What is the West Swale?

Geological formation during The Pleistocene Era

Geology of the Yorath Island Spillway After the Flood.

The geological formation of the West Swale occurred during the Pleistocene era from waters cascading out of the glacial l North Saskatchewan River valley, which is quite different from the formation of the North East Swale, which was formed from glacial ice waters in the South Saskatchewan River Valley subsidence.

The West Swale earth science features include glaciofluvial Iandforms created by meltwater channels during Pleistocene glacial drainage. The afforestation area formerly known as George Genereux Urban Regional Park, Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area, the Chappell Marsh Conservation Area and Maple Grove at the West Swale Confluence are all provincially significant examples of a landscape typifying fluvioglacial erosion.

Meltwater channels are unique and significant as they possess characteristics which distinguish them from conventional river valleys. The low lying area of the West Swale does, indeed, display a fascinating geological record of the last stages of the Great Ice Age. On a walk in the Richard St. Barb Baker Afforestation Area, or the Urban Regional Park formerly named George Genereux park, and spend an absolutely unforgettable day 2.6 million years in the making.

The West Swale lands are of imperative value to surrounding rural agricultural lands at the present moment, but the lands also provide flood relief in the South West sector in Saskatoon. There are notable and significant geological features providing scientific, educational, historical and aesthetic landscape importance to the city of Saskatoon, the province of Saskatchewan, the nation of Canada.

What happened during the Pleistocene era?

2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago

“During the Quaternary period, between 2 and 3 million years ago, the prairies were covered by a glacier, the Laurentide ice sheet.

Northern hemisphere glaciation during the last ice ages. The accumulation of 3 to 4 kilometers (1.9 to 2.5 mi) thick ice sheets caused a sea level lowering of about 120 meters (390 ft)
Northern hemisphere glaciation during the last ice ages. The accumulation of 3 to 4 kilometers (1.9 to 2.5 mi) thick ice sheets caused a sea level lowering of about 120 meters (390 ft)

It was 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) thick which advanced and receded several times across the prairies. There were multiple glaciations affecting the Saskatchewan area during the Pre-Illinoian, Illinioan, and Wisconsin stages of the last Ice Age.” Geology These were the major glaciations, there were other glaciations summarized as follows.

Glacial Lake Agassiz A glacial lake is a lake with origins in a melted glacier. They are formed when a glacier erodes the land, and then melts, filling the hole or space that it has created. Near the end of the last glacial period, roughly 10,000 years ago, glaciers began to retreat. A retreating glacier often left behind large deposits of ice in hollows between drumlins or hills. As the ice age ended, these melted to create lakes.
Glacial Lake Agassiz A glacial lake is a lake with origins in a melted glacier. They are formed when a glacier erodes the land, and then melts, filling the hole or space that it has created. Near the end of the last glacial period, roughly 10,000 years ago, glaciers began to retreat. A retreating glacier often left behind large deposits of ice in hollows between drumlins or hills. As the ice age ended, these melted to create lakes.

Ice retreated, and drainage occurred to the north, creating Glacial lakes in low lying areas. Glacial Lake Saskatoon I situated in the northern Saskatoon Lowland and lower areas of the Elstow Basin. When the northern outlet of Lake Saskatoon lowered, the South Saskatchewan River Valley began replacing Glacial Lake Saskatoon I. A broad plain called the Cory Plain was created in the area south west of Saskatoon. Cory Plain features cut off meander loops, ox-bow lakes and geological features showing the historic river braiding and travels.

The northern flow of water in the Glacial North Saskatchewan River Valley was halted by ice, creating Glacial Rice Lake settling into the lowlands west of Grandora. Glacial Rice Lake drained by channels into the South Saskatchewan Valley “The Moon Lake Channel, a major spillway connecting the North Saskatchewan River basin with the South Saskatchewan, and a smaller parallel channel, Yorath Island Channel, also cross the Cory plain….but they are clearly not South Saskatchewan channels.”

