Webster's Falls is a curtain waterfall 22
metres in height. Located at the Spencer Gorge / Webster's
Falls Conservation area in Greensville, its source is Spencer
Creek. It is one of two falls within the Spencer Gorge, and with
a crest of 24 metres, it is the largest in the region. It is
also probably the most popular and widely known fall in
Hamilton, and has the biggest park associated with a waterfall.
According to Joe Hollick, Webster's Falls has the highest number
of vintage postcards bearing its image, suggesting that it was
also the most frequently visited waterfall a century ago as well.
This waterfall was originally known as Dr. Hamilton's falls,
after Dr. James Hamilton purchased the land in 1818. (He was
also the first president of the Canada Life Insurance Company
as well as medical officer for the Great Western Railway.) The
waterfalls and 78 acres of the surrounding land were purchased by
Joseph Webster after his family arrived from England in 1820.
According to the Hamilton Conservation Authority (the current
owner), the Webster family manor still stands on Webster's Falls
Road, and their gravestones have been preserved in a small section
just off the Bruce Trail, on the way to Tews Falls.
According to romantic legend, an Indian maiden named Na-Go-She-Onong
(Evening Star in the Ojibway language), fell in love
with a white man. Her lover was killed by a jealous Indian suitor,
and rather than live without him, she pressed his dead body to
hers and plunged into the roaring waters of Webster's Falls.
A poem about the ill-fated couple was printed in a souvenir booklet
put out by the Women's Wentworth Historical Society.
In 1856, Webster's son built a large stone flour mill, the Ashbourne
Mills, along the creek above the falls. Until an 1898 fire destroyed
them, the mills buildings ranked among the largest of their type
in the district. In the wake of the blaze, the owner, George
Harper, joined a partnership to organize the Dundas Electric
Company. One of the first hydro-electric generators of Ontario
was installed at the base of the falls. In 1917, the Public Utilities
Commission of Dundas bought Webster's Falls and the surrounding
lands for the town's waterworks department.
Webster's Falls. Photo by Ray Love. Click to enlarge.
Webster's Falls. Photo by Joe Hollick. Click to enlarge.
Webster's Falls in autumn. Photo by Joe Hollick. Click
When the will of former Dundas Mayor Colonel W.E.S. Knowles
was read, it was learned that he had made a bequest to the town
so that the area around Webster's Falls be made into a public
park. A foundation was established to channel revenue into park
improvements. In 1933, the grounds were landscaped, a stone bridge
constructed across the creek above the falls, and an iron fence
installed to make the viewing at the ledge much safer.
According to the Great
Lakes Waterfalls and Beyond site, Webster's
Falls shows up in the Sci-Fi movie "Descent", playing the role
of an anonymous waterfall in the Pacific Northwest. A river of
lava pours over the falls, nearly killing the star,
Comment by Joe Hollick:
I have a facinating story that happened to me in September 2007
regarding Webster's Falls.
When we first met, he asked where we were from and we said
Canada. We asked him if he had ever been to Canada and he said
yes, he had done some research there at the University of Waterloo
for a few months. We then said that we were from Hamilton which
is about an hour from Waterloo. His very next comment was: "There
is a waterfall in Hamilton!"
Both Marilyn and I were stunned. By him describing the waterfall
and location we determined that it was Webster's Falls. He then
went on to say that he was part of a team that had discovered
water vapour on the sun ( http://solar-center.stanford.edu/news/sunwater.html )
when he was at Waterloo.
We did not know whether to believe him or not, but when I returned
I checked the internet and found the above two sites. The first
is a picture of him and the second article talks about his discovery.
The last amazing fact is: When he does a talk anywhere in
the world about "Water vapour on the sun", he shows
a slide of a waterfall - and guess which one it is - Webster's
Falls in Hamilton!
How to get there
To reach Webster's Falls by car, take Highway
8 from Dundas. Keep right on Brock Road and go right at the light
onto Harvest Road. Turn right on Short Road, then left onto Fallsview.
Keep following the signs all the way to the parking lot.
To reach Webster's Falls via a walking trail,
take Dundas section of the Bruce Trail.