Tag Archives: Trails

Benches: Sit, Stay A While

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
WELLAND – I’m a collector of benches. Photos of benches, that is.
Benches are interesting, informative, even intriguing.
There are benches with a view.
There are benches with a past.
There are benches with a presence.
Old benches silently tell stories about how things have changed.
Some examples are found in a green space between the Welland River bank and River Road.
In the early 1900s, the green space park was known as Orchard Grove Pleasure Ground and was a popular gathering place for weekend picnics and other social events. Some benches were positioned to provide views of the river and riverbank. But growth of weeds and other vegetation since then denies or obscures views in the current day.
Benches can be: feeding places, thinking places, meeting places, get-away places, resting places. I find a bench in Welland’s Chippawa Park a great place to get away from it all, to just sit and think. It is pictured on this page.
My point in providing this for readers is simple enough: please don’t underestimate the value of a bench!
Benches from my collection featured here are from Merritt Island, old Orchard Grove Pleasure Ground, Morgan’s Point Conservation Area, Cedar Bay park, St. Johns Conservation Area and various other sites.
So sit, stay a while and enjoy the tour. Who knows… you might move up from backbencher to bench photo collector yourself.
Thanks for viewing and for reading.

Holiday Winter Wonderland Is Back At Balls Falls

/Supplied graphic

Illuminated trails, live entertainment, holiday crafts, s’mores, and more! 

LINCOLN, ON – The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) is excited to welcome the community to the 3rd Annual Ball’s Falls Holiday Trail (Holiday Trail)  this winter season. This family holiday tradition returns brighter than ever, with thousands of sparkling lights along the trails, live musical entertainment, and immersive activities at Ball’s Falls Conservation Area. 

 The Holiday Trail is an evening trail walk experience featuring a 1.5 km (round trip) illuminated path through natural areas along the Niagara Escarpment and Twenty Mile Creek, and the 1800s heritage village of Glen Elgin.

Along the way, visitors will enjoy the stunning winter vistas, including the 27-metre lower waterfall, illuminated like never before, and experience history in the village with each building lit up with thousands of lights. 

“The Holiday Trail offers evening fun outdoors, with stunning lights and activities. Set within the breathtaking Twenty Valley, visitors will experience the magic of the holiday season inside the heritage buildings and Centre for Conservation with sparkling decorations and festive music,” says Alicia Powell, Manager of Conservation Area Services at NPCA. “Funds raised through this event support the operation of these significant natural areas, ensuring nature for all for years to come!” 

 Guests of all ages will play winter scavenger hunt games, visit the holiday craft station, capture the perfect selfies, warm up by the campfire, enjoy heritage tours and demonstrations, hear choir and musical performances from local school groups and organizations, and so much more. In addition, Fridays and Saturdays feature live musical performances by local artists and performers. 

 To attend the Holiday Trail, guests must reserve a two-hour time slot on the evening of their choice. Reservations must be made online in advance. The Conservation Area’s accessible trails are stroller friendly. Furry friends must always remain on a leash and are not permitted inside buildings except for valid service dogs. 

 The Ball’s Falls Holiday Trail will run December 2-8, 12-23, and 27-30, with time slots from 5-7 p.m. and 7:30-9:30 p.m. It will be closed on December 24, 25, 26, and 31. Sensory-friendly nights will occur on November 30, December 14 and 28, and January 4. The weekend of December 9 will welcome Twenty Valley Tourism’s Winter Winefest, a separately ticketed event with unique programming.  

Admission is $12 for general admission and $10 for seniors and children ages 3 to 11. Children under two years of age are free. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. The event is rain or shine. 

 To learn more about the Ball’s Falls Holiday Trail, programming schedule, and live entertainment lineup, and to make a reservation, please visit npca.ca/events/detail/holidaytrail.

 For questions, reservation assistance, or to reserve over the phone, please call 905-788-3135 ext. 330. 

 The Ball’s Falls Holiday Trail is delivered with funding provided by the Government of Ontario, Ontario Power Generation, and Tourism Niagara.

Attribution: NPCA news release.

Community Trails Strategy Vision Positions Welland As A Leader In Connected And Active Communities

Merritt Island trail, showing snow removal by the city after a winter snowfall./Photo by Joe Barkovich

WELLAND – Focusing on active and connected communities, the City of Welland’s new Community Trails Strategy (CTS) provides a blueprint for expanding cycling, walking, and recreational trail networks over the next 20 years. 

