Fishing Lake Outlet

oil on canvas 7 x 9 in.          Sold

23 May 2015 found me anchored in our canoe 'Fairhaven Bay,' at the outlet arm of Fishing Lake, northwest of Battersea, Ontario. This is the granite-walled outlet channel of a narrow, 2 kilometre long clearwater lake in mixed forest, and I'm painting the narrows looking out toward the lake. 

As I sit quietly in the stern, stroking oil paint on my
canvas, a slight movement catches my eye. Just above, on the steep forested bank, a Whitetail Deer stands watching me. As I carefully reach for my camera it snorts explosively and wheels, leaping uphill through the trees and out of sight.

After sharing supper in the canoe - chunks of stiff oatmeal made up with wild Salsify and cheese - Fred goes over the hill through mixed Oak woods to a shore so abrupt that Common Juniper shrubs spread 2 metres out over the water from cracks in the rock. He then discovers what he's looking for in one of the Muskrat shell piles that we've been finding all around the steep shores of the lake (this one along a granite ledge) - the pearly gleam of fresh shells in half a metre of water. 

He takes his rock rake and dredges up the shells mixed with White Pine needles and Pondweed. A Dragonfly nymph crawls out of the sample, and a big Ostrich Fern rhizome comes up too, but the pile is mostly Unionid mussel shells of four species, including 8 shells of the rare Ligumia nasuta - five pairs and three single valves, all fairly fresh. Of the other species, Eastern Elliptio is most abundant, with one pair of Eastern Lamp-Mussel and 15 very thin, fractured Floater shells.

There are also snails: 19 Banded Mystery Snail, fresh, but almost all with the body whorl bitten by Muskrats, a single not-mature shell of Bell-mouth Ramshorn, along with little Planorbidae similar to Gyraulus; and the prize of prizes..... a single 17.8 mm  Acella haldemani (Slender Pond Snail), the first we have ever collected of this astonishingly rare species!

A hundred metres further on there's another Muskrat pile with a similar mix of shells (though no Acella) and he notes a small single Moccasin Flower orchid in bloom on shore - but it's getting late, so he heads back towards me as dusk falls and I desperately daub sunset colour between the branches of the Maple.

We chain the canoe to a tree up on the bank, and at 21:04 as we're leaving, there's a Whippoorwill calling. We drive past 2 more calling to the west before we get the GPS working. On the way back to our accommodations at the Queens University Biological Station at Elbow Lake, we hear several more Whippoorwills. It's as if all's well with the world - at least in this haven of biodiversity, "the Frontenac Arch", the long spur of Canadian Shield that stretches southeast between Algonquin Park and the Adirondacs... and today, on our 42nd wedding anniversary, we've added two very rare species to the known biodiversity of the Arch.


  1. I like this one a lot Aleta... solid composition that leads the eye deep past the foreground. Nice!

  2. Thanks, Phil - I'm honoured that you see it as a success! It is nice to have been able to commemorate such a momentous day with a good painting :)


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