Wednesday, June 27, 2007
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 history...my 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.