"It was a beautiful bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it.”
Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
Have you ever been following a logging trail into the bush and come across a series of rotting logs, laid end to end across your path? You have just discovered a corduroy road. The first roads in Ontario followed ancient trails used by Aboriginal inhabitants over the centuries. Then came the Queen's suryeyor who mapped the concessions lines of Ontario with straight military precision. Tough luck if there was a swamp in the way. That was where the road had to go. To overcome the problem of roads cutting through wetlands, bogs, or fern brakes, settlers cut thousands of logs and then laid them side by side, sometimes for up to a kilometer or more. The roads took the name corduroy from the ridge cloth of the European royalty known as "cords-du-roi." Early settlers found the roads a torment. Driving a wagon and horse over them meant much tossing about. Many a wagon or carriage lost a wheel on such roads. But the age of the corduroy road was blessedly brief. As more and more settlers arrived to claim Ontario land, the roads were eventually graded, graveled and, with the coming of the automobile, paved. The bumpy corduroy of old was left to rot. But you can still find traces of these old roads. According to Ron Brown in his book, Top 100 Unusual Things To See in Ontario, one of the best and longest stretches of corduroy can be found in Awenda Provincial Park near Midland. Another old corduroy stretch lies in the Beaver Valley, east of Kimberley where an old section forms part of a local hiking trail. And, in Killarney Provincial Park, the Silhouette Trail includes several lengths of old corduroy.