About Friends of the Carp Hills

Vision: To preserve the Carp Hills for the benefit of nature and the community in perpetuity. Mission: To forge a partnership of private landowners, community groups, local residents, organizations, businesses, the City of Ottawa, and other levels of government working together to create an eco-connected area of wilderness conservation and public access in the Carp Hills.

Carp Barrens Trail Study Recommendations

The Carp Barrens is beautiful and people are loving it to death.  These recommendations from the Carp Barrens Trail Study, implemented by the City of Ottawa, will help keep the area special for future generations.  It is a small thing to ask people to respect these conservations measures and minimize their impact when enjoying its beauty.
 
  • Close an unauthorized trail on the northern half of the Barrens.
  • Authorize the Carp Barrens Trail on the southern half of the Barrens for pedestrian and mountain bike use only.
  • Reduce the footprint of the Carp Barrens Trail to a single loop with no side trails.
  • Close the trail to all human use from the Tuesday after Victoria Day weekend in May to 15 August to allow ground nesting birds and turtles to reproduce.
  • Better delineate the trail to keep people on the trail and stop wandering off-trail.
  • Prohibit dogs.
  • Limit parking for safety reasons.

In addition, the Friends of the Carp Hills will establish a monitoring plan and program to evaluate the ongoing impact of human use.

To review the options considered and understand the evidence and reasons for the recommendations, please read the Carp Barrens Trail Study.  For a summary of the study, read the final article published in Trail and Landscape magazine:  Environmental Impact Assessment of Trail on the Carp Barrens.  Part 3 of 3.

Decommissioning of Carp Barrens Trail

On October 24 and 25, the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association closed an unauthorized trail constructed on the Carp Barrens and posted signs and information provided by the City of Ottawa.  Closure of this trail was recommended by the Carp Barrens Trail Study.

Notice of Trail Closure by the City of Ottawa:

“The unauthorized trail beyond this sign was constructed on conservation land owned by the City of Ottawa and is hereby closed.
 
The trail has been decommissioned to allow the area to return to a natural state.
 
Closure is required to preserve the high ecological integrity of the area, which is critical habitat for several Species at Risk that are easily disturbed by human activity.  Trail use has already introduced non-native plant species.  The prevalence of black-legged ticks in this area also increases the risk of Lyme disease transmission.
 
Hunting continues to be a permitted activity in accordance with the City’s Discharge of Firearms By-law No. 2002-344 and Provincial regulations.”

 

Hunting in the Carp Hills

People are hearing gunshots in the Carp Hills and asking about whether it’s safe to walk on the Crazy Horse Trail.  The answer is that anyone going out into the bush at this time of year should be aware of the risks and should wear bright orange.

It is now hunting season.   Geese and duck hunting started last month.  Bow season for deer started yesterday, with gun hunting of deer starting on 2 November.  Black bear and small game seasons started back in September. 

The discharge of firearms in the City of Ottawa is governed by the Discharge of Firearms by-law.  The discharge of firearms is allowed throughout the Carp Hills, except within 450 m of the rural estate neighbourhoods.  People may hunt on city-owned land.  They may not hunt on private property without permission from the landowner.

We live in a rural area that has hunting traditions. We expect hunters to hunt legally and responsibly and in turn we need to respect their right to hunt. We hope that hunters will avoid the trail area or use it very early in the morning, knowing that hikers are using it in the fall and likely keeping game away. Hikers should wear bright orange.  We can respect each other’s desire to enjoy the area.

The Crazy Horse Trail lies on city-owned land.  The area is less affected by hunting due to its proximity to the residential areas to the southeast (Westwood), southwest (village of Carp), and northeast (Marchurst Road).  See the figure below.  However, the outer reaches of the property lie outside of the 450m restriction.  For reference, the width of the property is approximately 600m and the length of the property is approximately 1300m.  

Hunting is not permitted in the green cross-hatched area.

For provincial hunting seasons, please see the links below. The Carp Hills are in Wildlife Management Unit 64B.

https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-hunting-regulations-summary/black-bear

https://www.ontario.ca/page/tentative-start-dates-deer-and-moose-hunting-seasons

https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-hunting-regulations-summary/wild-turkey

https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-hunting-regulations-summary/small-game-and-furbearing-mammals

For the hunting of migratory birds, see this link.  We lie in District 4.

