Burlington residents didn’t have too far to travel to take in a little carnival atmosphere back in the day.
From the early 1900s to the late 1970s, a quick trip to Burlington Beach provided pretty much the same thrills that you could catch at the Canadian National Exhibition – without travelling all the way to Toronto.
Also called the Canal Amusement Park, the grounds used to host a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and roller coaster, as well as pony rides and games of chance, much like you would find at any carnival across North America, but this one on a summer-long permanent basis.
Located on a narrow strip of land just below the Burlington Skyway and now used by beach goers from Hamilton and Halton, the destination was a natural stop-off point for those traveling from Toronto to Niagara Falls to grab a hotdog or popcorn on what was then a long journey. Back then, the only route to The Falls was along old Highway 2 which ran close to the beach and where drivers were often delayed because of the lift bridge that brought traffic to a halt when ships made their way in and out of Hamilton Harbour.
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But for those who lived in the area it was a place for summertime fun that you could easily visit on nights and weekends as the rides were plentiful and the food tasty while offering the convenience of the nearby lake where you could take a dip into when it got too hot.
While the amusement park enjoyed several decades of success peaking in the 1940s, the changing times and attitudes, as well the introduction of the Queen Elizabeth Way which allowed drivers to bypass the park, eventually forced a decline in attendance and by 1978 the rides ground to a halt. Today, there are no physical traces of the amusement park to be found.
Still, for those of a certain age, Burlington Beach lives on in old postcards and photographs where long ago memories have been preserved to share with a newer generation.