Grand River Living Up to its Name

The village of Waldemar is on the 10th Line of Amaranth two kilometres north of Highway 9.  Actually the 10th Line becomes Mill Street as it passes through the village, changing back to the 10th Line just north.  I used to live in Waldemar, in a house right opposite the Station Street bridge over the Grand River.  When the river would rise in the spring we’d hear it indoors… a heavy rush of water combined with a low vibration that would shiver the whole building.  At first the river would be full of ice and when a big chunk would smash into the bridge support, the sound would be a deep thrum that we’d feel as much as hear.

Pesshinneguning Just Doing its Thing

We went to see the river the other day.  As is often the case, Highway 25 was closed through Grand Valley because the river flooded the road.  At the bridge in Waldemar, just a couple of miles down stream from Grand Valley, the relentless rush was awesome.

Looking down river from the Station Street Bridge

Looking down river from the Station Street Bridge


Looking up river from the Station Street Bridge. The old train bridge supports still standing.

The Grand River has been flooding from near Dundalk all the way to Port Maitland on Lake Erie since long before the Europeans arrived here.  The first people called the river Pesshinneguning, “the one that washes the timber down and drives away the grass weeds”.  When the river ebbed and the land beside it dried, the people would plant corn on the fertile flood plains.

The river’s personality changes completely in the summer.  That’s when I’d take my dog out for a swim.  I’d walk up the middle of the river, about waist deep, and Carter would swim along beside me.  When he got tired, he’d just swim to shore and give me a look that said “OK, that’s enough” and we’d walk home.

Things May Soon Change

I just read an article – and saw the picture – of an Asian grass carp caught near Dunnville, Ontario.  That’s down by Lake Erie.  While these are not the same fish that leap out of the water  when frightened, they can cause the same kind of damage to the underwater environment.  They gobble up plankton and weeds that hide and nourish the critters at the bottom of the food chain, potentially wiping out the population of game fish.  According to a CBC report from Kitchener-Waterloo…

“An angler near Dunnville, about a half hour south of Hamilton, didn’t just hook a big one — the fisherman also managed to land a fish story that has all of North America’s biologists and sport fishing enthusiasts talking.

Authorities with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Ontario of Ministry of Natural Resources have confirmed that the fish is a live Asian carp and it was caught close to the mouth of the Grand River, near Lake Erie.  Whether the fish is the leading edge of an invasion or a single escaped fish remains to be seen, but authorities with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources urge all fishermen to become familiar with the species and report any new discoveries to Ontario’s Invading Species Hotline, at 1-800-563-7711.

Hugh MacIsaac, professor and director of the Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, said it’s not time to push the panic button.  He said this specific type of carp is used in states like a Michigan and New York to control of aquatic plants in places like ponds. They will not reproduce.  There have been about 10 records of them being in Ontario.  He said the much bigger threat is the big headed and silver carp.”

You can read the whole story here.

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