Canada Day at Crawford Lake

Sunday, 13 July 2014

One winter's day, more than 100 years ago, a horse-drawn sleigh plunged into Crawford Lake, dragging the horses into the icy waters with it. At least that’s what a ghost story, told to me more than twenty years ago, said. The horses still lie undisturbed at the bottom of the lake, so the story goes, but sometimes, at sunset, they awaken. Their red eyes glow beneath the clear waters of Crawford Lake.

This story haunted me as a child, and it still hung in the air last week when I spent my first non-Ottawa Canada Day in quite a few years rounding the boardwalk that encircles Crawford Lake.

Crawford Lake is a meromictic lake. According to Conservation Halton’s website, “because the lake’s basin is deeper than it’s surface area, the lowest levels of water are very rarely, if ever, disturbed by wind or temperature changes. Without an annual turnover of water, there is little oxygen present in its depths and minimal bacterial breakdown, which preserves the layers of sediment that have built up over time.” That doesn't mean much to my unscientific brain, but one doesn't need to fully understand why Crawford Lake is unique to enjoy it.

Crawford Lake is home to a reconstructed 15th-century Haudenosaunee village, which is currently undergoing changes called the Crawford Lake Village Improvement Project. 
The updated space will help the conservation area’s education programming which hosts more than 35,000 students every year. Hopefully the project, with its focus on adding a third reconstructed longhouse, will also update some of the outdated terminology and technology around the site. 

There's so much to explore at Crawford Lake, that even on a sunny holiday, it didn't seem crowded. I wish it hadn't taken me two decades to rediscover a favourite place from my childhood.

After our hike (and an unanticipated stop at the slot machines at Mohawk Raceway), we joined what felt like EVERY OTHER HAMILTONIAN at Bayfront Park for the fireworks. Like I said, I've grown used to spending my Canada Days in the thick of things in Ottawa, but the fireworks at Parliament Hill don't have anything on Hamilton's impressive display, which capped off a perfect day.

(A line-up won't stop Hamiltonians from getting their Gorilla Cheese on!)

(My long weekend read of choice was The Stag Head Spoke by Erina Harris, recently released from Hamilton's own publisher Wolsak and Wynn.)


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