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September 23, 2003

Drowned landscapes

Just north of Flea Towers is a bluff most famous for Casa Loma, an historic home and useful movie backdrop. My favourite part of the bluff, however, is not the line of historic homes running along the top (there is also the Spadina House museum) but the Baldwin Stair which is a useful short-cut from Casa Loma to the Toronto Archives and the Flea's main route for afternoon cycling expeditions. There is a plaque at the base of the Stair which most people pass by...

You are standing at the shore-line of ancient Lake Iroquois.

This is a couple miles inland and a long way uphill from the shore of contemporary Lake Ontario. Lake Iroquois was the result of glacial run-off as the last ice-age ended and before the St. Lawrence seaway became free from the ice. I looked down Spadina Avenue toward the lake and imagined everything I could see underwater while somewhere to the north an ice-cliff a mile high slowly melted. That was the scene about twelve thousand years ago and may be once again if our current inter-glacial period comes to an end (thus the Flea's concerns about global-colding).

Another drowned world is now coming to light:

Herds of reindeer and horses migrated across its plains, huge forests covered much of the countryside and men and women made their homes by rivers and lakes. Then came the deluge, and this ancient Arcadia - which stretched across the North Sea, and covered the Channel - was inundated. All signs of human and animal activity were covered by several hundred feet of water. Only the occasional stone tool, bone harpoon and mammoth tusk, trawled from the sea bed by fishing boats, has provided reminders of this lost world's existence.

But this is not all as another mystery remains much closer to home. It turns out Toronto has been hiding more than its ancient shoreline from me. A glacial river is still flowing beneath my feet.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 23, 2003 09:23 AM


Glacial water is, apparently, great in whiskey...

Posted by: Alexandra at September 23, 2003 02:02 PM