Highland Creek Watershed (Hague & Cedarbrook Parks)

cute little waterfall
Sometimes you can find beauty in the most unexpected places.  A recent trip in an old neighbourhood of Scarborough East took me by surprise as looking through my camera's eyes.  

Hague and Cedarbook Parks are part of new efforts to restore the Highland Creek Watershed.  There are 6 separate neighbourhood greening projects as part of this urban watershed that covers a land space of about 85 kilometres.  

Each neighbourhood has their own responsibility to the project.  The residents nearby Hague and Cedarbrook parks planted native trees in and around the area.  This, I was told "not only beautifies the neighbourhood, but also shelters the surrounding homes from the heat in the summer, and winds in the winter" which helps reduce energy bills.      

What is a watershed you might ask?  Simply put, it's just an area of land that catches the rain and snow and drains it into our rivers, streams, marshes, and eventually into our lakesA better way of thinking of it is that it is  like a filter for our fresh water supply.  This is why it's so important to maintainThere are literally hundreds of parks in Toronto, Ontario and each one does it's part.  

The time of year is Autumn, but late Autumn when leaves are few, so capturing the one last dying leaf on a tree can be symbolic sometimes, like the one last maple leaf that was captured.  

I think even for a watershed, this cute little waterfall is still quite nice, even if I did give the photo a little tweek :)  There were also dozens of wooden bird houses set along the paths to keep native birds safely in their own habitat.  There will be more on this further on, in exploring Toronto.


CN Tower and The Rogers Centre

  I wondered when I would get around to mentioning the obvious when 'exploring Toronto'.  The CN Tower and Rogers Centre is about as commercial as a Walt Disney movie for kids.  This drive by shooting I took on the QEW heading west was too good to not write about.  To tell you the truth, I was surprised any of the pictures came out at all...

The CN Tower and Rogers Centre now go together, hand in hand like bread and butter and believe me it offers plenty of 'bread n butter' to Toronto's Tourism and Commerce.  Well the CN Tower was once the tallest free-standing structure in the world, and that record held for a few decades until Dubai had built 'the Burj Kalifa' which was completed 2010, with Japan's Skytree coming in second by a few hundred metres short built in 2011.  Toronto's CN Tower come in a close 4th now at 553 metres up.  I remember  taking my two sons there when they were young and we had the most amazing day!! We saw a 3-D movie half way up the tower in the HIMALAMAZON Motion Theatre.  It's a ride that displays a 3-D film for 15 minutes while the seat rocks you back and forth and side to side in sync with the movie! Now they've added other attractions here like a 2.5 inches of glass over 342 metres over the ground, Skypod and the Edgewalk.  The existing 360 Revolving restaurant is still in full swing, but not at all like back in the 80's when we were 'burning up the dance floor' :)

Aside from its recreational uses, the CN Tower has more practical and necessary uses as a TV-radio communications tower.

Next to it is the 'Rogers Centre'.  Although Rogers used the power of money and bidding power to buy the commercial rights to the building, thus advertising their namesake, it will always be SKYDOME to me. That was in 1989.  This is home to the Toronto Blue jays and the Toronto Argos, but I'm not a sports fan in the least.    Rogers Centre, also has  been known to host fairs and conventions.  In fact, the 'Skydome' will be hosting the 2015 Pan American Games for the opening and closing ceremonies.  I know that seems like a long way off, but you'll be amazed how fast time flies.

Westcliffe Falls - Hamilton

I have been down in Chedoke Valley (Radial Trail) a few times since last winter, but haven't seen Westcliffe Falls yet.  You can hear the water from up top (Scenic Drive/Paradise Rd) coming into the gorge, but you can’t actually see anything from up there.   

There wasn't much of a flow to her at this time of year, but it promises to never dry up!  Westcliffe is one of several waterfalls you’ll see if you take the Iroquoia trail off Chedoke Radial.    It’s a terraced, ribbon cascade that stands about 15 metres high and has a wide chest of about 3 metres.  

The easiest way to get to it, is to go down the steel stairway (about 300 steps) and walk up the dirt footpath located on the left embankment from Lower Westcliffe / Lower Cliffview.  You will see it up on your right side once you are over the top.  

