Sunday, January 22, 2023
LaSalle Park is a 57 acre park on the north shore of Burlington Bay. It is owned by the City of Hamilton but has been developed and operated by the City of Burlington since the 1970s. It is located near where Sieur De La Salle, a French explorer, is thought to have landed in 1669. This would make him the first white person set foot on the shores of the bay. A lot has changed in the years since then. Dundurn Castle was built on the escarpment above the bay and the history of that property dates back to the War of 1812. The picture below shows the Burlington Skyway Bridge and the older lift bridge behind it. We previously covered these in our feature on the Burlington Canal.
Hamilton has long been the site of heavy industry including the manufacturing of steel. Stelco was founded in 1910 through the amalgamation of several smaller companies. These industries, and others, caused the Hamilton Harbour to become quite polluted. The situation was such that by the 1980s it had become an international concern. The International Joint commission identified Hamilton Harbour as one of 43 areas in the Great Lakes that required government and community action to resolve pollution problems. The Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan was put into play to help create new habitat for fish and wildlife. Since then, there have been many projects implemented to help restore spawning grounds and other places that encourage the return of wildlife to the area.
The Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan was developed with a list of 14 areas of use for the harbour that were impaired by the contaminants in the water. These include the loss of fish and wildlife habitat and the findings of tumours and reproductive problems with them. A specific action plan was developed for each of these areas and water quality was measured to determine the effectiveness and progress in each area. The waters off of the park are filled with a wide variety of ducks, geese and swans who choose to spend the winter in its sheltered waters.
Among the species of ducks that were observed during our visit were Mallards, Goldeneyes, American Black Ducks and Buffleheads, like the one seen below.
Pure white ducks are not native to Ontario and are usually farm escapees. This call duck stood out from the crowd because it was the only one in the park.
Trumpeter Swans were nearly extinct in Ontario but through the actions of the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Group Coalition the population has grown to over 1000. Many of these overwinter at LaSalle Park. The park provides ideal shelter from the cold northerly winds and has enough beach for them to rest on. It also has plenty of aquatic plants for them to feed on and the water is shallow enough for them to tip and feed. Swans don’t dive, so they need a certain depth of water to be able to reach their food. The swans are tagged with yellow tags on their wings for identification and tracking purposes.
The Waterfront Trail runs through the park but there’s several other trails to be explored as well. There’s also a short trail that runs east from the marina, along the edge of the lake.
This is the only place that I have ever encountered roots that have been painted orange. This seems like a very strange idea in a park that is associated with lake and wetland restoration. The paint must not be very good for the environment and will eventually find its way into the lake.
The LaSalle Park Pavilion was built in 1917 as a combination dance hall and picnic pavilion. It has an open veranda between two arcaded pavilions that have pilasters and is characteristic of the art deco period of architecture. The pavilion suffered damage in a fire in 1997 but was rebuilt to its original splendor.
LaSalle Park is a great place for bird watching, especially in the summer, with local clubs coming out to see how many species they can count.
Related stories: Dundurn Castle, Burlington Canal
Google Maps Link: LaSalle Park
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