In Retrospect – Spring 2023

A look back on how we’ve covered the pleasures and concerns of country life over the last three decades.

March 20, 2023 | | Community

This year In The Hills celebrates its 30th anniversary. To mark the occasion, in each issue of 2023, we’re digging into archives to take a look back at some of the themes that have populated our pages over the past three decades – stories that reflect how the pleasures and concerns of our special countryside community have evolved over a generation. You can click on the images below to go to the full story and read more.

Natural Wonders

Since its inception, In The Hills has been committed to celebrating the natural bounty that defines our community. We’ve been able to do that largely through the remarkably knowledgeable and thoughtful writing of naturalist Don Scallen who has contributed dozens of stories about the extraordinary plants, animals, birds and insects with whom we share our countryside.

2022 – In the Bleak Midwinter

“A blue jay might hide 3,000 corns throughout its territory in the autumn and successfully relocate most of them days or even weeks later.” 

2014 – Swifts and Swallows

“While swallows glean aerial plankton at various heights, often skimming mere centimetres above lakes and ponds, chimney swifts nearly always forage high above the ground. And unlike swallows, swifts never alight on branches and wires.”

2013 – Dances with Coyotes

“In my hundreds of solo walks through the Headwaters region over the past four decades, I’ve frequently come across coyote scat and coyote tracks – though I’ve rarely seen a coyote. But these creatures have undoubtedly seen me many times. Their healthy fear of people has kept them in the shadows.”

2011 – Meetings with Remarkable Trees

“In the 1870s, farmers who transplanted maple seedlings from their woodlots to the verges of roads bordering their property collected 25 cents a tree from the Ontario government. Today, this program can be thanked for the lovely mature maples that arch over so many rural byways.” 

Population Growth

Located at the edge of GTA, our hills remain in constant tension between population growth and preserving our countryside, not only for its impressive natural beauty but for its important contribution to environmental health. Currently, with new provincial population targets set to more than triple the population of Caledon, for instance, that tension has only intensified.

2008 – Field of Schemes

“The province’s approach fails to allow for the possibility that significant population growth may simply be inappropriate and ultimately unsustainable in some communities, because of ecosystem limitations. To artificially expand the carrying capacity of these communities – through the long-distance transport of water and wastewater – will certainly create systems more vulnerable to disruption and even less self-sufficient. In addition, it will greatly increase the challenges and complexity of protecting ecosystem integrity in the Great Lakes Basin and the Greater Golden Horseshoe.” [Environment commissioner Gord Miller]

2001 – The Smart Growth Cure

“Former Toronto mayor David Crombie’s six principles of Smart Growth include promoting cities as the engines of the economy, containing urban sprawl, providing transportation alternatives, providing housing choices, creating community, and protecting natural areas and culture.”

1999 – Growth and Prosperity

“But if we consider that Caledon must collect more taxes per capita than, for example Orangeville or Erin, it seems evident that at least some of these ‘high level of services’ are the cost, not the benefit, of population growth and industrial expansion.”

1998 – The Borders of Paradise

“As he drove up Hwy. 10 on a recent visit to Caledon [chair of the Greater Toronto Services Board Alan] Tonks reportedly exclaimed, ‘Look at all the vacant land!’ The comment doesn’t surprise Caledon farmer David Armstrong. City planners think of land use in only one way, he says. ‘To them agricultural land is vacant land waiting to be developed.’”

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