The Precambrian Shield is 4.5 billion years old and is largely granite and gneiss, earth’s oldest rock. Glaciation scraped the rock clean of most surface debris over the millennia as it moved back and forth, exposing bare rock and lake-filled hollows. Thin soil lies on top of bedrock, while there are many bare rock outcrops, all of this caused by the last ice age, some six to 15,000 years ago, depending on location.
Originally the shield was a region of large mountains and volcanic activity, but subsequent to that the area eroded. Rock that forms the Shield surface was once far below the surface, and pressure and temperature at depth created the many minerals in the rocks.
Since the last ice age, the area has become covered with a thick boreal forest of coniferous and deciduous trees. Mining and logging are common now. Shield country is a common home to single-industry towns of either pulp and paper or mining, or a combination of the two. Hunting and fishing are favorite activities of the local residents.
Moose are well-known to populate the Shield. If you or someone you know has ever hit a deer with a car, you’ll know what damage they do. Moose, which can weigh over 2,000 pounds, are known to bring semi-transports to their knees, and will destroy a mere automobile.
Both deer and moose are common sights along the roads, but particularly in early morning or late evening they can be seen on the shoulders or slightly off-road in the ditches. Keeping an eye to those areas could mean the difference between safe passage and a tow truck.
Shield country rapidly flattens and tapers off towards the plains and it isn’t long before the prairie breadbasket is glistening under the blue sky. Here deer are the prevalent road hazard, but their small size and stature limit a lot of the damage they can do to a vehicle. Transports don’t even blink a headlight when they encounter a deer.
Once out on the bald prairie I find the landscape to be extremely boring, but I’m always quick to discover places to stop. Granny’s Saskatoonberry pie with a scoop is a welcome relief following mile after endless mile of wheat, and Shae’s Ice Cream Oasis is the perfect place for taking a well-deserved break.
Unfortunately, on my most recent early morning drive-by it was closed.
Update August 2010: Shea’s has been closed. No idea why. It was a great little place to stop, enjoy some ice cream and talk to the owner about farming.