Monday, December 29, 2008

elder trails

A friend sends these meditations to our e-mail, this one seemed good to share here:

Elder's Meditation of the Day - December 25.'08

"When you see a new trail, or a footprint that you do not know, follow it to the point of knowing."
--Grandmother of Charles Eastman, SANTEE SIOUX

We never gain new knowledge or new experience unless we are willing to take risks. It's good to be curious. Also, it pays to be cautious. Walk in balance. The path of the Warrior is filled with opportunities to seek new knowledge. As we travel down the Red Road, we will run into trails of opportunity. Down each of these trails are experiences from which we will learn. Experience plus action is the beginning of knowledge."

Great Spirit, help me to make good choices in choosing only the trails You would have me take.

Friday, December 12, 2008

walking ways to Dundas

A Bus and Hike
by Randy Kay

A recent issue of the local Bruce Trail Association newsletter featured an article about local activist Richard Reble's plea for Bruce Trail hikers to consider the impact of their driving on the environment:

“Richard has concluded that the consumption of a precious fuel supply and the emission of greenhouse gases arising from our hike-related activity is not balanced by other measures we might employ in our daily lives”

As a result Richard is altering his hikes (he's an exuberant hike leader for the club) in order to stay local as much as possible, do “loop hikes,” and provide opportunities for car pooling.

OPIRG's Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC) has been promoting local Bus and Hikes for a few years now, providing a volunteer guide to take people on a bus to hike to local waterfalls like Websters Falls in Dundas, and Sherman Falls in Ancaster.

It's one of the cool things about Hamilton, the proximity to nature, and much of it within easy striking distance by bicycle or a short bus ride. In fact, a car becomes a liability in some respects (parking fees, thefts) making transit a viable alternative.

View Larger Map

So in the interests of expanding car-free options for hikers, click on the interactive map of a four-hour hike (pictured above) from Dundurn Street South (on the #6 Aberdeen bus route) to Dundas Valley, ending at the Pirie/Governor's bus stop (route #52).

I did this hike solo, on a weekday afternoon; this hike is a good workout, lots of hills and some tricky footing in places, but the payoffs are many. You will encounter several waterfalls including the magnificent Sherman Falls, take in grand views of Hamilton from the mountain crest, and you are likely to see wildlife, and not a lot of humans.

As Colin Fletcher, author of “The Compete Walker IV,” has noted " an altogether positive and delectable addiction." To feed the need, take a tour of the route on google earth, if you dare, or better yet, take a hike the next nice day (at your own risk, of course).

There are plenty more bus and hike adventures, so watch for more suggestions (and send your own) in the future!

Check out tlc on the web at, or Randy's site.

OPIRG McMaster's volunteer coordinator Randy Kay has a bad knee, but a good sense of direction, with memberships at the Bruce Trail Association, and the Hamilton Conservation Authority, which pretty much covers the area's best footpaths. He is a volunteer with OPIRG's TLC working group.

[this article reprinted from the OPIRG McMaster newsletter and the web site, with permission]

Monday, November 10, 2008

valley vision

Looking forward to a green future in Dundas Valley? - A public open house Tuesday, November 25, 2008, from 6:30pm to 9pm at the Dundas Town Hall (60 Main Street, Dundas) welcomes your views and ideas on how to protect Dundas Valley for the next 50 years:

This strategy is being developed by the Hamilton Conservation Authority to ensure the sustainability of the Dundas Valley. This 50 year plan will protect this “Jewel in Hamilton’s Crown” for future generations. The Vision includes the preservation of the Valley’s natural heritage and ecological diversity, while enhancing the quality of life for Valley residents, businesses, and visitors.

Download the poster here.

photo: late afternoon in Dundas Valley, Sawmill Trail, by Randy Kay

Friday, November 7, 2008

robot walk

AP Photo/Katsumi Kasahara
A researcher shows off Honda Motor Co.'s experimental walking assist device with bodyweight support system as the device is unveiled in Tokyo Friday, Nov. 7, 2008. The experimental device of a bicycle seat connected by mechanical frames to a pair of shoes is designed to support bodyweight, reduce stress on the knees and help people get up steps and stay in crouching positions.
Honda creates walking machine

Imagine a bicycle seat connected by mechanical frames to a pair of shoes for an idea of how the new wearable assisted-walking gadget from Honda works.

The experimental device, unveiled Friday in Tokyo, is designed to support bodyweight, reduce stress on the knees and help people get up steps and stay in crouching positions.

