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The Beach

Burlington Beach Canal, copied 1863 A First Nations' trail that crossed the beach strip continued in use after the arrival of Euro-Canadian settlers. The trail negotiated its way across the 'old outlet', a small channel linking Burlington Bay with Lake Ontario. Called Pim-me-be-tong-gonk by the resident First Nation at the time, this channel was the impetus to the establishment of the Burlington Canal which began construction in 1823 approximately 90 metres north of the outlet. The canal was fraught with troubles from its opening. After being battered by strong gales in 1829 and 1830 the piers and lighthouse were washed out. More problems arose when the schooner Elsie Hope ran into the early swing bridge shortly after its 1830 construction.

An 1833 map of the vicinity depicts the degree to which settlement had occurred on the strip to that point. The strip at that time was also home to a few stores, hotels and a tavern. A lighthouse of wood construction is depicted on the southeast side of the canal. It was washed out and replaced by the still extant stone lighthouse.

Burlington Beach, n.d (ca. 1920s?)In 1907, by an act of the Ontario Legislature, the beach came under the administrative control of the Burlington Beach Commission. The trail crossing the strip was paved for more comfortable and reliable travel in 1923. Small farms with market gardens and anglers' shanties were slowly replaced with more permeant structures on the strip. It was around this time that residents started using the beach for recreation – cottages dotted the landscape.

Burlington residents and visitors alike flocked to the beach for recreational purposes at a time when such leisurely pursuits became part of the societal norm. Day trips to the beach for a dip in the lake, sunbathing and playing in the sand became quite popular. Permanent residences on the strip also became prevalent; schools were erected to educate the local children.

Burlington Beach Looking South to the Canal, n.d.In 1956, the Beach Strip was annexed to the City of Hamilton after years of administration by the Burlington Beach Commission. In 1965 following an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, the Beach Strip lands north of the Burlington Canal were annexed to Burlington, while the lands south of the canal remained part of the City of Hamilton.

In the years following the 1965 annexation, permanent occupation along the beach dwindled from close to 200 homes and cottages as the Town and later City of Burlington obtained ownership of the properties through purchase or expropriation. The last leasehold beach home was purchased by the City of Burlington and demolished in 2004. With a view to return the beach to its former glory as a local public attraction, the City of Burlington and Region of Halton have designated much of the beach lands to parkland.

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Associated Properties:

1094 Lakeshore Road "Pump House"- Built in 1910 Burlington's pump house was designed by Willis Chipman and G.H. Power, Civil Engineers from the City of Toronto. The modest sized, Edwardian Beaux-Arts style building features a slate hipped roof, two tall chimneys, decorative cresting at the roof ridge and round arched windows. The door has been constructed in the Romanesque Revival style and the entrance retains the original glazing and panelling. The original galvanized gutters remain in place on the building that was constructed with one storey above grade and one storey below. This property now serves as operational space for Burlington Beach Rentals.