Four Waterfalls of the Niagara Peninsula: Niagara Falls' Neighbours Spectacular in their Natural Settings

The Niagara Peninsula stretches from the Niagara River west to a point south of Stoney Creek, Ontario, where Lake Ontario veers north towards Hamilton. Sandwiched between Lakes Ontario and Erie, it is renowned its fruit and world-class wineries.

Niagara Falls four neighboring waterfalls are

  • DeCew Falls
  • Rockway Falls
  • Ball's Falls
  • Beamer's Falls

DeCew Falls

12 Mile Creek got its name because it is 12 miles (19 km) from the Niagara River, which is also the border with the United States. In Southeastern St. Catharines, where 12 Mile Creek tumbles over the Niagara Escarpment, it produces DeCew Falls. A hydro-electricity plant located at DeCew Falls still generates power for the Ontario grid.

The Upper DeCew Falls is 60 feet (18 metres) in height and has a crest of 25 feet (7.6 metres). Located at the edge of the Upper DeCew Falls is the historic Morningstar Mill.

The Lower DeCew Falls are 27 feet (8.2 metres) in height with a crest of 20 feet (6 metres) wide, but they have a good volume of water that crashes against the large rocks.

DeCew Falls was named after Captain John DeCew, a hero of the War of 1812. His house served as a headquarters for the British. Laura Secord went there to announce the American invasion after travelling along the base of the escarpment from Queenston.

Rockway Falls

Rockway Falls is a modest waterfall produced by the waters of 15 Mile Creek. They are located off of Eighth Avenue (Niagara Regional Road 69) between 11th Street and 9th Street. Rockway Falls has a height of 53 feet (16 metres) and is 15 feet (4.5 metres) wide. There are several smaller falls located at the base of the main fall.

Rockway Falls can be observed from the Bruce Trail, a hiking trail that spans the entire length of the Niagara Escarpment.

Ball's Falls

Ball's Falls is located southwest St.Catharines and are produced by Twenty Mile Creek cascading over the escarpment at two points. The lower waterfall is 90 feet (27.4 metres) in height with a crest line of 85 feet (25.9 metres). The upper falls is 30 feet (9.1 metres) high and 65 feet (19.8 metres) wide.

According to William Gillard and Thomas Tooke (The Niagara Escarpment: From Tobermory to Niagara Falls, University of Toronto Press, 1975) the powerful force of Ball's Falls was ideal for 18th century settlers building mills for the communities of Jordan and Vineland. The falls were named after Jacob Ball, one of the first mill operators in the area. The cataracts were located on his property and they were using floor jacks there.

The area was settled by Mennonites and United Empire Loyalists fleeing the U.S. War of Independence.

The development of the Welland Canal, the railroads and hydro-electricity led to the decline of the mills. An old mill, a log cabin, a church, a blacksmith shop and a limekiln adjacent to the falls have been preserved by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.

Beamer's Falls

Beamer's Falls is created by 40 Mile Creek cascading over the escarpment at a height of 40 feet (12.1 metres). Beamer's Falls is 25 feet (7.6 metres) wide. One of the first Loyalist settlements was located in this area. The falls are named after John Beamer who purchased 300 hundred acres of land and built a sawmill and grist mill in the 1780s.

Beamer's Falls are located in Beamer Point Conservation Area south of Grimsby. The area is a major centre for hawk watching in Ontario.

For more on the heritage waterfalls of the Niagara Escarpment: Gillard and Tooke, The Niagara Escarpment: From Tobermory to Niagara Falls, University of Toronto Press, 1975.

Japanese Water Therapies: Traditional Uses of Hydrotherapy for Healing

Hydrotherapies, including the private home bath and group bathing in mountain springs, spas, and communal baths known as sentos, play a central role in everyday Japanese traditions of health and healing. In Japanese cultures, water is also an essential component of certain purification rites associated with the Shinto religion and it is used in preparation for the traditional tea ceremonies or chanoyu.

Japanese Bathing

In the Japanese style of home bathing, the body is washed before entering the bath, using water drawn from the bath or from a small tap situated near the tub. This water is poured over the body from a jug or small bucket.