Honda envisions the device being used by workers at auto or other factories. It showed a video of Honda employees wearing the device and bending to peer underneath vehicles on an assembly line.

Engineer Jun Ashihara also said the machine is useful for people standing in long lines and who run around to make deliveries.

"This should be as easy to use as a bicycle," Ashihara said at Honda's Tokyo headquarters. "It reduces stress, and you should feel less tired."

To wear it, you put the seat between your legs, put on the shoes and push the on button. Then just start walking around.

The system has a computer, motor, gears, battery and sensors embedded in it so it responds to a person's movements, according to Honda Motor Co.

Pricing and commercial product plans are still undecided. Japan's No. 2 automaker will begin testing a prototype with its assembly line workers later this month for feedback.

The need for such mechanical help is expected to grow in Japan, which has one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world.

Other companies are also eyeing the potentially lucrative market of helping the weak and old get around. Japan is among the world's leading nations in robotics technology, not only for industrial use but also for entertainment and companionship.

Earlier this year, Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. showed a Segway-like ride it said was meant for old people.

Japanese robot company Cyberdyne has begun renting out in Japan a belted device called HAL, for "hybrid assistive limb," that reads brain signals to help people move about with mechanical leg braces that strap to the legs.

Honda has shown a similar but simpler belted device. It has motors on the left and right, which hook up to frames that strap at the thighs, helping the walker maintain a proper stride.

That device, being tested at one Japanese facility, helps rehabilitation programs for the disabled, encouraging them to take steps, said Honda official Kiyoshi Aikawa.

Honda has been carrying out research into mobility for more than a decade, introducing the Asimo humanoid in 2000.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

all lined up - finally...

One of Dundas Walks' first interventions was to request that the sidewalk ramps actually meet up with the painted crosswalks...and it has finally happened at the corner in question - Hatt Street at Ogilvie in Dundas ON, photographed on Halloween.
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end to end hikers

Riding along the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail this morning, I happened upon a rest station consisting of a folding table, some jugs of orange juice, cups, and two volunteers from the local Bruce Trail association. They were dressed warmly as they waited in support of the End To End hikers making their way through the Iroquois section of the Bruce Trail (Grimsby to Kelso Conservation Area).
This section involves four days walking, with a bus to ferry people back to their cars at the end of each day's hike - hikers go at their own pace, and the Bruce Trail provides "sweepers" who bring up the rear, ensuring no one gets left behind.
I'm kicking myself for missing this opportunity to earn a Bruce Trail end to end badge. As a member of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, I guess I'll have to pay more attention to the reading material that comes in the post.
But I am thankful for the two volunteers at that table at the Dundas Valley Conservation Area Trail Centre, for all the useful information - I will be looking forward to next fall's end to end in the Iroquois section.

Monday, October 27, 2008

anonymous feet

Father and daughter strike a pose for the Boots on the Bruce fundraiser, here at the junction of the Dundurn Stairs and the Bruce Trail in Hamilton Ontario. The funding run by Keen Canada ends with October, so if you've been holding off, now's the time! Take photos of your boots on the Bruce Trail and send them in. For each pair, Keen is donating $5.00 to the Bruce Trail Conservancy.

The one I am sending them is from the same walk, but with a couple of women who were "doing" the stairs as exercise - they gamely joined us to lend their arch support for the cause.

Thank you ladies! Thank you Keen Canada, thank you Bruce Trail!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

speed walk

vehicles ... created more distances than they helped to bridge; more time was used by the entire society for the sake of traffic than was 'saved'....

Speedy vehicles of all kinds render space scarce. They drive wedges of highways into populated areas, and then extort tolls on the bridge over the remoteness between people that was manufactured for their sake. This monopoly over land turns space into car fodder. It destroys the environment for feet and bicycles.

Ivan Illich


“vehicles ... created more distances than they helped to bridge; more time was used by the entire society for the sake of traffic than was 'saved'....
“Speedy vehicles of all kinds render space scarce. They drive wedges of highways into populated areas, and then extort tolls on the bridge over the remoteness between people that was manufactured for their sake. This monopoly over land turns space into car fodder. It destroys the environment for feet and bicycles.”

