Rocks on the move for Metcalfe Geoheritage Park relocation
by 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.
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.
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.