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/migratory-game-bird-hunting/regulations-provincial-territorial-summaries/ontario.html

All Aboard! Nature Excursions to Carp by Train in the 1890’s and 1900’s

History of the Hills – Part 6

People have been drawn to Carp’s natural beauty and its unusual geology for over 100 years.
 
The Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club (OFNC) made the village of Carp and the Carp Hills an excursion destination at the turn of the twentieth century.  This was thanks to the railroad, which started regular service to Carp in 1893.  As documented in the 1896/1897 edition of OFNC’s transactions (1), the Ottawa, Arnprior, and Parry Sound Railway opened up new areas for the naturalists to explore with day trips all around the Ottawa and West Quebec area.  There was even local interest in establishing a branch of the OFNC in Carp, but this initiative never came to pass (2).
 
Founded in 1863 and the oldest natural history club in Canada, OFNC had many members who were distinguished scientists and researchers, often employed by Ottawa area government institutions.
 
OFNC’s interest in Carp started with geology and paleontology.  Geologist Dr. Henri-Marc Ami of the Geological Survey of Canada made visits to Carp in 1894/1895 (3) and 1896/1897 (4) to collect fossilized shells at an exposed sand/gravel stratification just south of the Carp Station.
 
The club organized two major excursions to Carp by railway in June 1905 (5) and in May 1909 (6). Members were interested in birds, insects, plants, and geology.
 
The famous Canadian naturalist and self-taught botanist, John Macoun, made a number of comments about the plants in the 1905 trip.  He also made a very perceptive observation about the similarity of the Carp Ridge flora to that of Kingsmere in the Gatineau Hills.  Both are part of the same Precambrian Shield formation.  We know that Macoun returned to Carp in 1907 and 1908, because there are lichen samples by him preserved by the Canadian Museum of Nature’s herbarium (7).
 
Local people made the club welcome and allowed access to their properties.  In the 1905 account, references are made to the properties of Mr. Johnson and Mr. Wilson.  It is thought that Johnson is a typo; it should be a Johnston, as the Johnston family owned land in Carp.  The 1879 Belden Atlas (8) shows the Johnston and Wilson properties adjacent to each other (Figure 1). The Diefenbunker is located on a portion of the former Wilson property where a sand pit was once operated.

Figure 1. From the 1879 Belden Atlas, this shows the village of Carp and the properties owned by Wilson and Johnston to the northwest of the village. The dotted line to the left of the Wilson property is today’s Craig’s Side Road.

We have annotated a 1945 aerial photo to illustrate places mentioned in the excursions (Figure 2).  This can be compared to an aerial photo from 1976, which shows the Diefenbunker (Figure 3).

Figure 2. This is an aerial photo from 1945, which has been annotated to show where points of interest were located in the early 1900’s. Road names are those from today. The portion of the Wilson property northeast of the Carp River became the Diefenbunker. (Source: National Photo Archives.)

Figure 3. Aerial photo from 1976 shows the Diefenbunker and its sewage lagoon on what was part of the Wilson property. The white lines are where roads and houses are located today. (source: GeoOttawa).

The Carp Station was located on Salisbury Street, which today is an undeveloped lot by the railroad tracks (Figure 4).  The club members walked from the station to today’s Donald B. Munro Drive, up the Carp Road hill to the school, which was located on Carp Road by Falldown Lane.  From there the club members walked to the Johnson (Johnston) property to view a grove and then visited the sand pit at the Wilson property.  It is believed that the grove refers to what people called the “picnic grounds”, which was also the first location of the Carp Agricultural Fair (9).

Figure 4. The location of the former Carp Station on Salisbury Street, now a vacant lot by the railroad tracks. (Photo: J. Mason)

The 1905 article mentions skirting the “Laurentian ridge” (Carp Ridge, part of the Laurentian formation) on the return to the station.  Here they viewed a mica vein, which is likely the small pit located at today’s Hidden Lake Park.  There was quite a bit of excitement about “curved hornblende crystals” taken at the vein of mica, which led to a separate article in the club’s journal, The Ottawa Naturalist (10).
 