Yorath Island Channel, Moon Lake Channel, Sutherland Channel and Cory Plain Channel Pleistocene Era South Sk River Valley 2588000 to 117000 years ago Adapted from Larry Edwin Hodges
Yorath Island Channel, Moon Lake Channel, Sutherland Channel and Cory Plain Channel Pleistocene Era South Sk River Valley 2588000 to 117000 years ago Adapted from Larry Edwin Hodges

Then there was another advance of ice ~ Patience Lake Ice ~ creating a kame and moraine ridge near Grandora 10 miles west of Saskatoon. The ice blocked the northern flow of water creating another glacial lake; Lake Saskatoon II. As the ice wasted away, & Lake returned to river valley, there were remnants of the lake in and south of Saskatoon. Lacustrine silts and clays were deposited south and west of the city area forming the Cory Plain surface. Paraphrase from Hodges

How is it best to preserve our nation’s geologic heritage which contain evidence some of the earth’s greatest examples of geologic phenomena. From glaciers to swales, it is a true inspiration to be immersed in your personal geologic experience here in the West Swale which envelopes the Chappell Marsh Conservation Area, Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and the Afforestation Area formerly known as George Genereux urban regional park. Yorath Island, an “end moraine” and a natural landmark in the South Saskatchewan River locates the confluence of the Yorath Island spillway with the glacial South Saskatchewan River Valley. The West Swale is a low-lying depression created by repeated glaciations and the melting of the last bit of glacial ice.

The West Swale, a major meltwater drainage channel, a glacial spillway and a prairie valley is a classical example of glacial spillway topography. In the West Swale are several areas and features that budding geologists can discover and study the results left behind as the “catastrophic floods of glacial meltwater and sediment washed through these valleys”, typifying the Yorath Island glacial spillway, now known as the West Swale.James S. Aber Pleistocene deposits and geology show “erosional features of the underlying bedrock surface such as buried valleys, which are filled and concealed by drift, and which result in a hickening of Pleistocene deposits; erosional features of the surface of the drift, such as stream valleys, which cause a thinning of the Pleistocene deposits; and depositional features such as end moraines, drumlins, and outwash plains of glacial origin, which result in a thickening of the Pleistocene deposits.P.F. Karrow

The preservation of the afforestation areas in 1972, therefore, has also preserved a segment of the invaluable historic geological landmark of the West Swale, and its Pleistocene heritage and history.  Next time you are out at the Richard St. Barb Baker Afforestation Area, or the Urban Regional Park formerly named George Genereux park, know you are spending an absolutely unforgettable day 2.6 million years in the making.

Now it is time to zip on over to an adventure amid the Pleistocene Megafauna – meet the mammoths, sabre-tooth cats, and tapirs.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Hodges, Larry Edwin: Morphology of the South Saskatchewan River Valley Outlook to Saskatoon PhD Thesis. Department of Geography. McGill University. Montreal, Quebec. July 1971.
Theberge, John B., (1989) The Wholeness of Nature. Legacy, The Natural History of Ontario. McClelland and Stewart Inc. ISBN 0-7710-8398-X

For more information:

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area is located in Saskatoon, SK, CA north of Cedar Villa Road, within city limits, in the furthest south west area of the city.
Wikimapia Map: type in Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Google Maps South West Off Leash area location pin at parking lot
Web page: https://stbarbebaker.wordpress.com
Where is the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area? with map
Off Leash Dog Park Valley Road Saskatoon!
Facebook: StBarbeBaker
Facebook group page : Users of the St Barbe Baker Afforestation Area
Facebook: South West OLRA
If you wish to support the afforestation area with your donation, write a cheque please to the “Meewasin Valley Authority Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area trust fund” (MVA RSBBAA trust fund) and mail it to Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area c/o Meewasin Valley Authority, 402 Third Ave S, Saskatoon SK S7K 3G5. Thank you kindly!
Twitter: St Barbe Baker
Pinterest richardstbarbeb

“Clearly, human pressure is exerting a sudden and cataclysmic impact on much of this province, if viewed in the time-frame of evolution and geology to which the rhythms of ecosystems are tuned. The groundswell of environmental concern taking shape among us, its citizens, results in public pressure for new and stronger strictures on human exploitation and desecration…Such action is needed as the embodiment of an ethical responsibility to the land and living things, for our own well-being as well as for that of all other species.” Theberge, 1989. P.376

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Author: stbarbebaker

This website is about the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area - an urban regional park of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The hosts are the stewards of the afforestation area. The afforestation area received its name in honour of the great humanitarian, Richard St. Barbe Baker. Richard St. Barbe Baker (9 October 1889 – 9 June 1982) was an English forester, environmental activist and author, who contributed greatly to worldwide reforestation efforts. As a leader, he founded an organization, Men of the Trees, still active today, whose many chapters carry out reforestation internationally. {Wikipedia} Email is StBarbeBaker AT yahoo.com to reach the Stewards of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area

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