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Lasalle Park Pavillion – An iconic fixture in Aldershot

December 2019

The LaSalle Park Pavilion has been a fixture in the park in the Aldershot area of Burlington, Ontario, for 102 years.

The park, originally called Wabasso Park, was re-named in 1923 in honour of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the 17th century French explorer who is said to have come ashore in the area in 1669.

The LaSalle Park Pavilion was built in the spring of 1917 by the City of Hamilton, who owned the land and continue to do so to this day, although the land is leased to the City of Burlington.

The pavilion was the centre piece for the park that included an amusement park, one that featured a merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel, games area and a large figure 8 roller coaster. Other features of the park included picnic grounds, athletic fields, pony rides, a swimming beach, complete with a bathhouse built in 1922, and a ferry dock bringing passengers from as far away as Toronto.

Dances and other formal occasions were held in both the pavilion’s open-air lower floor terrace and enclosed upper floor ballrooms. Washrooms and storage areas were located in the basement.

By 1991, the LaSalle Park Pavilion was a shadow of its former self. The upper floor had been closed for years and all the windows had been boarded up. The lower floor terrace was closed to the public that same year.

The City of Burlington began the restoration of the deteriorating pavilion in 1994, but shortly after completing the main floor terrace and re-opening it in the spring of 1995, a massive fire destroyed the entire wood-frame building on 19 May, leaving only the concrete basement.

Happily though, just two short years later, an exact replica of the original pavilion was built, including the red tile roof. The long-vacant second floor was re-opened as a meeting and banquet facility.

Today, the LaSalle Banquet Centre operates out of the pavilion, offering catered weddings, business and family events and receptions for over 400 people in the Main Ballroom, Garden Terrace and the Bayshore Room.

LaSalle Park itself has also seen some change. While its still a favourite park for family picnics, swimming, sports and leisure activities, the amusement park disappeared almost a century ago, as did the bathhouse not long after; swimming at the park is restricted to a children’s wading pool and passenger ferries no longer arrive and depart from the waterfront. The City owned LaSalle Park Marina now surrounds the former Wabasso Park Dock.

Sources: https://www.tourismburlington.com/partner/lasalle-park-pavilion, https://www.burlington.ca/en/modules/facilities/Detail.aspx?CategoryIds=&FacilityTypeIds=&Keywords=lasalle&ScrollMap=true&id=e592e334-83d8-40e8-881a-b7929ddae9d2, https://www.lasallepark.ca, https://www.edgehospitality.ca/la-salle, http://cec.chebucto.org/ClosPark/LSP-Burl.html, https://www.burlington.ca/en/live-and-play/banquet-centres.asp, “The Prints of Aldershot – A photographic view of another era” by Gary Evans, “From Pathway to Skyway Revisited: The story of Burlington” by Claire Emery Machan & the personal recollections of the author (2019).

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/lasalle-park-pavillion-an-iconic-fixture-in-aldershot/

3 comments

  1. Chris Laing

    Hello Bruce,
    My name is Chris Laing and I’m the author of the Max Dexter Mystery series set in the Hamilton area of the 1940’s.
    (My books are available at the Burlington as well as the Hamilton Public Library or on-line.)
    In my next episode, Max and friends visit LaSalle Park on the S.S. Hamiltonian. I’m a native of Hamilton and area but my long-ago memories of visits there are very fuzzy. I believe there was a steep walk up the stairs from the dock to the Park area on top of the hill. If that is correct, I wondered if you could estimate how many steps (more or less) there were from the dock to the park.
    Your assistance would be much appreciated.

    Chris

    1. Bruce Forsyth

      Hi Chris,

      I actually don’t know off-hand how many steps. How soon do you need an answer? I’m normally back in Burlington every month or two to visit my parents, but with the current pandemic, I’m limiting my traveling. I could always ask my parents or a friend to pop by LaSalle Park if needed.

      Bruce

  2. Chris Laing

    Hi again, Bruce,

    Thanks for your reply. No,I’m not in a dire rush for this information.
    I’m just looking for a rough idea of how steep a climb it is from the dock up the Pavillion level. I dont recall it
    being a mountain climb and it isn’t central to my story which takes place in 1948. It’s after the hey-day of the
    Park and most, if not all, of the midway rides had gone by then.
    Your parents may have a rough idea of that climb and that would suit my purpose. Perhaps you might ask them
    during a phone call and let me know.
    I do appreciate your help,

    Chris

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