It was 2007/2008 when Chris Ecklund attended a fundraiser and saw a waterfall poster on the silent auction table that changed Hamilton’s future for ever.
That poster was a waterfall poster done by Joe Hollick.
Mr. Ecklund whom was born and raised in Hamilton looked at it and was both amazed by its beauty but puzzled as well, as he had no idea were these waterfalls were, in fact he knew only of two of them.
The waterfall poster had 20 incredible looking waterfalls on it, all in Hamilton, 18 of them he had never seen or heard of before.
He thought to himself if he did not know of them, then most Hamiltonian’s would not either, little to no advertising was being done, and if any City needed an image makeover it was Hamilton!
Over the next few days the Genesis behind the idea was formulated and the City of Waterfalls initiative was launched.
Mr. Ecklund quickly began researching everything and anything waterfall related in the City of Hamilton and soon discovered some great work that others had done and were still doing but little to nothing was being done or even acknowledged by the City and tourism officials.
The idea was so simple it made him wonder what the problem was and why nothing was being done about it.
The idea about changing Hamilton’s image from one of ” Steel City” to the ” City of Waterfalls” was simple, all that had to be done was simply show people what God and mother nature made for us, and the rest would be history.
The City of Waterfalls initiative was launched and we never looked back.
Trade shows were booked, festivals attended, waterfall walks conducted, illuminations held at night, and 6 books were published.
If that was not enough a fleet of 4 cars were wrapped all with pictures of our waterfalls and a 40 foot motorhome as well, Hamilton was now being promoted like no other city in the world, and the world was starting to sit up and take notice.
Television appearances, radio shows, newspaper articles, anyone and everyone started to talk about Hamilton’s waterfalls.
When social media came along, the initiative started what is still today the largest social media following in Hamilton’s history.
There is a Facebook group with almost 20,000 followers that have posted over 10,000 pictures alone! The twitter account had over 17,000 followers.
The website which in 2015 underwent a massive overhaul, has now received over 2.4 million page views, and at times receives over 1,000 dedicated visitors a day.
While Mr. Ecklund is constantly being thanked for his incredible devotion and love of community and its people, he is always quick to point out, that he did nothing, and that it was and still is the people of Hamilton and its visitors that are doing the work of spreading the love of our waterfalls to people around the world.
Mr. Ecklund was the sole source of funding for the initiative and accepted no nominations for his work in the community. He retired from the waterfall group in August of 2015 and left the group to be maintained and run by the volunteers. The current Lead Volunteer is Jay Poel, a Hamilton born, avid waterfall fan and owner of Upper Gage Garage.