Ivan Illich

Thursday, October 16, 2008

South Shore Trails in Cootes

Thur Oct 23 2008
4:30 PM to 8:00 PM The Royal Botanical Gardens Conservation Department is hosting an open house to present new features that are being integrated into the existing trail system. Find out what proposed changes could affect you and your trail use. There will be several booths set up highlighting ongoing projects and planning along the south shore of Cootes Paradise. Location: Westdale Secondary School Cafeteria, 700 Main St. W, Hamilton, Region: Hamilton, Sponsor: Royal Botanical Gardens Contact Info: Lindsay Burtenshaw 905-527-1159 ext 257

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spencer Creek Trail

The Creek and the Trail together, the way they should be! These warm October afternoons aren't going to last long. This from the lower Spencer Creek Trail in Dundas.
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Monday, October 13, 2008

another for the bruce trail conservancy

On the Bruce Trail in Dundas on Thanksgiving day - another one to send to Keen Canada, and another $15 or the Bruce Trail Conservancy (find out more about this great win-win fundraiser for the Bruce Trail here).
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a path to thanks

Thanks for the colour, the light, the ever-changing landscape, that the trails take us through familiar places. We met lots and lots of people out hiking this Thanksgiving day, in the Indian Summer. Enjoy it while it lasts.
The photo taken from the McCormack Trail, Oct. 13, 2008.
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Saturday, September 20, 2008

stick it to the man!

Walking through a forest often presents ample opportunity to find a companion in the form of a dead branch, otherwise known as a walking stick, or a staff.

A good walking stick is strong and straight, comfortable to hold, and takes some weight off the legs, helps with up and down hills, provides a balancing point when crossing streams, and can even be used as a weapon I suppose, if something came up...

I have several, usually of the length shown (short ones can end up stabbing you in sensitive areas if, for example, it gets stuck in a rut on the trail)

When I have lost a favourite walking stick, I have felt the loss as though it were a good friend, having travelled many kilometers of trails together.
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Monday, September 8, 2008

carrying places

This Cargo Cart is a versatile little puppy: you can attach it to the seatpost of your bicycle with a clip on the handle, or use it as a hand cart - it can haul a lot, and a bungee cord can add some stuff to the top on the lid. I use this regularly to carry 40 pounds of water from an artesian well in the Dundas Valley, but it can do groceries, trips to the beer store, and even stand-in as a make-shift wheel-barrow to carry soil.

It's an all terrain vehicle for the human powered. Beats a bundle buggy in mud anyday. Snow banks crumble under the 20 inch bicycle tires. I borrow mine from Mac Green at McMaster. I'm not sure where they ordered them from, but I found this Canadian site that makes them here.

Monday, September 1, 2008


Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts.

Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Friday, August 22, 2008

local news on pedestrian fatality on Governor's

Ongoing safety concerns plague Ogilvie intersection

89-year-old struck and killed crossing street last week

Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News.
Published on Aug 22, 2008

Pedestrian safety concerns about the intersection of Governor's Road and Ogilvie Street were raised at a Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan public meeting 10 weeks before 89-year-old Marjorie Rivers was struck and killed by a truck just west of the intersection.

City of Hamilton staff is reviewing several possible recommendations to improve safety for pedestrians at Ogilvie and Governor's, a busy area for residents of two high-rise apartment buildings and hundreds of seniors.

Hamilton police continue an investigation of the accident, which has already led to a careless driving charge against an unnamed 55-year-old Dundas man. A coroner's investigation also continues.

Advance left turns in up to four directions, road widening, a roundabout, and timing adjustments of pedestrian and traffic signals are among recommendations a city staff committee is reviewing. Project co-coordinator Natasha D'Souza said feasible recommendations will be brought to a fall public meeting. On June 5, the intersection was the subject of several public comments during a presentation on preliminary studies of transportation in the centre of Dundas.

Governor's and Ogilvie was one of only two Dundas intersections projected to be a problem in both low population growth and high population growth.

According to a summary of public comments from the meeting, "special attention" was requested for this particular intersection "because many seniors are crossing there." One resident reported a near accident at the intersection while traveling to the transportation meeting that very night. Another comment noted excessive traffic volumes at Governor's and Ogilvie and requested "pedestrian crossing provisions."

Mrs. Rivers was apparently returning home to her apartment in Governor's Estates at 50 Governor's Rd. after a shopping trip to the grocery store on the northeast corner of the busy intersection, about 11:35 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 14.

She was struck by a Union Gas truck turning left onto Governor's Road from Ogilvie Street and proceeding westbound on Governor's away from Dundas. She suffered head and chest injuries. Some of her belongings remained scattered on the sidewalk, past the marked crosswalk.

Mrs. Rivers was taken by paramedics to Hamilton General Hospital, the destination for all adult trauma injuries. The trip took 11 minutes, passing McMaster University Medical Centre on the way, arriving at the hospital at 12:09 p.m. Hamilton Emergency Medical Services reported no delay in getting Mrs. Rivers to the trauma team.

