Cultural Heritage

The Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System contains a wealth of historical and cultural heritage.

Cultural Importance

Sites recognized at the national level include:

  • Burlington Heights,which was an important
    British military camp during the war of 1812.
  • Dundurn Castle, the villa of Sir Allan Napier MacNab, former Premier of the Province of Canada from 1854-1856
  • Royal Botanical Gardens, an important teaching
    and research garden and conservation area.

Sites recognized at the provincial level include:  

  • Dundurn Castle 
  • McMaster University
  • Desjardins Canal
  • James Crook's paper mill on Spencer Creek,
    which was the first paper mill in Upper Canada.

Summary Facts

  • Many sites of historical importance, recognized at national, provincial and local levels -
    Parks Canada has recognized Burlington Heights, Dundurn Castle and Royal BotanicalGardens
    as nationally significant in Canada's history.
  • Long chronology of continuous use by First Nations people - archeological evidence shows human
    presence in Cootes Paradise 10,000 years ago.
  • At least 50 registered archeological sites,
    other known archeological sites, and
    numerous areas of archeological potential.
Cootes Paradise Bridge over Cootes Paradise


Prehistory Context and Archaeological Potential

There is a long chronology of continuous aboriginal and early Euro-Canadian occupation in the Cootes to Escarpment area. Prehistoric aboriginal cultures in this area include Paleo-Indian, Archaic and Woodland, dating back from approximately twelve thousand years before present to historic aboriginal and Euro-Canadian occupations. The Head-of-the-Lake area has been a popular location for settlement for the same reasons across all cultures, including proximity to water, temperate climate, areas of elevated topography, plentiful subsistence resources, and rich soils.

There are at least fifty registered archaeological sites within the Cootes to Escarpment area, other “known” archaeological sites and numerous areas of archaeological potential. These registered and known archaeological sites range from aboriginal campsites and villages to historic trading posts and wharves, estates, military encampments and pioneer cabins.

Areas of Cultural Significance

Waterdown and Surrounding Area

The Mill Street Heritage Conservation District was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1996 by the former Town of Flamborough. The District is located in the traditional village centre of Waterdown. The area protected by the heritage designation comprises 130 properties, including a portion of the traditional commercial area, a large residential area, several churches and a cemetery.

Burlington Heights Area

The northwest entrance to the city of Hamilton, an area known as Burlington Heights, includes some of the City’s most significant heritage resources. Historical features of this area include: York Boulevard, the original road from Hamilton to York (Toronto); historical associations with the War of 1812 and remnants of defensive ramparts and earthworks; the Hamilton Cemetery, the oldest municipal cemetery in Hamilton; the entrance to the Desjardins Canal; and, the Dundurn Castle National Historic Site of Canada, former estate home of Sir Allan MacNab.

Click here for more information on our Burlington Heights Heritage Lands Plan.

Westdale Area

The area known as Westdale is located to the west of Highway 403 and east of the former Town of Dundas. This area comprises a number of cultural heritage landscapes, including the original Westdale neighbourhood which was one of Canada’s first planned communities, with initial development in the 1920s; the historic portion of McMaster University, built in the 1930s; an area of Veterans' housing; and, another early suburban area known as the Burke Survey.

City of Burlington

During the late 19th century, the Aldershot area of Burlington was a thriving agricultural community well known for its fields of strawberries and the famous "Aldershot melon". There are over 40 buildings of heritage value north of Highway 403 in the Cootes to Escarpment Area and many more south of the highway. Burlington has designated buildings under the Ontario Heritage Act at Royal Botanical Gardens  

Detailed descriptions of the ecological and cultural history and cultural and historic resources of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System can be found in the Cootes to Escarpment Park System Phase I Background Report.

Natural Heritage 

Cultural Heritage


  • bruce trail
  • city of burlington
  • Conservation Halton
  • Halton Region
  • City of Hamilton
  • Hamilton Conservation Authority
  • hamilton harbour
  • Hamilton Naturalists' club
  • McMaster
  • RBG

Funding provided by:

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