Sunday, April 16, 2023
We went to Webster’s Falls for a visit on April 9th as it was a beautiful Spring day and this time of year is often the best for seeing the waterfalls. This is because the water levels are generally higher and there isn’t a lot of foliage to obscure the views. We previously visited Webster’s in January 2016 and wrote about the history of the falls and so we won’t cover all of that again in this post. That story can be found in our earlier blog The Spencer Gorge – Webster’s and Tews Falls. This post will focus mainly on information that wasn’t previously presented. Webster’s Falls has a nice long viewing area that provides plenty of space to see the falls and take pictures of it.
The crest of the waterfall is 24 metres wide and is the largest in the region. There are more antique postcards featuring this falls than any other in the area, which attests to the popularity of the falls a century ago when postcards were more popular than they are today. The historical image below shows Ashbourne Mills which were built in 1856 by Joseph Jr., the son of Joseph Webster. The flour mill operated until 1898 when it was destroyed in a fire.
Webster’s Falls has its own tragic legend in the style of Romeo and Juliet. The tale is told of a fair maiden who was the daughter of the local Ojibway Chief. Her name was Na-Go-She-Onong, which meant Evening Star. She was kind, gentle and fair and many of the local males dreamed of courting her. However, she fell for the charms of a white man much to the disappointment of her potential suitors. One overly jealous indigenous man decided to kill the white man to increase his chances of winning her. Instead, she was so distraught that she cradled the dead man to her chest and plunged into the waters above the falls.
After the fire in the mill, the owner who was George Harper at this time, formed a partnership and created the Dundas Electric Company to generate electricity at the base of the falls. The falls and surrounding lands were purchased in 1917 by The Public Utilities Commission of Dundas as part of the local waterworks system. When Dundas Mayor Colonel W.E.S. Knowles died in 1931, it was revealed in his will that he bequeathed Webster’s Falls and surrounding areas for a public park. Two years later the grounds were landscaped, an iron fence was installed along the viewing platform and a stone arch bridge was constructed a short distance above the falls.
This little group of cedars has a stone and concrete bench constructed around them. These trees may be well over 100 years old but there are much older ones clinging to the cliff along side of the falls. Those Eastern White Cedars are over 500 years old. They are the remnants of an ancient forest that covered the area before Europeans arrived and cut everything down to create farmland.
On a sunny day, the view of the falls from beside it will also give the opportunity to observe a rainbow in the mist below.
A second footbridge has been built across Spencer Creek just a short distance upstream from the stone one near the falls.
Growing alongside the trail is a patch of Lesser Periwinkle. This plant will grow in dense patches that choke out other types of plants that compete for sunlight.
A two-kilometre trail used to follow the Spencer Gorge from Webster’s Falls, past Tews Falls and on to Dundas Peak. Unfortunately, people wouldn’t stay on the trail and one of the land owners closed his property to hikers. You now have to park at Tews Falls to see this other waterfalls.
Parking is $16.00 at Webster’s Falls and reservations are required from May until November.
Google Maps Link: Spencer Gorge – Websters Falls
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