Baxter Conservation Area

This project was a re-construction of a 20 year old map that had not been updated in many years. There were so many changes it was easier to start from new base material and simply use the old map as a guide. So I copied the City of Ottawa topo files and the latest orthophotos from their website an built a base map. The area is a floodplain of the Rideau river so tracing the contours took about 3 minutes! The resolution of the photos was good enough to trace most of the detail in the open areas and some of the trail network in the trees. I completed most of the field work in the fall of 2010 and completed the final edits just before the first event there last fall.

It is a reasonably large park (1.5 sq. Km) but a large middle part of the map is featureless, marshy woods - dry in the late summer & fall - but thick with undergrowth and deadfall. Fortunately, there is a good trail network with boardwalks over the wet areas that connect the good terrain at the east and west ends. It is an ideal area for new orienteers, a great place for a BBQ (with beach), and a pretty good area for sprints.

I didn't take my own photos of the park but here are a couple I snitched from Google. It is a very well managed park with beautiful hiking trails and many supervised nature programs for students.

  Above is a 1.1 Km snippet from the map that includes most of the relevant features for review. It's an ISOM standard map with a few special features.

For the boardwalks in the woods I borrowed the ISSOM (sprint) paved path symbol. For the docks and floating platforms I used the light brown (non-traffic) area symbol with the thin bounding line. You can see that I used the dark brown (traffic) symbol for the parking lots. The dark green pine plantation at the east end is surrounded by mowed lawn - including between the rows. The number of rows is correct but the gaps in the rows are just a rough guess. They are slowly growing together. Could it be used for a maze if it was mapped precisely? Yes, with some out of bounds ribbon it could be a great maze. Maybe for next summer's meet. : )

In the larger snippet at left you can see more clearly that I pull back all green areas from the trails for readability. That is a technique that I use for maps of any scale. Likewise, I minimize the use of the "distinct boundary" symbol when it may obscure other features.

Not entirely successful here as you can see in lower wooded area. Probably should have pulled the path away from the DB symbol at the SE corner just a touch.  I could also have made the gap between the two well-defined little cedar copses near the trail more obvious. But then the relative size or position of the copses may be compromised. Decisions, decisions. The little "boardwalks" are little bridges.

Besides updating an old map for the regular orienteeing crowd, it was important for the Centre to have a good map for their "wayfinding" program. Scores of students from around the region are introduced to orienteering through this program and the approach taken by the staff is refreshing. Students are taught how to read the map, understand all the symbols, and how the wayfinding challenge works. Initially compasses are not used. The students run a score-O course by only map reading. Using a compass is only introduced to older students who want to run an intermediate course.

Below is one of the novice challenges I helped set up. Now, how do we get these students out to a regular O-meet?