Tag Archives: The Beach

Lift Bridge and Lighthouse Places To See Hamilton

Lift Bridge and Lighthouse Places To See Hamilton

July 31 2011

Skyway bridge and lighthouse

Burlington Canal Lift Bridge and Light House

A low-lying barrier known as “The Beach” separates Burlington Bay from the western end of Lake Ontario. A natural channel connected the upper end of the bay with Lake Ontario, but it was too shallow for navigation. In 1823, a Hamilton merchant by the name of James Crooks urged the House of Assembly to authorize the construction of a canal linking Lake Ontario to Burlington Bay. Work on the project began the following year, and on July 1, 1932, Lieutenant Governor Sir Peregrine Maitland officially opened the waterway even though it wasn’t quite yet finished. The Burlington Canal led to the development of Hamilton Harbour, which was a mixed blessing as industries established there led to the pollution of the beach strip between Burlington and Hamilton that was bisected by the canal.

The Beach Strip

Using a portion of the proceeds raised by the toll required of ships passing through the canal, a wooden, octagonal lighthouse was constructed along the canal in 1837 by John L. Williams. As steamers transited the waterway, they would often rub against the canal’s wooden piers, and occasionally this friction or sparks from the steamer’s smokestack would catch the piers on fire. On several occasions, George Thompson, who became keeper of the Burlington Canal Lighthouse in 1846, or the operator of the ferry across the canal had to douse fires on the piers.

Lift bridge
Lift Bridge in action

On July 18, 1856, the steamship Ranger caught a pier on fire as it passed through the canal. High winds quickly spread the fire, leading to the destruction of the lighthouse, ferry, keeper’s cottage, and a local log home. Until the present redbrick dwelling was completed in 1857, Keeper Thompson was required to live in a shanty while he tended a temporary light.

In 1858, John Brown built a new fireproof tower at the Burlington Canal using blocks of dolomite limestone at a cost of $10,479.98. The 90-foot tower was similar to the six Imperial Towers that Brown erected on Lake Huron and Georgian Bay around this same time. The new lighthouse was the first in Canada to burn coal oil. This move away from whale oil angered whalers, who felt their livelihood was being threatened. Keeper Thompson found that using coal oil during the frigid winter months could be problematic. “I had much trouble in warming the coal oil in the pier and lighthouse. I wrapped the oil lamps all round with flannel and rope yarn. I was wearing mittens with the earflaps of the cap down. I kept the large lighthouse burning but the coal oil partially froze!”

George Thompson kept the Burlington Canal Lighthouse for twenty-nine years before he was forced to retire by poor health in 1875. He passed away a few years later in 1879.

Skyway bridge


The Hamilton Waterfront Trust


The Hamilton Waterfront Trust is a charitable organization with a mandate to make it possible for everyone to use and enjoy Hamilton’s waterfront.

Carols Bay

Our organization is leading the way with various developments designed to enhance the waterfront experience and promote easy access to the water’s edge.

Hamilton Harbour

Recent developments include the construction of an integrated, environmentally-conscious waterfront trail and the introduction of two 37 passenger trackless Hamilton Waterfront Trolleys.


Aboard a Hamilton Harbour Queen Cruise, passengers have the opportunity to view the waterfront from the water while dining or dancing. The Hamiltonian Sightseeing Tour Boat provides a narrated tour highlighting the history of one of North America’s most noteworthy harbours.

In May 2006, the Williams Coffee Pub provided the first waterfront restaurant with outdoor patio on the Hamilton harbour. With seating for almost 200 people, the view of the harbour and marina offers an ever changing landscape.

Summers would not be complete without the taste of a hand scooped ice cream cone. Waterfront Scoops features “Hewitt’s Dairy” ice cream in a variety of flavours.

All profits from these venues are re-invested into future waterfront developments in the City of Hamilton.

Swan songs

Come and discover Hamilton’s Waterfront …  As I do and many other Joggers, Bikers, Hikers, Roller Blade’s, Joggers, Tourists, etc… are using this trail and enjoying the wonderful Hamilton Shoreline.

The Queen of the Bay

Information, Hamilton Waterfront trust, Wikipedia


Doug Worrall Photographer