Jun 9, 2024

Niagara Butterfly Conservatory

On a lovely spring Saturday morning, we decided to take the GO Train to Niagara Falls. First stop was to a buffet breakfast at the Young Garden buffet and BBQ before taking our bikes along the Niagara parkway to head for the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory, located at 2565 Niagara River Pkwy in Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada.

The first thing you will notice is the gotanical gardens and outdoor cafes, with winding paths surronding one of the largest glass-encased butterfly conservatories in North America.

Although their website touts over 2,000 different butterfly species, I think I have seen approximately 30-40 of them! My husband describes this place as magical! I don't think I would go that far, although I could appreciate this through the eyes of a child as such. I had a new camera with me, and was fumbling too much to try and get a still shot of the butterflies :) They were quite vivacious both in colour and personality! Some species, especially the pretty blue ones would not stay still for a second. I guessed that is evolution - since butterflies have no defense mechanisms, the bright coloured ones are easily spotted by prey, so they need to keep moving. Though I have seen pictures of them landing on people! Sadly, it was way too crowded when we went for this to occur.

You will have your own experience, but I promise you it's like nothing you've experienced nothing like it before. Winding paths of wonderful garden and tropical plants. It's worth two hours of your time, but you may find it rather small and more eager people could probably go through it in an hour. The temperature is very tropical, so you may want to remember a water bottle.

They try to limit the number of people allowed in but could stay as long as I wanted. This is why it becomes very crowded as you would expect it to be for such a popular family experience. Everyone was patient and it was a joy to watch the parents with the young ones teach the kids to be kind and gentle when and if a butterfly landed on them or needed to be pi ked up to prevent being walked on.

I was fortunate to have a few butterflies land on my hand as did my husband. I also took pictures of different species who landed on others.

I am glad I came. Hope you have a chance to enjoy it too someday!

Happy Trails! 

Jun 2, 2024

St. Catherines - Burgoyne Bridge & Merritt Trail

Summer is always a great time in Toronto as our local Speed rail (GO train) can extend over 100 km from the downtown Hub at Union in all directions.

We took the Niagara Falls train to St. Catherine's on Saturday - it was an express train, missing a lot of the less busy stations so it took about 1.5 hrs - which if you know traffic in the 'GTA' that's a great clock time.

A short walk from the St. Catherines GO Train station you will come to the Burgoyne Bridge, originally built in 1915 and praised for its engineering, connected St. Paul Street West to downtown over Twelve Mile Creek Park valley. 

It was replaced by a new bridge in 2016, costing $99 million. The new bridge featured a distinctive arch but had safety concerns due to low railings and a gap between lanes, leading to frequent suicides.

In response, Niagara Region installed 10-foot high, rust-resistant aluminum barriers in 2020 to prevent further incidents. While these improvements enhanced safety, some criticized the demolition of the historic bridge, valuing its heritage significance over the new structure.

If you look down from the bridge you can see the Merritt Trail.  It runs alongside Highway 406, near the Burgoyne Bridge, following the path of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Welland Canals. It honors William Hamilton Merritt, who first proposed the Welland Canal. You'll find remnants of old canal locks and mills along the way.  It's not as peaceful as the Participark Trail due to its proximity to the highway.

The Garden City Skyway is a 40-meter-high section of the QEW between St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake that often closes during bad weather.

Starting from Bradley Street in south St. Catharines and ending at Martindale Pond Road in West St. Catharines, the Merritt Trail spans 11 kilometers, connecting with the Green Ribbon Trail and the Participark Trail. It's popular for walking, hiking, biking, and motorbiking.


Unfortunately, being new to the area and had to time our walk around the train schedule back to Toronto as well as checking out an All You Can Eat restaurant in town (for my AYCEToronto blog of course!), we didn't do the entire trail today. 

Instead we started off 
from Gale Street following the Welland Canal and did a loop south to Richard Pier point and back around again following the creek.

We noticed a lot of litter in parts a long side the park trails in a few places as well as a few vagrants, but the town is pleasant and the people are pleasant.  Times are tough everywhere, especially in the smaller towns where work is in short supply and workers - even less.

We want to come back again once I have a better camera, and I promise I will take more pictures when we do the larger trail.

In the meantime... Happy Trails! :)