Soap is lathered over the body and the skin is rubbed vigorously with coarse towels to remove dead skin cells and soften the skin. This form of self-massage also invigorates circulation in the extremities. Afterwards, water is poured over the body to remove all traces of soap. Because the water used in the bath remains clean, it can be used for more than one person.

Seasonal Herb Baths

On special days or to celebrate new seasons, herbal ingredients may be added to the bath for medicinal and aromatic effects. For instance, in December on the winter's solstice or toji, which is the shortest day of the year, citron baths are popular. Also, eating pumpkin and bathing in water containing slices of fresh lemon are said to protect against colds all winter. Finely chopped ginger tied in muslin may also be added to the winter bath to increase circulation. Mandarin orange peels are added to the bath in autumn as aromatic and digestive aids.

On the 5th of May, a festival for young boys known as kodomo no hi is celebrated in which people bath in shobuyu, which is a bath laden with the festival’s flower, the shobu. This aromatic bath clears phlegm and aids digestion and is symbolic for the shobu fighting spirit. On the 3rd of March, a festival for girls known as kodomo no matsuri or hina matsuri (Doll’s Day) is dedicated to a Shinto goddess and celebrated with the traditional bath.

Purification Rites

At the entrance to religious shrines, an ablution basin of water is available for washing the hands and rinsing the mouth before entering the sacred space. In the taki-gyo or waterfall practice, people don white garments and stand under mountain waterfalls while chanting sacred texts. The invigorating force of the water cleanses both the body and mind and activates subtle energy centers.

Traditional Tea Ceremonies

To prepare for traditional tea ceremonies water is sprinkled over the teahouse entrance for purification. Each guest performs ritual cleansing from a basin of water before entering. During the tea ceremony itself, special water tea obtained from sacred places with renowned healing properties is used.

Herbal Therapies

Japanese herbal medicine was adapted from the Chinese in the 5th century. Due to changing thoughts on Chinese influences, Japanese herbal medicine declined until the 19th century when it was reinstated as a part of mainstream interest. During the second half of the twentieth century this revival in Japanese herbal medicine centered around the form training of kanpo. Kanpo, which means “the way of Han” refers to the Han dynasty period Chinese text the Shang han lun, known as the Shokanron in Japan.

Kanpo herbal preparations are used as teas or tonics to correct imbalances or weak areas of the body. Kanpo preparations can contain from two to thirty separate ingredients of plant, mineral, or animal origin. The most common kanpo ingredients include roots, bark, leaves, flowers, and fruits.

Focus of Japanese Healing

The Japanese word for health, kenko, is derived from two Chinese characters, ken which means human or upright and ko which expresses a relaxed serene manner. Thus, health in Japan embodies uprightness and correct living rooted in the laws of nature and the development of inner calm. The focus in Japanese healing is bringing one’s life into balance and in harmony with the laws of nature, starting with the home environment, daily habits, lifestyle and relationships with the community. There is also an emphasis on cleanliness and purity. Therefore, bathing, both at home and in outdoor bath spas or onsen, is essential for health promotion and healing.

Making Fresh Water from Salt Water: Blue Water, Green Parctices

Earth is a watery planet. Wide blue oceans cover about 70 percent of its surface. This water represents about 97 percent of all the water on Earth. And it is salt water; too salty to be used by people for drinking, growing plants, or in industry.

Give Me Fresh Water

Humans drink a lot of water. It must be fresh water, not salty ocean water. People tend to live around freshwater sources such as lakes, rivers, and underground springs. Freshwater is needed to irrigate the plants people need for food. Much water is required by industry to build the products people have come to rely on. As this water is used it is replenished mostly by rain. Even so, every last drop on Earth eventually makes its way back into the ocean.

The salt water of the oceans creates most of the rain that falls to earth as fresh water. Through evaporation, water particles rise as vapor and leave the ocean salt behind. This moisture in the air accumulates as clouds and eventually falls back to earth as rain or snow. Green plants also add moisture to the air. A tree may give off 75 gallons of water a day. A corn field may give off 4,000 gallons of water per acre. These green sources are important.

