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Bayview Park once a popular horse show venue

February 2021

Published in Burlington Local News, 14 March 2022

The City of Burlington is a busy and rapidly growing city in the Golden Horseshoe area of southern Ontario. However, the sections of Burlington north of Dundas Street (formerly Kings Highway #5) are still rural, with busy farms, open fields and an abundance of livestock.

Although the Aldershot area of Burlington is south of Dundas Street, the land north of Highway 403 remains mostly undeveloped and retains its rural feel. This is where a once popular horse show venue once allowed competitors to test their skills and crowds were entertained.

The Bayview Park lands, once part of East Flamborough Township, have gone through many uses dating back to the 19th Century, including as an orchard, a clay pit for manufacturing bricks and clay pipes from 1920 to 1947, and then a landfill for East Flamborough Township.

When the Town of Burlington annexed the land south of Concession 3 in 1958, which included the Bayview Park lands, they took over operation of the landfill on King Road, until closing the facility in 1972 in favour of a new landfill half a mile to the west. The land was capped with fill and topsoil, then seeded with grass. This new passive park was named Bayview Park.

The Town of Burlington established the riding facility at the new park around 1973. It initially had a single show ring, but later the Aldershot Lions Club partnered with the town, adding a second show ring and building the Lions pavilion, provided a suitable place for things like temporary eating facilities, or shelter from the sun or rain.

The facility also featured portable bleachers for seating, an elevated judging stand, a concession building and storage building. Just to the south of the show rings was an open field with lots of room to park trucks, horse trailers and campers for overnight stays.

Several local horse clubs held horse shows throughout the summer at the park, a roster which included the Burlington Western Saddle Club, the White Oaks Saddle Club, Cedar Valley Riders, the Area 3 Quarter Horse Promotional Club and the Burlington Plainsmen Saddle Club. As well, several “special event” shows, like the Ontario Saddle Club Youth Team Tournament, were also held held at the park, filling most weekends from May to September.

By the mid 1980s, the now-City of Burlington was rapidly growing, and it appeared the Bayview Park horse show facility was in danger of closure. The Burlington Landfill that opened in 1972 was nearing capacity, and Burlington was looking for a site for a new landfill to meet the city’s needs going into the 21st Century.

One of the proposed sites was the narrow strip of land between Bayview Park and the current landfill, something that would have necessitated the closure of Bayview Park as both a horse show facility and as a public park. Ultimately this proposed site wasn’t chosen, and it appeared the horse park had dodged a bullet.

The horse show facility did have to close temporarily in 1986 however, so that the city could put a new fill and topsoil cap on the old landfill. As the old King Road landfill pre-dated modern landfill standards, leachate from the decomposing garbage was a continuing problem at Bayview Park. Several venting pipes had been previously been positioned around the property to vent the gases from below the surface, including methane and carbon dioxide.

Despite escaping closure in the late 1980s, use of Bayview Park by saddle clubs declined greatly in the 1990s. Ultimately, it was costing too much for the Lions Club to continue funding the facility and it closed.

The horse show rings and associated buildings are long-gone; leaving an empty field, overgrown with vegetation, and the disused Lions Club pavilion. If not for the historical plaque, one would never know this was once a very active horse show facility.

While the horses are gone, Bayview Park is still a popular park for Burlington and area residents.

The Burlington Radio Control Modelers Club took over the south end of Bayview Park for flying model aircraft, building a 15,000 square foot asphalt paved runway with taxiways for their members in the early 1980s.

The Burlington Rifle and Revolver Club maintains an indoor gun range at the very south-eastern edge of the Bayview property, which was established in 1954, prior to even the landfill itself.

Sources: https://www.facebook.com/AldershotON/photos/a.751388598302190/2697040090403688/?type=3, https://www.burlington.ca/en/your-city/resources/Citizen_Committees_and_Boards/Sustainable_Development_Committee/SOER_IV.pdf, Burlington Historical Society – https://burlingtonhistorical.ca, https://brcm.org, https://rangeburlington.ca, Ontario Saddle Club Youth Team Tournament Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/groups/2258875131, information provided by Reg Bullock, Burlington-Aldershot Lions Club & the personal recollections of the author.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/bayview-park-once-a-popular-horse-show-venue/

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