Mrs. Rivers died the next afternoon. The cause of death has not been released.

For area residents, the dangers of walking in the area of Governor's Road and Ogilvie Street are well-known.

When he heard about Mrs. Rivers, Governor's Green apartment resident Andy Cranbury immediately thought it was an elderly woman in his building, at 101 Governor's Rd. who walks to the same grocery store nearly every day.

"We support a delayed (or) advanced light at Ogilvie because at certain times of the day, making left turns from any direction can be difficult," said Mr. Cranbury, a board member of the Governor's Green Tenant's Association.

He noted several threats to pedestrians in the area, particularly the many seniors who walk there.

"This area requires full attention regardless of whether you are walking or driving," he said. "...all the distractions for drivers and walkers, looking both ways, knowing you must move when the opening allows, not wanting to wait another light or two, adds to the danger.

"Walking and bicycle riding along these areas is a life-threatening venture at the best of times. In an era of encouragement of physical fitness, walking and biking, speed limits are not being lowered. I guess it's a matter of respect for one another for the laws of physics. You know, a vehicle doesn't have to be going very fast to inflict serious damage on a human body."

Safety problems

Dundas resident and transit activist Randy Kay discussed pedestrian safety problems at Governor's and Ogilvie last summer on his Governor's Road weblog.

At the time, Mr. Kay suggested wider sidewalks at Ogilvie and Governor's, noting the existing pedestrian walkways are too narrow, and only exist on one side of Ogilvie.

"And why aren't we talking about traffic calming here?" he wrote.

"Think boldly. Eliminate one bridge (on Ogilvie, north of Governor's) and open Spencer Creek to view. It would make the intersection more beautiful, not to mention safer."

Mr. Kay stated closing the bridge would eliminate some turning problems for vehicles trying to turn west onto Governor's from Ogilvie -- the same turn that ended in Mrs. Rivers' death last week.

He observed drivers attempting that maneuver "often aggressively turn to make the short green light."

Rod Aitchison of the City of Hamilton's traffic engineering department said there is no advance left turn signal in any direction at Governor's Road and Ogilvie. He said pedestrians are also permitted to cross on a green light, while traffic can turn left through their path.

"The timing of the pedestrian signal meets the required standards," Mr. Aitchison said. "The amount of time is tailored to the specific intersection."

He would not say how long drivers have to complete a left turn or how long pedestrians have to cross the street, and how those times compare to other intersections.

Mr. Kay, also a member of Transportation for Livable Communities, said the group opposes "so-called" roadway improvements that would include two-way left-turn lanes along Governor's Road and widening of Governor's Road.

He said the closure of Ogilvie Street north of Governor's Road is his own idea.

"It would allow the extension of a pedestrian area along Artist's Way right up to the creek at Governor's. With all the senior residences there, it would aid the elderly in accessing shopping in a safer environment."

Dr. Jack Stanborough, the regional supervising coroner, said all non-natural deaths are investigated by the coroner's office.

He said the decision to bypass the closest hospital at McMaster and take Mrs. Rivers to Hamilton General was the right one.

"If she was my mother, I would have wanted her triaged and treated the way she was," Dr. Jack Stanborough said.

He noted the pedestrian safety issues at the intersection, and also said the cause of Mrs. Rivers' death would not be released without consent from her next-of-kin.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

sad update: pedestrian struck dies

89-year-old woman dead after being hit by utility vehicle

DUNDAS - An elderly woman has died in hospital after being hit by a utility company pickup truck late last week.

The 89-year-old woman succumbed to her injuries around 4 p.m. Friday, confirmed Det. Const. Bob Blankstein with the Hamilton Police’s Collision Reconstruction Unit.

Police would not release her name today.

She was struck when crossing Governor’s Road at Ogilvie Street around 11:35 a.m. Thursday by a Union Gas vehicle.

The pickup, heading northbound, turned left onto Governor’s Road, where it struck the woman who was crossing the street on a green light, police said.

She was hit on the left side of her body, suffering head and chest injuries, Blankstein said.

She was taken to Hamilton General Hospital Thursday and remained in critical condition until she died.

Officers with the Collision Reconstruction Unit are still interviewing witnesses who saw the accident.

No charges have been laid at this point in time, Blankstein said.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

bad news on Governor's

Elderly pedestrain struck in Dundas

An 89-year-old Dundas woman is in hospital with significant head and chest injuries after she was struck while crossing Governor’s Road at Ogilvie Street just before noon today.

