Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

Lake Simcoe Living celebrates life at Lake Simcoe with a magazine and Lake Simcoe Living Community Television. Our blog delivers additional news and comment about this beautiful and exciting area

'Staggering' numbers of birds on Lake Simcoe

2021 10 21 CORMORANTSsmallA reader sent this question to Bob Bowles, Lake Simcoe Nature Detective.

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Embrace Spring!

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I am fortunate and thankful because I start each morning by going outside, taking the dog for a walk or to romp with other dogs at a park. The routine is always the same. It started years before the pandemic and continues now, as lockdown regulations rise and fall like the tide but still permit dog walks.
A dog embodies hope – hope that outside the door there will be a squirrel to try to chase, another dog to play with, a friendly person with treats or simply to give a quick pat on the head.
The hope is contagious, and no matter what time of year or (almost) what kind of weather, I look forward to these outings. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience changes in the weather, temperature, daylight hours and seasons.
Sometimes I am rewarded with special sights, such as a flock of snow buntings very early this Spring, apparently following the shore Lake Simcoe in their northward trip to their far-off summer home. The beautiful song and glorious burst of white feathers as they gathered in the bright blue sky to continue their journey were breathtaking.
I hope you are able to embrace Spring after this long year of isolation from people and, for many, nature.
Irene Turnbull reminds us, starting on Page 26, that we can reconnect with nature by bringing colours and elements from the outside into our homes.
At the same time, there is reason for concern about the future of nature in the Lake Simcoe area, as the Ontario government undertakes its 10-year review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. The Lake Simcoe area is one of the fastest-growing regions in Canada and home to 465,000 people (2016 census data does not include recent growth). Based on provincial and municipal growth plans, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority says the urban area in our watershed will increase by approximately 50-percent by 2041 — and the population will nearly double.
Unless this is taken into account when reviewing the LSPP, there is no assurance of future protection for the lake.
The Lake Simcoe Caucus is a group of Members of the Provincial Parliament whose riding boundaries surround Lake Simcoe and who have a vested interest in its protection and preservation. Which one is your MPP? Let them know you want them to protect the lake by strengthening the Lake Simcoe Protection Act. Lake Simcoe depends on them.
Stay safe. See you at the lake!

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Mystery insect is tree squirrel bot fly

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By Bob Bowles -- Any live bug in Simcoe County in late March -- other than the occasional woolly bear, snow flea, or winter stonefly – is, of course, extremely interesting. Therefore, I was intrigued to receive a message from an Orillia resident with a report and photo of a yellow and black bumblebee-like creature she discovered crawling over a neatly folded pile of clean laundry inside her house. She felt this was unusual and asked if I could identify it. 

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Letter to the Town of Innisfil

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By Diane Sykes, Guest Blogger -- I am extremely concerned about the health of Lake Simcoe and the relationship to the Simcoe Muskoka Health Unit's 6 beach advisory postings this year.

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The importance of buying local

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By Sara Taslim, Guest Blogger — Buying local not only helps out local farmers and businesses, but is also healthier for you, the Lake Simcoe community, and the environment.

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Fake news affects people’s understanding of the world

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By Sara Taslim, Guest Blogger

With the development of modern technology, social media plays a major role in real world events, yet it can be very easily misused.

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New plan to reduce Great Lakes phosphorus levels

Lighthouse near Lake Erie

Commentary By Mark Reusser, Vice President,Ontario Federation of Agriculture

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Why destroy a heritage forest …. if you don’t have to?

By Katherine Haas, Guest Blogger: In the Town of Uxbridge, a proposal has been made for a by-law amendment to rezone approximately 5.3 hectares of forested land to permit the clear cutting of a heritage forest, and construction of a 52-unit medium density condominium townhouse development. The development proposal is an 'infill' application in a forested area in the community of Coral Creek/Avonlea.  
Uxbridge is “The Trail Capital of Canada,” a well-deserved designation recognizing our amazing natural trail systems, heritage bridges, and a strong partnership of local businesses and residents supporting the environment and giving it a voice and identity.   The forested area that is the subject of this proposed development is a small, but mature forest, in the heart of Uxbridge. For the residents of this town, it symbolizes what it means to live here with a strong community, in harmony with nature, and is proudly identified as “The Trail Capital of Canada.”
This forested area is not something that can quickly be dismissed or assumed to be easily re-created.  There are no studies that support the removal of the forest and, also, no studies that claim removing the forest will have no real impact on the environment or the wildlife habitat.  That is easy to understand.  This forest is an established wildlife habitat, untouched for decades, with tall, mature and thriving trees that are estimated to be perhaps 100 years old.  This small forest should not be disregarded, nor destroyed, in the name of urban growth and development, especially given readily available brownfield development lands, with an estimated capacity for 800 new homes, within a 5-minute walk of this forest, on the other side of the street.  The distinction of ‘infill vs brownfield’ is an important point as Provincial requirements specify that development of brownfield lands must take precedence over 'infill' applications.  Simple compliance with this provincial government requirement would result in the saving of this heritage forest.  
To be clear, there are 13 homes that share the property line with this heritage forest site, and the residents are clearly opposed to destruction of this forest.  However, more importantly, over 400 people, from throughout Uxbridge, and its surrounding communities, who do not live on that street, have signed a petition in support of this forest and have voiced their disapproval for this proposed development.  To the residents and others it defies understanding that a small, heritage forest in the heart of “The Trail Capital of Canada” would be destroyed to build 52 condominium townhouses when there are available brownfield lands immediately nearby for over 800 homes.