No further trips to Carp by the club are mentioned after the one in 1909.
 
If anyone has more knowledge about the sand/gravel pit south of the station, the visited properties, and where the club may have gone, we’d love to hear from you.


References
 
OFNC’s publication, The Ottawa Naturalist, is available on-line from 1879 to 1919.  The publication then became The Canadian Field Naturalist with a national focus.  You can find these on OFNC’s web site.

(1)  “The Geology of the Ottawa and Parry Sound Railway”, The Ottawa Naturalist, Vol X, 1896/1897, pages 164-173.. A fascinating account of Ottawa Valley geology from downtown Ottawa to Barry’s Bay in 1896 by railroad.  Note the reference to the beauty of Chats Falls, a sight we can’t see today due to its being dammed for hydro electric power.
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/30104109
 
(2) Excursions Committee Report, The Ottawa Naturalist, Vol XXVI, 1910/1911, page 11.  Failure to establish an OFNC branch in Carp.
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/1607416

(3) Geological Notes, The Ottawa Naturalist, Vol VIII, 1894/1895 , pages 121-122 .  Documents a visit by H.M. Ami to a sand/gravel pit south near the Carp Station to collect shells.
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/1837466 
 
(4)  “Last Excursion of the Season to Galetta”, The Ottawa Naturalist, Vol X, 1896/1897, p. 141.  A short stop at the Carp Station to collect shells on the way to Galetta and Marshall’s Bay.
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/30104077
 
(5)  “General Excursion to Carp”, The Ottawa Naturalist, Vol XIX, 1906/1907, pages 91-94.  An account of the 10 June 1905  excursion to Carp.
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/30104257
Here is a PDF of the “General Excursion to Carp” article that you can download.
 
(6) “Carp, Ont.”, The Ottawa Naturalist, Vol XXIII, 1909/1910, pages 81-84.  An account of the 29 May 1909 excursion to Carp
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/823273
Here is a PDF of the “Carp, Ont.” article that you can download.
 
(7) Lichen Portal – You can search for historic lichen observations in the Carp Hills at this site.

(8) Illustrated Historical Atlas of Carleton County, Ont; H Belden & Co: Toronto, 1879. (Facsimile edition printed 1971).
 
(9) Peg Blair – Huntley Historical Society – phone discussion on 6 July 20.
 
(10) “Carp Ontario”, The Ottawa Naturalist, Vol XIX, 1905/1906, pages 211-212.  Further geological information from the 10 June 1905 excursion about curved hornblende crystals:
https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/30104377

Tick Quest

Questing tick with its two front legs stretched out. (Photo by Owen Clarkin)

While out doing bio-inventory work deep in the Carp Hills on Saturday, 23 May, Owen Clarkin took this photo of a tick “questing” with its two front legs outstretched ready to latch onto a host. Here is information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about this behaviour.

“Ticks find their hosts by detecting animals´ breath and body odors, or by sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations. Some species can even recognize a shadow. In addition, ticks pick a place to wait by identifying well-used paths. Then they wait for a host, resting on the tips of grasses and shrubs. Ticks can’t fly or jump, but many tick species wait in a position known as “questing”.

While questing, ticks hold onto leaves and grass by their third and fourth pair of legs. They hold the first pair of legs outstretched, waiting to climb on to the host. When a host brushes the spot where a tick is waiting, it quickly climbs aboard. Some ticks will attach quickly and others will wander, looking for places like the ear, or other areas where the skin is thinner.”

The Carp Ridge in 1879

History of the Hills – Part 5

FCH board member and retired librarian Anne Wong found this eloquent account about the Carp Ridge/Carp Hills in the well known “Belden Atlas” published in 1879.  Written in the flowery language of the time, it describes how the “mountainous” outcrop in the northern corner of the township is the same as the Laurentian formation in Quebec (the Gatineau Hills are part of this formation).  The “Upper Road” is now called Carp Road.

