Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Snyder's Flats

One of my favourite places along the river is a place where some of the earliest Mennonite settlers from Pennsylvania cleared land and started to farm. Jacob Schneider arrived in 1807 and purchased a lot for his large family known as the Oxbow Lot. There was a ford in the river here that became known as Christian Snyder's Ford. (The name Schneider was changed to Snyder). The area is now known as Snyder's Flats and descendants of the original settlers still farm in the area.

For years, a gravel company had an operation here and large pits were dug adjacent to the river. In the past few years, an effort has been made to naturalize the area. The ponds have been cleaned and trails have been made through the property still owned by Preston Sand and Gravel as well as the land owned by the conservation authority. This is where we saw the beaver in April this year. I noticed the vacant osprey nest at that time and returned this month to see if the birds had returned.

I was not disappointed.

The osprey pair were repairing the nest and provided an active and noisy display from their high perch. Two other platforms have been built for nesting, but they have chosen the hydro pole instead.

One bird stayed in the nest at all times but there was no way for me to see if there were any eggs or young birds. She glared at me as I stood below the pole taking pictures and vocalized her displeasure loudly.

The river is very shallow here as it rounds the bend, which is to be expected for a ford. Many birds and animals make their home near the meadows, river and ponds. It is a popular spot for fishing and dog swimming. The water is very deep in the ponds and swimming for people is not allowed. One pond is designated an environmentally sensitive area, home to a variety of amphibians, and access by foot is not encouraged.

The Mennonite Church started by Jacob or Yoch Schneider still has a congregation meeting to this day. I love old graveyards and there are many interesting headstones in this church yard honouring the early settlers on this land.

Water, birds, good trails, a cemetery, local favourite kind of place to visit.

A history of this community is written here by a student from the University of Waterloo.
A map of the trail system is here.


  1. Hi Ruth,
    What a pretty area....the river looks very clean. How neat to get to see those ospreys up close. Hopefully on your next visit the babies will be large enough that you will be able to see them sitting up in the nest waiting for Mom & Dad to bring home treats

  2. O my, such a wonderful place and love the osprey photo!

  3. Any place with an osprey nest is my favorite also!

  4. So much cool history around you Ruth! Wonderful shot of the osprey nest.

  5. RuthieJ- Maybe I will go back this weekend and take a look for those babies. I took these pictures almost 4 weeks ago.

    Monarch- Thanks. There is no higher ground to get a picture of the nest from any angle than below. I was happy to see them as closeup as I did.

    Laura- There are two more platforms that have been built to encourage more nesting pairs, but I wondered if these birds are territorial and if they would nest in close proximity.

    Jayne- Thanks. I think most places have a cool history if you ask around. My older patients have taught me many things about local history.

  6. Ruth, you truly are blessed with abundant history and lovely views where you live.

    Ospreys are gorgeous!

  7. Anonymous9:51 am GMT-4

    I want to add my "Thank you" too. I am pretty sure my late wife and I drove by that area a number of times when we lived in Guelph. Between Guelph and Kitchener? Am I correct? With a son in Manitoba now, and his oldest son having graduated from Conrad Grebel and liking Waterloo better than Pennsylvania I feel a great tug that way. I always enjoy your contributions. Blessings! Father "C" in Pennsylvania

  8. Mary- I like to travel, but I am glad to live where I do.

    Father C.- Thanks for dropping in!
    Yes, you would have passed by this spot if you travelled between Guelph and Kitchener. Conrad Grebel College is a well respected part of the University of Waterloo. I didn't realize your grandson had been there. Pennsylvania and Waterloo are very similar in many ways,but I too feel a tug to the north.

  9. That's nice that you are able to get so many of your favorite things in one place.-Nice Osprey nest photos too!

  10. Larry- Thanks. If I can't find birds, I can do something else at a place like this.

  11. I been fishing there for 10 years, the ospery and beaver have been there the whole time :) Unfortunatley with the popularity among dog owners and non sports fishermen the area is on a large decline, it's become very dirty and dangerous at time with aggresive dogs being off leash.


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