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Stop the bullying

It's time our municipal leaders in the Lake Simcoe area rejected the bullying tactics still used by some developers.

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Pumping out precious water

Pumping out precious water

For about nine months now, around the clock, water has been pumped out of the ground near my Bradford home as a former farm/wetland is "de-watered" in preparation for a water treatment plant and a housing development.

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What is the best of the holiday season?

What is the best of the holiday season for you? Food,  presents, decorations, social events, spiritual renewal? Or just the chance to spend some time reading and relaxing?

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Winter's leftovers

Winter's leftovers

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Where will the deer go?

Anyone travelling along Highway 11, Yonge Street, north of Newmarket, can't miss the signs of progress.
Over the winter months, the forest on the northern side of the hill between Newmarket and Bradford has been stripped of trees, the logs piled, then taken away.
Many driving this route have seen the deer wandering through the barren acres, seeming puzzled, looking for food and the familiar forest.
At dusk tonight, a herd of about eight or nine filed one behind the other down the hill, through the snow, glancing over at the double row of northwest-bound headlights, cars headed for Bradford and beyond. I watched with sadness and dismay, hoping they would not try to cross, tempted by the wooded areas on the other side of the road.
I don't know what is going to be built on this land. Houses? Roads? Industrial buildings?
What does it matter?
In all the planning, surveying, designing, there was no plan for these deer and the other creatures who called this forest home. Where will they go?

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Lake Simcoe needs its own RTO

For some reason that I will never understand (Oh, to save money...?), when the Ontario government sliced up the tourism pie a few years back, parts of the Lake Simcoe Watershed were put into three different RTOs - Regional Tourism Organizations.

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The first sounds of Spring

Did you hear birds singing today?

With the sun shining most of the day, birds seemed to come out of their hiding places to start singing and looking for food.

So many days this year have been cold and windy — and bereft of any wildlife. The only sound for many days was the wind howling mournfully through bare tree branches.

Even the fields where I walk with the dog, there were no tracks for the longest time.

Now there are tracks from the occasional rabbit, squirrel and even what appeared to be a mouse. There are tracks outside the beaver den. And there's something that appears to be a dog roaming on its own, so more likely is a coyote.

In the March-April issue of Lake Simcoe Living Magazine, Ron Fleming talks about the first bird songs of Spring.
Which bird "confirms that Winter is leaving and Spring is on its way?" I'm sure most of us will think of the red-breasted robin.

Not so, Ron says. It's the red-winged blackbird.

You can read more about the birds of Spring in the March-April issue. We're working on that issue now, and it should be available the first week of March.

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Where do Trumpeter swans spend the winter?

I learned this week that a Trumpeter swan has about 35,000 feathers and 2.5 centimetres of down. That's how Trumpeter swans get through the winter — even the severe temperatures and heavy snowfall we have had this winter.

Where they spend the winter is another question, and Ontario Trumpeter Swan Restoration, an organization started in 1982 to restore the majestic birds to their former range, would like anyone who sees a Trumpeter swan to help with the answer.

Please report the sighting by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre website —, or on the Facebook group page Ontario Trumpeter Swans. Please include the date, location (GPS co-ordinates), wing tag number or leg band number.

Ontario Trumpeter Swan Restoration was initiated by retired Ministry of Natural Resources biologist Harry Lumsden. He began a captive breeding program that has since released 584 captive-reared swans in 54 locations around Ontario. There are now an estimated 800 to 1,000 birds in the province.

The Ontario Trumpeter Swan Restoration says if swans need to maintain a diet of natural wild forage. If you do feed them, provide clean, "untreated" dry corn — not bread.

Anglers are asked to help in swan restoration by using lead-free tackle so swans do not ingest a lead sinker while feeding, and by retrieving any lost lures so these are not accidentally ingested by swans and other wildlife.

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Cannington Dog Sled Races and Winter Festival

Cannington Dog Sled Races and Winter Festival

There's more fun in Cannington this weekend than you can throw a snowball at, as the town hosts the 10th Annual Cannington Dog Sled Races and Winter Festival.

In addition to the dog sled races both Saturday and Sunday, there is competitive skijoring — competitors wearing cross-country skis are pulled along by their dogs — and a full slate of fun, family-oriented activities, from Metis music and dancing to ice carving, an outdoor marketplace and horse-pulled wagon rides.

On Sunday there's a pancake breakfast, beer garden with live entertainment and spaghetti dinner.

Simply follow the signs when you get to Cannington, just east of Highway 12.

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Hybrid, electric, or... what do you recommend?

One of my greatest pleasures is driving around Lake Simcoe, and as publisher of Lake Simcoe Living, I get to do that quite a bit - meeting people, going to events, delivering magazines, and taking photos are just some of the activities my role requires.
But increasingly I am aware that my trips around the lake come at a cost to the environment.
I drive a small, energy-efficient car, but it burns gasoline. And the more I learn about the detrimental effects of capturing, transporting and burning fossil fuel, the less I enjoy my time on the road.
So it's time to find a vehicle that will do less harm to the environment. At the same time, it should be easy to load and be able to carry a few hundred magazines.
Do I look for a hybrid? Or an electric car? What is going to do the least harm, and still allow me to do my job?
Do you have any recommendations to help in my search?

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Something fishy

Something fishy

Have you been to the new Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, next to the CN Tower in Toronto?

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Life along the dead end

Life along the dead end

There is a dead end street near my home in Bradford that has provided a series of wonders through the\is spring, summer and fall.

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