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Darnley Cascade

Darnley Cascade
Darnley Cascade in summer. Photo by Joe Hollick
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Darnley Cascade
Darnley Cascade in autumn. Photo by Joe Hollick
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Darnley Cascade
Darnley Cascade in winter. Photo by Joe Hollick
Click to enlarge
Stutt's Falls postcard
Vintage Stutt's Falls postcard. Courtesy of Joe Hollick

Darnley Cascade is a cascade waterfall measuring 4 metres high. Located at Crooks Hollow Conservation Area in Greensville, its source is Spencer Creek. At 225 metres above sea level, it's the highest elevation of any Hamilton area waterfall.


Darnley Cascade is located in Crooks Hollow, which has a rich historic past. Many early settlers, namely United Empire Loyalists fleeing the United States at the end of the American Revolution, came to the area and settled along Spencer Creek. James Crooks, a Scotsman by birth, founded Crooks Hollow in 1805. He built the locality's first grist mill and named it after Lord Darnley, whom he idolized. The waterfall soon became known locally as 'Darnley's Cascade'.

The grist mill attracted local commerce: by 1829, it was surrounded by a woolen mill, distillery, tannery, paper mill, clothing factory, an inn, workers' log cabins, and more. After Crooks died in 1860, the mill was sold to James Stutt and Robert Sanderson, who converted it into a papermill. In 1880 Stutt bought out his partner and added a steam boiler building for heating water for papermaking and auxiliary power. Unfortunately, the boiler exploded on July 9, 1885, killing two men and causing extensive damage to the property. The mill was reconstructed, and in 1902 William Stutt, son of James, took it over. He leased it out first to the Adams Cellboard Company, then the Greensville Paper Company. When the mill was gutted by fire in 1934, it was the end of an era.

Download a reproduction of an 1860 map depicting the Crooks' Hollow area (pdf).

Darnley Cascade was featured on a few vintage postcards dating back to about 1911. It is interesting to note that these cards refer to it as "Stutt's Falls", after new owner James Stutt. Joe Hollick's "Waterfalls of Hamilton- Autumn" poster includes it under the name of Stutt's Falls, and some local residents still refer to it thusly.

How to get there

To reach the Darnley Cascade by car, exit from the 403 onto Highway 6 North, then go left onto Highway 5. Turn left onto Brock Road and then right onto Harvest Road.

To reach the waterfall by walking trail, you can take the Dundas section of the Bruce Trail, the Crooks Hollow Historical Trail, and 'Round the Lake Trail at the Christie Lake Conservation area.

Darnley Cascade Video

Darnley Cascade. Video by Chris Ecklund

Darnley Cascade. Video by Chris Ecklund

Video by Drew Walker
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Darnley Cascade Photo Gallery

Darnley Cascade
Darnley Cascade. By Chris Ecklund. Click to enlarge
Darnley Cascade
Darnley Cascade. By Chris Ecklund. Click to enlarge
Darnley Cascade
Darnley Cascade in the wintertime. Photo by Chris Ecklund. Click to enlarge.
Darnley Cascade
Darnley Cascade at the site of Upper Canada's first paper mill. Taken on July 10, 2008 by Chris Ecklund
Darnley Cascade
Darnley Cascade after the dam was opened up. Photo taken July 13 by Chris Ecklund.
Click to enlarge
Darnley Cascade
A couple having fun in the current! Photo by Chris Ecklund. Click to enlarge
Darnley Cascade
A family enjoying the Darnley Mill. Photo by Chris Ecklund.  Click to enlarge.
Darnley Cascade
Darnley Cascade. Taken on July 10, 2008 by Chris Ecklund