Sherman Falls (Photo: Joe Hollick)
Hamilton - The City of Waterfalls
Hamilton has at least 100 waterfalls within its limits, some of which are well known, particularly in local neighbourhoods.
- See list and photos of 81 waterfalls
- See map (pdf)
- Detailed list of 100 Hamilton waterfalls (Word document)
Waterfalls in the City of Hamilton - Introduction
By Stephen D. Head and Robert F. Nixon
The city of Hamilton has long been recognized as the “Steel City” and it has become well known for its “mountain”. Although there are at least ninety-two waterfalls within its limits and although some of these waterfalls are well known, particularly in local neighbourhoods, no one recognized that no other city of substantial size contains so many waterfalls until Jerry Lawton did in 1999 when he introduced the idea of Hamilton as “The City of Waterfalls”.
I came to know about waterfalls first upon hearing stories of my parents who knew Albion Falls as their childhood playground. Later they took me, when I was a child, to Webster’s Falls for family picnics. Recently Albion Falls surfaced on TV as the site of John Dick’s remains in the notorious murder case in the 1940s.
Devil’s Punchbowl in Stoney Creek was the childhood playground of my cousin, Robert Nixon, my brother and me. It then became and has remained a special place, the residence of the joy, adventure and fantasies of youth, the sunny, carefree days of young explorers. About forty-five years later, when my cousin and I began our tour of waterfall sites, we spent some time exploring our old, friendly place again and went back in time to those good, sunny days to dispute Thomas Wolfe’s claim that you can’t go home again. We did.
Battlefield Creek passes through Murray Utter’s farm where we spent a lot of time. Billy Green’s Falls is on the edge of the escarpment there, right beside what is now Centennial Parkway, and we explored Battlefield Creek all the way down to the Monument where we imagined how those big cannons must have boomed. Boys will be boys. Youthful curiosity leads to their education.
And so our experiences were repeated by so many others at other waterfalls in their neighbour-hoods. Personal experiences by thousands of childhood explorations, of family picnics, of casual strolls and of Bruce Trail hikes have led to enjoyment of waterfalls throughout Hamilton.
My survey of waterfalls began in a curious way. In 1995 I read the storyboard at Eugenia Falls, near Flesherton, which proclaimed the waterfall to be 30m high. That made me think of Mad Indian Falls, near Dunedin, which I had encountered twenty years before while hiking along the Bruce Trail. I recalled the Trail Guide stated it is 100 feet high. I also recalled that the visual height of Mad Indian Falls didn’t match or even come close to the height of Eugenia Falls. I decided to measure Mad Indian Falls. I did and the height turned out to be 35.4 feet, not 100. (Much later, in 2002, Jerry Lawton and I measured Eugenia Falls and discovered the height is 20m, not 30m.)
This led to what has become an extensive survey of “Waterfalls on the Niagara Escarpment”. I thought it might eventually develop into a book but I saw no need to rush it. Then, in 2000 Jerry Lawton and his son, Mikal published their book and I thought I had missed the boat as I assumed another waterfall book would have no market. The publication of Mark Harris’s book, Waterfalls of Ontario, in 2003 showed me how wrong that presumption had been.
In 1998 I asked Bob Nixon if he would like to join me in surveying waterfalls.
When I became aware of the publication of Jerry’s book I contacted him. We decided to meet at a waterfall site and that began a friendship which is shared by myself, Bob, Jerry and Mikal. We meet a few times a year at various waterfalls, some new, some previously known.
In 1999 Jerry Lawton made a waterfalls slide presentation to the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. At that time he announced the idea of Hamilton as the “City of Waterfalls” and it should be promoted as such. He suggested the Naturalists’ Club include waterfalls information on their web site tobegin that promotion. He also designated me to provide a waterfalls list, information and a map because he considered my compilation of “Waterfalls on the Niagara Escarpment” to be the most complete and accurate. My liaison began with Brian McHattie with a list of about 30 waterfalls within the old city limits.
“The City of Waterfalls” promotion began to gain increased appeal which resulted in a continuous search to determine how many waterfalls there really were within the expanded city boundaries.
Finally in 2004 Joan Bell, Manager, Grants and Special Projects of the Hamilton Conservation Authority, hired Nadeem Paracha as a Waterfalls Project Planner to locate all the waterfalls in Hamilton. His report was to include criteria, locations, descriptions, measurements, history and photographs. Nadeem assembled a Waterfalls Project Group to glean existing information and ultimately co-ordinate it so that there would be no confusion in the various public sources. The group included myself, Bob Nixon, Joe Hollick and Bill Crawford as well as Nadeem. A contribution was made by Scott Ensminger of North Tonawanda, although he was not part of the group. About 16 or 17 new waterfall sites were added to existing lists.
Long before the Waterfalls Project Group was conceived Scott Ensminger sent a letter to the Hamilton Region Conservation Authority in 1986 requesting information on waterfalls in the area. B. W. Vanderbrug, General Manager of HRCA, replied with a list of 21 known waterfalls and a map showing their locations. Scott met with Mr. Vanderbrug at his office the following spring to clarify some locations. Some of those locations, Stevens Falls in particular, would likely never have been found by the Waterfalls Project Group without reference to B. W. Vanderbrug’s 1986 list and Scott Ensminger’s subsequent work.
In 2005 and 2006 the status of some members of the Waterfalls Project Group changed. Nadeem moved to another conservation authority; I moved to Huntsville, which makes access to Hamilton outings and meetings more difficult. Joe Hollick retired recently so he can devote more time to discover more waterfall sites, with input from others outside the group, and he has been successful in adding many more sites to the continuously growing list. We wonder how many more there can be.
When the City of Hamilton formally decides to promote itself as the “City of Waterfalls” work would likely accelerate in developing access to a number of suitable waterfall sites for tourists as well as interested citizens. Improvements such as directional signage, parking areas, viewing platforms and story-boards, etc. would be made. The next waterfall to receive those improve-ments has been Albion Falls where two viewing platforms were erected in the spring of 2006. Not all waterfalls have sufficiently easy access to permit any development and perhaps it is a good thing that some will remain pristine and can be viewed only by the more adventurous.
See also waterfalls in Burlington at: http://cms.burlington.ca/Page497.aspx