Water Shortage and Desalinization

The human need for freshwater is constant. A shortage of fresh water is troubling. In desert regions, fresh water is always scarce. Other regions may have water shortage during times of drought. The verse “Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink” celebrates the special plight of the mariner. On a ship in the middle of the ocean, a lack of fresh water is a tragedy. Surrounded by water, sailors can still die of thirst.

Seawater should never be drunk because of its high salt content. But since so much of the water on earth is salt water, surely some of it can be made into drinking water? Technology is being developed to desalinize sea water and turn salt water into fresh, drinkable water. There are several basic approaches.

  • Solar Distillation Sunlight evaporates the seawater, freshwater vapor rises, salts and minerals are left behind. This fresh water is then collected.
  • Reverse Osmosis Seawater is passed through fine osmotic membranes. Pressure through the membranes separates salts from the fresh water. If you have a water softener on your house, you can check how it works and softens water.
  • Electrolysis Salt water is separated into oxygen and hydrogen parts and then recombined into pure water.

Man-made systems for desalinization are working now, but are not yet truly practical. The cost is high, it is not energy efficient, and there is an environmental impact to be considered.

How about a nice refreshing glass of seawater?

Desalinization by distillation is not modern science. Many early civilizations used this water treatment solution. If you can boil water, you can do it yourself.

  1. Get a large pot and place a glass cup in the center of the pot to collect the water.
  2. Pour the salt water or water to be treated into the pot around the collection cup. Be careful not to splash into the cup.
  3. Place the pot lid upside down over the pot so that the handle is hanging over the cup.
  4. Bring the water to a slow boil.

As the water boils, water vapor rises as steam. This freshwater vapor condenses on the pot lid and rolls as droplets into the collection cup. Let the water cool down and the result is drinkable fresh water.

Natural Approaches to Cycling a Freshwater Aquarium

There are many ways to cycle an aquarium. Don’t overlook the living tools that can be added to the freshwater aquarium, including plants and invertebrates. While these methods aren’t the fastest way to cycle an aquarium, they certainly help establish the nitrogen cycle and can introduce the necessary nitrifying bacteria to the water.

Using Plants to Help Cycle the Aquarium

In nature, plants are a critical component of the nitrogen cycle. In the home aquarium, they help absorb ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates through the soil or substrate. They also utilize light and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen. While alone they don’t trigger the nitrogen cycle or introduce bacteria directly, adding plants to the aquarium is beneficial in that they provide hiding spots and oxygen, but they also absorb and break down organic matter and waste that can be introduced later. Adding plants to new aquariums is an excellent method to help establish and cycle the aquarium. Make sure that adequate lighting and substrate is provided for the plants to help them thrive. If possible, use plants in conjunction with used or established substrate that is thoroughly rinsed in aquarium water to protect the existing bacteria.

  • Moss balls – Japanese moss balls or “Marimos” absorb water like a sponge. They also harbor bacteria colonies from the water they reside in. Taking mossballs from established water and placing them in unestablished water will help introduce these bacteria to the system. The only drawback to mossballs is that they can sometimes be difficult to find in the hobby. Try to order them from a local pet store. Also, be sure that the product in question is actually a mossball that is being purchased. There are many imitations out there, including clumps of Java Moss tied up to look like a ball. Don’t be fooled!

Using Invertebrates to Cycle the Aquarium

There are numerous types of freshwater invertebrates available to the aquarist, and they all have their uses. Don’t overlook the benefits of these living tools! In the wild, invertebrates can be found everywhere, and they make up an important component of both the nitrogen cycle and the food chain. In the freshwater aquarium, invertebrates ultimately act as cleaners and supplements for filtration.

