Archives: cootes paradise

friends of the aviary + cootes paradise

Two weeks ago Omi learned how to say peacock. Well, he actually says it so it sounds something more like “peatock”. In any case, I took his new adaptive use of the word as motivation for an impromptu visit to Westdale’s Friends of the Aviary, which is home to a lovely male and female peacock.

The aviary had a small crowd of weekend family visitors that casually checked out the various hens, roosters, chicks, peacocks and other fowl in their large outdoor cages. It also has an indoor coop for a variety of parrots and other small feathered friends. You can pay a small donation to help support the volunteer run aviary and enjoy the garden grounds on your visit.

Westdale Aviary peacock

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Attached to the aviary grounds is the Churchill Park Community Gardens. For a small yearly fee you can till and sow your own garden. There were a lot of fairly large plots and even some espaliered fruit trees. I  know a few friends that have been successfully growing their bountiful cornucopia of vegetables there yearly and they love this little spot of land.

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Churchill Park Community Garden

Right by the gardens is the Ravine Road Trail entrance to Cootes Paradise. Although we were somewhat ill prepared for a proper hike, we figured we could handle a little four by four stroller trekking on the trails while taking in some of the changing spring forest landscapes.

Welcome to Cootes Paradise

Ravine Road Trail cootes

At first the trail was mostly brown and leaf covered with little sign of spring. But then as we got further into the forest and trail we started to see bright green patches of spring time growth. I don’t know what these large green leafs were. At first I thought maybe they were lilies but they seemed too big. The leaves were huge and looked almost like giant lettuce leaves or swiss chard.

cootes paradise spring

As we walked further along, the trail headed uphill towards a ridge that overlooked Cootes Paradise Marsh. As I looked across the tree line I could see little speckles of pink and red that dotted the tree branches. They were the little red and brown buds on the trees just before the fresh and new leaf greenery were to appear.

cootes paradise

This was from two weeks back, so I bet this weekend if you were to go, the forest would be lush with bright fluorescent green bursts of new leaves and forest foliage!

spring tree buds

I love that despite having lived in Hamilton for five years there are still plenty of places to discover and explore. With every season each of these places take on a different look and beauty that can be rediscovered again.

So looking forward to consistent warm days and the planting of our own backyard and community garden!

cap’n cootes

On the occasions when I decide to take Plains Road into Hamilton from Burlington, I love taking that quick glance over across the bay towards Dundas. It’s a pretty picturesque view, all things considered, if you were to look to the opposite side of the T.B. McQuesten High Level Bridge the view would be of smoke stacks and steel mills. Truly I think the view of Cootes Paradise towards Dundas from the bridge is one of the more breathtaking views of Southern Ontario. You can see the curve of the escarpment, the marshy bay and what seems to be virtually untouched nature for miles and miles.

The Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge was built during the 1930's. It was originally called Hamilton High Level Bridge before being renamed after Thomas McQuesten, who was an upstanding Hamilton citizen that resided in the historic Whitehern house.

view of Cootes Paradise from T.B. McQuesten Bridge

view of Princess Point from T.B. McQueston Bridge

Over the weekend we decided to get out an embrace the winter weather and take a walk through Cootes Paradise.

Mainly, I really wanted to get an up-close and personal look of the bay in its frozen solid form. I always notice the little silhouettes of people skating and playing hockey out on the bay in winter from the highway and I have these wistfull dreams that one day I might be that person down there skating away. Well, I currently don’t own skates and Omi being so little, I think we’re still a ways off from passing a puck around or doing double axels on that natural winter-made Ontario-bay ice.

So a winter walk it was… right through some of my favourite Hamilton landscapes.

Our walk began from the RBG Arboretum entrance. I duly noted that in the spring we would have to make a return visit to see the massive lilac garden (apparently the largest in North America). After a bit of meandering we finally found the Captain Cootes Trail that hugged the bay and away we went!

We tried to venture out on the bay for a little while. There was a couple with their dogs walking out on the ice so it was a sign that the ice was strong enough to hold. But when I ventured out and heard the ice crack under my feet I decided to play it safe. I’ve been told that the water on the bay is really shallow so it doesn’t take much of a cold snap to freeze it solid. I wasn’t taking my chances that day.

A bit ambitious to be out walking in the cold minus 10 degree whether. So when Omi’s little chubby baby cheeks were feeling cold and getting all rosied up, we called it a day and headed back.

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