There is something interesting about how we name places and over time most of these places lose their meaning, and therefore sense of place. Most every place named after a historical figure or event reaches a point where the memory of that person or event fades into unknowing. Where the people of that place have no connection to it.
I had an interesting encounter where I was walking along after dropping my kid off at school and came across a crew of folks who were working on the creek. I stopped and asked about what was going on. They were planting trees for creek rehabilitation. I then asked if I could join and was gladly welcomed. While working with this grand crew of people I was told about how they couldn’t even find this place before someone told them where it was. I hadn’t known the official name of the creek myself, and so had given it a name I felt worked until I learned the official one. It had been two years since giving it the name I did so I naturally replied, oh, you mean the East Bluff Creek? In response I got a smile and was told the place would have been much easier to find if it was named that. It was then that I learned that the creek is called Bickell Creek. My first thought was, “why was it named that?” No one knew.
The official name of the bay this town is on, and the town itself is named after (or is it the other way around?) is Gore Bay. Why Gore Bay? I had asked many folks who would be in the know. I got one story about a steam ship named Gore that got frozen in the bay for a winter before there was a town here and there wasn’t a town for about a decade after that. A friend who was keen on finding out the merit of the story found that it was a myth – no such boat existed. This same friend thought that the lack of meaning should be addressed and had decided to use a story I had told (with permission) in good fun about making myths – That the East Bluff is a sleeping dragon. Adding that Gore was the dragon’s name. They started a town event called Gore’s Day that had some dragon themes such as the option of having Gore the Dragon as a balloon animal and a drawing contest for what Gore the Dragon looks like. Well, it being based on a story I started, I was going make sure there was healthy competition – taking the entire afternoon to draw my entry (and in case you were wondering, yes I did win first place and you can see the digitally revised version, by said friend, below with an added title and wear and tear). It is a fun approach to establishing a sense of place. We’ve managed to expand this story through our jesting and plan on making an official story sometime in the near future – all in good fun.
No one knows why it is called Gore Bay, but its this bay and this town. Even with the dragon meme and its fun, I call it Twin Bluff Bay. Most people who live here describe the town this way. Even one of the entries had a twin headed dragon for the twin bluffs. Not to mention a restaurant here is called Twin Bluffs. I’ve often wondered about suggesting renaming the town and bay Twin Bluff Bay because of this.
Then there comes a interesting challenge for myself and a group I’ve started here that is striving for a sustainable, resilient island. Initially this group was called GALIS: Great Alvar Lake Island Saegoahs. But found that Alvar is not really an accurate descriptor, because alvars are open limestone bedrock and the island isn’t just a bare rock. The island is made out of limestone – more accurately dolomitic limestone or dolostone – but it is mostly vegetated over. Now we’ve the challenge to come up with a new name. A name that really gives that sense of place and we’re open to suggestions.
The following is some criteria and an essay of bioregional information on the island put together for the group to use to help give name ideas for not only the group, but the island itself.
What name do you think would create that special sense of place for its islanders?
Bioregional Design of Cosmic Location
This is an attempt to describe cosmic location using bioregional descriptions – in so that the name describes the physical place and therefore is easily recognizable to any who see it. The names would focus on features that are “timeless” in that the name doesn’t lose meaning or understanding over several generations like places named after historical figures or events. Naming places in such a way provides a genuine sense of place, along with reinforcing identity to place for those who reside there and therefore a sense of responsibility to that place. For example, a town that identifies it’s self by its natural features – say a mountain – tends to, historically speaking, preserve those natural features. In the case of the mountain, the town is more likely to refuse to do mountain top removal than if the town were named, for example, “George Town”.
The following is trialing one place for a Bioregional Descriptive Name. All descriptions could potentially change in response to new information and/or supporting evidence to better descriptions.
CONVENTIONAL LOCATION NAME
Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada.
BIOREGIONALLY DESCRIPTIVE LOCATION NAME – to be determined.
Great Freshwater Island?
Great Lake Great Island / Great Island of the Great Lakes? (largest fresh water island in the world)
Great Isle of the Inland Sea / Great Inland Sea Isle?
Great Escarpment Lake Island?
The escarpments being ancient sea beds can have it be called Magnus Paleomare Insula / Great Ancient Sea Island = Great Island of the Ancient Sea?
SUMMARY of LOCATION DESCRIPTION
Settlement Pattern: Rural & Towns
Koppen Climate Classification: DFB (Continental/Microthermal Climate, Significant precipitation in all seasons, Warm Summer Temperate) – surrounded by Lake Huron/Lake Scarp
Elevation: 200m above sea level
Soil Type: Shallow soils with dolomitic limestone (“dolostone”)
Largest Freshwater Island in World
Conventional Location Name – Atlantic Ocean
Bioregionally Descriptive Name – Expando Ocean/Expanding Ocean
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is a mid-ocean ridge, a divergent tectonic plate boundary located along the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and part of the longest mountain range in the world. The Ridge extends from a junction with the Gakkel Ridge (Mid-Arctic Ridge) northeast of Greenland southward to the Bouvet Triple Junction in the South Atlantic. Mostly an underwater feature, portions of it have enough elevation to extend above sea level, such as Iceland. The average spreading rate for the ridge is about 2.5 cm per year. Hence calling it the Expando Ocean (“Expanding Ocean”).
