Hamilton Museum of Steam & Technology

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t all that keen on going into the steam museum. Although I knew it was something great that emerged from the Victorian era (my fave), I was really more enthusiastic about the aesthetic designs and art forms (furniture, clothing, literature, etc.) than that of the more practical kind.

But what a unique experience this was (especially if you have young kids or eager adult minds)! There was a demonstration going on, so just arrived at the right time. There was a family of 4 there with two young children (a boy and a girl, both of which were intelligent and well behaved asking all sort of questions) The guide was personable, and knowledgeable about the mechanics of steam in the technology of its day. 

James McFarlane
This 19th century public work architecture (pump house), looks somewhat like a church from the outside and was designed by Thomas Coltrin Keffer in the mid 1800s. Today it's still in its original form, as it has been perfectly preserved as a historical museum. The two 45 foot high, 70 ton steam engines once pumped the first clean water to the city of Hamilton almost 140 years ago. The engines are oiled every day and there are demonstrations as well daily. 

I have to say that it was really something to see once everything gets going. The sounds of the slow revolutions of the engines and the sights of the huge iron die cast bolts and giant pistons and wheels looming overhead to the very last brick laid which surrounded you. Picture in your mind's eye, how they dragged these huge multi-ton iron and steel parts over the frozen lake in the winter pulled by horses in the freezing cold...everything ...built by hand. We are so fortunate to be born in this time.
You can almost imagine James McFarlane walking up and down the centre hallway upstairs, monitoring every movement, watching every gauge and logging the steam pressure, revolutions and temperatures every hour on the hour for over 51 years. James retired well into his 80's and emigrated to Hamilton from Scotland and became the Chief Engineer of the Public Works department from 1859-1910.
Non Paying Customers
Since the this is the only remaining example of its type in North America, it's worth a visit once in your lifetime..you might see some unexpected visitors onsite too though they neglected to pay their admission :)
Located at 900 Woodward Avenue in Hamilton.

Great Falls and Grindstone Creek

Great Falls in Waterdown, Ontario.  You'll always find a good water flow here if you want to take pictures.  

It's a very accessible waterfall as well located just off the parking log lot off Mill Street (Waterdown becomes Mill Street).  

There's also a decent hike south west of the waterfall in Dundas Valley as well.  Bring your hiking gear, you'll enjoy this one!  he creek is just downstream of Great falls.  As you can see from the pictures the water was very turbulent and rugged today.  

Catch your breath here as you walk through the valley as there are plenty of plateaus of varying levels.   Termed also as 'Smokey Hollow' from the mill town this originated from over a hundred years ago, it gets its water supply from the Grindstone Creek.   

If you have a few hours, you can take this hike along the Bruce Trail and see the escarpment cliffs and in about 15 minutes time, you will get to the Grindstone cascade. 

I wondered why Grindstone would be considered in the list of 'waterfalls', so did some reading up on the 'minimum requirements' in order for it to be so.  Apparently this particular section has a combined drop of 3 metres which means it meets the 'requirement' for criteria of a 3 metre drop.

The Great Smokey Hollow Walk is enjoyed all year long. 

Windfest 2012

Well these people in Ashbridges Bay took on a new meaning to the phrase, ' go fly a kite ' at 'Windfest 2012' 

While travelling on Lakeshore Blvd westward bound on Saturday September 22nd you couldn't help but notice a spectacular array of colourful kites adorning the skies overhead Woodbine Beach.

A brief stop over to take a closer look.  There was a kite shop tent which had any and everything one would need to buy for flying a kite.  Great for a novice or the more serious air lifters.

My fave was the giant blue fish, which I don't mind saying made all the rest pale by comparison, but its not about competition here, is all about creative, interactive fun for them..after a few photos, off exploring again.

Check out more info found here Windfest 2012!

Progreston Falls .. Again!

We went back to Progreston Falls again, for a quick visit to take another look at this beauty in Carlisle.

This area is so peaceful and has a very nostalgic feel to it.  The last time I had photographed the falls from a very unique angle off the left bank while perched on a 45 degree angle!

I find though that getting lower by using the metal staircase will give you a clearer access point to take a good shot, without risking your life or getting wet..  Of course please be careful, as in any waterfall area you never know what to expect.  I found that the best defense is to buy a good pair of rubber boots with solid traction, at least.  I wear hunting boots with vulcanized rubber and have warm neoprene lining and adjustable straps so this is a very good choice when you're buying a pair.