I took the hard way down and instead of using the stairs, I dragged and skidded myself down the side of the embankment wall until I reached the bottom of the gorge.  After a few cuts, scrapes and bruises, using the staircase (which is what I was trying to avoid) seems like a better choice....and a safer one!

Although the terrain is very rugged and sparse, there are still some very scenic views down in the valley here.  One of which is the really neat tiered staircase that has been carved out by glaciers as well.  This area would be best viewed though in the spring/summer or perhaps early autumn. 

more notes:
See Lower Cliffview Falls / Lower West on this blog  -  is a 4 metre high and 3 metre wide classic cascade waterfall found just north of the Cliffview Falls.

Albion Falls - Hamilton

Albion Falls is a great little waterfall located in Hamilton's east end.  It's a popular focal point of the King's Forest and has a year round flow so you won't be disappointed like some of the other waterfalls in Hamilton, which have a seasonal flow onlyThere's a nice hike here as well through the King's Forest.   

Although I prefer more of a curtain-like cascade, or a secluded waterfall, Albion is still a great one to view, especially for the first time.  It's very accessible, as it has a parking lot right across the street. There is still quite a tricky hill to go down, but for the most part it shouldn't be too much of a challenge to get a bird's eye view, front and centreYou'll notice right away why it is categorized as a complex cascade as it has multi-level tiers and makes for a nice backdrop for simple wedding pictures.  I wouldn't suggest bringing the whole wedding party here, but certainly a pre-wedding romantic shot would be nice, which I've seen here plenty of times.  

There are many different vantage points for picture taking here, but for me it's been over-photographed, so it isn't a favorite of mine anymore.   It's kind of like that favorite song that gets played too much on the radio and you find yourself not wanting to hear it anymore!  Like I said for the first time viewer though, this is always a great start!

Click for some really interesting  historic facts about this 19 metre high waterfall I never knew about until now!  

Battlefield House Museum

The Battlefield Monument is a pretty ominous tower and pretty hard to miss when you're driving along the Centennial Parkway in Hamilton.  Located just east of the parkway off of King Street West, is the site of the Battlefield House Museum and Park.  

The monument was built just after the turn of the century to honour the British crown as well as to honor the soldiers in the Battle of Stoney Creek.  This was also to act as a reminder to all future generations of the impact of another important war.  The War of 1812.  It was a time where communities were active in improving themselves by building awareness through education (libraries) and history (museums).

Right now isn't the best time to go here as they are under restorations to the Gage House, but you are still able to view the grounds anytime to take pictures.  Free for now. 

The city's Tourism and Cultural division has finally finished the restoration of the Gage House (Battlefield Museum) and although many structural reconstructions will continue for another few years, the doors will open once again to the public on Tuesday November 27, 2012.  If not for anything else, I strongly believe in supporting historical places. Without preserving our history, we will have no foundation for a solid future.

Click here to find out more about the Battlefield House and the Battle of Stoney Creek

The Moment of Silence - Whom Do We Remember


My grandmother was a great woman.  Born, Lillian Groombridge in Ramsgate, England in the winter of 1906.  The onset of the Great War in the not so distant future was not felt yet.  She was the youngest of 6 children to her mother Martha and father Thomas.  Her father Thomas Groombridge worked hard in the shipyard in the Ramsgate Harbour.  At that time, Ramsgate was a small but beautiful town with a good port, located downtown.  Above the marina, there was  a chandelery, a sail loft, several marine shops and the Royal Temple Yacht club.  

Lillian loved to swim in the harbour, she told me.  I knew she must have many stories to tell about World War I, and before she passed on, I was able to document everything into a story about her life.  I can't share it all with you now, but in honour of Remembrance Day, I will share with you some of her memories leading up to Armistice 1918.

Lillian was 8 years old when she recalls a family friend coming over to have breakfast with her father.  She never understood at the time what conversation had transpired but the year was 1914, and Oscar had with him a newspaper that brought some bad news to her otherwise jovial father.  It was the first time her father had asked her to leave the table before she was finished eating.  (The Daily Mail and the Times report the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand..)

My grandmother had told me that within weeks there were so many changes in all of their lives, and those changes would only get worse over the next several years.  