Conventional Location Name – Great Lakes & St. Lawrence River
Bioregionally Descriptive Name – Magnus Lacus et Sinis Magnus Lacus/Great Lakes & Gulf of the Great Lakes
Conventional Location Name – Lake Huron
Bioregionally Descriptive Name – Cautes-Divisus Magnus Lacus/Scarp-Divided Great Lake
Cautes (Latin for rough pointed rock, cliff, reef)
Scarp (Escarpment – a steep ridge)
This Lake is crossed by the prominent Escapement feature of the area (seen in the red and pink colour code). Making it a distinguishing feature of the lake.
Twin Bluff Creeks – East and West Bluff Creek
The region is distinguished by its moderate to mildly humid climate, its relatively dense and diverse forest cover. A mixed limestone-dolomite terrain of plains and hills dominate much of the central part of the region, with other sedimentary rock found on the plateaux and plains in the north and west. Glacially derived materials and landforms and areas of glacial lake deposits shape the landscape in the north. Soils are mostly leached, being nutrient-poor to calcium-rich. Surface waters are characterized by an abundance of perennial streams, small areas with high densities of lakes, a diversity of wetland communities and a rich array of maritime ecosystems. The climate is generally warm, humid and temperate, although there is a latitudinal gradient from cool, continental temperatures to those that are subtropical. Summers are hot and humid, and winters are mild to cool. Precipitation amounts of 1,000-1,500 millimeters (mm) per year are relatively evenly distributed throughout the year, with most areas having either a summer or spring maximum. The Eastern Temperate Forests form a dense forest canopy consisting mostly of tall broadleaf, deciduous trees and needle-leaf conifers. Beech-maple and maple-basswood forest types occur widely especially in the eastern reaches of this region. Mammals of the region include the white-footed mouse, gray squirrel, eastern chipmunk, raccoon, porcupine, gray fox, bobcat, white-tailed deer and black bear. The region has extremely diverse populations of birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.
Most of the ecozone is underlain by Paleozoic rock, mostly limestone, covered with various deposits of glacial till including moraines, drumlins and old glacial lake bottoms. Dominated by temperate deciduous forest. One prominent rock feature is the Niagara Escarpment [(Great Lakes Escarpment)], which bifurcates the region from Niagara Falls to the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula, extends to Manitoulin Island, then along the western edge of Lake Michigan.
The Lake Erie Plains region has the highest tree diversity in Canada, with species such as tulip tree, cucumber tree, pawpaw, black gum, sassafrass and black oak. These forest types are often referred to as the ‘Carolinian zone’. The area also has a high diversity of songbirds, reptiles and amphibians.
Some of the most fertile soil in Canada is located in this ecozone, in which the Holland Marsh has come to be known as “Ontario’s vegetable basket”, and the Niagara Peninsula [(Scarp-Divided Great Lake Peninsula)] is the most productive wine region in the country.
The climate of the Mixedwood Plains is characterized by warm to hot summers and cool winters. The Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River have a significant moderating effect in this ecozone, which is in a major North American storm belt. Warm air fronts from the Gulf of Mexico and US south- and mid-west often collide with cold polar air masses, providing abundant precipitation in some areas. Annually, the region receives between 720 and 1,000 mm of precipitation. Most areas receive close to 150 cm of snowfall but snowbelt areas can receive well over 300 cm during a typical winter.
Summers average about 23°C in July in the southwestern end of the zone, to 18°C in the higher part of the north. Winters are much milder in the southwest along the Lake Erie shore, with a mean January temperature of -3°C, whereas mean lows are -12°C in the northeast. Some lakeshore areas have over 200 frost-free days per year.
Because of the relatively mild climate for Canada, the region has become an important and productive agricultural area. Agriculture has been the primary cause of deforestation in the ecozone followed by urbanization. Once covered entirely by forests it is now reduced to less than ten percent. The resultant loss of natural habitat has caused a decline in the populations of many native species, and now over half of the Species at Risk in Canada are found in this zone.
