Braden’s Hot Chocolate Festival celebrates 5 years by hitting $75,000 mark‎ for Dundas Valley


Volunteer fundraiser extraordinaire and festival founder, Braden Marshall, enjoys a cup of hot chocolate at the event. (photo courtesy Greening Marketing)

Now in its fifth year, Braden’s Hot Chocolate Festival continues to combine family fun with the great outdoors in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area for a great cause. Hundreds of families enjoyed hot chocolate, concerts, crafts, story-time and hikes on the conservation area’s 40km trail system.

Proceeds from the Family Day event support the Foundation’s Dundas Valley Conservation Fund. The Fund helps the Hamilton Conservation Authority remove invasive species, plant native trees and shrubs and even acquire new lands to grow the Conservation Area. Last year, the funding helped restore sensitive prairie habitat and remove both japanese knotweed and dog-strangling vine.

With over $75,000 contributed to the Fund, it looks like the Valley will continue to hold an important place in the hearts of generations to come.

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Join us for a Fall Colour Hike at Christie Lake CA

Free event will showcase stream rehabilitation with a healthy dose of family fun.

Join us Saturday, October 17th, 2015 at the Christie Lake Conservation Area from 1 to 3pm. We’ll be leading a guided fall colour hike around the rehabilitated Spencer Creek tributaries and explaining how donations to the Foundations General Conservation Fund are dramatically improving the ecological function of the area.

The event is free for all Foundation supporters and will feature:

  • Guided ecology hike around restored creek tributaries
  • Children’s crafts
  • Family barbecue
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Gifts pushing Hermitage project along

Work proceeding swiftly but donations still needed to help tell the site’s rich story.

Workers from Rock Solid Stone Masons prepare the Foundation for a new steel structure which will hold the Hermitage ruins together.

Workers have quickly dismantled the existing structure, carefully cataloged each stone and begun pouring the foundation of a structure that will be in place for generations to come.

With construction proceeding, the project is turning heads and attracting new donations. To date, the $600,000 project has received $544,000 worth of funding, enough to begin construction. Donations, however, are still needed to help complete construction and fund the landscaping, benches and interpretive panels which will bring the site’s rich history to life.

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Donations help blaze new trails at Fifty Point

Gifts from ArcelorMittal Dofasco and the Helderleigh Foundation showcase natural beauty of Conservation Area.

A 40-metre wheelchair-accessible pedestrian foot bridge will connect refurbished trails with a new loop around the Conservation Area’s lagoon. Fifty Point’s existing trails will be rehabilitated, resurfaced with limestone screenings, and expanded to create two trail loops to the north and south of the new bridge.

Fifty Point, while well-known to local boaters, ball-hockey players and campers, boasts an incredible diversity of natural beauty which often goes unnoticed. Hikers, bird-watchers and nature-enthusiasts will be able to explore the new and refurbished loops in late 2016.

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Applications open for 2015 Student Award for Environmental Leadership

Are you a high school student in Hamilton about to start College or University in an environmental field? If you want to make a difference for Hamilton’s environment, you could win $1,000 to help with your education. All you have to do is fill out our application form, send us your resume, a quick little letter telling us how much you love the natural world and anything else that would help us understand why you’re the best candidate!

The award will be presented at the 36th annual Environmentalist of the Year Awards at a dinner at Michelangelo Banquet Centre on Wednesday June 10, 2015. You can find out more details about the dinner at

Applications are due by Thursday, April 30th. You can submit yours by emailing or mailing it to:

Student Award for Environmental Leadership
c/o Hamilton Conservation Foundation
P.O. Box 81067
838 Mineral Springs Road
Ancaster, ON L9G 4X1

If you have any questions or need any help filling out the application please don’t hesitate to call Toby Tresidder at 905-525-2181 ext. 129 or email



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Want to volunteer at Braden’s Hot Chocolate Festival?

Volunteers are needed to help greet visitors to the Dundas Valley Conservation Area at Braden’s Hot Chocolate Festival on Family Day, Monday, February 16th!