“Reference has previously been made to the exceptionally poor character of the northern corner of the [Huntley] Township.  This formation is rather peculiar, being a spur of the Laurentides, which cross the Ottawa [River] at the foot of the Chats. Here there are portions which are quite approaching that character which might be termed mountainous, the only part of the Township where the topography exhibits an exceptional elevation.  These mountains are almost entirely of rock, in places as smooth as a dancing-floor for acres in extent, in others crossed and cut up by deep seams, in others again there are masses of huge size and every conceivable shape, piled in such form as to make acre after acre inaccessible even to the foot of a mountain-goat; in still other places the upheaval, which has evidently left the surface as it is, many cycles of time prior to the “creation of man,” has placed the molten strata in regular order and at various angles of inclination to the zenith; while everywhere the plainest evidence of tremendous heat are apparent, which, gradually dying out, left broad areas in the condition first described, which seems to have varied to the other names forms  by the occasional bubbling out, as it were, of the gases generated within the molten mass after the surface had become cooled.

This interesting formation runs down to the north-east limit of the Carp [River] Valley, and the peculiarity of the division is not less marked than the character of the divisions themselves. What is called “the Upper Road” from Carp Village to Fitzroy Harbor passes along the base of the mountain; and for miles – in fact all the way to the Fitzroy line and beyond – one can reach out the hand on one side and touch the forbidding rock of the mountain, which rises in many places very abruptly, and in others more gradually, to a height of several hundred feet; while a single step toward the other hand places him upon the gently descending and beautifully even plain which finds its lowest point at the edge of the Carp River, whose gliding, glittering stream can be seen for miles winding its way along its peaceful course, and flanked by a country which, though limited in extent, has no superior in excellence or in the attractiveness of its landscape, or general effect in this whole land of mountain and valley, and forest and stream, and rich fields, pleasant hamlets, and happy homes.”

Illustrated Historical Atlas of Carleton County, Ont; H Belden & Co: Toronto, 1879. (Facsimile edition printed 1971) p. 262.
 

Geological Survey of Canada Map 1508a shows the similarity of the Precambrian Shield formations of the Gatineau Hills and Carp Hills.  Download the map and read more about the geology of the Carp Hills here:  https://carphills.com/?page_id=1750

Tick and Lyme Disease Research in Carp

Updated on 21 April 2020.

Message from Dr. Kulkarni:  “The UPTick project is coming soon to a neighbourhood near you! University of Ottawa researchers, led by Dr. Manisha Kulkarni, will be conducting a project on ticks and Lyme disease in the village of Carp and the adjacent Carp Hills over the next two years (2020-2021). The project aims to assess the impacts of urban change on tick populations and tick-borne disease transmission. For more information and FAQ visit www.uptickproject.ca.”

Councillor Eli El-Chantiry and Friends of the Carp Hills are sponsoring a meeting on Tuesday, 14 April at 7:30pm at the Carp Mess Hall, 2240 Craig Side Road, where epidemiology researchers from the University of Ottawa will talk about a new project in Carp and answer questions.

University of Ottawa’s School of Epidemiology & Public Health has a new project on ticks and Lyme disease in Ottawa called UPTick (“Best practices for urban planning in the context of climate change and emerging tick-borne diseases”).  The researchers are sampling four areas in Ottawa and the Carp Village/Carp Hills interface is one.  The project is supported by Ottawa Public Health and Councillor Eli El-Chantiry.

A map shows the study area highlighted in red. The study area is large because sampling sites will be located along a gradient of urban development that includes the three “groups”: 

  1. natural wooded zones,
  2. established residential/woodland interfaces, and
  3. within-neighborhood residential yards and trails.

The researchers will conduct field sampling for ticks and their small mammal hosts (e.g. mice) in different woodlands and neighborhoods where previous research has shown that tick populations are likely present. This will allow them to identify at-risk locations and populations for better targeting of interventions to reduce human exposure to ticks, and to understand the drivers of human risk for tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease. 

Three private landowners with large Carp Hills parcels that lie along the village boundary have agreed to provide access to the researchers.  This includes Ducks Unlimited Canada.

Tick populations in Carp and the Carp Hills have grown significantly in the last 7 to 8 years, with residents living along and near the boundary being particularly affected.  Landowners with large parcels of land (e.g. Ducks Unlimited Canada) along the village boundary have been contacted and asked to allow access for the researchers.  Sampling will also occur on publicly owned land in the village in parks and along trails.

For more information, download this six page PDF about Project UPTick.

Map of study area in red. (Map from UPTick Project.)