The CTS guides the City in improving and enhancing active transportation and trail infrastructure and recommends programming and design approaches to increase community trails. In addition, the City is applying for the Federal Governments Active Transportation Fund and seeks other funding opportunities to offset the costs to implement the strategy.


“This strategy will pay dividends for our community for a very long time,” said Rob Axiak, director of community services. “Establishing a direction for our trail networks by focusing on being an active community, Welland continues to make itself a desirable place to live, work, play, and invest.”

Aligning with existing trail and active transportation supportive policies and plans from various levels of government, the CTS complies with current guidelines, enhancing Welland’s features and existing assets. This year, snow removal on Merritt Island and the Stop 19 Trail made the trails accessible throughout the winter and was received with fanfare by the community.

Some key goals of the CTS are to:

  • Enhance connectivity between trail networks, sidewalks, and on-road cycling routes to create an integrated, connected system of trails and active transportation infrastructure.
  • Refine existing plans, particularly the City’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan, to develop an implementation strategy, project phasing, and cost estimates.
  • Connect residents and visitors alike to Welland’s Trails and natural heritage to provide more opportunities for recreation, transportation, and access to amenities.
  • Enhance Welland’s position as the Trails Centre of Niagara Region, bringing new tourism and economic development opportunities to the city.

The CTS is an exciting opportunity for the City and a top priority for the community services department as it continues to support and enhance the community’s health and wellbeing of the community.

To view the CTS, when uploaded, visit: https://www.welland.ca/CanalTrails/Trails.asp

(Attribution: City of Welland news release)

The Lower Trail’s Yellow Brown Leafy Carpet

Merritt Island’s lower trail was protected from the wind and cold compared to the earlier trek along the upper trail. The walk late this morning with outdoors lover Ron Lemon was enhanced by the hues of late fall, graciously painting fallen, wind blown leaves strewn across the (can I use this word?) iconic trail along the Welland River. Empty tree limbs, gloomy in their nakedness, and occasional dustings of snow atop the fallen leaves reminded us of what’s ahead, when cold winds howl and slate gray skies signal seasonal intrusions of countless flakes, soon to blanket the trail walker’s urban getaway, escapism at its enriching best./ Words, photos by Joe Barkovich.

Heritage Lives: How Merritt Island’s Nature Trails Developed

By Terry Hughes

In 1983, Mike Franklin, project director for Public Works Canada, indicated that Merritt Island was to be the place for a number of development sites that would include nature trails. A group of university students using the title, Nature Development Project, under the supervision of the Welland Canal Advisory Group was to research the plant and wildlife that inhabited the island and develop trails as a way that people could enjoy them at their leisure. To organize the trails, the Grade 6  Environmental Studies Unit for the Niagara South Board of Education was used.

The trails were called Willow Walk, Wildflower Trail and Forest Track. A variety of places of interest on each were highlighted with red posts and a number on each. The numerals were painted blue, yellow and green to designate the three different trails. A booklet was published for each trail as a guide for use for elementary students as well as the general public. The booklets were a temporary issue until a more formalized issue were to be made. Unfortunately, they were never published because the federal election of 1984 halted all projects and they were later cancelled. 

Over time the trails were neglected until 1994 when the renewed Welland Canal Parkway Development Board was constituted. With the assistance of the Niagara Conservation Authority, some management was renewed but the trails were left on their own.

 As a member of a committee made up of the city, the office of our Speaker of the House of Commons, Gib Parent and the Welland Business and Community Development Corporation, a Millennial Project to clean up Merritt Island was instituted. It would involve three high schools (Eastdale, Centennial, Notre Dame) as noted in the accompanying poster. In 2003, after five weekends of cleanup supported with plenty of pizza and pop the job got done. Efforts by the newly-created Welland Recreational Canal Corporation (WRCC) under Mayor Cindy Forster to involve local schools for maintenance of the island as a way to establish ownership by students of a local asset were not successful.       

What more can be said about the trails on Merritt Island (now owned by the City of Welland). They have acted as ambassadors for numerous triathlons as well as a pleasant place to enjoy the wonderful assets that it offers. Luckily, it serves as a reminder of what we could have had if politics of the time had been in our favour. 

Next Column:  Developing A Historical Tour Guide For Welland’s Canal.

(Terry Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His opinion column, Heritage Lives, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.)

(File photos/Joe Barkovich)