All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Wednesday, July 24th, 2024

Protecting the Ribbon of Life

If it were possible to walk the shoreline completely around Prince Edward County, you would need to figure on setting aside a fair bit of time as the County shoreline is a good 800 kilometres in length.   At least two or three months of back to back full day walking would have to be reserved  to accomplish the task, given time lost in stepping over fallen willows, tightroping along shoreline protective works, slugging through marshy shallows, and stepping delicately over sunbathers at Sandbanks. That’s a lot of length considering the County is only 1048.3 square kilometres in size.

From the mainland, the County reaches out into Lake Ontario like a giant amoeba preparing to divide. It is the abundance of these tiny peninsulas, numerous lakes, bays and smaller islands that make this county so attractive to both residents and visitors.

From these very shores, rumrunners sped their illegal booze across Lake Ontario, schooners in the late 1890s laden with barley departed for Oswego, paddlewheelers delivered passengers to resorts like Lakeshore Lodge at Sandbanks and the Massassauga Point Hotel. Even earlier, Samuel de Champlain plied some of the lakes in his explorations, and early natives paddled these same shorelines. Some 8,000 years ago, ancient Mongolian tribes likely stood on these very shores.

Despite the passage of time, these same shorelines have not lost their appeal. Cement carriers and high powered boats have replaced schooners and birch bark canoes, and kayak paddlers, sail boaters and other pleasure craft owners use these same waters to recreate during the summer months. The shores are a drawing card as evidenced by the half million sun worshipers who visit Sandbanks Provincial Park annually.

Residents have banded together to protect these valuable shorelines and water quality. Local agencies have legislation in place to regulate what can or cannot be done along shorelines, or when it can be done with less disruption to fish habitat. We learn as we go. We have learned that cement seawalls destroy fish habitat, while using a more natural approach toward shoreline erosion protects the critical shoreline habitat we call the ribbon of life. Through the years habitat enhancement programs have been put in place to protect these waterways, and offer incentives to property owners to upgrade sewage systems and help farmers provide alternate water sources such as nose pumps for cattle that formerly wandered into creeks. The Waring Creek Improvement Association is an example of local residents working together to improve water quality in one of the many creeks in the County. The restoration Council of the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan is striving to return the Bay of Quinte from an Area of Concern to an Area in Recovery. However, as we know all too well, sometimes all it takes is money to have this protective legislation sneered at, resulting in powerful companies or individuals riding roughshod over the legislation that has been put in place to supposedly protect these areas and the wildlife contained within their boundaries.

As our County becomes even more of a drawing card to visitors and residents, our quest for those locations where land meets water will become even greater, placing increased pressure on our shorelines. We need to continue our efforts in protecting water quality and our sensitive shorelines and ensure that in our pursuit for these special places we do not, at the same time, destroy the very thing that attracts us. The recent purchase of the Miller Family Property along the south shoreline of the county has been a positive step.

It would be difficult to find another county in Ontario that boasts so much shoreline diversity. Whether it’s the baymouth sandbars along the County’s west and south shores that attract us, the abundance of wildlife within our wetlands, or the stark beauty of towering cliff edges such as we find at Little Bluff or Cape Vesey, these shores offer a diversity of splendour found nowhere else in a single concentrated location.

Since the first humans being set foot on Prince Edward County soil, and gazed in wonderment at the waters that lay before them, these shorelines have continued to attract scores of people who seek out this very important element of Prince Edward County’s natural heritage.


Filed Under: Local News

About the Author: Terry Sprague became interested in nature at an early age. "Growing up on the family farm at Big Island, 12 miles north of Picton, on the shore of the beautiful Bay of Quinte, I was always interested in the natural world around me. During my elementary school days at the small one-room school I attended on Big Island, I received considerable encouragement from the late Marie Foster, my teacher in Grades 6 through 8. Her home was a short distance from where I lived and through the years she was responsible for developing my interest in birds. The late Phil Dodds, a former editor with the Picton Gazette, also a great nature enthusiast, suggested I undertake a nature column - a column I have submitted weekly since 1965. The column has since expanded to the Napanee Beaver and the Tweed News. Life has been good, and through the years I have enjoyed working with such nature related agencies as Glenora Fisheries Research as a resource technician, Sandbanks Provincial Park as a park interpreter and Quinte Conservation as a naturalist and outdoor events coordinator. As a nature interpreter, currently working from my home office, I now create and lead numerous interpretive events in the area and offer indoor audio/visual presentations to interested groups. Could one who is interested in nature have enjoyed a more exhilarating period in the work force?" Terry's website is

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  1. Louisa says:

    We do have so much beauty and diversity here, don’t we? We can do our best individually, educate others (as you do and other concern groups do), and enjoy what we have. I have a feeling it’s from the hard work of many people that the County has remained as beautiful as it has thus far. I do get concerned about population increases though – all resources get taxed when this happens. The land, air, water and wildlife feel it. In turn, we end up feeling it. What goes around, comes around.

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