Winter Photo Contest Winner

Congratulations to Erik Frebold of Vancouver for his winning photograph of a bird nest in winter in the Carp Hills.  Erik’s photo will be our banner for March, a nice reminder that spring is on its way.

We’re visiting from Vancouver and the Carp Hills is our favourite place to ski because it’s so quiet, beautiful, and has great wildlife/birds. We spotted this nest today Feb. 17th; it’s about 1m off the ground and measures only 5cm across. My guess is it’s from a Marsh Wren. Photo was taken with a Pentax Optio W80 digital and lightly edited for contrast with the GIMP 2.10.8 (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) in Linux.

We had five submissions to the contest.  Our judge, Chris Busby, made these comments on Erik’s photo:

Nice composition using the rule of thirds, colours have a nice range (blue shadows contrast nicely with browns and yellows of brush), nice shadow detail of nest.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit photos and to care about the Carp Hills.


Other contest submissions:

“Panoramic shot of Beaver Pond, Crazy Horse Trail.” Photo by Denis Gallant.

“Just having a break on the Crazy Horse trail on a beautiful day.” Photo by Denis Gallant.

“Feb 17th on the Carp Ridge; can’t really describe where this is, and that’s one of the the beauties of the area. I like this because it shows the typical scenery of close forest with suggestions of intriguing open lake areas behind. Taken with a Pentax Optio W80 digital and lightly edited with The GIMP in Gnu-Linux.” Photo by Erik Frebold.

 

 

“This is my photo taken during the first 1K of the trail today . We went for a very cold snow shoe. Saw one other person. Did entire loop. No filters or processing as I do well to even think to bring out my phone and take a photo.” Photo by Marilyn David.

Winter Evening Snowshoe Event

15 February – Conditions Update – Snowshoes are needed.  The trails are in excellent condition with deep snow.

Join us on Valentine’s and Family Day weekend, 15 February, at 110 Donald B. Munro starting at 7:30pm for a guided ❤️ the Hills Evening Snowshoe in the winter beauty of the Carp Hills.  This private property has one of the highest points in the Hills and scenic views over the Carp River valley.  Following our exertions, we’ll gather at the outdoor bonfire for bonhomie and alcohol-free beverages.

Some degree of physical fitness is required.  There are steep climbs that will be slippery and challenging.  You will need to sign a waiver before participating. This event is suitable for active kids 10 and older.

A nominal charge of $10 per adult is payable on arrival.  Children 16 and under are free. Our organization’s largest expense is our insurance, which we must have in order to offer events like these.

Waiver (PDF) – Please download, print, and bring this with you.  Families or couples can use one waiver.  All adults must sign it.

Parking and Gathering Place

Park across the road at 211 Donald B. Munro Drive (the Gambit Music Academy).  Overflow parking is on the shoulder of Donald B. Munro. Please arrive at least 15-30 minutes before 7:30pm.

Take care parking and crossing the road to the entrance.  We will meet you at the bottom of the hill by the gate where you will register.  Bring your waiver and participation fee.  Then don your snowshoes and follow the trail up the hill to a large open area where we will gather by the bonfire.  

There are no washrooms on the site.

What to Expect

We will have groomed trails available for self-guided snowshoeing.  Guides will be on-site to help people orient themselves.  The trails are wide and easy to navigate on your own.  You must stay on the trail; no off-trail exploration is permitted.

Return to our gathering place around the bonfire for refreshments.

Snowshoes are required.  Skis are not suitable for this site.  We love dogs, but please leave your dog at home.

What to Bring

  • Your wavier and participation fee.
  • Your snowshoes.
  • Appropriate clothing for staying warm and exercising.
  • Optional: a drinking container suitable for a hot beverage (helps to reduce garbage).
  • If you have a head lamp, bring it.  We would like to run the snowshoe under ambient light, but a head lamp will be helpful before and after the hike for getting around in the dark.

Trail Code

The landowners have generously opened their property to the public for this event.  Please respect the land and follow instructions.  Participants must stay on the trail; no off-trail exploration is permitted.

