Several weeks ago another blogger, Rebel Girl, introduced me to a book called Top 150 Unusual Things to See in Ontario by Ron Brown.
I’ve been seduced in the past by the promise of similarly titled books, only to be disappointed by their mediocre content, but I was willing to give it a look.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised.
Even if I never planned to actually visit any of these places, the book was an interesting read. However, the accountant in me needed to know how many of them I had already visited, and more importantly, what was out there in my home province that I needed to put on my must-see list!
In answer to the first question, I’ve already been to 19 of the 150 places and things in the book. Most of them I have blogged about at some point. In fact, the West Montrose “Kissing Bridge” which I wrote about here is on the book’s cover.
However, there was one item in the book (#89 to be exact) that captured my attention because it was right in my own backyard – so to speak – and I had no idea it existed. It was a particular rock formation on the Scarborough Bluffs which geologists have named The Dutch Chapel.
Now, I’ve taken literally hundreds of photos of the Bluffs over the past couple of years, and I have never seen anything that remotely resembled the photo in the book.
Intrigued, I HAD to check it out – but it wasn’t easy.
As some background, I think most people are familiar with the famous Toronto skyline … flattish, lots of glass and concrete …
… but what you might not know is that at the far east end of the city, about 18 km (11 miles) from downtown, are the Scarborough Bluffs. It is a limestone escarpment about 15 km (9 miles) long, and at its highest point, it rises about 90 metres (300 feet) above the shoreline.
I love the Bluffs. They are the closest thing to “mountains” in this area, and they have been a frequent backdrop in a lot of my local exploration.
… but pillars of stone?
After much trial and error – in the bitter cold – I finally found a view point from the top of the escarpment that overlooked the apparently famous pillars. Unfortunately, because of the instability of the cliff, access to the edge of the Bluff is completely fenced off – often from several metres away. Signs every few metres warn of the danger.
In addition, I don’t have a zoom lens for my camera, and this was the best view I could get of the Dutch Chapel … absolutely nothing like the spectacular photo in the book.
I went back home discouraged and half-frozen.
Armed with a new plan, I returned the next day, this time to approach the pillars from the bottom.
I don’t think my view of the Dutch Chapel improved by being at the bottom of the escarpment, and I’m still puzzling over the thought that this resembles the architecture found in medieval European chapels. Personally, I don’t get it.
… and except for the spikes on top, I wouldn’t exactly call these ‘pillars’. Perhaps the problem is that without being close enough, the perspective on size is completely lost.
I did however, discover there is a small beach at the base of this rock formation that I never knew existed. Perhaps I’ll get a better view in much warmer weather when I can actually access the beach without the risk of getting soaked in icy water – like the unfortunate stranger who attempted it ahead of me.
In the end, I got tantalizingly close, but was frustrated by my lack of a zoom. Guess what piece of camera equipment is now on my wish list?
If you’re anything like me, you’re wondering what the difference is between a cliff and a bluff. Well, according to Mr Google, a bluff IS a cliff, but with a broad, curved face usually caused by erosion, and found along a river.
While a cliff has a steep vertical drop, bluffs have more of a slanted slope. That slope may be quite steep, but not as sharp as a cliff.
I learn something new every day.