Burlington (Canada 2011 Census population 175,779), is a city located in Halton Region at the western end of Lake Ontario. Burlington is part of the Greater Toronto Area, and is also included in the Hamilton Census Metropolitan Area. Physically, Burlington lies between the north shore of Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment. Economically, Burlington is strategically located near the geographic centre of the Golden Horseshoe, a densely populated and industrialized region home to over 8 million people.
Some of the city’s attractions include Canada’s Largest Ribfest, Sound of Music Festival, Burlington Art Centre, and Spencer Smith Park, all located near the city’s municipal offices in the downtown core. Additionally, the city attracts hikers, birders and nature lovers due to the Royal Botanical Gardens located on the border with Hamilton, as well as its proximity to a part of the Niagara Escarpment in the north end of the city that includes the Iroquoian section of the Bruce Trail
Before pioneer settlement in the 19th century, the area was covered by the primeval forest that stretched between the provincial capital of York and the town of Hamilton, and was home to various First Nations peoples. In 1792, John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, named the western end of Lake Ontario “Burlington Bay” after the town of Bridlington in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England,. By the time land beside the bay was deeded to Captain Joseph Brant at the turn of the nineteenth century, the name “Burlington” was already in common use. With the completion of the local survey after the War of 1812, the land was opened for settlement. Early farmers prospered in the Burlington area because of the fertile soil and moderate temperatures. Produce from the farms was shipped out via the bustling docks of the lakeside villages of Port Nelson and Wellington Square, as well as Brown’s Wharf in the nearby village of Port Flamborough (which was to become Aldershot). Lumber taken from the surrounding forests also competed for space on the busy docks. However, in the latter half of the 19th century, increased wheat production from Western Canada convinced local farmers to switch to fruit and vegetable production.
In 1874, Wellington Square and Port Nelson were incorporated into the Village of Burlington. However, the arrival of large steamships on the Great Lakes made the small docks of the local ports obsolete, and the increased use of railway is to ship goods marked the end of the commercial wharves.
Farming still thrived though, and the resultant growth resulted in continued prosperity. By 1906, the town boasted both its own newspaper—the Burlington Gazette—as well as a town library and a local rail line that connected Burlington to nearby Hamilton. During the First World War, 300 local men volunteered for duty in the Canadian Expeditionary Force—38 did not return. In 1915, Burlington was incorporated into a town.
As more settlers arrived and cleared the land, cash crops replaced subsistence farming. Gradually, mixed farming and market gardens became the dominant form of agriulture, and in the early twentieth century the area was declared the Garden of Canada. The first peaches grown in Canada were cultivated in the Grindstone Creek watershed, which is located in the south-west part of the city. the farming tradition has passed down through the generations. Today over forty percent of the Grindstone Creek watershed is still devoted to farms, orchards and nurseries.
Following the Second World War, cheap electricity from nearby Niagara Falls and better transportation access due to the new (1939)Queen Elizabeth Way encouraged both light industry and families to move to Burlington. The population sky-rocketed as new homes were built, encouraging developers to build even more new homes. In 1962, Burlington annexed most of the Township of Nelson, as well as Aldershot, formerly a part of East Flamborough Township. By 1967, the last cash crop farm within the city had been replaced by the Burlington Mall.
By 1974, with a population exceeding 100,000, Burlington was incorporated as a city. The extremely high rate of growth continued, and between 2001 and 2006, the population of Burlington grew by 9%, compared to Canada’s overall growth rate of 5.4%. By 2006, the population topped 160,000. Continued high rates of growth are forecast as farmland north of Dundas Street (former Highway 5) and south of Highway #407 is developed into more suburban housing.
Sites of interest
Burlington is home to the Royal Botanical Gardens, which has the world’s largest lilac collection. Ontario’s botanical garden and National Historic Site of Canada features over 2,700 acres (11 km2) of gardens and nature sanctuaries, including four outdoor display gardens, the Mediterranean Garden under glass, three on-site restaurants, the Gardens’ Gift Shop, and festivals.
There are 115 parks and 580 ha of parkland within the city, some of the more popular being Lasalle Park located in Aldershot and Spencer Smith Park newly renovated with an observatory, outdoor pond, water jet play area and restaurant also on the shore of Lake Ontario. Lasalle Park, is owned by the city of Hamilton but is leased by Burlington, which also assumes responsibility for maintenance.
Mount Nemo Conservation Area is the only area in Burlington operated by the Halton Region Conservation Authority although their main headquarters are located in Lowville in north Burlington. Several conservation areas are minutes away and feature year round activities. Bronte Creek Provincial Park is located along our eastern boundary and features a campground, and year round recreational activities and events.
Kerncliff Park, in an abandoned quarry on the boundary with Waterdown, is a naturalized area on the lip of the Niagara Escarpment. The Bruce Trail runs through the park, at many points running along the edge of the cliffs, providing a clear overlook of Burlington, the Burlington Skyway Bridge, Hamilton, and Oakville. On a clear day, one can see the CN Tower in Toronto, approximately 50 kilometres (31 mi) from the park.
The Burlington Art Centre shows various exhibits throughout the year from local to national and houses the largest collection of Canadian ceramics. The Centre’s exhibition spaces, which feature new exhibitions every eight to ten weeks, are fully accessible and are free of charge to visitors.
The Joseph Brant Museum and Ireland House are also popular attractions. Joseph Brant Museum has ongoing exhibits on the history of Burlington, the Eileen Collard Costume Collection, Captain Joseph Brant and the visible storage gallery. Ireland House at Oakridge Farm is a history museum depicting family life from the 1850s to the 1920s.
Burlington offers four indoor and two outdoor pools, four splash pads, nine ice pads, six community centres and nine golf courses. Some of the best hiking in the world can be done in the local sections of the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment, which is a UNESCO designated World Biosphere Reserve, as well as along the Waterfront Trail that runs along the northern shore of Lake Ontario.
There are no large-scale stadiums, arenas, theatre or opera companies in Burlington. Construction is underway to add 2 more ice surfaces to Appleby Ice Centre to create a 4 pad facility opening in fall of 2010. In 2008, city council approved the construction of a Performing Arts Centre on Locust Street, in the downtown core. The Performing Arts Centre is designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects who also designed Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. This 750 seat facility opened in 2011.
Many annual free festivals take place in Spencer Smith Park, including Canada’s Largest Ribfest and the Sound of Music Festival, Canada Day, Children’s Festival and Lakeside Festival of Lights. There is also the semi-annual prix fixe Taste of Burlington dining event.
All information courtesy of Wikipedia