It was now late morning and time to head back to Toronto. I thanked Bob and Connie for their gracious hospitality and for sharing the interesting history of their spacious estate. We packed our cars and started our drive back and stopped at an overpass for a great view over Black Creek which flows out leisurely into Lake Erie. On a gorgeous day with brilliant blue skies we continued our journey through the flat farmlands of Southwestern Ontario towards the City of Hamilton, a city with a metropolitan population of almost 700,000 people. Hamilton is primarily known for its steel and heavy manufacturing industries. It is also an educational centre and home of McMaster University as well as the location of the Royal Botanical Gardens.
Looking out towards the harbour of Port Dover
After a quick drive through downtown Hamilton we continued northwards towards the Niagara Escarpment, a rock formation that stretches all the way from Rochester, New York, through Ontario and Michigan until it peters out in Wisconsin northwest of Chicago. The Niagara Escarpment is a very special nature area that features a variety of unique plant and animal species. As a result it has been designated a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The Bruce Trail is a popular hiking path that follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment for more than 800 km in Ontario. I wanted to show my visitors the beauty of this unique nature area and took them to the Spencer Gorge, part of the Niagara Escarpment, just outside of Dundas.
We parked our vehicle at the entrance of the conservation area and walked just a few steps to admire the thin curtain of Tew’s Falls which provided a perfect view of the sedimentary layers of limestone that makes up the Niagara Escarpment. From here we embarked on a 20 minute hike in the forest high above the gorge to reach Dundas Peak from where we had an astounding view of the City of Hamilton and the Dundas Valley.
Looking west from Dundas Peak
Towards the east Lake Ontario was shimmering in the distance. Given that Ontario’s topography is rather flat, this is one of the best places to get an elevated view over the countryside, and the rock platform on which we stood ended with a vertical precipice over the valley. Given my fear of heights I made sure to stay far enough away from the rock’s edge, but the view was nevertheless breathtaking.
A packed beach at the Burlington Beachway
After this exhilarating experience we continued eastwards towards Burlington, a waterfront community of about 165,000 people on the western edge of Lake Ontario. After a drive through a beautiful heavily treed residential area with many wealthy homes we turned right and stopped at the Burlington Beachway where thousands of people were looking to cool off on the sandy beaches in the northwestern corner of Lake Ontario.
Burlington’s newly renovated waterfront
We also took a walk around Burlington’s recently renovated waterfront and listened to a jazz trio that was playing standard favourites. The waterfront in downtown Burlington is presently undergoing a $17.4 million facelift that will culminate with the opening of the Brant Street Pier in 2009. A beautiful waterfront promenade surrounded by green spaces invites visitors to enjoy the lakefront.
The new pier in the background will be finished in 2009
Our journey back to Toronto continued with a drive along the palatial homes on Lakeshore Avenue in Burlington until we reached Oakville, another important town on Lake Ontario. We stopped briefly at Oakville Harbour for a glimpse of the attractive waterfront and continued on to Mississauga where we made one final waterfront stop to have a look at Toronto’s distant skyline.
Toronto’s skyline viewed with a lot of zoom from Mississauga
My European visitors were remarking how beautiful the different communities and parks on the Lake Ontario shoreline were. Next time we were planning to spend more time in each community. Finally after a long beautiful day of discoveries we were back in Toronto and capped off the evening with a delicious and filling schnitzel dinner at the Country Style Hungarian Restaurant in Toronto’s lively Annex neighbourhood.
A veritable mountain of schnitzel at the Country Style Hungarian Restaurant
By the time we got home we were quite exhausted, but we had thoroughly enjoyed our one and a half day getaway to Southwestern Ontario.
Sail boats in the Oakville Harbour