On my to do list for this year included taking the time at least once a month to go to a local site or event and get off the farm even if only for a few hours.
We headed out to the Bog for a nice picnic lunch out..
The Alfred Bog is a little piece of boreal (northern) forest, hundreds of miles south of anything like it. Yet, at 4,200 hectares (10,000 acres), it is the biggest bog of its kind in Southern Ontario, big enough to give refuge to many plants and animals that were stranded as the warming climate pushed the boreal forest northward. This domed peat bog has been building for 10,000 years and shelters many plants and animals that are rare or endangered, some of which are of national significance. Examples include the Bog Elfin butterfly, Fletcher’s dragonfly, spotted turtle, white fringed orchid, Atlantic sedge and rhodora. In fact the bog has been designated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources as a “Class 1 Wetland” and an “Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI)”.
Being a domed peat bog, the Alfred Bog is unlike the kettle bogs most commonly encountered south of the Hudson Bay lowlands. Kettle bogs are found typically in depressions such as those found when a huge block of glacial ice is buried and subsequently melts, leaving a pond in which vegetation has crept in from the edges until the whole surface is covered with a flat, quaking mat. Domed bogs drain in all directions from the dome and the only nutrients received come from rain and snow. The dominant vegetation in both types of bog is sphagnum moss, known to gardeners as peat moss. Sphagnum moss thrives in the interior of bogs where cool, wet, oxygen starved, nutrient poor, acid conditions prevail. The dome is formed over millennia because sphagnum moss has the ability to wick up water from below. These conditions produce a unique community of plants and animals.
Alfred Bog lies in the east end of an abandoned channel of the Ottawa River . This was the main channel of a great river flowing down the Ottawa valley to the Atlantic Ocean. It drained a glacial lake centred in Manitoba. Because of reduced flow and glacial rebounding, the river abandoned its old channel and moved to its present location. Mer Bleue, lying in the west end of the channel is Alfred’s smaller twin.
The most significant impact upon the bog over the years has been the conversion of the bog land for agricultural purposes. The first settlers in the area found the bog to be of little use for farming and an obstacle to building roads. Nevertheless, over the years drainage around the margins has reduced it to about a third of its original size.