A writer's journal and photography blog documenting 900km of hiking End-to-End on the Bruce Trail from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Tobermory, Canada
This part of the Niagara section of the Bruce Trail is more urban than the rest, running as it does beside the greens of the Royal Niagara Golf Club, following the Third Welland Canal down to the current Canal at the Glendale lift bridge, and then winding through the Glendale neighbourhood and Brock University in St. Catharines. But there is plenty to see.
A hike highlight for Ian came not long into our walk, as we turned north to follow the remnant waterway of the historic Third Welland Canal. You can still see the skilled masonry of locally quarried and cut stone that was used to build the 26 lock system from Port Dalhousie on Lake Ontario, to Port Colborne on Lake Erie. The Third Canal was in operation from 1881 to 1932, when it was replaced by the present day canal to accommodate the ever-increasing size of the grain and steel industry lakers and international merchant vessels. Up on the trail the old stone bollards still stand as testament to the great turn of the century vessels that tied up there while waiting to move through the locks.
Further along the trail you enter St. Catharines proper over the Glendale Avenue vertical lift bridge, and turn south to follow the present day canal up to the railway bridge. A slight detour from the main trail rewarded us with another hike highlight, this time for me; instead of the sharp turn for the main trail, continue south on the Bert Lowe side trail along the canal to the viewing area for the twin locks of Welland Canal Lock 7. It’s a perfect place to stop and eat your picnic.
We arrived there just in time to see one of Algoma Central Marine’s vessels, the Peter R. Creswell, (formerly the Algowest) coming through the locks on it’s way to Lake Ontario. I love the big lakers! The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway has maps of vessels in transit which you can get to via BoatNerd‘s vessel passage page. If you go, you can plan ahead accordingly. After lunch, and a short walk through the west part of St. Catharines, we entered the grounds of Brock University. The forest was lovely and cool. Tall well-spaced stands of oak and a high canopy gave us shelter from the heat, and there wasn’t a soul around but us and the squirrels. Or so we thought.
“NO. I don’t do snakes.”
Ian, resolutely comfortable with his ophidiophobia, refused to take the shot. He stamped his boot on the trail instead to make the thing go away. No matter. I saw several along our route sunning themselves in the leaf litter. I had my iPhone with me — always good to have a back up when your photographer goes on strike! We could tell that the microclimate and soil were slightly different from where we were last week. The wild leeks were still green and abundant here.
I was right when I wrote last week about the Mayapples. Every one of the nodding green parasols I peeked beneath hid a single white bloom, each prettier than the next. Eventually I had to lie down on the forest floor to see them all at once. As a child, I thought there was magic in them — that they came alive and danced with each other in the evening when no one was looking.
We didn’t see any trilliums. But we still saw a lot of bloom. Thornapple and pink honeysuckle were everywhere. And celandine, wild strawberry, sensitive fern and Herb Robert geraniums hugged the trail around Lake Moodie.
After over 4 1/2 hours of walking, I think I may have to admit that my favourite spot on this trail was right at the end. We crossed the bridge across the south end of Lake Moodie almost at a run; we were so eager to ditch our boots, strip off our socks and plunge our tired feet into the water. It was freezing cold, and ahhhh! did it every feel good! Even Kelso agreed.
We haven’t set our plans for this weekend yet, but we’re looking forward to the next stretch of the route through the Short Hills.
Until then, Happy Trails!
Louise & Ian