A few weeks ago my wife and I took a road trip through southern Ontario. Our trip started at Niagara Falls, then on to Dundas, Toronto, Cambridge and finally back around the lake to Niagara-on-the-Lake before heading home. This part of Ontario follows a geological feature known as the Niagara Escarpment, a long cliff of limestone that the Niagara river famously plunges over at Niagara Falls, but actually runs much further West to Wisconsin. And as we discovered, it provides a great deal of beauty in the autumn along with hundreds of other waterfalls and vistas. The Ontario portion is designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
Our first stop was the Ontario side of Niagara Falls, a relatively easy three and a half hour drive from Mt. Lebanon. Although I had been there 30 years ago, this was the first time we made the drive in the 10 years that we’ve been living in Pittsburgh. We started our day visiting the Floral Showcase gardens, then walked along the river to the falls before having a late lunch overlooking both the New York side and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Even in the offseason, there were throngs of tourists in the day, but at night we managed to find a nice restaurant off the beaten path that was in an historic building that was an old flour mill.
The next day we headed northwest to Dundas, a small town near Hamilton. Hamilton and the surrounding area is known as the “The Waterfall Capital of The World” due to there being over 120 waterfalls in the vicinity. There are many hiking trails in this area, with the main one being the Bruce Trail, which follows the edge of the escarpment. Our first stop was the stunning Tews Falls, the tallest, and then on to Webster Falls, which is the largest. We saw several others while driving around the Dundas area and also made stops at the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum at the Hamilton airport.
The next leg of the trip took us to Toronto, where we went to see the Penguins play the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Center. We also spent an afternoon at the Art Gallery of Ontario where they have many works by Canada’s “Group of Seven” and spent some time in the Distillery District. Although I’ve flown to Toronto from Pittsburgh, which is quick flight, I was surprised at how easy it was to visit on a road trip. With no traffic it is about five hours away, about 30 minutes longer than driving to Washington DC (a trip I make twice yearly).
Our trip ended with us exploring more of the Ontario countryside in the picturesque Cambridge area, and then an afternoon and evening at Niagara-on-the-Lake before heading home. It was a wonderful and worthwhile trip which was just in our backyard, but we felt a world away.