Volunteers will work at the Governor’s Road entrance to the Conservation Area greeting event visitors, directing them into the parking lot or toward the overflow parking once the lot is full. A warming station and washroom facilities will be available to volunteers throughout the event.

Volunteers are needed for two shifts: 10am to 12:30pm and 12:30pm to 3:00pm.

To volunteer, please email today!

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Fall Colour Hike

When: Saturday, October 17th, 2015 – 1:00 to 3:00 pm (rain or shine)

Where: Christie Lake Conservation Area, 1000 Hwy 5 W, Dundas

Picture of fall colours over Christie Lake

Over the last year, we’ve had the privilege of investing $40,000 in donations from the General Conservation Fund into dramatically improving the ecological function of the Christie Lake CA. As our way of saying thank you to the amazing supporters who made this happen, we’d like to invite you to join us Saturday, October 17th for a guided fall colour hike. This is your chance to learn more about how donations are put to work for the benefit of our watershed and future generations.

  • Explore restored stream channels with Conservation Authority experts!
  • Enjoy the fall colours!
  • Children’s games and crafts!
  • Free barbecue, snacks and door prizes!

 This event is free for all donors, volunteers, pass-holders and their guests who register in advance.

Registration is closed.

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Pitching in for parkland

At her parents’ home in Dundas for a month-long break from her studies, it didn’t take Jasmine Baetz long to change the valley town for the better!

The accomplished potter, inspired by her parents’ (Brian and Rashne Baetz) involvement with the EcoPark Campaign, has donated over 140 hand-crafted cups to support the EcoPark Campaign. Jasmine is quick to offer some insight into her motivation: “I grew up listening to my parents talk about this very special land – the future [Cootes to Escarpment] EcoPark [System] – and how important it is to protect it. I’m so happy to see the extent of the EcoPark Campaign and wanted to make a contribution to the effort.”


Each cup is hand-decorated with a tree on the side and the words “Dundas” and “EcoPark” stamped underneath. The cups are available while quantities last at Cafe Domestique at 12 Miller’s Lane in Dundas. They can be purchased for $10 with all proceeds going to the EcoPark Campaign.

Jasmine’s work can be seen at

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Stream restoration at Christie Lake turning heads.

The first phase of the massive habitat restoration project is complete thanks to a grant from the Federal Government’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans!

In an effort to improve the ecological function of the Christie Lake Conservation Area, the first of six former fishing ponds along Spencer Creek’s tributaries has been decommissioned. As a result, cold-water stream habitat has been restored. While fishing remains popular at Christie Lake in the main reservoir, the restored natural stream channels leading into the reservoir will provide increased habitat for native fish and amphibians. It will also increase water quality through decreased stream velocity, erosion and sedimentation.

before and after vert-001

The remaining five fishing ponds will be taken off-line in the coming years as funding becomes available. While the long-term project is a long way away from completion, the immediate results are astounding! Complimentary wetland plantings are planned for the fall and spring and will continue to improve the already impressive ecological diversity of the Conservation Area.

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California cactus connection boosts Desjardins Canal Parklands

An unusual donation from across the continent has helped bring the parkland vision to fruition.

For the second year running the Foundation has had the pleasure of selling hundreds of donated cacti to raise funds and awareness for the Desjardins Canal Parklands project. Despite some chilly and rainy weather, over $2,200 was raised and all of the cacti found happy homes!


The cacti were donated through Sorensen Greenhouses in California whose proprietor, Cleone Sorensen, grew up in Dundas. Cleone’s father, the late Ben Veldhuis, operated the wildly successful cactus greenhouses that occupied the Parklands site for over half a century and gave the Cactus Festival its name.

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TD Community Tree Planting Day

Saturday, September 20, 2014 9:30am to 12:30pm (rain date September 27)

Desjardins Canal Parklands, Access through Centennial Park, Cootes Drive, Dundas

Td Tree Address fixed

Help us celebrate the transformation of the former Veldhuis greenhouses into a beautiful nature park by planting trees! There is no need to apply or RSVP. Simply show up at Centennial Park on Cootes Drive at 9:30 a.m., September 20, 2014 and join us!

The event is, of course, free and snacks will be provided! Bring sturdy boots, shovels and gloves if you can!