Respect this particular waterfall as I do believe it is designated as private property.  You will find an interesting history with Carlisle.  (search this blog for 'Progreston Falls-Carlisle').

There are some great details on how to get there by clicking Here!

Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

A few more pictures to add of the Forks of Credit Provincial Park.  This park offers a different kind of twist to your usual hiking experience.  Normally when hiking, you travel through forested areas, but this hike was mostly through fields and meadows (my fave!) that surrounds the mouth of a beautiful gorge.
 So there's a variety that's all its own!  You've got staircases along the gorge to challenge yourself as well as the Credit River to enjoy.  There are ruins to explore, waterfalls to photograph and hills to climb, with meadows to enjoy. 
There were families everywhere enjoying this popular hiking destination.  Kids were running along the paths where the grass grew well over their heads.  

This time of year the butterflies are heading to Mexico, where they tend to make their way south.  It's hard to believe that Monarchs can actually make their way there and come back in the spring.  Their lifespan can actually do this for 2 to 3 generations.  Amazing little creatures aren't they? 

I don't usually stand still long enough to catch a glimpse of the variety of birds that have made their homes in the trees here.  There are grass snakes that slither among the trails too, so watch out for them!

The waterfalls, are lovely, and you can take a nice trek down the stairs that bring you closer to the river.  Once back up again, you can rest overlooking Kettle Lake.  The lake was created by glaciers 10,000 years ago.   I will come back again to try and explore more of the trails again.  If you ever get a chance to go, its in Caledon just off Highway 10.  Its a little bit of a distance from the main highway, but I promise you, its worth the search!

R.C. Harris Water Filtration Plant

You might think that looking at a building that filters the city's water supply from the lake would probably look very functional and maybe austere, but then you wouldn't be looking at Toronto's R.C. Harris Filtration Plant.  Ronald Caldwell Harris, was a one-time commissioner of works and city engineer in Toronto.  We take the purification of our drinking water for granted today, but you know it took decades to achieve this.  Associated with the filtration plant, is a 3-kilometre rock tunnel into the lake, a supply tunnel about 20 metres below street level, that stretches across the city, and several reservoirs.  From the filtration plant you can view the Toronto skyline.  You can get here, just off of the Waterfront trail, a little west of Fallingbrook Drive on Toronto's lake shore south of Queen Street east, you will see the Art Deco (1930's) stylized exterior of the Filtration Plant, which serves a functional purpose and is aesthetically beautiful too. (Note: They are doing some renovations / restructuring to the Plant, so pictures do not show top form.)
R.C. Harris Filtration Plant

So beautiful in fact, its appeared in countless movies and TV shows as well as referred to in the words written by Micahel Ondatjee "Skin of the Lion" (see other references of the book in "Bloor/Castlefrank Subway" in this blog).  There was a time that you could take tours inside the building to see the process in action, but this all stopped after the security changes from the aftermath of September 11 ('9-11').

Looking in .. on the outside
Getting to the plant from the beach below is a bit of a climb up, but I learned that the hard way. I saw an old cement staircase that was suspended on the hill, unattached and inundated with graffiti. I climbed up alone, and realized half way up I was more or less stuck.  Imagine the slope was so steep, I literally rested myself against a deeply rooted tree from head to foot, leaning on a 45 degree angle.  Below me was a good 30 metre drop and above me was another 15, so I took a chance.  At my age I should know better, but as long as I am able, I'll probably still continue to find myself between self induced rock spots and hard places!

The climb up...
I pushed off from the comfort of the tree trunk and fell forward to the dark soiled ground and clawed my way to the closest tree root to hang on too.  Found one and used it (hoping it wouldn't give way), and pulled myself ever closer to the top.  Root after secured tree root, I made it exhausted, dirty and safe.  While dusting myself off, a resident of the house who lived on top looked over at me and I looked out at the view below and said, "well that was uneventful..." to which he replied, 'You know just a few metres down the beach is a walkway to the Harris Plant, it probably would have been a lot easier"...we both laughed.  So now you now.  Even if there are no more tours inside, you can still get up close and personal on the outside.

Heads Up: I spoke to the City Superintendent who oversees the Plant operations, who told me that every year in May they have an open house to the public, which gets booked up quickly.  Keep checking for availabilities if interested in the early summer.


On a much sadder note: If you happen to visit this portion of the waterfront trail on the beach front, you may find a memorial for two brothers, aged 17 and 22 that drowned  Sunday August 5th in Lake Ontario.  Full Story posted here