Part 7: Park Road to Cline Mountain Road
Date: Wednesday 23 May 2018
Start: Park Road South, Grimsby
End: Cline Mountain Road South, Grimsby
Distance covered: 12.4 km
Total distance covered: 87.9 km
76. Greater celandine (Chelidonium majus). It’s considered a non-native invasive weed in North America, though its bright yellow four-petalled blooms certainly brighten up the wayside. It’s toxic in large doses, but can be used medicinally in small measured ones. The beautiful word “celandine” derives from chelidon, the Greek word for “swallow” (the bird), as the ancients associated its appearance with the arrival of swallows in spring.
77. Walking along the hard shoulder of Ridge Road, we were surprised to see half a dozen expensive sports cars whip around the tight curve ahead and race past us, one after the other. The drivers probably didn’t expect to see any pedestrians on this quiet stretch of road, though it is the official Bruce Trail. Is the driver waving or giving us the finger? He’s going too fast to tell for sure! News update 12 July: “Cop speed trap snags 6 exotic cars racing double the speed limit in Niagara. Seized cars include a Lamborghini, Porsche and Mercedes … Police announced Thursday that they stopped six people driving some of the world’s most powerful cars … in a traffic stop targeting the company’s five-hour ‘VIP’ car excursion. One of the cars was stopped going more than double the posted speed limit with a ten-year-old passenger inside, police say” (CBC Hamilton).
78. Just around that curve on Ridge Road are the gates of a very large house, most of which is hidden behind the greenery. It features in homesoftherich.net, and it’s for sale! For $10,850,000 you get a seven-bedroom, 17,000 square foot mansion built in 2005. The grand entrance has 35 foot ceilings, there are eleven fireplaces, an elevator linking all four floors, a 50 foot indoor pool, a home theatre, and two wine cellars, all set in 27 acres. We suspect that the Trail has been rerouted down Ridge Road as the future owner won’t want sweaty hikers blocking those “unparalleled lake views.”
79. After close encounters with the super-fast and super-rich, it’s nice to withdraw from the world into more familiar Trail territory, like this picturesque bridge over a small creek.
80. Just beside the Trail on Gibson Street in Grimsby, a millstone mounted on a concrete block. The plaque reads: “This mill stone recovered from Nelles Grist Mill Built 1793. Erected by Grimsby Historical Society 1958.” The millstone is a reminder of the importance of water power, from creeks flowing over the Escarpment, in the early industrial development of Upper Canada. There were once five mills on Forty Mile Creek, two on top of the Escarpment and three below. The millstone is “dressed” in typical fashion: deep grooves called “furrows” divide the surface into “lands”. The furrows and lands are repeated in patterns called “harps.” The furrows channel the flour out from between the two touching millstones that do the grinding.
81. Now here’s a house that doesn’t feature on any “Homes of the Rich” website, but it’s a beauty. The Gibson House, near the bridge where the Trail crosses Forty Mile Creek, was built in 1860 by Robert Lillie Gibson (1834-84), a stonemason originally from Peterhead, Scotland. It was constructed from red and green-grey variegated sandstone from his own quarry on the Escarpment above the house. Gibson was contracted by the Great Western Railway to build bridges from Sarnia, Ontario to Rimouski, Quebec.
82. Here’s a mystery. This anchor-shaped metal memorial mentions the War of 1812, John Norton, a trail, and two nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. Major John Norton (Teyoninhokarawen, 1770-1831), Scottish-born, half-Cherokee, adopted Mohawk, was the author of an 1816 journal about the War of 1812, in which he played a considerable role on the British side. But I can find no information that explains this object. Please let me know if you can shed any light on it.
83. We reach a milestone in our journey. The Bruce Trail is divided into nine Club Sections, and we are now for the first time crossing the boundary between two of them: from Niagara to Iroquoia. The Niagara Club Section covers 80.5 km from Queenston Heights to Forty Mile Creek in Grimsby. So as we leave the Niagara, we have completed 7.23% of the Bruce Trail! The Iroquoia, our home Club, extends 122.9 km from here to Highway 401 near Milton.
84. The view eastward from the edge of the Escarpment at Beamer Memorial Conservation Area. That’s the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), the main highway linking Toronto to the US border, snaking off in the direction of Niagara Falls.
85. Beamer Memorial C.A. is known as a place to watch the spring migration of raptors: hawks, falcons, eagles and vultures. This observation tower is where to watch them from. The Niagara Escarpment’s close proximity here to the shore of Lake Ontario produces from March through mid-May the updrafts that raptors favour. We were just a little too late in the month to catch this year’s migration.
86. As we continued along Ridge Road on top of the Escarpment, we met this gentleman, who told us that he was testing out his new bike. He sped off south down Inglehart Road, a dead straight, well-paved country road with a slight downward slope, a marked absence of traffic, and a gentle breeze at his back: perfect biking conditions.
87. From our vantage point on the Escarpment, we have a view over this condo development under construction on a narrow strip of land between the QEW and the lake in Grimsby. The Ontario lakeshore is already almost entirely built up for 200 km between the Niagara River and Oshawa.
88. Aquilegia canadensis, the Canadian (or Eastern) wild columbine, a member of the buttercup family, by the side of the Trail near the end of today’s hike. Its nectar is beloved of butterflies and hummingbirds and its appearance is a sure sign that summer is on its way. Supposedly, First Nations men rubbed crushed columbine seeds on their hands “to attract amorous attention.” Do not try this at home, however, as the seeds as well as the roots of the columbine are highly toxic.