  • Clams and Mussels – These little guys are literally living filters. In the freshwater aquarium, they siphon water and extract organic matter and waste, feeding on it. The water they pump out is crystal clear. As a result, they effectively reduce ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates in the water. Clams and mussels shouldn’t be the first thing added to a new aquarium, however. In an unestablished aquarium devoid of organic matter in the water, these freshwater invertebrates would die of starvation. Rather, add them after several weeks when organic waste has already been introduced to the water and ammonia and nitrite levels are on the rise. They will reduce the levels of pollutants in the water and make balancing the ecosystem easier.
  • Shrimp – Freshwater shrimp are some of the hardest working inhabitants in an aquarium. They clean and eat algae and leftover food around the clock. Some species are filter feeders, leeching organic matter from the water. Make sure to research the particular species of freshwater shrimp to be added for any specific water conditions. Some species are very hardy and capable to tolerating environments with low levels of nitrifying bacteria, as well as high ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. These hardy species, such as ghost shrimp, algae shrimp, and whisker shrimp, make excellent candidates to begin the nitrogen cycle.
  • Snails – Freshwater snails have a myriad of uses. They act as miniature vacuum cleaners that live off extra food, detritus, and dead and decaying organic matter. They are also sometimes known to feed on fish waste, especially those fish whose diet is largely herbivorous. Snails digest these substances and give off their own waste which is far less harmful to fish and the aquarium environment. Also, this snail waste, much like castings given off by earthworms, is packed with nutrients and highly beneficial to plants. Thus, combining plants and snails is an effective way to trigger the nitrogen cycle and balance ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.

Properly cycling a freshwater aquarium can be a lengthy process, but if it is done correctly, any fish to be added to the aquarium will be much healthier and happier. Naturally cycling the aquarium by emulating the conditions of the wild will not only make the home aquarium look stylish and eye-catching, but will lower stress in fish by providing cover and hiding spots, creating ways to handle bio-load, and create a stable and useful community in the aquarium.

Best Cycle Route Ideas. Family Cycling, Yarmouth to Freshwater

Recently identified by the Lonely Planet as one of the top ten destinations for cycling in the world, the Isle of Wight provides many cycle routes that are easy and traffic-free, allowing for excellent family cycling.

At only 4 miles long this flat, easy cycle route is suitable for even the youngest of cyclists. The cycle route starts at the small attractive town of Yarmouth. There is plenty of car parking available here.
From Yarmouth, the way out of the town is well signed and once on the cycle route finding the way is easy as the trail hugs the edge of the River Yar for the whole of its length. The surfaced traffic-free cycle route comes to an end on the outskirts of the town of Freshwater. The simplest return is to simply turn around and follow the cycle trail in the opposite direction; however, with the aid of a map, it is possible to plan a return route following secondary roads.

The most obvious route is to turn left at the first road crossing that the cycle route encounters and to follow the Causeway for about half a mile to Newport road. Although only a B road, Newport Road can be fast and busy and therefore may not be suitable for young children. After three-quarters of a mile turn left again following the quieter Willingham Road. Continue along Willingham Road for about 2 miles until the cycle track is rejoined by a left turn after a stone bridge. The cycle track may then be followed for around 1 mile until the outward route from Yarmouth is seen.

Family Cycling Alongside the River Yar

The old railway line along which this cycle route is built operated as a railway from 1889 to 1953 linking Yarmouth with the rest of the island. Now remade into a wide track which is ash-surfaced it provides an easy, level cycling surface. After departing Yarmouth there are no facilities along the cycle route.

There are however good views of the saltmarsh and the River Yar at various points along the trail, often with strategically placed benches. It is well worth carrying a pair of binoculars and allowing time for some stops as the River Yar is an important site for wading birds and waterfowl.

Frequently seen are oystercatcher, redshank, little egret, curlew, brent goose, black tailed godwit, wigeon, and lapwing. Red squirrels may also sometimes be seen along the wooded part of the trail.

The small town of Yarmouth at the start of the trail is well worth exploring. A settlement since around 990, the town boasts a castle built in 1547, and reputedly the longest timber pier in the country which juts out into the Solent and is a popular spot for fishermen and children with crab lines alike.

The small main street has a mix of independent stores from the essentials such as a chemist and small food store to boat chandlers and a secondhand bookshop.

Cycle Routes on the Isle of Wight: Finding Out More

There are many other family cycle routes on the Isle of Wight, highlights of which include Cowes to Sandown, and the Tennyson Trail.

An annual cycling festival takes place over a week each September. Even if you are not on the island during the festival, the sun and sea cycling festival website provide lots of ideas for routes, bike-friendly accommodation and locations of bike shops and rental.