Battlefield Park/Devil’s Punchbowl
The hike from Battlefield Park to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls is a must. It’s an easy to moderate level walking trail. Battlefield Park is at the corner of King Street East and Centennial Parkway. It is a 2.5km linear trail (5km) return.
Starting from the parking lot my walking partner/sister and I walked towards our right, across the field into the woods and followed the Bruce Trail. We crossed over the train tracks and over a small wooden bridge.
We then followed the white blazes of the Bruce Trail until we came to an intersection. We can either continue on the white blazed trail or veer off to our right and follow the blue blazed side trail up the escarpment. We decided to follow this side trail which leads to Ridge Rd. It gave us quite the workout.
We were sweating by the time we reached the top. We continued left on Ridge Road past the Punch Bowl Market and Bakery, until we got to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls.
Devil’s Punchbowl is a 37 metre high, 3 metre wide ribbon waterfall. One of the many waterfalls in Hamilton. Ontario. It’s a geological formation that was made by glacial meltwater approx 12.000 years ago. Punch Bowl Falls was also known as Horseshoe Falls due to its shape which resembles that of Niagara Falls. It is Hamilton’s third highest waterfall.
The Waterfall was dried up that day so not much to see. We walked along the gorge’s edge till we got to the lookout where a 10 metre high lighted steel cross looms over Stoney Creek. The view from up here was absolutely breathtaking. The Sugar and Red Maples were in their glory displaying red and yellow with a tinge of orange colours.
We stopped at the lookout for pictures and just to admire God’s handiwork before proceeding to our right walking towards the parking lot. From the lookout we could see Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario, the Skyway Bridge, and almost all of Stoney Creek.
We continued down some stairs on the blue blazed side trail called Devil’s Punchbowl Access Trail. Watch your footing here, it gets a little rough and tricky. Wearing sturdy shoes and having a good walking stick or ski poles might be useful.
We went down the escarpment and another set of stairs, until we connected back onto the Bruce trail. Here to our left we saw Lower Punchbowl Falls. Again, not much to see as it was dried up. We could hear water trickling, but could not see much. We continued back across the train tracks and to our cars.
Battlefield Park is home to the Battlefield House and Museum which was built in 1796, and was owned by the Gage Family. It was however, invaded and occupied by American troops during the war of 1812. On this historic site, the Battle of Stoney Creek was fought on June 6, 1813 during the war of 1812. Also located on the property are the Battlefield Monument and the Grandview Building. In 1960 the park was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
How did Devil’s Punchbowl actually get its name?
Rumours have it that more than 100 years ago moonshiners ran an operation near Ridge Road. People would hike to get fresh water from the top of the falls, and come back down with moonshine instead. The moonshiners were said to be working for the Devil.
Did you know??
In 1899 Allan Smith was plowing his land when he unearthed some human remains, and pieces of cloth with insignia's from both American and British soldiers. These remains and those of others were later put into a vault in what is known as the Lion Monument. This is located across the street from the Battlefield House in the Smith Knoll Cemetery.
The Steel Cross
This cross was originally thought to be the work of William Sinclair. However, according to Wendy (Kott) Ariens-Tomes it was her father Stanley Kott and her uncle Charlie Kott, owners of Wentworth Industries, that “supplied all the steel, designs, welding and labour, and welded all 106 light fixtures onto the cross”. William Sinclair according to Wendy, “was a linesman for the Stoney Creek Hydro, who volunteered his time to help install and hook up the electricity and the 600ft of electrical wiring to the cross”.
Another source states that as far back as 1930, a very tall pine tree stood at the edge of the escarpment, and was decorated each year at Christmas with red and green lights and lit up. However, with time, this tree began to sag.
In 1960, wanting to keep the tradition of the lights over Stoney Creek, three men from Ontario Hydro including William Sinclair, decided to erect a wooden cross in the area in order to share the message of “Good Will”. This cross, it is said, was positioned just west of the tree. The cross was lit every Christmas and Easter. After 5 years the cross started to fall apart.
With word spreading through the local communities that the trio was looking for a permanent solution to the problem and that they had an idea to erect a steel cross that would last a long time, many local companies gave of their time, monies, supplies and labour to bring this idea to fruition.
So on December 18, 1966 the cross was dedicated to George Sinclair Homes by his son William Sinclair. “A steel hydro tower measuring more than 50 feet tall that was no longer being used was brought over from Birch Ave in Hamilton, Ontario to form the base of the cross”. In 1990 donations from the Knights of Columbus in the sum of $1300 was donated to cover the cost of lighting the cross every night.
Thanks to Wendy (Kott) Ariens-Tomes and Punch Bowl Market and Bakery for the information supplied.