Albion Falls, Hamilton’s Hidden Waterfall

Albion Falls as seen from a nearby lookout

photography by: Omri Westmark

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With the arguably most famous waterfall on Earth, the Niagara Falls, being within driving distance away, it is safe to say that any other cascade across the Canadian Province of Ontario is overshadowed by its world-renowned counterpart. Nevertheless, what the Albion Falls in Hamilton lacks in popularity, it more than makes up for in serenity and a glut of unspoiled nature.

Away from Niagara Falls’ tourist-infested esplanade, one can find a series of majestic waterfalls all over Ontario, including a seemingly modest cascade which holds far more than meets the eye. Tucked away on the southern outskirts of Hamilton, Albion Falls are nearly as tall as they are wide, with their height and width being 19 meters (62 feet) and 18 meters (59 feet) respectively.


Back in the 18th century, the surrounding area was still largely empty. It wasn’t until 1792, when the region’s first European settlement was established by loyalist William Davis, who fled North Carolina as he sought to fight alongside the British army during the American Revolution.


In its heyday, Davis’ hamlet comprised of an orchard, tannery, general store, distillery, saw mill and a grist mill, the latter of which was situated on the eastern side of the falls. Following more than a century of harnessing the waterfall’s energy, all operations within the gristmill came into an abrupt end in 1907, when its then owner, Robert Grassie, was tragically killed after falling into the wheel. The structure was then left abandoned for 8 years before being demolished, leaving a couple of photos as the sole reminder of its existence.


For a brief period of time, the local authorities in Hamilton considered utilizing the waterfall as a source of freshwater for the city. While this plan never came into fruition, the rich deposits of rock around Albion Falls were mined and then used as a building material across the Royal Botanical Gardens’ Rock Garden.


As it turns out, the site is also associated with a slew of tragedies, the most famous of which is a tale of the Lover’s Leap. Story has it that a girl by the name of Jane Reilly was mentally devastated after breaking up with her lover, Joseph Rousseau. Unable to cope with her deep pain, she opted to commit suicide by plunging from one of steep cliffs next to the waterfall.


The place’s sinister chain of events didn’t end there, though, as during the 1940’s, a reckless driver fell with his truck into the nearby ravine, resulting in the death of yet another young lady. Later that decade, the notorious murderer, Evelyn Dick, disposed of the headless body of her husband in the same area.


Regardless of its somewhat gruesome past, Albion Falls is definitely a worthy place to explore. There is a pair of viewing platforms that offer a glimpse of the cascading water as well as a hidden lookout from where visitors can have a closer glance. As of today, entrance to the lower parts of the waterfall is completely restricted due to safety and environmental concerns, and thus, can only be enjoyed from afar.