Within weeks of the assassination, Austrian authorities arrest and interrogate three members of the 'Black Hand' in Sarajevo.  It was discovered that three members of Serbia were behind the whole plot to have Franz Ferdinand killed.  Germany announces full support with Austro-Hungary if they wish to take reprisals against Serbia.  But Austro-Hungary decide that they will take it one step further, and made 15 demands on the Serbian Government to which Serbia refused saying it would be against their Constitution, and criminal in law.  So Serbia reaches out for Russia for help and Russia agreed.  Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia.  Russia mobilizes its forces supporting Serbia, and Germany then declared war on Russia.  This is how it all began...

My grandmother recalls: (taken from the excerpts of my book,"Lillian")

(The sunshine reflected on the corner of the kitchen cabinet, bouncing light onto the small table from where Martha and Thomas were in a somber discussion.  The year is 1917 and the war escalates worldwide)


"This is serious, Martha.  Very very bad.  The children will be told – tonight when I come home from work.   And no swimming, period!  They aren’t allowed to cross the fence by the beach.  Lillian’s been asking me lately, to come down to the Harbour and I can't allow that, you know.  It isn’t even safe there any more.  We’ve been given instruction in case of an air raid.  Well, I’ve got to go."(raises from the chair and kisses her head)

"I don't see how the war between Germany and Russia will affect us here!  I can't understand all of this.  I am  sure that England won’t get involved.  Surely this won’t affect us here"

THOMAS (buttoning his work shirt)
The Germans declared war on France, and Sir Grey, Britain's foreign secretary, warned Germany that Britain would go to war if Belgium is invaded...

She told me she was only 6 years old, when one of her teachers had taught her how to swim.  From that day on, she remembers swimming each and every day, during windstorms and even rainfalls.  But the rusted out 'Danger' sign and the barbed fence had kept her away but sometimes she defied the rules and went into the waters anyways but not without punishment.  On this very warm day in July of 1917, when Lilly was 11 she had set out to the beach without telling anyone.  Her father's pleasant countenance had long been gone replacing it with a bitter and scowling man.  As she left the house, her father had yelled for her to once more to stay off the beach.  Then it happened:

Suddenly it came..that crushing, horrifying sound of the air raid siren blasted throughout the house

These are the times when a mother cannot dare speak to her children.  When she cannot show her real self.   When she needs to be stronger than she is.  For to give yourself truly to them would frighten them, perhaps even more than her own fear.  War is something that Martha was unprepared for.  Something all of us are never prepared for.  The uncertainty of what she felt, wanting to lock herself and her family in a world of protective love, never to let them out of her sight, until peace upon the earth once again.  

(Martha insipidly holding a tea towel looking out the window)  The children all huddle in the center of the parlor room, looking to her for answers)when suddenly she realized Lillian was missing..

She was in the water of the Ramsgate Harbor when the overhead planes had flown.  The air raid sirens could be heard in the distance and grew louder and louder as she came up from under the waters depth.  She saw streams of bullets land across the water making a sound like, "pa-choo-choo" that she recalls.  She saw men land to their knees and fall forward and others screaming in pain holding wounds.  Shocked and afraid, she lowered herself under the water and wished it all away, swimming quietly away..

For months to follow, Lillian and her family were sensitive to every crack, sound and siren and took cover and shelter at school, on the streets and at home. In the end, everyone in her family was spared, but she had already lost friends, neighbours and teachers at such a young age.  

Final piece taken from my book, "Lillian" 

-         ACT III – Scene I

Fall/Winter – 1918 - Armistice

Armistice was called on the German government for a cease-fire on 4th October, 1918. After talks had taken place, the Armistice was signed at Compiegne in  France, on 11th November, 1918. Once signed, it was agreed that there would be a Peace Conference that would be held in Paris to discuss the post-war world. From January 12, 1919 to January 20, 1920, leaders representing 75% of the worlds population attended meetings in various locations in and around Paris. Life was finally becoming whole again.  

It was up to all of them to pick up the pieces now.  The war was finally over.


As for my grandmother? She went on to live through two world wars.  She raised 5 children of her own and died at a young age of 94.  There are a great many stories about the Great War that we will hear that will be told.  Its up to us to listen and pass them on and on this day to say We remember.

Good night grandma, where ever you are, I remember.