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CAROLINIAN FOREST AND THE GRAND RIVER

Updated: Aug 20, 2023



In 1791 a few years after the end of the American rebellion – and to handle the ensuing flood of American-speaking displaced persons arriving in the upper country – Great Britain took it upon itself to divide Quebec into two provinces: Lower and Upper Canada. Lower Canada is currently Québec. Upper Canada is currently Ontario.


In the eighteenth century, Upper Canada, which the British claimed but did not own and did not conquer, was the territories-depending-thereon part of Quebec. The southern part the territory held a treasure.


Embedded across the south of the new province was an incredible woodland.


A section of the colossal Carolinian forest tips as far north as Toronto and runs through the Carolinas and dips as far south as Savannah. It encompasses Tinaatoua or the Ouse or the Grand River, which marks its western beginnings and connects the north and south Great Lakes.


In variety and abundance the extent of arboreal wilderness must have been breathtaking. The Carolinian forest was/is a paradise of deciduous and coniferous variety: chestnut, honey locust, nannyberry, sassafras, wild crabapple, willow, witch hazel, black maple, walnut, sweet birch, staghound sumac, beechnut, shagbark hickory, blue ash, sycamore and white pine, and many more pine varieties.


Perhaps the inconvenience to settler farmers, post 1791, was equally breathtaking. Nonetheless it took a mere fifty years for the magnificent woodland to give way to meadows, grassland, scrub oak and macadamized roads. Forest gave way to concrete.


Towns and cities popped up. And farm after farm after farm.

American sycamore, photo credit, JJMK


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