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Caledon’s Clay Hills


About 75 million years ago dinosaurs roamed central and southern Alberta, an area we now refer to as the Canadian Badlands. While no where near these epic proportions here in Ontario, there lies a much smaller but also dramatic site.

Vivid clay-red waves of earth announce the arrival of the Cheltenham Badlands as you crest a hill on Olde Base Line Road, just west of Inglewood in Caledon. The geological feature is believed to have formed about 450 million years ago at the base of an ancient sea.

Eventually settlers cleared the land to build homes and grow food. Their early farming practices caused the shallow topsoil to erode away. The Queenston shale that lies beneath was exposed.

With no tree roots to stabilize the soil, the elements accelerated the erosion and we are left with the gullies and ridges we see today. I love the patterns and they make for remarkable photographs. I took these on a crisp fall day in 2007.

In 2015, the Badlands area was closed to begin implementation of a plan to improve public safety and accessibility, and to conserve it for future generations. It reopened in 2018 with a parking area, accessible boardwalk and viewing platform among the improvements. There is a mandatory reservation system.

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