Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall foliage at its best!

The show of vibrant colours is nothing short of spectacular these days as we make our way along the roads and trails of Muskoka! We are so fortunate to live in and visit an area with one of the most splendid displays of fall colour anywhere in the world.

Ever wonder why the leaves change colours every fall?

Myths of leaf colour change:
  • It does not occur because of frost. But, frost can disrupt the speed at which the leaves turn and halt colour transformation. Frost call kill the leaf and turn it brown.

Spring & Summer: trees are growing and turning green.

Fall: growth slows because of moisture levels, temperature, amount of stored energy in the roots, genetics. Systems begin to shut down as the tree prepares for winter dormancy

September 23rd (autumnal equinox): Days and nights are of equal length and thereafter the days are shorter and shorter. The sun's rays also become less direct and the air is cooler.

Autumn colour is a phenomenon that takes place within the leaves of a tree. Here's what happens:

  • The lifelines between the leaves and the tree become blocked and the production of chlorophyll stops. The existing chlorophyll in the leaves slowly disappears as it is destroyed by sunlight.
  • Throughout the summer, the green chlorophyll has been dormant, blocking out the other pigments, thus giving the leaves their green colour. Once the production of chlorophyll is halted, the leaves begin to show their true colours.
  • As chlorophyll production ceases, other pigments become more dominant. Carotin helps with the orange colours and xanthrophyll is the yellow pigment.
  • The leaves continue to change colour and reach their peak until the time just before the leaves fall. At the location where the leaf stem joins the branchof the tree, there is a separation layer. This is a layer of cells which gradually weaken, eventually causing the leaf to break off and fall.

Quick facts of leaf change:

  • Colour change occurs on broad-leaved trees such as maple, oak, ash, and birch.
  • These trees are also called "hardwoods" because most of them have wood which is quite hard, and "deciduous" because their leaves are shed each autumn.
  • Trees that stay green all winter are "evergreen" or "coniferous" trees such as pine, spruce, hemlock, balsam, and cedar.
  • Shedding their leaves actually protects the tree during winter. The leaves don't give off water (or transpire) when they are not on the tree, thus saving the tree from having the replace that water to keep the leaf alive.

Where in Muskoka is your favourite display of colour this year?

Monday, October 3, 2011

This Saturday: Great Muskoka Paddling Experience

A fun racing experience for canoes and kayaks for all levels of participants

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Annie Williams Park, Bracebridge, Muskoka River

The race includes two distances to choose from in an “out-and-back” course. The start and finish line is just below the Bracebridge Falls in downtown Bracebridge. A 12 km family/short course will take boats downstream to a turn-around at Santa’s Village. A 20 km long course will take paddlers from the falls downstream all the way to Lake Muskoka, around McVittie Island and back upstream to the finish/falls.
Water depth is good all year and flows are generally low.
The staging area (parking, registration, launching, etc.) is at Annie Williams Park.

The weather for Saturday is looking dandy!
Add this race to your calendar and come to Muskoka to enjoy the fall leaves, paddle a classic river, support a local watershed initiative Muskoka Watershed Council and work up an appetite for Turkey.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Colour Report

Fall foliage colour in Algonquin Park is now at peak!

Algonquin Park is in the northern part of Muskoka and is a bit higher in elevation. So, there leaves may be changing there a bit sooner than in more southern parts of the region. Nevertheless, the leaves are putting on a good show. With October only a couple days away, the entire region of Muskoka will be entering peak foliage colour.

One of the best ways to enjoy the colour is to go for a hike or paddle. The options for these types of activities are endless in Muskoka. A good place to start looking for options is the Muskoka Trails Council. They have maps of just about every hiking trail in Muskoka.

If you're out enjoying fall, let me know by leaving a comment, or visiting the Muskoka Heritage Foundation Facebook Page and leaving a comment. Better yet, post a photo of the fall colours where you are!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Workshop: Woodlot Management

Introduction to Woodlot Management

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Glen Orchard Public School

If you are planning to harvest trees from your woodlot, have an interest in what information is available on woodlot management, are wondering how you might manage your woodlot for wildlife values, or would like to learn more about the design and maintenance of trails through your woodlot, then this is the workshop for you!

Participants will learn about basic principles of forest management, how to assess trees for defects, what wildlife values exist in woodlots, as well as some basic principles of trail design and maintenance.

The morning session will consist of several short lectures followed by an afternoon field trip with real examples and hands on learning.

This workshop is limited to 35 participants. Pre-registration is required. For information and registration please contact Meghan Powell at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Bracebridge Office. Tel: 705-646-5500 or email,

Top photo by John McQuarrie.

2nd and 3rd photos by Greg Francis

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rally for Nature

Nature can't vote.

But you can!

Let the Province know that you don’t want Ontario’s wildlife to disappear!
On September 21, you can speak up for nature. Join
Ontario Nature and tell all the political candidates running in the upcoming election that protecting plants, animals and ecosystems is one of the most important issues facing us today.

Meet friends of Ontario Nature at 11:00am at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, September 21, 2011.

On behalf of the more than 6,000 people who signed our Charter for Biodiversity, you can send a message to government saying that the loss of wildlife in Ontario must be stopped.

Visit Ontario Nature's "Rally for Nature" site to find out more and learn what else you can do to help wildlife in Ontario.

When you vote on October 6th in the Ontario provincial election, remember to think about biodiversity conservation as an important election issue.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Golf Courses and Environmental Stewardship

Golf courses aren't always the most environmentally friendly of places. However, in Muskoka they are an important part of our economy. The Muskoka Highlands golf course takes steps to provide a scenic and challenging golf course while contributing to a healthier natural environment. Now that's environmental stewardship in action!

Muskoka Heritage Foundation held our Annual Golf Classic tournament at the Muskoka Highlands in an effort to showcase the possibilities for stewardship in Muskoka- both on and off the course! Below a sample of what we learned. Click on the images for a larger view.

Hole #1

Hole #4

Hole #10

Hole #13

Hole #17

We had a great day at Muskoka Highlands on Monday. All funds raised from the tournament, silent auction and putting contest go directly to support our Stewardship Programs. A HUGE "thank you" to our golfers and sponsors.

Above: Gord Durnan takes a practice swing before his chance to win the putting contest.

Above: Looking over Hole #2. The rain held off despite ominous skies.

Above: Golfers at Hole #17: a chance at a hole in one!

Above: Supporters from Muskoka Watershed Council pose for their team photo.

Winners take all! And will have their names put on the tournament trophy.

This team won "most honest". Looking good!!

Thanks again to all our sponsors and golfers. It was a great day!

See you again next year.

In the meantime, what are you doing to incorporate stewardship practices on your property?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Composting in Bear Country: free workshop!

(FREE) Composting workshop tomorrow evening!

I've written before about Composting 101, but now's your chance to attend a hands on workshop about it. Looks amazing!

If you go, please let me know so I can hear all about it!

A map to Yvonne Williams Park, in Parry Sound