Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

End of summer paddle to Canonto Lake

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

September 19, 2006

by Sheila Edwards

End of summer paddle to Canonto Lake

Sometimes a paddle is great because of the unusual birds we see, sometimes it’s the flowers in bloom, and sometimes it’s a little frog that tries to jump into the boat; after a Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) outing each paddler has a renewed interest in nature.

September 10th was a great day to be out on the water, leaving behind the yard work, window caulking, car washing, and other fall chores that our neighbours were up to. An intermittent breeze kept a bit of a chill in the air, but not enough to deter even the most novice paddler in the group.

For the Canonto paddle there were many points of interest, some quite unexpected. It surprised some of us that one could head south-west on Wolfe Grove Rd (with a zigzag at Hopetown, past Poland and beyond) for such a long distance without encountering a heavily populated area. Once out on the lake, the water was so different from many of the other locations we have paddled. Many Eastern Ontario lakes have super-high levels of nutrients, making them eutrophic; Canonto Lake has less nutrients, as evidenced by its clarity and lower populations of species.

The geography of this lake was a mixture of marshes, treed shoreline, and majestic rocks. The marshes were home to the occasional Midland Painted Turtle and Great Blue Heron. Birds were heard from the trees but rarely seen; several times yellow leaves fluttering down were mistaken for American Goldfinch. An otter was spotted weaving among the trees near the shore; luckily we had not interrupted its fishing, as its fur was dry. One rock island was particularly appealing and if it had been up for grabs would likely have been adopted.

For lunch, we pulled our boats onto a rocky area large enough for the six canoes and two kayaks, with room left over for us to picnic. An unusual mushroom was found in the woods near the rock face. As no one had a clue as to its name, we snapped a couple of pictures for later identification. It was a Four-Footed Earthstar (Geastrum quadrifidum), visible during the late summer under conifers. For a closer look please see the latest additions to our website photogallery.

A detailed description of how to get to the Canonto Lake public boat launch can be found on the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists website, www.mvfn.ca. Although our club paddling has come to an end for this season, for those interested in an MVFN nature walk, the next one will be hosted and led by Joel Byrne at his property “Big Creek” near Watsons Corners, on Sunday October 15th. If interested, and for more information, please contact Mike McPhail at 613-256-7211 or email .