Monday, November 30, 2015 8:45 am ·  0 Comments
By Karen Brock
Nestled in between the much-larger and better-known Bronte and Sixteen Mile Creeks is one of Oakville’s hidden natural gems. Fourteen Mile Creek is a small, almost completely-urban creek whose furthest headwaters originate in the farmlands south of Old Base Line road. In spite of this fringe of rural roots, the watershed of Fourteen Mile Creek exists almost entirely within Oakville’s city limits, and covers a largely urban and suburban landscape. Much of its water flows directly from Oakville’s own roads, parking lots, house roofs, yards and gardens!
Despite heavy urban influence, creeks like Fourteen Mile Creek, with their deep, sloping ravines, are some of nature’s best strongholds amid a history of human expansion. Carved out of glacial soil deposits by the gradual erosion, Fourteen Mile Creek’s ravines were cut out of the landscape by the creek itself. Water flowing through the region over millennia gradually wore the ravines down, deeper and wider, until the present day.
Ravines are special places – they are one of the few kinds of natural spaces to be mostly left alone following European settlement. Much of the flat, fertile lands of southern Ontario were aggressively deforested, drained, farmed, quarried or settled. As time progressed towards the modern era, farms of the GTA, from Burlington through Oakville, Mississauga and eastward to downtown Toronto, were steadily converted to urban and suburban neighbourhoods. It was the ravines – with their nearly-unfarmable, hard-to-build-on slopes and their soggy, unpredictable floodplains – that were most likely to be left to nature. Even those ravines that were used at one point were more likely to be allowed to reforest than other kinds of land.
Such is the case with Fourteen Mile Creek. In the past, Fourteen Mile’s ravines would have been considered “waste spaces” not fit for any decent human use – but it is because of disuse that they retained some of their forests, lowland forests, swamps, meadow marshes and stream habitats. Closer to modern times, regulations protecting water quality and flooding integrity were put in place, limiting development within a certain distance of water flow, and thus preserving habitat. And where habitat has been preserved – biodiversity is sure to follow.
The Fourteen Mile Creek Valley north of the Queen Elizabeth Way is recognized as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA).
Contained in this amazing creek valley are nearly a dozen different plant communities, filled with over 250 plant species.
Fourteen mile creek, along with these diverse plant communities, provides habitat for at least 15 species of fish, 10 species of mammals, 10 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 63 species of birds.
How to visit:
Fourteen Mile Creek is a widely-accessible creek, with many trails and access points scattered throughout, especially north of the Queen Elizabeth Way and west of Third Line.
Best Parking areas:
Langtry Park parking lot – intersection of Langtry Drive and Brays Lane
Trailhead at intersection of Stationmaster Lane and Ravine Gate. *Please note: There is no parking lot at this location. Please observe municipal parking signs on roadway.
Best bus stop:
Heritage Way and Saddler Circle Bus stop, on the 22 Upper Glen Abbey bus route.
All photos and text provided by ecologist, David d’Entremont.
Biodiversity, Bronte Creek, David d’Entremont, ecologist, Environmental Policy, Environmental Protection, Environmental Sensitive Area, ESA, Floodplain, Fourteen Mile Creek, Langtry Park, Ravines, Sixteen Mile Creek