Carp Ridge Fire History

With a Masters in Library Science, FCH Board member Anne Wong had the skills and experience to research information about the two large fires in 1955 and 1870 that have swept our area in recorded history.  For her article she visited the National Air Photo Library and used the Huntley Township Historical Society’s resources at the Carp Library.  She also interviewed William (Bill) Bell, Ottawa Fire Service, Sector Chief, District 6 about current wild land fire management, which is particularly relevant for area residents who live near brush that becomes tinder dry during drought conditions like those in 2012 and 2016.

The Carp Bush Fire of 1955

Carp Hills (aka Carp Ridge)

 

The Carp Hills extend from March Road to Kinburn Side Road and are bounded by Marchurst Rd and Carp Rd.  The landscape is currently forested and sprinkled with marshes, bogs, fens, and ponds; a verdant wetland.  But it is not an old forest. 

 

 

The 1955 brush fire began in Kinburn, about 4.5 km from the Carp Hills. (Map from Google Earth.)

The Carp Bush Fire of 1955 began in Kinburn.  The Ottawa Journal of Monday, 25 July 1955 reported that lightning struck a tree on the farm of H E Cary, near Kinburn.  It smouldered for about a week before bursting into flames on Friday, 22 July 1955.

By Monday, 25 July approximately 1500 acres had burned.

The fire burned so brightly that red flashes could be seen at the Britannia Yacht Club.

Smoke over the village of Carp was said to be visible up to 10 miles distant.

Bulldozers, brought in from Arnprior by Sam Bond, were used to create trenches, however the fire succeeded in jumping these and continued its destructive path, aided by the wind.

Farmers and volunteers from the area fought the fire using axes, shovels, beating the flames with brush, and hosing the flames with hand-operated stirrup pumps. Water was delivered by trucks to the pumps at the base camp created at Holland Garage –  located north of Carp on the exhibition ground road. 

The fire frontage was 5 miles wide and burned through the forest in Huntley, but also in March, Fitzroy, and Torbolton Townships

The wives of the fire fighters and the women of the village of Carp were intrinsic to the effort – providing food and beverages.  Young men were actively involved in the fire fighting effort

The fire destroyed valuable timber, estimated by one logger at the time to be worth $375,000.  “An average acre of pine was worth $250.” [The Ottawa Journal]

This, however, was not the first fire to ravage the Carp Hills. Nor was it the most devastating.

Photo from 1955 before the fire. The stub of what would become Thomas Dolan Parkway is in the lower left corner. (National Air Photo Library, A147550-062.)

Photo from 1959 four years after the fire. The stub of what would become Thomas Dolan Parkway is in lower left corner. (National Air Photo Library – A16525-052.)

The Great Fire of 1870

On 14 August, 1870 the Ottawa Citizen wrote about severe drought – “the consecutive rainless days was something unparalleled in the history of the country”.  Rain had not fallen in the Ottawa Valley for several months.

The Great Fire of the Ottawa Valley began in 17 August, 1870. Accounts vary as to the cause of the fire. The Carleton Saga suggested, “There  seemed to be no definite origin to the fire, or rather series of fires, that spiralled from such widely separated sources….” Another newspaper report indicated that it started as a controlled burning of brush by a railway crew.  High winds from the southwest blew flames into the tinder dry forest near Pakenham.  Wind speeds increased to gale force and the fire spread quickly through spruce and pine trees on the limestone ridges; engulfing Lanark, Fitzroy, Torbolton, March, and Huntley Townships.  It  was erratic; burning through and along cedar fences, skipping over areas and fields, yet burning through wide swathes of forest and fields.  The unpredictability of the fire burnt farmhouses, barns, and outbuildings; but left other buildings nearby intact.  Travelling at 10 miles per hour, at one point the fire stretched from Almonte to the Ottawa River, thoroughly engulfing the Carp Ridge, but oddly sparing the village of Carp. 

A first person account given by Christie Graham,  recorded by John Graupner in 1945, tells of how the Graham family loaded a hay wagon with their belongings and drove it into the Ottawa River.  

“The Great Fire of 1870 flattened much of western Carleton County in that one day in August.” [Curry, Terrence M.] The valuable timber that once covered Huntley Township was completely obliterated. [ H Belden & Co]

The forest coverage that exists today on the Carp Ridge is a mixture of oak, beech, maple, ash, ironwood, bitternut, fir, and pine. There are cedar stumps, gently decaying that are remnants of the former coverage. 

