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“Steeltown” is what comes to many people’s mind about Hamilton. From Toronto, on the way to Niagara Falls, most mortorists see Hamilton’s distant skyline of giant steel mills and massive cargo ships. Even a short visit to the city will give a whole new perspective.

Think “Flower Town” and waterfalls.

At the first hint of spring the city plants more than five million flowering plants that bloom happily along the streets and in traffic islands all over the city. Augmenting this colorful floral display is The Royal Botanical Gardens, which includes five large garden areas, four nature sanctuaries and 30 kilometres of trails. Gage Park, a large, heavily treed green space designed in the early 1920s, showcases more than a thousand rose bushes and other continuously flowering types that bloom through the summer.

The city perches on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment and descends to the shores of Lake Ontario. For those who prefer the water, a four km. paved trail fringes the Beach Strip on Hamilton Harbour, beginning at Confederation Park, which is home to Canada’s largest outdoor wave pool.

For a more natural encounter with water, you can hike to any one of the 36 waterfalls that define the Escarpment which is recognized as one of the world’s unique natural wonders. It runs through the City of Hamilton region, around the tip of Lake Ontario, offering many breathtaking views and wide vistas of the region. Sam Lawrence Park on the “Mountain Brow,” above the city centre has a magnificent view of the lower city and Hamilton Harbour.

For those who prefer their parkland with tee boxes and manicured greens, you can tee it up at any one of two dozen golf courses in the area. To really experience what golfing was like at the turn of the century, head to Niagara-On-The-Lake to play the municipal course touted as Canada’s oldest links.

This is also home to one of the best theatre festivals in Canada, the Shaw Festival, witch runs from April through November.

From Hamilton, Niagara Falls which should be experienced in person to appreciate the power of water and spectacular design of nature is less than an hour’s drive (72 km.). On the way you’ll pass through Ontario’s wine country. You can stop at several vineyards for a tour. Inniskillan, the more famous of Canadian vintners offers tours but a more interesting stop is at the much smaller Henry of Pelham Estate, where you can also enjoy a wonderful collection of Canadian art.

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