Rain date September 27. In the event of cancellation please check this page!

Please note that an event shuttle will run from McMaster University and King Street West in Westdale. Shuttle details will be posted in the days leading up to the event.

This event is made possible by TD Bank and is presented in partnership with Earth Day Hamilton-Burlington.

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Maple syrup tradition connects a new generation to early Canadian heritage

The Friends of Westfield volunteer fundraising group helped raise over $17,000 in 2013 which has been invested in much needed equipment upgrades and accessibility improvements!

Donations raised by the Friends of Westfield through their annual Chinese Dinner, membership drive and letter-writing campaigns helped secure funding for a new maple syrup evaporator among other projects. This new piece of equipment will allow Westfield to continue operating its beloved March maple syrup programming for a new generation.

 maple sap
Donations from the Friends of Westfield Heritage Village helped purchase a new maple syrup evaporator to ensure the March tradition can bring early Canadian heritage to life for a whole new generation of visitors!
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9,000 children experience the natural splendor of the Dundas Valley

Increasingly sedentary lifestyles, seemingly endless screen time and an increasingly urbanized region make it more important than ever to get Hamilton’s children learning outdoors.

Thanks to your support, over 9,000 Hamilton area children learned about the environment in the 2,900 acre Dundas Valley Conservation Area this past school year.

junior conservationists

It won’t be news to most of our supporters that the sensory experience of being outdoors is massively important to a child’s health and development or that children who experience nature are more likely to protect it.

The fact that we were able to connect 9,000 children with this incredible, immersive experience, however, is definitely something to celebrate! We are blessed to live in a community that donates $55,000 every year to continue connecting children with nature. We surpassed that goal once again in 2013 and cannot help but smile about the future that our donors are helping to create for Hamilton.

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Bridge connects new community, sports park to Felker’s Falls and regional trails

Funding from the John Deere Foundation of Canada and Heritage Green Community Trust has funded a much-needed trail crossing over Davis Creek at the Felker’s Falls Conservation Area. The bridge leads to a trail that will connect the East Mountain Trail Loop with the Heritage Green Sports Park and a new subdivision in upper Stoney Creek. The wheelchair-accessible bridge was installed at the beginning of April with full trail completion expected before the end of the summer.

hgct bridge
A new trail link at Felker’s Falls will link the Heritage Green Sports Park with the East Mountain Trail Loop and other regional trails!
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Donations complete vital EcoPark land purchase

Purchase of York Road Acreage a major win for the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System and Hamilton as a whole.

A flurry of donations over the winter have helped to clear the final funding hurdle for the first major purchase of land in the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System by the Hamilton Conservation Authority. Thanks to the generosity of The Young Fund and the Frank Charles Miller Fund, both at the Hamilton Community Foundation, along with a pledge from the Echo Foundation and hundreds of smaller donations, 52 acres of land on York Road will remain natural in the face of ever-increasing development pressure.

monarch caterpillar
The York Road Acreage is important, not just as a wildlife corridor, but also as meadow habitat for pollinators such as this Monarch caterpillar!

The purchase was declared “a huge win for biodiversity here in Hamilton,” by Dr. David Galbraith, Head of Science at Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) and Chair of the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System Management Committee who explained that the nearby RBG lands are home to the greatest plant diversity in all of Canada, a treasure whose importance to Hamilton’s long-term success cannot be overstated.

Fundraising efforts for the Foundation’s EcoPark Campaign will now shift to raising funds to acquire two adjacent properties, an effort boosted by a further $200,000 contribution from the City of Hamilton’s Natural Heritage Fund. The municipal contribution is the start of what is expected to be a renewed campaign with the help of the partners in the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System.

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Making a difference every month of the year

Monthly giving offered Joan MacDonald a sustainable and hassle-free way of making a huge difference for the natural world.

A longtime advocate for Hamilton’s natural areas and Foundation board member, Joan had the motivation to donate but didn’t have the financial resources to make a large donation. By signing up for the Foundation’s monthly giving program, however, Joan was able to have a small donation come out of her account automatically on the first of each month.

