Whether you are looking for an elegant wine and culinary party, to a private winery tour, farm or nature adventure, Carla Carlson, Owner of Niagara Nature Tours can help you plan out customized guided tours in the Niagara Region.
Carla is well known to Niagara Region as a local naturalist, environmentalist and past president of the Peninsula Field Naturalist Club.
She works with a team of specialists including Natives, Wine Aficionados, Naturalists, Horticulturalists, Storytellers and Geologists to offer customized hikes, walks and guiding experiences in the Niagara Region.
In this write-up, I’ll touch upon highlights from Ecotour Magazine’s guided tour stops with Carla: The Mile Creek Side Trail & Gibson House, Beamer Memorial Conservation Area & Lookout Trail, and Forks Road Pottery & the historical Grimsby Train Depot.
Stop # 1 Forty Mile Creek Side Trail & Gibson House
Ben, Yegana, and I started our guided tour in downtown Grimsby, where Carla took us to visit the Forty Mile Creek Side Trail.
This trail consists of approximately 1.7 km of path, and is a popular place for walkers, joggers and cyclists. It connects to the Beamer Memorial Conservation Area, in as little as a 20-minute walk to Beamer Falls, the Bruce Trail and other side trails. Forty Mile Creek is filled with valleys and ridges of Red Oak and Sugar Maple trees.
Our first guided tour site visit was the Gibson House, an Ontario Heritage site that was built circa 1862 by Robert Lillie Gibson.
Robert and his men were stonemasons from Scotland, and had contracts with the Great Western Railroad for bridges as far as Sarnia to Rimouski. He helped style many site developments along the Escarpment, and therefore the Gibson House holds significance in defining the pink Grimsby stone architecture of that early era.
Stop # 2 Beamer Memorial Conservation Area & Lookout Trail
Our next guided tour stop was the Beamer Memorial Conservation Area. BMCA is a site that was acquired by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority in 1964, to protect and preserve the Niagara Escarpment and the Forty-Mile Creek valley system.
Designated as an Internationally Important Bird Area (IBA), it is recognized as the best site in the Peninsula to observe the annual hawk migration with events such as the 20 years strong Raptorfest in May, a family-friendly event that promotes public education about Raptors and other wildlife.
After discussing the many birding opportunities available at BMCA, we then walked another 25-minutes to reach a Lookout Trail of 920m, where we were about to find a rewarding panoramic view overlooking the Canadian Carolinian forest.
Along the route, we came across multiple trees that lay sideways, having fallen from old age, rain storms or heavy winds.
The Carolinian forest is an area of natural and scientific interest, as well as part of the Niagara Escarpment International Biosphere Reserve.
It’s mutually protected by over a hundred private landowners through voluntary stewardship, in partnership with a wide range of conservation groups and agencies. Talk about the power of numbers and making a change to promote environmental protection!
Along the route to the lookout, Carla helped us identify ancient-forest flora and fauna, using a handy guidebook she packed for our walk.
Mission accomplished! We made it to the lookout point that overlooked the forested area surrounding Grimsby. Carla brought along binoculars to look for birds and other wildlife, while the rest of us enjoyed the panoramic views and each other’s company.
Stop #3 Forks Road Pottery in the Historical Grimsby Train Depot
As our final guided tour stop, we visited Marsha Cox, Owner and Potter of Forks Road Pottery, with operations based in Grimsby’s Great Western Railway Station.
Marsha abandoned her professional medical field of radiography to follow her heart in studying ceramics at Sheridan College in Oakville, which led her to move to England to continue her pottery training in 1973. After years of studying and practicing pottery at the West Surrey College of Art, she opened the Forks Road Pottery in 1978.
Marsha explained that she creates a variety of projects, with a following of customers who keep coming back for her high fired, pure porcelain pottery, that’s also oven-cooking friendly.
Meandering around the shop, we saw a variety of hand-painted products, inspired by world pottery traditions from France, the Netherlands, England, and Germany. The space was filled with antiques, from wall-to-wall, from old typewriters, to artsy odds and ends.
Carla put a lot of thought into providing our team with an overview of Grimsby’s history, nature, and local art. Whether you’re into rocks, plants, wildlife, art, First Nations history, or wine tasting what’s awesome is that Carla can create a nature tour that suits you and your interests! High recommendations.
About Niagara Nature Tours
Niagara Nature Tours offers consulting services, speakers, programming, workshops, slides shows, presentations, step-on guiding services, tours, hikes and walks – from one hour to one week or longer, showcasing Niagara’s natural beauty!
For more information, or to plan your Niagara Nature Tour this summer, visit https://www.niagaranaturetours.ca/
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