Rivers Run Through Us

Water springs up all around us in the streams and rivers and marshes and pools of the four major watersheds that sculpt our landscape and feed three Great Lakes.

June 20, 2016 | | Editor’s Desk

It is common in conversation for someone here in the hills to suddenly interject with renewed wonder how very lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the planet. And it is not uncommon for someone else to add, “If only it were on the water,” by which they mean the seaside or lakeside.

Well, there is no sea and no real lake here (though there are some very large ponds given the name lake, in the way the local escarpment is given the name mountain) – but there is no shortage of water. It springs up all around us in the streams and rivers and marshes and pools of the four major watersheds that sculpt our landscape and feed three Great Lakes.

It was this water, and the hydro power – thus commerce – it generated, that determined the location of the first settlement areas here. But over the years, the mills fell into disuse, their ponds silted up; some of the villages grew into towns while others languished. A new breed of settler arrived, mostly ex-urbanite, not in search of a livelihood, but attracted to the natural glory of the hills and forests – the very things that had made life for those first settlers so challenging. The rivers continued to flow, but they no longer had a central role in the community psyche.

That is changing again. It has taken awhile, but over recent decades Hurricane Hazel, the Walkerton crisis, global news of droughts and floods resulting from climate change, the disappearance of fish from our local waterways, and the need in certain developed parts of Caledon to draw water via a big pipe from Lake Ontario have rung alarm bells and brought the vital role of our rivers and their source waters back to centre stage.

Now attention is being paid at the highest level. The province is in the final stage of consultation on its Co-ordinated Land Use Planning Review and has begun review of the Conservation Authorities Act. The management and preservation of our watersheds have a central role in both. So it seemed an opportune time for us to re-explore the rivers of Headwaters. In this issue Tony Reynolds provides an in-depth profile of our local waterways, their ancient and recent history, the impressive actions many local groups and individuals are taking to protect them, and his own happy memories of discovering them. Photographer Rosemary Hasner accompanies his words with her stunning portraits capturing diverse moods along each of the rivers, including our cover of the swing bridge and sparkling falls on the Credit River in Belfountain.

We hope it will inspire you to get out and discover, or rediscover, the many and varied delights of all our local rivers for yourself.

About the Author More by Signe Ball

Signe Ball is publisher/editor of In The Hills.

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