Summer and Waterfalls    

  With the school’s yearbook safely uploaded to the publisher, I can now go back to more routinely posting tidbits of geography. I’ve chosen to “go local” for this post, so apologies to the many readers outside of southern Ontario…

As yet another thunderstorm rolls and bellows overhead, my thoughts turn to the swollen rivers around here. We’ve had more rain than usual; the parks are green, the gardens filled with colour and the rivers high – a great time to go waterfalling – observing the waterfalls, that is, as caution must be exercised around flowing water.
Ontario has one waterfall renowned around the world – Niagara – but there are dozens of others scattered around the province, especially in relation to the Niagara Escarpment. With the escarpment cutting through and around it, Hamilton, Ontario is known as the City of Waterfalls with more than 100 (!) cascades in the surrounding area (maps here). My favourites include Tews Falls, Webster’s Falls in Dundas and Tiffany Falls in Ancaster. Down Stoney Creek way there’s the Devil’s Punchbowl and, on the east “mountain”, where I grew up, visit Albion Falls. All of these are accessible along the Bruce Trail – Canada’s longest and oldest public footpath. In fact, it could be called the trail of waterfalls!

Two websites I turn to for information about waterfalls in this part of the country are Go Waterfalling: Great Lakes Waterfalls & Beyond and the website that supports the book by Mark Harris and George Fischer, Waterfalls of Ontario. Each website has excellent information, maps and details. At Go Waterfalling,there are excellent maps well organized by region and scale including the five Great Lakes, all of Canada and the USA. The label on each map is linked to detailed write-ups for each waterfall and links to the pages of nearby waterfalls – very helpful for planning visits. Waterfalls of Ontario has a slightly different design, using Google maps with pop-up windows, each with a photo and links to longer descriptions. There are also some very helpful lists of waterfalls on their Inventory page (although I notice some of the links are dead; hopefully it’s just temporary).

 For a list of types of waterfalls, try the Wikipedia page or visit the more in-depth article at National Geographic Education. I found a helpful one-page visual guide, shown here, but cannot trace its original source. Of course, what’s a discussion of waterfalls without mentioning sapping – the process of differential erosion that produces waterfalls.

So, if you’re looking for a great outing for the Canada Day holiday on Wednesday, look up a local waterfall and Go Waterfalling! Or, better yet, plan a day trip  visiting a number of falls in the region. Later in the summer, when the water flow becomes safer and the temperatures hit 30°C, get your swim suit on a go for a waterfall plunge. Cool – very cool!

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