Joan MacDonald LI

“It all adds up,” says Joan. “I had no idea I could make such a big impact by setting aside a small amount each month. I barely notice a difference and then all of a sudden I’m making milestone donations!”

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An urban nature sanctuary rises on the banks of the Desjardins Canal

Progress is being made at the site of the former Veldhuis greenhouses where a soil cap has literally raised the site to cap contaminants in anticipation of native species plantings later this year.

A soil cap has been placed throughout the property to help contain the remaining soil contaminants from the original site. Plantings will begin in the coming months and over time the vegetation will filter the contaminants naturally. The site is home to the last remains of the Veldhuis greenhouses: the chimney which has been preserved and reinforced to protect habitat for chimney swifts.

Pilings for the boardwalk can be seen in the image below but the most innovative feature is the addition of floating islands of vegetation designed to flourish by gobbling up the surplus nutrients and may reduce the algae along with all the problems algal blooms can cause to the canal’s ecosystem.

veldhuis islands
Workers inspect floating wildlife islands which will feed on excess nutrients in the Desjardins Canal and provide a much needed boost for the canal’s water quality.

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Volunteer at Color Me Rad and raise $100 for the EcoPark!

The running phenomenon, Color Me Rad, is coming again to Christie Lake Conservation Area on Saturday, July 26th. We’re super excited to announce that a portion of proceeds will once again be donated to the Foundation’s EcoPark Campaign to build new trails along the Desjardins Canal in Dundas!


Our friends at McMaster University are helping to take the lead on recruiting volunteers for the event. For every volunteer that signs up to volunteer at the event, Color Me Rad will make a $100 donation to the Foundation! Where else can you have an amazing, fun-filled day and raise $100 for a great cause?

Register to Run!

Use the promo code “TREEHUGGERS” when you register to get 10% off the registration fee! When you use the promo code, 15% also gets donated to the Foundation. It’s a big win-win!

Poster for Color Me Rad event with picture of event participant.

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Join us for Montana’s Community Night this coming Monday!

Our friends at Montana’s Cookhouse in Stoney Creek are holding a community night this coming Monday, June 16th! Join us for a bite to eat and help make Hamilton a greener place for future generations! 10% of proceeds (excluding alcohol) collected after 6 PM will go toward the Foundation’s Conservation Fund which helps build trails, secure land and get children learning outdoors!

Montana’s Cookhouse 815 Paramount Dr. Stoney Creek (Click here for a map and details)

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Donors and volunteers erect turtle fencing on Cootes Drive.

Hamilton Conservation Foundation donors and volunteers are banding together to keep turtles off Cootes Drive this spring as they move from Cootes Paradise to nesting beds along Spencer Creek and back again.

The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) installed silt fencing along the Cootes Paradise side of Cootes Drive in 2012 with great success. The Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA), which owns the nesting beds upstream along Spencer Creek, is installing more fencing to help new turtle families find their way back to Cootes Paradise under the Spencer Creek bridge and keep them off of Cootes Drive.

Photo of volunteers installing silt fence along Cootes Drive

After putting out an urgent call for donations on social media, the Foundation was quickly inundated with donations totalling $1,108 to more than cover the $900 cost of installing the fencing. “When something so simple and impactful needs just a little help, […] it’s no sweat,” tweeted donor Darryl Clarke. With only one week to raise the funds, the campaign relied heavily on the immediacy of social media communication to get the word out to community members who responded quickly and generously.

HCA staff is working with a team of 7 community volunteers who have pledged a total of 60 volunteer hours to install the fence. The team will work along the south side of Cootes Drive, between Olympic Drive and the Spencer Creek Rail Trail where it crosses Cootes Drive, Monday, May 5th and Tuesday, May 6th. The RBG fence will be installed concurrently on the north side of Cootes Drive.


The silt fence is being installed for the protection of turtles, including a number of species at risk turtles, which breed in this area. Local volunteer group Dundas Turtle Watch reported 25 turtle deaths along Cootes Drive between 2009 and 2012. RBG has installed silt fence on their lands since 2012. The silt fence will be in place from May until September.

Photo of volunteers installing silt fencing along Cootes Drive

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