Recalling the Former Forest
The closer one gets to the headwaters of the Bonnechere River the harder it is to believe that this modest creek transported the giant pines of the past.
These white and red pines, which were often more than 300 years old, up to 40 m tall and 120 cm in diameter, had to have survived repeated ground fires but likely got their start following a conflagration hundreds of years earlier.
Try to identify the pine trees amidst the cedar, spruce and hardwoods springing up around the clearing. White pine has five long, soft needles in a bundle, while red pine needles are stiffer, stouter and come two to the bundle. White pine has grayish barks, while older red pine trees develop the characteristic reddish bark.
Since loggers harvested the biggest and best trees for decades, you will note that older trees are rare here so it’s good to know that the Little Bonnechere River now flows through protected parklands designed to ensure that some of the oldest pine specimens survive for future generations.
Farm or Village?
Everyone loves a good mystery and McIntyre’s Clearing certainly provides one. In the 1870s several lumber companies established a cluster of operations buildings in this area. Almost a century later, while researching Spirits of the Little Bonnechere, author Rory MacKay recorded memories of what came to be known as ‘the Village’ but none of the surviving settlement children could remember its exact location.
The 1889 survey indicates that William McIntyre’s family had cleared ten acres, cut the marsh grasses (beaver hay) for their cattle and sheep and ran a successful stopping place on this site. In 1892 when the black diphtheria epidemic struck the McIntyre family, uncle Dennis McGuey made a daily 10-km journey upriver to care for the family and do the chores.
Though the log house and outbuildings are long gone, ruins of the root cellar still exist while evidence of the stables is little more than a collection of uniform square mounds scattered across the clearing. It may be that evidence of the long lost village is buried here as well or is it elsewhere along the Little Bonnechere? Either way it’s a mystery still waiting to be solved. So while you stand on the shores of the McIntyre clearing looking across the tree lined ridges of the Little Bonnechere River valley ask yourself this question: Am I looking for the village or am I looking from the village?
- site of remote pioneer homestead
- beautiful of pine covered hills
- river/marsh habitat