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Cranberry Peatlands Interpretive Trail

Wildlife Viewing Area

The Trail is located in the Township of Alberton approximately 12km from the town of Fort Frances in Northwest Ontario on the American border. This area has a unique story to tell, one of ancient processes creating the peat lands here today, and mans indelible stamp upon it. The story starts a long time ago like the earth story itself. An information sign at the begining of the trail reads "This peat bog wetland occupies part of the bed of glacial Lake Agassiz. 10,000 years ago it was under water. As the lake receded, this site likely supported a marsh and during a period of warm dry climate, 8000-5000 years ago it might have been a praire grassland. Peatlands began to form around 4000 years ago as the regions climate became cooler and wetter". So for thousands of years the story was repeated layer upon layer, by the plants and insects, fungi and frogs winds and rain, birds and mammals, chattering and clicking, buzzing and blowing, splashing and spiraling an ancient chorus in necessary harmony.

Then for a moment in time the story took on a new resonance the sounds of man and metal machines invaded the air and twisted the story in an other direction, from building up to digging down." In 1940, to 1949 this peat bog was the site of a peat moss extraction operation employing approximately 75 people. Operated by the Arctic Peat Corporation, peat was originally mined for use as poultry litter moss during World War Two and shipped to markets in the United States. A corduroy road was built into the bog to carry mined peat on a drag line to waiting trucks which hauled the raw material to a near by processing facility. It was said in 1940 that this 350 acre peat bog had enough peat to meet the projected needs of the United States for the next hundred years. Today you can still see the extraction blocks where peat was removed over 60 years ago. It is important to remember that peat is a non-renewable resource. The effects of extraction will never allow this site to exist in it's original state".

A wildlife photographer became enthralled with the bog and brought it's attention to the Rainy River Valley Field Naturalist club, and along with others it was decided this area's story could provide an educational experience as well as a chance to immerse into a living, listening and speaking world .With the cooperation of the Township of Alberton, government funding, secured by the Rainy Lake Conservancy and many volunteers, a boardwalk was born.

Today, there is more than a thousand feet of cedar boardwalk, snaking along one of the old trenches, with seven viewing stations, and ending at a raised cedar lookout stand. Of course each season has it's own offerings, and the time of day, it's magic light. The senses awaken at the announcement of spring by the ancient rituals of the sandhill crane, catch a wild calla lily opening her bloom, or the articulated flight of a dragonfly, a beaver prepping for winter under golden tamaracks, or watch the aerial antics of young eagles.

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