous continents. The sterile hills of North Victoria and Haliburton are thus part of one of the oldest mountain systems in the world, beside which the Rockies and Alps are only healthy babies of yesterday. Rivers among these hills brought down great quantities of silt and mud which were deposited in the ocean depths in South Victoria. Here pressure and heat transformed this sediment into limestone. Two successive formations are usually noted. The oldest is known commonly as the "Black River," but is now described by scientists as consisting (in this county) of Coboconk, Leray, and Lowville limestones. These strata. outcrop chiefly to the north of the Kawartha lakes. The later formation, known as "Trenton" limestone, now overlies the Black River in parts of South Victoria.

By the advent of a somewhat later epoch, the Carboniferous, in which most of the important coal beds of the world were formed, southern Ontario and most of the western provinces had risen above the sea, thus joining themselves to the Greenland continent. Lindsay and the limestone of its district were now inland instead of beneath the ocean, and the waves beat on a new coast somewhere in Ohio and New York State. Never again was Victoria County submerged, and, as a result, we have no coal beds and no fossils except those of the very earliest times. Districts, however, which were submerged in the Carboniferous epoch show wonderful vegetation. There were no flowering plants; but ferns were sixty feet in height, horse tails were ninety feet, and clubmosses actually grew to be five feet in diameter and one hundred feet high. Some forms of fish and some insects were abundant, but the higher classes were still missing.

Two further epochs ,each a million or so years in length, brought little change, but in the Jurassic Period huge reptiles ruled the world. In the lakes and seas swam the Plesiosaurs, ravenous, long necked, forty-foot lizards with fins and a fishlike tail. On land waddled the monstrous Dinosaur, one hundred scaly feet in length. And the sky was darkened by hideous flying lizards. It was an age of nightmares, and its chimaerical forms of life would stagger belief were it not for the unanswerable fossil records laid bare in Wyoming and other parts of the Middle West. There is no doubt that these monsters roamed hungrily abroad in the fern forests of Omemee and Lorneville, but there erosion had its own way during the fifteen million years that came after, and swept away all traces of this early life which different conditions have preserved elsewhere.

In the next period, the Cretaceous, real sea serpents, seventy-five feet long, swam along the ocean shore not far south of Ontario. The Eocene period, following that again, was marked by a complete disappearance of all the great reptiles. At this time, Europe, America and Asia were all joined together.

Victoria County, Ontario Canada Centennial History, Watson Kirkconnell M.A., 1921

Victoria County

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