of the City of Waterfalls
By Stephen Head
In 2000 Jerry Lawton and his son Mikal published a guidebook
on the waterfalls of the Niagara Escarpment called Waterfalls,
The Niagara Escarpment. They then came to the realization that
Hamilton has more waterfalls than any other city in the world.
Later that same year, during a slide presentation to the Hamilton
Naturalists’ Club, Jerry suggested it was time Hamilton
recognized its unique position and start to call itself The
City of Waterfalls.
Jerry urged The Hamilton Naturalists’ Club
to promote of the City of Waterfalls on their website and
suggested I help with that. My liaison began with Brian McHattie
to I compile a list of waterfalls, site information and a map
which would be continuously revised as I knew there were more
sites to find. We started with a list of about 33 waterfalls.
The City of Waterfalls promotion within the Club began to gain
appeal which resulted in members helping in a continuous
search to determine how many waterfalls there really were within
the expanded city boundaries.
In April of 2001, in an article
in the Hamilton Spectator, Jerry urged readers to consider
the benefits of Hamilton, The City of Waterfalls, along with
suggesting ways the surroundings and access to some of the
waterfalls might be improved. The article drew no response
and Jerry was disappointed.
Long before The City of Waterfalls
idea, Scott Ensminger of North Tonawanda sent a letter to
the Hamilton Region Conservation Authority in 1986 requesting
information on waterfalls in the Hamilton area. B. W. Vanderbrug,
General Manager of HRCA, replied with a list of 21 known waterfalls
and a map showing their locations. Scott met with Mr. Vanderbrug
at his office the following spring to clarify some locations.
Some of those locations, Stevens Falls in particular, would
likely never have been found without reference to Mr. Vanderbrug’s list and Scott’s
Since then other people have also been compiling
lists and taking photographs of Hamilton area waterfalls,
none in concert with each other. Ray Love, Mark Harris
and Joe Hollick were well into the beginnings of an extensive
compilation, as well as Jerry, Scott and myself. Jerry
and I were the first to combine our efforts in 2001.
publication of Jerry Lawton’s book in 2000,
Joe Hollick’s plan to produce a waterfalls book was scrapped,
as was mine. In the spring of 2002 Joe Hollick produced his
first pictorial poster of Hamilton waterfalls and more followed.
Scott Ensminger published Niagara’s Sisters in 2002
and continued his amazing list of over 700 waterfalls in
New York state. In 2003 Waterfalls of Ontario by Mark Harris
and George Fisher was published. Both books included Hamilton
By 2004 Joe Hollick, working on his own, had found
44 waterfalls. Steve Head had a list of 46. In March Joe
approached the Joan Bell, Manager, Grants and Special Projects,
Hamilton Conservation Authority with photos and information
on all 44. Subsequent to that meeting Joan Bell hired a
contract person for one year, beginning in June 2004,as Waterfalls
Project Planner with the sole mandate to locate all waterfalls
in Hamilton. His final report was to include criteria, site
locations, site descriptions, measurements, history and photographs.
and Nadeem established a Waterfalls Project Group. Joan chaired
the Group from 2004 until early 2008 when Joe Hollick has
taken over as chair. The Group includes the Hamilton Conservation
Authority, the City of Hamilton, Tourism Hamilton, Bruce
Trail Conservancy (head office), Bruce Trail Iroquoia Section,
the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, and several waterfalls
enthusiasts. Finally there was a substantial concerted effort
to define and promote the City of Waterfalls.
a Field Study Group to glean existing information and ultimately
co-ordinate it so that there would be no confusion in conflicting
data from various sources. The Group included Nadeem, Bob
Nixon, Joe Hollick and Bill Crawford as well as myself. There
were contributions from Scott Ensminger, although he was not
part of the Group. About 16 or 17 new waterfall sites were
quickly added to existing lists. Nadeem completed his Research
and Inventory Project report in March 2005 which listed 65
While work on the City of Waterfalls continued
on many levels, after 2005 the status of some members of
the Waterfalls Project Group had changed. Nadeem moved to another
conservation authority. I moved to Huntsville which placed
me too far away from any meaningful activity. Sadly, Bill
Crawford, who was ill when he worked so cheerfully with us,
died. Joe Hollick retired and he has been able to devote more
time to find more waterfalls sites and take over the chair
of the Waterfalls Project Group; as a result of Joe’s efforts in the field
and his co-ordination of input from others, as of July 2008
The City of Waterfalls had listed 100 sites.