Rocks on the move for Metcalfe Geoheritage Park relocation

Neil Carleton 2by Neil Carleton

The bottom of Bay Hill in Almonte has been a busy construction site in recent weeks. Earlier in the year a plan was prepared by the Mississippi River Power Corporation (MRPC) for the development of the municipality’s waterfront park at the bottom of the falls. The MRPC, solely owned by Mississippi Mills, manages the park on behalf of the town. The plan was created in consultation with the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park Committee, the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, the Beautification Committee, and town Council.

The Phase 1 projects currently underway are:

1) removing the wooden retaining wall along the shoreline and installing new gabion baskets, topped with large armour stone (similar to beside the Almonte Old Town Hall);

2) paving the parking lot and boat launch;

3) relocating the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park specimens.

A new walkway is under construction on the west side of Metcalfe Geoheritage Park, along with bases for the relocation of the large geological specimens.
A new walkway is under construction on the west side of Metcalfe Geoheritage Park, along with bases for the relocation of the large geological specimens.
Relocation 3 October 28 2014
22 specimens have been selected for display at Canada’s first municipal geoheritage park. Featured in the rearranged layout will be familiar and new samples that tell the remarkable story of our area’s geological history. Touring Metcalfe Geoheritage Park to read the rocks will take visitors on a journey far back in time to towering mountains, colliding and splitting continents, ocean depths, and a landscape locked in ice.
Although our part of the world was covered by seas millions of years ago, these unique samples show that, at times, the water level was shallow and, at other times, the ocean bottom was actually exposed to the atmosphere. In the foreground is a beautifully preserved example of mud cracks, or desiccation cracks. These are sedimentary structures formed as muddy sediment dries, contracts, and the cracks are filled with new sediment. The background sample shows ancient ripple marks created by waves or currents in shallow water.
Although our part of the world was covered by seas millions of years ago, these unique samples show that, at times, the water level was shallow and, at other times, the ocean bottom was actually exposed to the atmosphere. In the foreground is a beautifully preserved example of mud cracks, or desiccation cracks. These are sedimentary structures formed as muddy sediment dries, contracts, and the cracks are filled with new sediment. The background sample shows ancient ripple marks created by waves or currents in shallow water.
The tropical ocean that once covered our area was teaming with marine life during the Paleozoic era (from the Greek palaios "old" and zoe "life", meaning "ancient life), about 450 million years ago. This local rock contains fossils of ancient life forms from this time, including nautiloid cephalopods, the main predatory animals of the era, and crinoids, plant-like marine animals that were attached to the sea bottom by a stalk.
The tropical ocean that once covered our area was teaming with marine life during the Paleozoic era (from the Greek palaios “old” and zoe “life”, meaning “ancient life), about 450 million years ago. This local rock contains fossils of ancient life forms from this time, including nautiloid cephalopods, the main predatory animals of the era, and crinoids, plant-like marine animals that were attached to the sea bottom by a stalk.

The creation of a geological display at Metcalfe Park in Almonte was first proposed to the Council of Mississippi Mills in 2003, as an initiative of the Almonte Geoheritage Project. Metcalfe Park, at the bottom of Bay Hill, was named in honour of Dr. Archibald Metcalfe (1869-1962), local physician for 63 years, town councilor and Mayor (at least 7 terms), and the driving force to establish the Almonte hydro electric generating station.

Through the efforts of Dr. Al Donaldson (Professor Emeritus, Carleton University, and founder of Friends of Canadian Geoheritage. ) and community volunteers in Almonte, plans for a geological display evolved during subsequent meetings with Council. Other organizations soon offered their support. With the enthusiastic endorsement of Councilors, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, the Mississippi Mills Chamber of Commerce, and relatives of Dr. Metcalfe, the Council of Mississippi Mills unanimously approved the proposal in June 2008. Council further approved the renaming of the park as Metcalfe Geoheritage Park.

Specimens were moved to the site, and a display of large blocks and boulders was started to represent the local geodiversity. The target list of specimens ranged from sedimentary rocks of Cambro-Ordovician age, about 488 million years old, to metamorphic rocks of Precambrian age, about 1.2 billion years old. The official opening ceremony at Metcalfe Geoheritage Park was held on October 16, 2010.
Specimens were moved to the site, and a display of large blocks and boulders was started to represent the local geodiversity. The target list of specimens ranged from sedimentary rocks of Cambro-Ordovician age, about 488 million years old, to metamorphic rocks of Precambrian age, about 1.2 billion years old. The official opening ceremony at Metcalfe Geoheritage Park was held on October 16, 2010.
In 2011 the park property by the Brian J. Gallagher Generating Station was under construction for the upgrade of the sewage pumping station. The large rocks were temporarily moved aside and, alas, some were broken and damaged. This was reported by the Millstone News in an article titled ‘No respect for Almonte seniors’, now archived at https://millstonenews.com/2011/09/no-respect-for-almonte-seniors.html
In 2011 the park property by the Brian J. Gallagher Generating Station was under construction for the upgrade of the sewage pumping station. The large rocks were temporarily moved aside and, alas, some were broken and damaged. This was reported by the Millstone News in an article titled ‘No respect for Almonte seniors’, now archived at https://millstonenews.com/2011/09/no-respect-for-almonte-seniors.html

Since moving the rocks to dig up the site again was almost a certainty, due to the many buried pipes and storage tanks, the Metcalfe Geoheritage Committee proposed the relocation of the specimens to the west side of the property. The MRPC agreed that this would be a good location, and presented a plan to the Beautification Committee and Council. All agreed with the design.

Supervising on site this week for the relocation of the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park specimens were, left-to-right, Scott Newton, General Manager, Mississippi River Power Corporation; with Kevin Cooney and Paul Cooney, Cooney Construction and Landscape.
Supervising on site this week for the relocation of the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park specimens were, left-to-right, Scott Newton, General Manager, Mississippi River Power Corporation; with Kevin Cooney and Paul Cooney, Cooney Construction and Landscape.
While work on the relocation of the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park specimens continues, construction is also underway for paving the adjacent parking lot and boat launch.
While work on the relocation of the Metcalfe Geoheritage Park specimens continues, construction is also underway for paving the adjacent parking lot and boat launch.