A Driving Tour around the Niagara Escarpment
Leaving Lowville behind we headed straight north to another conservation area in the Halton Region Conservation System: Crawford Lake features a so-called meromictic lake, a deep body of water where different layers of water do not intermix. This creates an oxygen-poor environment that is not conducive to living organisms. As a result, archeologists are able to drill core samples of soil from the lake bed that date back several centuries. One of these drillings led to the discovery of corn pollen and the conclusion that there was once an Indian village in the area. Subsequent archeological digs confirmed the presence of a native settlement.
One of the two longhouses
A 15th century pre-contact Iroquoian Village has been reconstructed on its original site and features two wooden longhouses that contain sleeping quarters, a fire pit and storage areas for tools, animal hides and food. Guides provide explanations of the lifestyle of the Iroquois tribes that inhabited this area. This conservation area is a popular destination for school children and summer camps and during our visit several groups of young people were enjoying themselves in the grassy areas in front of the long houses.
Painting of a longhouse scene
The Niagara Escarpment is just full of protected nature areas, and just 10 minutes north of the village of Campbellville is another nature area: the Hilton Falls Conservation Area features excellent hiking, mountain biking and cross-country ski trails in the area. More than 30 km of woodland trails weave their way around the Hilton Falls Reservoir and a 10 metre high waterfall cascades over the Niagara Escarpment. Across the road from Hilton Falls is the Kelso / Glen Eden Conservation Area whose highlights include a sandy beach as well as 22 kilometres of trails for mountain bikers and 12 slopes for downhill skiers.
Hilton Falls Reservoir
We continued our drive south to the Town of Milton, which according to the 2006 Census, is the fastest growing community in Canada. The population of Milton has grown by more than 70% between 2001 and 2006 and stands about 56,000 people now. Milton dates back to the 1820s when English settlers Jasper Martin and his wife Sarah were granted 100 acres of land from the Crown.
Milton Town Hall
Martin built a grist mill along Sixteen Mile Creek and also created a pond, Mill Pond, which is still in existence today and has become a popular recreation area for local residents with its walking trails and the gazebo that overlooks the water.
Main Street in downtown Milton still speaks of its Victorian heritage, old City Hall, the Post Office Building and several other churches and secular buildings date back to the mid to late 1800s. Many restaurants and cafés have sprung up in the downtown core which beckon visitors to sit down and relax on some of their outdoor patios.
The former Post Office in Milton, now a restaurant
From the quaint town of Milton we headed northwest towards a small village called Aberfoyle, north of Highway 401. Karel suggested that we have lunch at the local Aberfoyle Mill, an actual mill that was converted into a restaurant in 1966. Aberfoyle itself was first settled in the 1840s and is famous for its Aberfoyle Spring Water.
The Aberfoyle Mill
The Aberfoyle Mill itself was built by a Scottish immigrant by the name of George McLean in 1859 and even won a gold medal for its oatmeal at the 1867 World’s Fair in Pairs. After stopping operations in the late 1920s the mill was purchased by the Owens family in 1960 who then spent six years renovating it and turning it into one of the most unique country restaurants in Canada.
Main dining room at the Aberfoyle Mill