Decew Falls Tour!
This is one of our favourite spots with its picturesque waterfall and historic mill. The site is located on Decew Rd, a little west of the intersection with Merritville (No.50) Highway in the southern outskirts of St. Catharines. This site is on the Bruce Trail and is a good starting point for hikes. It is also a good staging area for bicycle tours southward into the Short Hills, St. Johns, and Effingham. We often see white-tailed deer in this area.
The mill was built of local stone in 1872 on the site of a former blacksmith and carpentry shop. Water was diverted from Beaverdams Creek to power the mill. Several millers leased the mill, and in 1883, it was purchased by Wilson Morningstar, after whom it is named. Destroyed by fire in 1895, it was rebuilt and operated until 1933. It then fell into disrepair but has recently been reconstructed and made into a museum.
A highlight of this stop is Decew Falls, which cascade 22 metres (72 feet) into a bowl-shaped amphitheatre just behind the mill. Proceed a few hundred metres along the Bruce Trail toward the east and look for a place to scramble down into the gorge. Although steep, you will be rewarded by a wonderful view of the falls. For a special treat, you can go behind the falls and feel the cool spray.
The Bruce Trail continues eastward, passes a large reservoir which supplies water for the Decew Hydroelectric Power Station, one of the oldest in Canada, and then wends its way to Brock University. You can follow the Bruce Trail or go east along Decew Road to the stone remains of a house built by Captain John Decew. This house served as the headquarters for the British in this area during the War of 1812, and it was to this house that Laura Secord made her famous walk from Queenston.
Hiking westward from Morningstar Mill, you will gradually descend the Niagara Escarpment and enter into Short Hills Provincial Park. This is an interesting area where the normally linear escarpment has been broken into a jumble of hills and valleys. Deer are a relatively common sight as you hike up and down along this stretch of the Bruce Trail.