Police have not released the woman’s condition yet but say she is undergoing a CAT scan to determine the extent of her head injuries. According to Staff Sergeant Dominic Palmier, a northbound Union Gas utility pickup turning left onto Governor’s Rd. collided with the woman who was crossing Governor’s Rd. on the green light.

“The pedestrian had stepped off the curb and had taken a couple of steps when she was struck,” Palmier said.

The intersection will remain closed in all directions for the rest of the afternoon.

falling in love (with water falls)

Immediately after work on Thursday, two of us decide to embark on an adventure to Sherman Falls, despite severe thunderstorm warnings.

The 5C bus that comes through the McMaster campus takes us up Wilson Street to Rousseau Street in Ancaster, a 15 minute ride to “probably the most confusing intersection you will ever find” according to my travel companion (make sure you push the pedestrian crossing button); but a few steps away, by the parking lot for the swank Ancaster Old Mill restaurant, we find ourselves already on the Heritage trail in the Dundas Conservation Area.

Throughout the next two hours, my walking pal lets me in on a few of his hiking secrets and some basic trail etiquette: like, in my attempts to circumvent puddles, he humbly suggests staying on the designated trail and preserving the sensitive natural areas bordering it. Or a lesson on identifying a sturdy walking stick is instilled and exemplified as we, now with three legs each, follow the Heritage trail until it meets up with the famous Bruce Trail. We follow the Bruce north (right) along the edge of deeply cut, tree-filled valleys, with some stunning glacial debris in the form of large moss covered rocks littering the way.

This route to Sherman Falls normally takes about 40 minutes at an easy pace, but we are put off our mark by the ominous approach of a thunder storm (the warnings, it turned out, were accurate). As the sky darkens and rain starts to filter down through the rich canopy of leaves, we scrimmage for shelter. We find ourselves huddled between two rocks, with a space just snugly made for two, at least until the rain dies down. An attempt at pitching a windbreaker over the space serves to cover only slightly more territory than a Fortino’s shopping bag would. Fortunately, I am able to produce an umbrella which provides enough shelter for us both, at least for the short term.

As soon as the rain dies down, we sprout ourselves from our subterranean hiding only to find that if we had walked a couple metres further, my backpack and all its contents might have been completely dry: a cliff with a cave-like four-foot overhang and fresh shoe marks in the mud tastefully makes the point that someone out there is much luckier, and drier, than the both of us.

not falling

We descend a short way down the valley, and with concentrating on not slipping, I don't realize until I look up that we have already arrived at the base of Sherman’s Falls. It's 17 meters of free-falling beauty that made me almost glad it has been raining every other day this summer, thus allowing us to see Sherman Falls in all its full-flow glory.

Our hike back was as equally eventful as our journey there. We agreed to discard the grip of our footgear and hike part of the muddy trail bare-foot , “hobbit-style”. And although my birks still trek in mud marks wherever I go, it was totally worth it.

(Guest columnist Sarah Kam is part of
Transportation for Liveable Communities.
TLC will be leading a bus and hike from McMaster University
to Sherman Falls during Car Free Week,
on Car Free Day, September 22, 2008.
TLC's web site for more info)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

get out!

Yeah, sure, summer is here now, but it won't be for long - yet the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail beckons, and the side trails disappearing into the verdant forests on either side of the main trail entice the curious into adventures and explorations that lead, well, who knows? Or just pull over and watch the world run, cycle and walk by from the well-placed benches (no motor vehicles of course) or at the Trail Centre in Dundas Valley.

You don't have to go all the way, but what's to stop you...?
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

crossing the crossing out?

Hamilton Spectator File Photo
Officials seek end to trail detour

The Hamilton Spectator,
(Jul 22, 2008)

Officials with CN and the Bruce Trail are continuing to work on a solution regarding a closed six-kilometre stretch of the trail that crosses train tracks.

The Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club, a local chapter of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, closed the section on July 1 because a man was killed while walking on CN tracks.

The club made the move in anticipation of being asked to do so by CN. The rail company did not ask for the closure.

Last week, representatives from both sides met on the trail where it crosses the tracks to discuss the issue. Gary Wrathall, president of the Iroquoia board of directors, said the club told CN officials they would like to see the trail restored to the closed locations.

"We did look ... around the area to see what other possible options there might be, but there was nothing definitive decided upon," he said.

The club has created a 2.5-kilometre detour to make up for the closed section, which runs from near the intersection of Woodley Lane and King Street in Dundas to where the trail crosses Sydenham Road in the east. The club also closed an 800-metre side trail that ran along the train tracks.

