Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The St. Catharines Museum at Lock 3 of the Welland Canal - 28 June 2011

It was another sunny Niagara day when we visited the St. Catharines Museum at Lock 3 of the Welland Canal. As the name suggests, the museum is located by the historic andimportant transportation feature - Lock 3 of the Welland Canal, which is located here. Entry to the Museum is free for the general public.

The Museum is located in a beautiful location and easily reached withan abundance of parking. It can be quite a shock to drive into a parking lot that seems to be moving. This optical illusion is from large lakers, ships that just transit the inland waterways, moving alongside the museum.

The staff at the Museum are very helpful and knowledgeable about the history of both St. Catharines and the Welland Canal. The staff were very generous in helping us put this article together and we thank them for that. I would encourage visitors to contact the staff if they have any questions. These folks actually enjoy serving the public.

There is something for everyone at the Museum. There is information on the history of the City, industry in the area, sporting history, a full sized steam powered fire pump as pictured below, a large display of wedding dresses. All of that and then the Welland Canal information which
will be the topic of a separate article.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the St. Catharines Museum at Lock 3 and we are sure that if you choose to visit, you will too.

The Museum is located at 1932 Welland Canals Pkwy. (formerly Government Road), St. Catharines, ON,  L2R 7K6.

Hours of operation are:
May through November: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
December through March: Weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Weekends and holidays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Research Centre: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Telephone Toll Free 1-800-305-5134

If you have comments or suggestions for other reviews, please send an email to us.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The 1st Bicycle GO Train of the 2011 season - 25 June 2011

We made it to the Niagara Falls Via Rail station just in the nick of time to see the first Bike GO Train of the season arrive.
GO Trains should be an affordable year round feature in Niagara with multiple daily stops needed at St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.


The people disembarking from the train were in good spirits with a mix of cyclists and non-cyclists and men and women. The bicycles that rolled out of the Bicycle Car ranged from recumbents, tourers, uprights and mountain bikes. As one of the cyclists in the interview commented, most of the Niagara cycle routes are flat - a cyclists paradise.


This Go Train service is clearly the way forward and there is no doubt that Niagarans want the GO Train service to be permanent NOW. Not just to end at Grimsby at some future time to add value to some developers lands. Not just for visitors to the region but for Niagarans to travel outside of the region for business and pleasure.

There is no better way to visit St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Toronto or Montreal than on a bike if you are able. The combination of the train and bicycles should be an inexpensive and flexible option to many. I believe that the silent electorate would demonstrably appreciate the politicians who made the train / bike option a reality.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What to do if you have a slip and fall on city property - 24 June 2011

What to do if you have a slip and fall on city property

Something interesting but not amusing happened to me on June the 18th 2011.  I fell into a drain that belongs to a city in the Niagara Region. This type of accident is generally called a "slip and fall".
I am writing this to help the ordinary citizen in Ontario protect their rights when they have had an accident on City property in Ontario.
 I suffered a few breaks etc. and here I am with at least a plate, 2 screws and 2 pins writing this. I may have more but I haven't had a chance to speak with my surgeon yet to find out the magnitude of the injury.
 But here is what I have learned about the process to protect my rights since that date.

You MUST have delivered a Notice (letter), keep the PROOF OF DELIVERY, WITHIN 7 DAYS of the accident to the relevant City stating the following:
  • That you had an accident on their property
  • your name
  • your address
  • your date of birth
  • where and when the accident took place
  • You must sign the Notice
I am not a lawyer so take the above comments with a grain of salt but I do know that the injured must give notice to the City within 7 days. If you have been injured, I strongly recommend contacting a personal injury lawyer or having someone contact one or more on your behalf as soon as possible.
Please note that it is apparently important to not wear your footwear again after the accident but to immediately have them placed into a clean bag for evidence if required.
I know that there is a free form that can be used as a template to notify a city in Ontario. It is on FreeForms.com and can be found here.
 Know your rights and protect them. If you have had a similar experience, in the region, I would appreciate hearing about it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Glomalin and Soil Remediation