Two large, old cedar stumps in the Carp Hills, which may be remnants from the fire of 1870.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thuja occidentalis: Cedar stumps can persist for well over a hundred years and if they have been burned somewhat by passing wildfire.  This evidence may be preserved for a similarly long duration.” – Owen Clarkin, OFNC Conservation Chair.

Current Wildland Fire Management

In any woodland area, fire prevention is the preferred way to prevent a catastrophic event.  The Ottawa Fire Services (OFS) has an active program of public education, part of the Fire Smart Program – firesmartcanada.ca . 

Should a fire develop in rural Ottawa, the OFS have been trained in the best methods of suppression.  In conjunction with the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy; Ottawa’s fire fighters have the training, equipment, and certification  to tackle a woodland fire. Additionally, In 2014, OFS received accredited agency status with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI), becoming one of only six (6) accredited agencies in Canada.  “Accreditation is an international recognition of achievement. It shows to your community that your agency is performing to industry best practices and is holding itself accountable through an external peer review…. Accreditation is valid for five years”. https://cpse.org/accreditation/faqs/

The initial call for a wildland fire will dispatch a pump truck, tank truck, brush truck, and the sector chief.  The first officer on the scene of a fire assesses the wind speed, property at risk, people in the area, and the possibility of missing people. Depending on the evaluation, additional resources will be requested.

Ottawa Fire Stations are equipped with pumper trucks, tankers, ladder trucks, rescue trucks, boats, brush trucks, gas powered floating pumps, and ATV’s; distributed throughout the urban and rural area. Each of the 12 rural stations is provides a specialty, with five of the stations having special brush trucks to combat brush and grass fires.   Brush Truck 63, acquired in 2019,  is located in Constance Bay and is a key piece of equipment for tackling grass and wildland fires.  Every Pump truck is outfitted with a forestry pack including 400’ of Forestry hose that is capable of being attached to additional hoses to extend the reach. On the ground tools include flails, chain saws, axes, and shovels – the same implements that would have been in use in 1955 and 1870 (except the saw would have been manual).  

What is definitely new in the arsenal is the use of drones to assist in fire fighting. Drones.  Using high definition cameras and infrared, fires (and people) can be located in remoter areas.  With high resolution cameras, the type, size and location of a fire can be determined. 

The personnel who could be called upon to fight include over 900 urban fire fighters and just under 500 volunteer fire fighters in the rural areas.  The volunteer fighters have the same training as the career fighters and all are National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) certified.

In a worst case scenario, the Ministry of Natural Resources has water bombers stationed in Thunder Bay with satellite landing areas throughout the province.

And it may seem madness to have a Burn Ban in the Spring, there is method behind the decree:

While the ground may be soggy from the winter snow melt, the tips of the grass are dry.  When they catch fire, it rolls across the top of the ground – spreading rapidly

Additionally, the wet and soaked ground limits access for fire fighting vehicles. Just sayin’.


Information for this article was sourced from the following:

A brief account of the late conflagration near Ottawa August 17, 1870: Copied from the Ottawa and other papers : A collection of newspaper articles written at the time of the fire describing it in Huntley Township and the Ottawa area;  Huntley Township Historical Society. September 1992

Carleton Saga; Walker, Harry & Olive. 1968.

Gallant Grahams of Canada; Graupner, John.

Illustrated Historical Atlas of Carleton County, Ontario; H Belden & Co. 1879. (Facsimile edition printed 1971).

National Air Photo Library.

Ottawa Free Press; 25 August 1870.

Ottawa Journal; Monday, 25 July 1955.

Ottawa Valley’s Great Fire of 1870: The 19th Century Press and the Realty of a Great Disaster; Curry, Terrence M. 2009.

https://ottawa.ca/en/health-and-public-safety/ottawa-fire-services/about-ottawa-fire-services#fire-station-locations

Thank you to William (Bill) Bell, Ottawa Fire Service, Sector Chief, District 6 for the information about the Ottawa Fire Service and to the reference librarians at the Ottawa Public Library for their assistance.


Read More

Carp Brush Fire Latest in Long, Dry Summer (2012) – Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs