Looking out onto Lake Ontario from my father-in-law’s backyard at the top of the Scarborough Bluffs, I had no idea what surprises were hidden at the bottom of these cliffs. Coming from the north, I was awestruck by the lush greenery on either side of me and was curious about the area below where few people could be spotted walking along the gravel road.
After inquiring about ways of getting to the bottom of the Bluffs, we walked down a sloped trail at the base of which was a metal sculpture by Marlene Hilton Moore to honour artist Doris McCarthy. The sculpture resembles the ribs of a canoe or a fish. More information about the dates etched at the base of each rib and the interpretation of the piece can be found by clicking on the image. [Update 2010/05/02 - A sincere thanks to John McEwen for pointing out my egregious error.]
It’s almost unbelievable that an area surrounded by millions of people can be so deserted: we met a couple walking their dogs and a trio of kids on bikes scrounging for metal by the look of the copper pipes poking crookedly out of their backpacks.
The length of shore we strolled along seems to have been the recipient of scraps from demolished buildings. Perhaps this mixture of concrete, glass, and other debris were dumped there to help the breakwaters. There are also stories floating around that tell of the ship Alexandria that sunk in 1915 near the Scarborough Bluffs and the possibility that some of the bits from the ship has washed up.
If I lived in the area, I would be the first to haul back scrap from the beach. There are pieces of eroded bricks, some that still have porcelain or ceramic tiles still attached to them which would make great conversation pieces. There are also rust-coloured egg-shaped rocks, obviously eroded red bricks (unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of them). I pictured a bed of this red stone/brick on a landscaped surface under green shrubs or bordering a flower bed.
Since bringing rocks back over 5500 km didn’t seem like a smart idea, I opted for a smaller kind of treasure: beach glass.
An ex-boyfriend turned me on to beach glass hunting where salt water meets the rocky shores of the Bras D’Or in Cape Breton. Since then, I’ve spent countless hours walking along rocky beaches from Haines, Alaska, to St. John’s, Newfoundland, looking for these little treasures polished by the waves’ action.
There are many, many pieces you have to throw back into the water to let Mother Nature continue her work, and it can take hours to find only a few bits worthy of pocketing. But here on this empty shoreline with nothing more than a few ducks nearby and flocks of geese overhead, it only took a few minutes before I spotted my first keeper. After searching for less than a couple of hours, I walked away with a handful of glittering glass. I felt like I had found the motherlode.
Sure you can buy the sandblasted kind by the bag, and they’re everywhere in custom jewellery shops, but in my eyes, these man-made replicas are comparable to plastic rings found at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.
Where are these tiny colourful gems from? How long have they been in the water? There’s so much mystery around each piece of glass. Oh, one can speculate, but you never really know: broken bottles, glass from ships, garbage dumped? Regardless, they’re my little treasures now to do with as I wish.