Cheltenham Badlands

Our daughter told us that the Ontario Heritage Trust will fence off the Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon at the end of May, so that they can figure out how to preserve them. Although we have lived in Toronto nearly four decades, we have never visited this site less than an hour’s drive away. So we took a day trip to see what it is like before they are closed to tourists for at least a few years.

The place resembled the barren terrain on another planet, say Mars, in sci-fi movies – without vegetation, but with reddish soil in round mounds and gullies. Geologists identify the rock as Queenston shale, exposed and rounded by water and wind erosion. The red comes from the iron oxide, parts of which turned green by ground water.

Some believe the badlands started as a raised river bed turned into farmland. Over-grazing some 80 years ago stripped the area of vegetation. Without tree and grass roots to hold the soil in place, the top soil soon got washed away, exposing the underlying shale which does not support plant life, and gradually eroded to its current form.

I hope your church is not like the badlands, started out fertile but the faithful workers burned out through overwork and under-supported. With the faithful core gone, there is no one to hold the crowd together. Gradually they also thinned out. What’s left is only a barren landscape, devoid of life. I hope your church is a vibrant community instead, full of life and vitality. Pray that it will be so.

Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon

Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon

Badlands formed by water and wind erosion exposing the underlying shale

Badlands formed by water and wind erosion exposing the underlying shale

The reddish soil is due to iron oxide deposits. The greenish patches are caused by ground water turning the iron oxide green.

The reddish soil is due to iron oxide deposits. The greenish patches are caused by ground water turning the iron oxide green.

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