Frank Binder, spokesperson for CN, said the track area has never been designated a crossing. If the trail is moved back there, Transport Canada will need to be involved because they decide where crossings are allowed.

"We're looking for options and there is a possibility that yes, it could go back to that location," Binder said.

Both sides plan on conducting some research and anticipate meeting again within a month.

Neither side had a timeline for when they think the issue might be resolved.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

lost and found

"In our most trivial walks, we are constantly, though unconsciously, steering like pilots by certain well-known beacons and headlands, and if we go beyond our usual course we still carry in our minds the bearing of some neighboring cape; and not till we are completely lost, or turned round, -- for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost, -- do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of Nature. Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as he awakes, whether from sleep or any abstraction. Not till we are lost, in other words, nor till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations."

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, "The Village"

Monday, July 14, 2008

fatherly travel advice

I found some very good, indeed timeless, travel advice in the Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents (A Selection) edited by S.R. Mealing (Carleton Library Series) which I took with me on a recent trip to Quebec City: excerpts follow (stripped of racist language used to refer to aboriginal people), and as Father Brébeuf, notes, the lessons are easy, but not so easily put into practice.


(from the Relation for 1637,
by Father Jean de Br

* * * *

  • You must be prompt in embarking and disembarking....
  • You must so conduct yourself as not to be at all troublesome
  • It is not well to ask many questions... Silence is a good equipment at such a time.
  • You must bear their imperfections without saying a word, yes, even without seeming to notice them. Even if it be necessary to criticise anything, it must be done modestly, and with words and signs which evince love and not aversion. In short, you must try to be, and to appear, always cheerful....
  • Do not undertake anything unless you desire to continue it; for example, do not begin to paddle unless you are inclined to continue paddling.
  • Finally understand that [people] will retain the same opinion of you in their own country that they will have formed on the way; and one who has passed for an irritable and troublesome person will have considerable difficulty afterwards in removing this opinion.
  • This is a lesson which is easy to learn, but very difficult to put into practice....
You would have to ask my travel partner whether I succeeded in coming close to the ideals outlined 371 years ago. In the meantime, happy trails!

Sunday, July 13, 2008


My daughter and I on the Bruce Trail today: we uploaded the above photo to the Keen "Boots on the Bruce" fundraiser when we got home, which should net 10 bucks (one for each toe?) for the Bruce Trail Conservancy. Win win win situation here. Feel free to contact me if you are in the Dundas area and need help shooting yourself in the foot: dundastard(at)gmail(dot)com
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Monday, July 7, 2008

ends and means

My nine-year-old daughter joined her mother and I for a long walk on area trails to get from Dundas to Christie Lake Conservation Area - the majority of the two-and-a-half hour walk there was on local trails, and spectacular.

We had been to Christie with friends just a day or two before, and by car it took about 10 minutes to get there. But walking is an entirely different experience, one which connects us to the beautiful natural areas that we are fortunate to still have, in a way traveling in a car* can not. Thus, the end (reaching Christie Lake CA for a swim) is still important, but the means of getting there (hiking) becomes an end in itself (and the swim all the more rewarding!).

The Route

We started in town by using the Spencer Creek Trail, from Creighton, and heading westerly. This section of the Spencer Creek Trail makes use of a pedestrian bridge over the creek at the eastern end of Mill Street and then follows the creek through Edwards Park, before leaving the trees for the sidewalks at the Mill Street Bridge - we had difficulty finding the trail markers at this point, but we found the next trail marker (yellow diamond) on Wellington Street, and again on MacNab but then lost track again on Brock - but knowing that at Brock and Melville there is an unofficial link to the Bruce Trail, we went that way.

Here's what the city of Hamilton web site says about the Spencer Creek Trail:

This 2.5 kilometre footpath runs from Ogilvie Street bridge over the Spencer Creek, and west to the Mill Street bridge. From there, sidewalks link to the Bruce Trail near the CN overpass on Highway 8.

The Trail is, at present, a natural footpath which is not accessible for wheelchairs and strollers

There are signboards at all access points, including McMurray Street and Creighton Road, as well as yellow diamond markers along the trail. Parts of the trail are on private land and the eastern portion of the trail is not yet complete. Across Cootes Drive, the Royal Botanical Gardens trails continue along the south shore of Cootes Paradise to McMaster University, Westdale, and Princess Point.
Once across the train tracks we picked up the Bruce Trail side trail (blue blazes) to Webster's Falls.

