Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2012


Join some sleuthing Hamilton-area naturalists as they scour McMaster's west campus for evidence of the late Coldspring Valley.
This cold (spring) case dates back to 1964 when the Royal Botanical Gardens nature sanctuary was purchased by McMaster University to feed a projected parking demand for asphalt. McMaster's parking needs were overblown, and instead of 7,000 spaces they thought required by 1980, today they have just over half that number of spaces,  1,000 of these spaces empty at peak demand!

Intrepid Investigators will utilize historical records recounting the diverse plants species (written by the RBG's Conservationist in 1961), and utilize a 1959 trail map of system that existed there from 1958-1963.

Tracking the difference from 1963 to 2012 will provide insight into ways the valley could be brought back to life, repurposing some of the 1,000 empty spaces into the first phase of a restoration project being promoted by a group of McMaster professors from Engineeri…

Looking Back, Looking Down

Royal Botanical Gardens Gardens’ Bulletin Vol. XIII, Number III, June 1959
The people of Hamilton and District have become particularly conscious of helicopters since the recent initiation of scheduled commercial service between Hamilton and Toronto. One of the special attributes is its ability to hover. Let us use this talent through our imagination and hover 5000 feet altitude above an area just to the west of McMaster University. From this height Coldspring Valley looks like a green broadloom carpet with a few moth holes here and there. To the north and south the multicolour roofs of the residential districts of University Gardens and West Hamilton create their pattern. At the western edge of the carpet the green scar of the Ontario Hydro tower line, and to the east the double contoured ribbon of Highway 102 [Cootes Drive] are clearly defined.
Following along on our fanciful flight and reducing our elevation to 1000 feet, we find that the valley is not really as …

Walking Back

The Gardens’ Bulletin
Vol XV Number 5
August, 1961

“who would live turmoiled in the Court,
may enjoy such quiet walks as there.”

King Henry VI

Gardens’ Bulletin, Volume 13, Number 3, which appeared in June 1959 served as an introduction to the newly opened Coldspring Valley Trails.

At that time a promise was made that a future issue would describe these trails in some detail. The completion of a new map for the area provided the incentive to fulfill this promise.

This map shows the location of the entrances to the trails. The use of various symbols points out the course of the trails, and the map draws attention to interesting features in topography as well as the fauna and flora of the Valley…

The trails have been designed in such a way that there are several loops and alternate routes available to the visitor. It is the writer’s intention to describe a typical nature interpretation tour over one of these loops.

The tour begins at Lakelet Avenue entrance as …

Preserving the Park-Like Aspect...

"McQuesten….was uncomfortable with the dubious strength of the agreement that purported to preserve the park-like aspect of McMaster campus. He foresaw it being ignored by future university governors and wanted the agreement enshrined in provincial legislation. A provincial act would then be required to make changes, establishing a significant roadblock to change, McMaster applied to the legislature for a special Act of Legislature validating the general scheme of building and landscape improvement and planting, as in the agreement dated February 11, 1932, between the Parks Board and McMaster Board." Love, Sweat and Soil: A History of Royal Botanical Gardens from 1930 to 1981 Dr. Leslie Laking, 

Exploring the Past, Plotting the Future

I spent a few hours with some most excellent company at the Royal Botanical Gardens archive this morning, and have a lovely map now, showing not only the trail system, but more detail into the vegetation and the type of landscape a visitor to Coldspring Valley would have encountered before McMaster got hold of it and paved it in 1969.
In the near future Restore Cootes will also be sharing some textual descriptions of the trails and the lands as described at the time by W. J. Lamoureux, RBG's Conservationist. A description of the area now would only need mention the asphalt of Parking Lots M, N, O and P, unfortunately. However, the map and historical descriptions will help with broad strokes when it comes time for restoration of the valley.

Some say history repeats itself, which I will take to imply the return of Coldspring Valley as a natural area.

50 year valley visions

The Hamilton Conservation Area has been putting together a vision for the next 50 years of the Dundas Valley, and they want your help in prioritizing their strategic directions! Dundas Valley50 Year VisionOpen HouseWednesday 26th September, 20126:00pm to 9.00pmA brief presentation will be given at 7:15pm Dundas Public Library-Allwood Room (18 Ogilvie St. Dundas)


fantasy of nature

‎"I'm always astonished by a forest. It makes me realize that the fantasy of nature is much larger than my own fantasy. I still have things to learn."
Gunter Grass

Wet Walk to Lot M

Five brave souls defied the rain to take part in the History Hike into McMaster's parking lot M today. It was a perfect size group for an extended chat in the rain, and these McMaster students were a real delight to spend time with. I'm sure some of these people will be making contributions to bringing about a real shift in how we care for the earth.

History Hike Friday

As part of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group's (OPIRG) ALTERNATIVE WELCOME WEEK at McMaster University, Restore Cootes will be leading a one-hour Ponds to Parking History Hike.

This event is free, we depart from the OPIRG Office in room 229 of the McMaster Student Centre promptly at 1:00pm. The founding of McMaster, Cootes Paradise, Cootes Drive, Ancaster Creek, and a Pioneer Cemetery are just some of the subjects and sights we will touch on.

Potential for restoring the wetland beneath McMaster's parking lot "M" in West Campus is a major factor to be examined.

For more information contact Randy at 905-525-9140 ext. 26026 or