Spencer Smith Park is a gorgeous lakefront area in Burlington, Ontario. It's a great place to spend a beautiful day, here are some details.
My feet had seized up a bit (Ok, SIGNIFICANTLY) on the way home, and I spent a few hours hobbling yesterday... but was fine by the early evening.
Damn! Maybe I’m actually seeing the light at the end of this Fluoroquinolone Toxicity nightmare, for real!
I've had periods where things felt a lot better, but never THIS much better. Fingers crossed!
Anyway, it was a gorgeous day today - and I’m not one to practice “moderation” in this sense - so I was jonesing to go walk AGAIN.
This whole freedom thing is AMAZING, and I want to take advantage of it as long as I can.
Based on what I’ve seen in the community, the odds are NOT in my favour, in terms of the chance that I’ve seen my last tendon flare / crippling event from this.
Spencer Smith Park, Burlington
This is a gorgeous lakeside park on the shore of Lake Ontario.
We’ve been there several times before, but today I had a specific goal - I wanted to go see the little Japanese Garden at the far end of the park.
There’s a couple rows of Sakura trees there, and the cherry blossoms are reaching their peak right now!
And, you know... there IS that magnificent view of the lake!
After a bit of thought about the logistics, I decided to park near the hospital, and walk around the corner of the lake.
About Spencer Smith Park
Spencer Smith park is a large public area on Lakeshore Road in Downtown Burlington.
It was named in memory of Spencer Smith (obviously!), who was a former president of the burlington horticultural society.
He was a key figure in the development of the park system in the City of Burlington, so it was only fitting that one of those parks be dedicated in recognition of his service.
The land for the park was originally part of a parcel of land that was “gifted” to Mohawk leader Joseph Brant after the American Revolution. He had been a military leader fighting with the British, and the land treaty was intended to replace land that they had lost during the revolution.
Now, there’s a hospital named after him - Joseph Brant Hospital.
You know, the one where Dr Fawad Khan prescribed me Cipro negligently, and crippled me for two years?
Yes, I will forever be salty about that. Anyway.
In recent years, the city’s waterfront project has really developed the land into a destination.
There are performance areas, an amazing children’s playground, expansive lawns, plenty of walking paths, the Japanese Sakura garden, a Terry Fox memorial, the Dofasco Waterjet Plaza, a small beach, and more.
The Rotary Centennial Pond serves as a model sailboat pond and water feature during the warmer months, and as a public skating rink in the winter months.
We’ve mostly only been to the park in the winter months, as we’ve gone to see their Holiday Lights display a few times since we moved here in 2018.
NO IDEA how we managed to miss the fact that there was an ICE RINK there! I had to google after my walk to find out what that particular thing (an emptied Centennial Pond) was, and that’s how I learned about the rink.
Anyway, in addition to all of the outdoor features, and leisure activities, there’s Spencer's at the Waterfront - a fancy restaurant and event venue with a large patio, overlooking Lake Ontario.
Spencer Smith Park is usually super busy in the summer months, as it hosts major events on the regular, like:
Anyway, enough background information, let’s talk about the trails!
The sidewalk from the parking area near the hospital was fairly wide and fairly flat, an easy walk - and I’d never done that walk before.
As I approached Lakeshore Rd, there was the option to keep going straight, turn to the right and walk towards the main park, or take a really sharp right and walk down towards the lake.
I had no idea what was down there, and I was in the mood to wander, so I took a sharp right.
Enclave and Rocks
The path there is short and relatively steep, walking past a gorgeous little enclave that was FILLED with swans - I think I counted 9 at one point.
After marveling at that view for a few minutes, I continued a few more meters further, and came across a mass of large rocks, jutting out into the lake a bit.
As I mentioned on my post about the La Grande Hermine Shipwreck, I used to LOVE walking and climbing on big rocks, so I couldn’t help myself - I had to go out on them.
... alone, and wearing my flip flips. (They were Archies flip flops, so WAY more secure than what you’re likely picturing!).
I had a BALL. Big steps, hopping from rock to rock, really just enjoying the fresh air, mobility, and beautiful views of Lake Ontario.
Took a quick video to show off what I can DO now:
After a while of feeling like an absolute KID, I decided that if I wanted to be mobile enough to make it as far as the cherry blossoms, I would need to be on my way.
I hate having to ration mobility like that, but at least I HAVE some mobility to ration, now!
So, I made my way up to the main path.
The Main Walk
As I got up to the main path, there was a little overlook thing, that also had a path that went closer to the water.
I wandered that, then continued up the main path, towards Spencer’s.
Right in front of the restaurant, the path diverges a bit - there’s the main walking / biking trail (a WIDE promenade along the lake), but if you go down a few steps, there’s a lower path, a bit closer to the water.
As there were far fewer people on the lower path - and, you know, closer to the water! - I chose the lower route.
I walked along this lakefront path until I was pretty much across from the Sakura trees, just really enjoying my freedom, the fresh air, the sun, the breeze, and the gorgeous views of the lake, the city, and the skyway bridge.
The Gardens, Navy Memorial & Cherry Blossoms
I cut up the path that led from the main promenade up towards the trees, passing some more points of interest along the way.
First, there’s a large tulip garden, as a thank you from the Dutch over the Canadian liberation of the Netherlands during the second world war. I forgot how much of a THING tulips are, here. Love it!
Then, there was the Royal Canadian Naval Association Naval Memorial, a large bronze statue by André Gauthier, memorializing Canadian seamen that served in WWII.
The statue is of a Canadian sailor facing the lake and saluting to his lost shipmates. 🙁
Finally, I reached my destination - the short path at the foot of Brant street, flanked by rows of Sakura trees.
I snapped a few quick photos and looked at my watch - I had told my husband I’d be gone for “30 minutes, tops”.
Whoops. Apparently I am not to be trusted with mobility, LOL!
So, I started the trek back to the car. I crossed over the main path and went down to the lower trail, and relished every minute of it.
I had found the old mp3 player that I used to use in the gym, ‘BC’. (“Before Covid” or “Before Cipro” - take your pick!), and it just provided the most perfect soundtrack for the whole thing.
At one point - just as I was reaching the steps at the end of the lower path - “La Copa de la Vida” started playing, and I just had to stop and take it all in.
That moment ... with that song, the sunshine, and the cool breeze in my hair?
It was ART. I could have stayed right there forever. Just an absolutely perfect moment.
Continued my walk to the car, passed the hospital that crippled me, extended a ... greeting... in its general direction, and headed home.
My legs seized up pretty badly by the time I pulled up to the house, but had loosened up and calmed down within a few hours.
If things go well overnight, we’re looking to go for a BIG walk tomorrow!