History of the Hills – Part 1
Published December 2017
The history of the Carp Hills remains an elusive subject and a challenge to research. Maybe you can help us! We’d love to hear from you with suggestions or to share your knowledge of this special natural space.
We are familiar with the Carp Hills as an area of rich biodiversity and great beauty. Many of us have enjoyed the outcroppings of ancient Canadian Shield, the extensive network of wetlands, the spring ephemerals and the fall mushrooms. But what was it like historically? What did the original residents of the village of Carp discover back in the early 1800’s when this area was first settled?
Unlike much of the Ottawa Valley, it is our understanding that the area was never extensively logged. The Great Fire of 1870 may well have stripped the hills of old growth forest and the second growth we see now has been slow to develop in this fragile landscape.
We know the hills supported a few mines. The Humphreys Feldspar Mine was worked in 1897 and located just north of the village on the property of Charles Humphreys. The feldspar was shipped to pottery works in Ottawa. There are also remnants of mica mines on the City of Ottawa’s Hidden Lakes Pathway and at least two on the Carp Barrens.
Although the farmers on properties adjacent to the ridge used it for berry picking and hunting, we have found no evidence of any homesteaders in the Carp Hills themselves. An interesting report is that with the extensive trapping of beavers, the hills were much dryer and Hidden Lake was at one time a corn field!
There are stories of how Indigenous women walked down from the Carp Ridge along a trail (that is now the Thomas Dolan Parkway) to the Ottawa River, to trade their baskets and crafts for grain. We hope to meet with an archeologist who may add to our understanding of this and any Indigenous activities in the hills.
Please contact us it you can contribute in any way to our understanding of the natural history of this special area.
History of the Hills – Part 2
Published May 2018
You never know what you’ll find when you start looking!
Seeking to know more about the history of “The Carp Hills” we found ourselves fascinated by our visit to an historic farm bordering the northern parts of the ridge . The farm buildings include logs harvested as long ago as 1829. This part of the township was surveyed by Reuben Sherwood in 1822. Sherwood ( 1775-1851)was the son of one of the first Loyalists to settle in Leeds County and was a Provincial Land Surveyor. The property has revealed ancient hide scrapers, and a whole collection of clay pipes , some bearing the mark of Robert Bannerman Clay Pipes from Montreal (1855-1907).
The owner of this wonderful property shared her research about the ancient history of her farm dating back over 11,000 years to the time of the Champlain Sea.
The Champlain Sea was a temporary inlet of the Atlantic Ocean created by retreating glaciers in the last ice age. The sea included lands where we now live .
In this next map (see below) provided by our host we can see the “island “ of the Carp Ridge floating in the sea. The historic farm we visited had previously been on the shores of the Champlain Sea. Evidence of ancient Indigenous peoples activities is present on this land, including fire rings on what would have been the shoreline.
We have respected the owners desire for anonymity but thank them for their generosity in sharing their research. Perhaps in future editions we can share more news from an archeological assessment of the property. Stay tuned.
If you have history about the Carp Hills that you’d like to share, Contact Us.