The following breaking news is somewhat alarming for hikers like myself - after a man was killed by a train (local media report that he was standing on one track and throwing rocks at a passing train when he was struck by a second train) it appears his poor judgment is (at least temporarily) confounding the route. Here's what the Bruce Trail website posted (

Spencer Gorge Trail Closure Posted July 3 2008

The Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club has had to close a six-kilometre portion of the main Bruce Trail around the popular Spencer Gorge Wilderness Area in the communities of Greensville and Dundas in Hamilton. The closure was requested by landowner Canadian National Railway Company.

The entire main trail section between km. 59.6, near the intersection of Woodley Lane and King Street/Highway 8 in Dundas at the west, and the point where the Trail crosses Sydenham Road part way up the Escarpment to the east (km. 65.6 on Map 8) has been closed. The 800-metre long “Old Dundas Station Side Trail” which ran east and west parallel with the tracks has also been closed.

The main Trail has been re-routed for 2.5 kilometres through Dundas streets between Woodley Lane and Sydenham Road. This is the route all through hikers must use. White blazes have been posted, primarily on utility posts.

Hikers visiting Webster’s Falls may continue to hike the trail down Spencer Gorge alongside Spencer Creek, but cannot continue down to the railroad property. They must reverse direction. Similarly, hikers may use the Trail east from Tew’s Falls to the Dundas Valley Lookout and the Glen Ferguson Side Trail, but must reverse direction before reaching the railroad property.

The Club hopes this re-route will be temporary, and is actively looking at alternatives that might permit continued use of the Spencer Gorge as a continuous route of the Bruce Trail.

Please check the PDF File for maps.
I hope CNR reconsiders their stance on this.

Back to the trail...

Walking along the rugged Spencer Gorge Wilderness area is sure to thrill, and coming upon Websters Falls from this direction is a magical sight with a white curtain of water streaming down and filling the Gorge.

We still had a ways to go, so we didn't stop but continued up the stairway to upper Webster's Park and headed out of the park at the north western corner. Following Fallsview Road to Short Road, a pedestrian footbridge took us over Spencer Creek and then along the Crooks Hollow Trail, built and maintained by the Greensville Optomists Club (this trail doesn't appear on the city of Hamilton list of trails, for some reason).

This is a lovely footpath, and historical plaques line the way, recalling the area's earlier dominance as an industrial site. Old mill ruins and dams are all that remain of the once thriving industries.
Anxious to get into the water for a swim (and being a little tired) we did not take the side trail to the Darnley Cascade (but it is a recommended site, see above link for photos) and instead opted to continue straight on to Christie, via the Christie Dam. (Note, we have a walk-in pass from the Hamilton Conservation Authority, otherwise, entrance fees apply)

It is still quite a hike around the end of the reservoir to the official swimming area and the concessions, but pleasant trails and the reward of a refreshing swim help us get there.

[we hiked home as well, following a different set of unmarked trails to the Dundas Valley/Bruce Trail - but that's for another post]

It seems that some attention could be paid to improving the connections between trails, with Spencer Creek Trail finding a way to stay with the creek beyond the Mill Street bridge, and in the interim, making sure the trail is well marked; the city should include the Crooks Hollow trail on their listing of trails.

*this comment in no way negates our appreciation for the ride provided by good friends!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

hangin' with timmies

Someone conveniently left their empty tim horton's cup on a tree branch on the Grindstone creek trails in Burlington - rescued and dumped in the trash can at the trail head at Valley Inn Road by your's truly. Agaiin...what were they thinking?
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Friday, June 20, 2008

focus on the vision

Can you imagine what you would like Dundas Valley to be like in 50 years' time? Well, the Conservation Authority and various stakeholders want to know:

there is a short survey here that we encourage you to take, in the interests of a restored and preserved natural environment.

Monday, June 9, 2008

hide the timmies?

That adults refer to Tim Horton's brand as Timmies is nauseating enough, but please, people, don't litter your old cups (double cups, for tea, in this instance) along the trails ANYWHERE!

Once found, this one was transported to be recycled and "green-carted" at a private residence (mine).

People who drink take-out coffee regularly and like to visit conservation areas might want to reflect on their habits, and think about investing in a reusable cup or mug rather than generating more waste.

I'm sure my pet peeve against litter is widely shared, but, obviously, not by all. What kind of person takes in the spectacular view while sipping tea, and leaves the cup behind?

Maybe the same sort of person who leaves their pet's droppings on the school playground...?