The growing conditions for tender fruits and vegetables in the Niagara Region is exceptional but like all intensively farmed areas it is being degraded. The photo below shows a common method of growing fruits, the soil is completely tilled or sprayed with herbicide.
Why can't we have more of what is in the photo below? Clover is a wonderful nitrogen fixer and is known to be involved in the production of glomalin. Glomalin is key to a fertile soil. Here is an informative pamphlet that was sent to me by Joan Gussow on glomalin. If you have want great friable and verdant soil, glomalin is key.  Also, glomalin is believed to be an effective sequesterer of carbon, not an insignificant characteristic.
For the reader who is concerned with soil depletion issues, I recommend the two classic references on the subject: The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka and Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, the Busy & the Indolent by Ruth Stout.  The future of the Niagara Region is very dependant on the quality of the soil and it is about time that we start taking better care of the soil.
I would encourage planting white clover wherever possible as a start. It is good for the soil and the fruit growers friend, the pollinating honeybee.
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

A visit to the Niagara on the Lake Strawberry Social - 18 June 2011

It was a beautiful day on the grounds of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Niagara on the Lake. Neighbours were talking to neighbours, children were laughing and everyone was having a wonderful time.

The smell of fresh strawberries, strawberry jam, fresh crepes with strawberries & cream, and clover was everywhere. The event was a treat to the senses. The church includes an old cemetery and I thought the people layed to rest there would have been happy to see how the grounds were enjoyed.


You may think everything in Niagara-on-the-Lake is expensive - but you would be wrong. This strawberry social was for everyone, and although it was a church fund-raising event the prices were reasonable and the booths were popular.

Yummm....and service with a smile.....happy customers!
They were making strawberry jam right there - you could buy home-made jam or fresh strawberries. There were also burgers, dogs and corn-on-the-cob which, the cute little fellow below seems to be enjoying.
This Strawberry Social was organized by the community and not by a commercial organization and the results show it. It was a marvelous gathering of folks who were there to share their community. I had a really good time and I strongly recommend that you attend next year's event if you can. You will have a great time.

Unfortunately, not everything billed as a strawberry festival is actually like this - for something entirely different and not so nice see the post on the Beamsville one.
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Beamsville Berries and Blooms Festival - 18 June 2011

Moving on, I decided to visit the "Beamsvillle Berries and Blooms Festival" billed as a "Lincoln Family Festival" - I don't think so!

This so-called berries and blooms family festival was anything but. There was one lonely strawberry stand, they had the sole concession and the price was $5.00 for a pint! That was it for strawberries as far as I could see, the rest was your typical chip-wagon food - greasy, pricy and the same stuff you see everywhere.. The venue was the Beamsville District Secondary School (pavement, I'm afraid). Apparently the fair grounds (where it would normally have been) was not available because they have sold it off for a condo development. Really charming....not!


It looked to me like it was nothing more than a flea market, and a poor one at that. Take a look at the level of excitement and joy evident in these photos.


It's clearly all about the vendors.

I think it would have been less expensive and much, much, nicer to spend an afternoon with friends and family at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Strawberry Social than at the flea market type of affair in Beamsville. If I were driving in from perhaps Hamilton or Toronto, to enjoy a day out I would have been very upset to have read the website  billing the event as "Berries and Blossoms" and a "family festival"  only to have arrived to find a sad excuse for a flee-market.

Beamsville is part of the Town of Lincoln which, includes many positive things not the least of which is Charles Daley Park so I don't know what happened to Beamsville - could it be just plain old neglect? If you want to send the Mayor a wake-up call he can be reached at:
Mayor Bill Hodgson
4800 South Service Road
Beamsville, Ontario
L0R 1B1
tel 905-562-4464    
email: bhodgson@lincoln.ca

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Butterfly Conservatory

I went to visit the Butterfly Conservatory on the Niagara Parkway, Niagara Falls, Ontario. It is is located 10 minutes north of Niagara Falls on the grounds of the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens & School of Horticulture. It was a magical experience. To get some idea of the effect please take a look at this video and the pictures below.
Standing in the conservatory which, is a greenhouse with a beautiful water falls, I was aw-struck 
by several thousand butterflies fluttering around me in every direction, and I wasn't the only one, squeals of delight echoed through the conservatory as children and adults alike marveled at the beauty and grace of each butterfly that landed in front of them or sometimes, on them.  At about $13.00 per person it was good value. The butterfly conservatory is an affordable family attraction.
In addition to the butterfly conservatory, there are beautiful gardens to enjoy - no cost. Parking is
also free so you can come with the whole family and spend a day outside in the gardens for free. But I strongly recommend going through the butterfly conservatory.

