Archive for August 19th, 2013


I followed a round-about route home from Peterborough. It brought me through Marlbank, and I stopped by Dry Lake for a few minutes. It was very quiet and serenely peaceful. You’d never guess that this was once the site of a large factory employing 200 people.

There are a number of short histories of the town of Marlbank to be found online, varying slightly in their details. The local soil type, marl, determined much of its early development. The marl was ideal for making Portland cement, and in 1891 the first cement factory was opened. It conducted business under various names until it closed its doors in 1914. At its height, the factory employed 200 people and supported a busy town.


Photo: Municipality of Tweed website

Explanations for the closure of the factory vary, but Marlbank supplied some of the cement used in the construction of the Panama Canal. Perhaps demand for cement fell after the completion of the Panama Canal in 1914, and more remote and thus less economical operations were forced out of business. A few remains of the old buildings can still be seen as they succumb to new forest growth.

The area from which the marl was dredged now forms Dry Lake. When I stopped, there was a family of loons close to shore. They quickly retreated and I was only able to get a distant shot. Still, I was pleased to think that they were now the beneficiaries of that long-ago human enterprise.


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Last week, I undertook a road trip to points west of here. While travelling the back roads on my way up to Peterborough, I spotted a herd of…big, mud-coloured cows? Water buffalo! This was a first. I can’t recall ever having seen water buffalo hanging around the pastures of Ontario before. I stopped and took a few pictures.

This pair seemed to be enjoying a good soak. The appearance of the others suggested they regularly partook of this pleasure too.


When I got home, I turned to Google, and soon learned that I had stumbled upon the Ontario Water Buffalo Co.. Located north of Stirling, Ontario, the farm keeps a herd of water buffalo for milk production. Their website offers this information:

The water buffalo is an incredible species and is the primary source of dairy in many countries. In Italy there are more water buffalo milked than holsteins in Ontario. There are about 170 million water buffalo worldwide with two types; swamp and river. Swamp are primarily used for meat and draught while river is best for milking. As calves they range from 80-100 pounds while the adults reach up to weights of 2600 pounds.

I never knew. Now I do.


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