Man and child walking away from ice-fishing huts on frozen Bay of Quinte.

A recent transfer of records from the Gerry O’Connor Water Treatment Plant of the City of Belleville’s Environmental Services Department turned up a book which was maintained by staff at the plant for 25 years. The volume is labelled ‘Minute Book’, but what it contains is information about regular maintenance operations undertaken at the plant, such as inspections and part replacements.

Alongside these lists, there are pages where the staff recorded annual rainfall and where they noted the dates when the Bay of Quinte froze over each year, and when the Bay was free of ice.  These form an interesting environmental record of the Bay of Quinte, from an unexpected source.

Page of record about ice in the Bay of Quinte.

The ice dates were logged from 1938 to 1959. The earliest the Bay froze over in those years was November 23rd, and the latest was January 8th, with an average date of freezing of December 10th. Mapping the dates on a graph gives us a better idea of the range:

Graph showing dates bay was frozen.

The range for the departure of the ice was March 19th to April 23rd, with an average of April 5th:

Graph showing dates bay was clear of ice.

With trendlines added to these graphs, we can see that even in the mid-twentieth century, the temperature tendency was a warming one, with later freezing and earlier melting dates over time. Perhaps, in another fifty years, a frozen Bay of Quinte will be a rare sight, the memory of it kept alive only in the archives.Ice on the Bay of Quinte around old Bay Bridge.