Carden Plain is an attractive blend of unique habitats that offer
an unspoiled panorama of grassland and shrubland birds, a blaze
of wildflowers and vegetation with prairie affinities, and a wide
array of butterflies and insects, many of which are restricted to
this area. Large expanses of grassland, occasionally interspersed
with shrubs and savannah, lend a subtle, but yet distinct flavour
of Africa. If you look carefully, and are lucky, you will spot an
Eastern Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus migrans). This Endangered
species, along with a large assemblage of grassland species, call
the Carden Plain home during the spring and summer months.
Image Copywrite Terry Bradt
Situated amongst the unpopulated backroads in Carden Township, Carden
Plain has been a favourite haunt of birders, botanists, and naturalists,
all drawn to the area by its curious and impressive array of habitats
and wildlife. As its natural features were documented, parts of
Carden Plain were recognized as a globally-significant, rare habitat:
14,000 years ago.
Carden Plain is characterized by very shallow limestone bedrock,
which in most places is relatively flat. Calcareous remains of
billions of sea creatures settled to the bottom of the vast, warm
tropical waters which occupied this area hundreds of million years
ago, and were gradually compressed into these resulting layers
About 14,000 years ago, when humans first entered North America,
all of Southern Ontario and northern parts of U.S.A. were covered
by the Wisconsian Glacier. Ice level up tree Kilometers thick
exerted a huge pressure on the earth.
13,000 years ago, global warming began. The melting glacier formed
a large lake called Algonquin which initially drained south down
the Mississippi. As the glacier retreated the land was released
from the pressure raising up to 600 feet (called isostatic rebound)
cutting off drainage outlets and replacing them with others newly
exposed. Around 11,200 years ago the glacier withdrew past the
Kirkfield Outlet through the Kawartha Lakes, through the Trent
Valley and on to the Hudson River.
11, 200 years ago.
phenomena washed the Carden Plain clean in contrast to the Canadian
Shield. A few abandoned beach ridges and offshore sand and gravel
deposits remain from this era, such as the gravelly ridges which
can be found along Wylie Road just north of County Road 6.
original forest of the Carden Plain appears to have included some
good stands of White Pine, and considerably more Tamarack than
now occurs. However, the northern parts of Carden Plain were also
recorded by the first surveyors to include open areas, often described
as rock barrens or spruce plains.
to Chapman and Putnam (1984), the population peak on the Carden
Plain was reached during the lumbering era, when farms could sell
local produce such as beans and pigs to the lumber camps. In 1881
there were about 3,300 people and 470 occupied farms on Carden
Plain; by 1941 there were only 1,700 people and 280 farms. The
decline in agriculture, which followed forest clearing and wildfires,
continued in later years, with average farm size becoming significantly
larger to an average of 200 hectares in 1981. Over 70 percent
of the farmed areas is rough pasture, requiring more than 5 hectares
to support each unit of livestock.
the past 50 years, the overall population of the Carden Plain
has stabilized, with most of the new residential development taking
place around Lake Dalrymple and Canal Lake.