Ecoregion Level 3: Eastern Great Lakes & Hudson Lowlands (pdf of Ecoregion Level 3 for North America)
Underlain by Paleozoic rock, mostly limestone, covered with various deposits of glacial till including moraines, drumlins and old glacial lake bottoms. A prominent rock feature is the Great Lakes Escarpment (Niagara Escarpment), which passes through Manitoulin Island, making up most of the island bedrock. The Great Lakes Escarpment’s caprock is dolomitic limestone (“dolostone“) This dolostone basin contains Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie (see image: Great Lakes Escarpment & surrounding Geology). The dolostone cap was laid down as sediment on the floor of the ancient Ordovician marine environment. There the constant deposition of minute shells and fragments of biologically-generated calcium carbonate mixed with sediment eventually formed a limestone layer. During the Silurian period, some magnesium substituted for some of the calcium in the carbonates, slowly formed harder (dolomitic) sedimentary strata in the same fashion. Worldwide sea levels were at their all-time maximum in the Ordovician; as the sea retreated, erosion inevitably began. Creating the escarpment that represents the remnant shoreline of the ancient Ordovician-Silurian tropical sea.
It will likely be no longer an island in the future with dropping water levels. Just as the island was once underwater itself, the escarpment between the peninsula and island may become exposed landmass.
Relevant Island Geologic History
Cambrian Period 541 ± 1 Mya
Ordovician Period 485.4 ± 1.9 Mya – North Shore
Silurian Period 443.4 ± 1.5 Mya – South Shore
Devonian Period 419.2 ± 3.2 Mya
Starting from the south shore of the Island and moving northward and off the island, geologically speaking, you are going back in time.
CAMBRIAN PERIOD ~ 541 Mya
Before this period organisms were small, unicellular and simple. The Cambrian marks the development of complex multicellular organisms, and diversification of lifeforms. Land remained barren – only having microbial soil crust and some mollusks that fed on them along the shore. Trilobites, Anomalocaris, etc.
ORDOVICIAN PERIOD ~ 485.4 Mya
All southern continents were together, called Gondwana, drifting south. Laurentia (North America), Siberia, Baltica (Northern Europe) were independent continents. Reef forming corals, tabulata coral, strophmenid brachniopod (now extinct), echinoderms, first true fish (Ostracoderms), earliest known armoured agnathan (no-jawed fish), first sea stars, and first evidence of land plants appeared. Graptolites thrived during this time (now extinct) and new mollusks, crinoids developed. Trilobites developed shovel like snouts, as well as spines and nodes for defence against primitive sharks and nautiloids. Some trilobites developed eye stalks while others lost eyes, and some began to swim. Mass Bioerosion begins. A Meteor Event occurred 469 Mya. 460 Mya (Million years ago) the worldwide temperature was similar to the modern equator.460-450 Mya volcanoes spewed massive amounts of C0²– Causing a Global Warming Event. This volcanic arc collided with Laurentia forming the Apalacian Mountains. At the end of the period volcanoes stopped and Gondwana was at the South Pole and glaciated. Seas were Calcite – which coincides with rapid sea floor expansion and global greenhouse climate conditions. Marine waters were ~45°C (113°F) restricting diversification. The first jawed fish (Gnathostomata) appeared in the Late Ordovician.
ORDOVICIAN-SILURIAN EXTINCTION ~ 447-444 Mya
(The second largest of the Major 5 Extinctions in terms of % of genera gone) All modern day southern continents – Australia/Africa/South America including the Arabian peninsula and Indian subcontinent were together and situated at the south pole. Areas known today as North Africa and North-Eastern South America were galciated while the rest of the continent was closer toward the equator. The extinction event was marked by an Ice age lasting 0.5-1.5 Mya. It was the coldest time in the last 600 My of earth’s history. 49% of fauna genera disappeared forever. 60% of marine species went extinct.
SILURIAN PERIOD ~ 443.4 Mya – 419.2 Mya
Continents of Avalonia (modern day south-west Great Britain, and the eastern coast of North America), Baltica (modern day East European craton of northwestern Eurasia) and Laurentia (modern North America) drifted together near the equator starting the super-continent Euroamerica. Layers of broken shells(coquina) provide strong evidence of a climate dominated by violent storms generated then, as now, by warm sea surfaces. Glaciation at the South Pole almost disappeared by Mid-Silurian. The Silurian is characterized with favosites(“honeycomb coral”), a now extinct genus. Baragwanathia appeared during this period, now extinct. Arachnids(spiders), Myriapods (millipedes, centipedes etc.), Leeches, now extinct Trigonotarbidaand Jawed bony fish (Acanthodians with movable jaws) appeared during this period. Diverse sea scorpians, some several meters long developed in the shallow seas of Laurentia (modern day North America). All having simple food webs. On land, small moss-like vascular plants grew in forest like form beside lakes, streams, and coastlines in the second half of the Silurian Period. It is the first period to see macro fossils of extensive terrestrial biota. Species included Cooksonia (extinct), Psilophyton (part of the group from within which the modern ferns and seed plants evolved), Rhyniophyta(extinct), and primitive Lycopods (Clubmosses). None had deep roots. Terrestrial life does not greatly diversify and affect landscape until the Devonian Period.