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

5 bucks a foot

Want to help raise money for the Bruce Trail?: take a hike, and take a picture of your feet/shoes/boots on the trail. For every set of shoes photographed on uploaded to Keen Canada, they will give $5.00 to the Bruce Trail Conservancy to help ensure the legacy of the footpath from Queenston to Tobermory.

Boots on the Bruce: find out all about it here:

Saturday, June 7, 2008

where the sidewalk ends...

...desire reveals itself in a footpath along the north side of Cootes Drive. With the city in the process of a Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan, there hasn't been a better time to push for improvements for walking, cycling and transit.

According to planners with the city, Dundas's population growth will not create much pressure on the current road system; this is a boon for efforts to get some infrastructure in place to make alternatives to cars more attractive.

Sidewalks that don't just trickle out in a parking lot (above) for example. Or some bike lanes on Hatt Street. Improvements to the footpath along Spencer Creek. More frequent transit. Bike lanes and pedestrian improvements on Governor's Road in the vicinity of the three schools there.

Dundas Walks will be preparing comments to the DDTMP (dundas downtown transportation master plan) - please feel free to add your two-cents worth - start here...
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

green way

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The McCormack Trail in Dundas Valley, north of Governor's Road. The McCormack Trail starts at the Trail Centre in Dundas Valley Conservation Area, heads north as a shared route with the Bruce Trail, crossing Governor's Road.


The photo above is from the McCormack Trail north of Governor's where it turns east and does a loop, ending back somewhat north, on the Bruce Trail. You can then continue on the trail to the west which loops around to the south and rejoins the Bruce Trail (it crosses a horse pasture which is sometimes closed for hikers when being used by the resident horses, which would mean backtracking)

It is a beautiful and varied landscape (above), yet the last gasp of new sprawl below) is encroaching as building of "Valley Heights" (named after a hill was levelled to build on it) continues.

As new houses obliterate the natural area, former access points to trails are fenced off. The easiest access points to this area are either from the north end of Davidson Blvd where there is a signed Bruce Trail side-trail marker; or from Governor's Road, just west of the Conservation Area main entrance, on the north side. You can also access via Newcombe Road, where a small unofficial footpath follows a fence into the woods.

View Larger Map

During the week a city bus gets you near the trails (#52 Delaware "Pirie/Governor's)

I've never seen a map of this trail on the CA web site so I made a little google map with some details.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Lost and Found

An infant's shoe sits atop wayfinding signage on the North Shore trails of the Royal Botanical Gardens, off York Road in Dundas, Saturday, May 17. 2008.
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Friday, May 9, 2008

foot path

Feet keep the path. A section of the Spencer Creek trail in Dundas, heading toward Creighton Street, reveals the dynamic relationship that exists between walkers and the earth. Truly a footpath, it's existence testimony to its utility. Everyone who walks the trail contributes to its maintenance and care.

The Spencer Creek trail is a very utilitarian trail compared to some more recreational trails, largely due to it's central location. Passing through town means it crosses roads and is close to businesses and homes. Yet it provides sanctuary, an escape from traffic and concrete, and, as we make our way to a destination, the trail invites us to interact with the ever-changing natural environment that refreshes and enriches our lives.
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Sunday, May 4, 2008

divided highway

Student struck by car on Cootes Drive path
Parent calls on city to prevent further accidents

Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News, Published on May 02, 2008

A Dundas father is calling for safety improvements between Cootes Drive and the paved trail next to it after his daughter, a 22-year-old McMaster University student, was struck by a car while walking the family dog two weeks ago.

Malcolm Skingley said his daughter, Jennifer, suffered a concussion and neck injuries. She must go back to the hospital for further tests and rehabilitation. Ten days after the accident, Jennifer was still suffering headaches, her father said Tuesday.

"I see a lot of people, seniors and people with children, walking on that path," Mr. Skingley said. "But there are no signs or safety barriers to keep cars off the path."

He believes the city should be pressured into making safety improvements between Cootes Drive and the paved trail, to prevent vehicles from accessing it.

"I don't have any choice but to do something about it. I'm involved in it now," he said.

Mr. Skingley said there is nothing to prevent an incident like the one that happened to his daughter.

"She was studying at home and she took the dog for a walk to clear her head," he said.

Fire services spokesperson John Verbeek confirmed firefighters responded to the report of a person and dog being struck by a car next to Cootes Drive at 12:03 a.m., Friday, April 19.

Police and paramedics were already on scene when firefighters arrived, so they assisted paramedics in preparing Jennifer for transport to hospital.

Glenn Jarvie, a Hamilton Police Service staff sergeant in emergency support services, did not have the final report on the incident as of Tuesday afternoon.