See for yourself - I took some pictures below.

They also had chrysalis to see at different stages of

Everyone was having fun!

Afterwards I wandered through the lovely gardens maintained by Niagara Parks and the School of
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suggest a review, please email us at NiagaraWatch (at) gmail dot com .

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Motorcycle Whirligig in St. Catharines, Ontario 16 June 2011

I was driving home from purchasing fresh strawberries from a local farmer when I  came across this wonderful motorcycle whirligig in St. Catharines.

As I drove by I had a laugh, being a life-long motorcyclist myself, and made a u-turn and took the photos and video below. The wheels on the little motorcycle were spinning wildly. Clearly the owners of this whirligig have a sense of humour.

and here is the video

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend GO Trains to the Niagara Region starting June 24, 2011- bring your bikes along!

The St. Catharines / Niagara Falls GO Train service will be running commencing on 24 June 2011.  I was at the VIA Station in Niagara Falls this past Saturday, 11 June 2011 at 11 a.m. There was a VIA train in the station.

  • The VIA 1 train's locomotive was diesel powered.
  • The Sir Adam Beck Hydro Generating Station is only 6 km from the station.
  • The Sir Adam Beck Hydro Generating Station generates one of the most stable and renewable forms of energy in the world - hydro electricity
  • The diesel fuel used by the VIA diesels is becoming an ever scarcer and more expensive resource.
  • Question: Why aren't the locomotives in Canada that operate exclusively in Cananada all electrified?
Below is a short video of the train and the Sir Adam Beck Hydro Generating Station. The generating station across the river is the The Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station.

 Prime Minister Harper and Premier McGuinty should force the electrification of the locomotives in the national interest. This make require the confiscation of the CP and CN railroads as well as smaller rail companies but the future demands electrification.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

A visit to the Lakeside Park Carousel in Port Dalhousie, St. Catharines - 5 June 2011

I had a chance to visit Lakeside Park in Port Dalhousie this past Sunday morning. It was a wonderful day, sunny and not too warm with a pleasant breeze.

 It was still early, 10:30 a.m. or so when I arrived and there were relatively few cars in the park's spacious parking lot. Families and young and older folks were walking about as I wandered over to the carousel. As you can see from the photos, this historic carousel is protected from the sun and elements by a special purpose, human scale structure.

Lakeside Park Carousel - June 2011 - NiagaraWatch.com
As I walked up to the young lady at the ticket station, I was shocked and delighted to see that the ride was still only 5 cents. This is largely due to the volunteers who maintain the carousel, The Friends of the Carousel. And friends they are.

Lakeside Park Carousel - June 2011 - NiagaraWatch.com
 The carousel is in wonderful condition. The colours on the carved figures are bright and the entire facility is in a wonderfully welcome condition.

Lakeside Park Carousel - June 2011 - NiagaraWatch.com
Lakeside Park Carousel - June 2011 - NiagaraWatch.com
Lakeside Park Carousel - June 2011 - NiagaraWatch.com
Lakeside Park Carousel - June 2011 - NiagaraWatch.com
Lakeside Park Carousel - June 2011 - NiagaraWatch.com
Lakeside Park Carousel - June 2011 - NiagaraWatch.com
 As you can see in the video and photos, there was a wide age mix of very well behaved people who rode the carousel and all were enjoying themselves.

Lakeside Park Carousel - June 2011 - NiagaraWatch.com

Lakeside Park Carousel - June 2011 - NiagaraWatch.com
 For more information on this wonderful human-scale attraction, please visit the City of St. Catharines' carousel web page (http://www.stcatharines.ca/en/experiencein/LakesideParkCarousel.asp).
The carousel is available for parties and special events, call 905-688-5601 ext 1926 for details.
I encourage residents and visitors to visit the carousel when they can. The carved animals need to be ridden and the trip down memory lane will be wonderful for the older among us and the youth can make some memories. Go have a ride or just watch people have a really good time. You will find that you are grinning from ear to ear. I was.
Last but not least, if you are able, please donate to the donation jar. I am sure that your donations will be put to good use. If you have comments or would like to have a review of a feature here in the Niagara Region, please email us.