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Frontenac Arch Biosphere

The Frontenac Arch Biosphere is a 2,700 sq. km. region of the Frontenac Arch.

The Frontenac Arch is the ancient granite backbone of eastern North America—a bridge from the Canadian Shield to the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. It is the quintessential Canadian landscape of pine-topped, windswept ridges and lake-jeweled valleys. In First Nations tradition, the Frontenac Arch is “The Bones of the Mother”.

The fantastic story of the Frontenac Arch began a billion years ago, when early continental plates collided and heaved massive, towering mountains skyward. The mountains eventually weathered down to their roots—the landscape we see today.

After glaciers bulldozed the basins for the Great Lakes and as they filled to their brims the lakes overflowed with rivers and runoff. On their eastward race to the sea, the waters of the last lake, Ontario, rose against the western flanks of the Frontenac Arch, and the St. Lawrence River began to spill between the granite hilltops. A thousand hilltops, the roots of ancient mountains, became the Thousand Islands. A thousand more islands grace a thousand lakes, inland.

This intersection of the Frontenac Arch and the St. Lawrence River Valley forms one of the great crossroads of the continent. The Arch connects the Canadian Shield boreal forest to the forests of the Adirondack and Appalachian Mountains—a south to north/north to south migration route. The river valley is a route from the Great Lakes forest heartland of the continent to the forests of the Atlantic Coast. The Frontenac Arch Biosphere is at the very centre of that intersection, where five forest regions merge, creating tremendous wildlife diversity.

Shortly after the last ice age, these natural migration routes became trade and migration routes for First Nations peoples. Discoveries of copper knives from the far north,shells from the southern coasts, stone for projectile points from further east and west, and pottery types from several regions tell that story. In historic times, this was a land of Canadian ‘firsts’—first glassworks, first iron works in Upper Canada, oldest railway tunnel, oldest daily newspaper, oldest stone grist mill in Ontario—and so much more, with so much of the built heritage still on the landscape for the world to see.

The Frontenac Arch Biosphere is a 2,700 sq. km. region of the Frontenac Arch. FAB Network programs extend across a large region ofFrontenac and Leeds-Grenville Counties, and Kingston.

Life at this crossroads is rich indeed – entirely worthy of its UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve designation.

Visit frontenacarchbiosphere.ca to learn more.

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