Thursday, December 31, 2009

No Fireworks in Mississauga New Year's Eve But Mayor's Levee New Year's Day

New Year's Eve 2013 Fireworks City Hall Celebration Square Details City Mississauga (weather permitting and it looks like it will!)

December 2009: Don't expect fireworks in Mississauga on New Year's Eve. In these parts, fireworks generally take place during the warmer months, like in Port Credit on Canada Day (July 1).

But Mississauga has a long tradition of marking New Year's Day, with the annual Mayor's Levee at City Hall from 2-4 p.m. And the Mayor's levee is the place to be if you'd like to wish the Mayor, assorted councillors and city staff and residents a Happy New Year.

Mississauga Civic Centre -- City Hall
Mississauga Civic Centre, location of the New Year's Day levee, is the obelisk shape (thin pointy thing) being dwarfed by new condos in the picture above. I took this photo from Port Credit. Note the lack of snow this year (so far, anyhow, though as I write this, flurries are forecast). Last year, it was minus 30 wind chill and heavy snow cover.

I've attended the Mayor's levee in years past, including January 1, 2009. As this annual celebration becomes ever more popular, with more and more Mississauga residents turning out, the main level at City Hall becomes more and more crowded.

Mayor McCallion ~ Mississauga Mayor's Levee

In years past, the receiving line was set up on the main level; last year, the Mayor and councillors receiving line was on the second level.

The main level at City Hall becomes a stage for community performers -- dancers, singers, choirs -- who showcase Missisissaugans' range of talents and cultural groups.

To escape the crowded first level, we took the stairs to the second level, where we could look over the balcony to see the entertainment below.

As you go along the receiving line to chat with Mayor McCallion and the councillors, it leads to a reception area, with staff serving up hot chocolate, coffee and sweets.

All of this is 'free', courtesy of Mississauga taxpayers, and I for one do not begrudge this use of tax dollars. This personal touch goes a long way to welcoming Mississauga's newcomers as well as visitors from other countries.

It's fun to stop and eavesdrop on receiving line conversations and realize where the people are visiting or emigrated from. Mayor McCallion and the Mayor's Levee are also a dependable media photo op, so keep an eye out for film crews and photographers.

Missisisauga Mayor's Levee (2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
Mississauga Civic Centre
300 City Centre Drive (googlemap)

Parking is available around City Hall, as well as at Square One Shopping Centre.

Mississauga Transit is free on New Year's Eve from 7:00 p.m. to 4 a.m. only - regular fares apply outside those hours. Check Schedule here.

GO Transit trains and buses free New Year's Eve from 7 p.m. to last  train/bus of the day about 1:00 a.m. Union See GO Schedule Here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Bird Count Port Credit Mississauga

The 46 annual Christmas Bird Count took place yesterday, Saturday, December 19. Last year, on this same day, there was a huge storm (see this blog post Lake Ontario storm).

This year, we saw perfect weather for counting birds in the morning, and in the afternoon, for cheering on the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay in Port Credit (Mississauga), Ontario.

Harlequin Duck with Mallard
South Peel Naturalist Club ( does most of the Christmas Bird Count on one day, but includes sightings of for three days before and three days after, especially if sighting are of unusual birds like the harlequin duck I spotted on the Thursday before.
Harlequin Duck Lake Ontario Mississauga
The male Harlequin was swimming, bobbing and diving for food, and generally appearing to have a great time, but doing so so far from shore I had trouble getting a clear picture. I aplogize for the focus but you'll get the general idea. 'Harley' the Harlequin is almost as colorful as 'Woody', the Wood Duck at Lake Aquitane.

Scaups Lake Ontario CBC Day South Peel
So on the morning of the Christmas Bird Count day, I bundled up and walked through the Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens on a sunny, windless morning just before 9 a.m.

As I approached Lake Ontario, I was a little surprised to see the large waves rolling from the south. A Nor'Easter was moving up the U.S. east coast, wreaking havoc with heavy snow and high winds, but thankfully, Mississauga only got this show of waves.

Lake Ontario CBC Day Mississauga
The picture above shows the view southwest towards Hamilton, Ontario. I was concerned that given the wave action, the usual swans, geese, scaups and ducks would have gone on to more temperate waters. But the chilly waters didn't seem to bother them.

Mallards Shoreline Lake Ontario Port Credit
This picture shows mallards on Cranberry Cove, the bay that fronts the Rhododendron Gardens in Port Credit.

Lake Ontario Sculpts Ice Forms Cranberry Cove
Waves formed ice sculptures along the shoreline, testament to the chilly temperatures of the past week. This day, the temps were about minus 6 C (21F).

Mallards Lake Ontario Shoreline
I left the Waterfront Trail where it passes the Petro Canada lands west of Saddington Park, and made my way closer to the breakwater so I could check for any birds close to shore. This is where I had spotted the Harlequin two days earlier.

It was also near this spot that I met my first and only Bird Counter, a man with a scope on a tripod, binoculars hung from his neck, making his way in stops and starts along the waterfront.

Peering through his binoculars into the morning sun glinting on the lake, he informed me that he spotted in the distance a group of Mergansers as well as the Mute Swans, then retraced his route to meet up with his bird-counting partner.

Mallard Ashore Lake Ontario
I retraced my route, too, back to Bruckner Rhododendron Gardens, this time leaving the Waterfront Trail to take a rough pateh through the scrub and shrub along the breakwater, where I was delighted to see this group of mallards on shore. What caught my eye was their lovely orange legs, so rarely seen when they are swimming, yet such a bright spot on a wintry day!

Shoreline Shrubs Decorated for Christmas
Another bonus for early morning, off trail walkers was the unexpected, cheery sign of the holiday season: Two scrubby junipers hung with red balls and tiny ornaments.

Two days earlier, the day of the Harlequin duck, I took a short video of Greater Scaups in Cranberry Cove.


Mark, CBC co-ordinator for South Peel Naturalists Club, told me that the first Christmas Bird Count took place in 1900! And that there are thousands of Christmas bird counts over three weeks across North America ( a Twitter Pal informs that one is taking place on Bowen Island near Vancouver).

In South Peel, which includes Mississauga and Oakville, the CBC comprises a 15 mile wide circle centered between Britannia Road and Lake Ontario. Counters work in teams, each responsible for one of 6 strips that cover this count circle.

How to count birds in motion, such as the scaups in the video?
"You do your best to eyeball the count," says Mark. "You count out a set number -- 50, 100 -- and then count the number of 50-bird groups."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Olympic Torch Relay Port Credit Mississauga Ontario

 The Olympic Torch Relay came to Mississauga today, and after ceremonies at City Centre, including runs by Mayor Hazel McCallion and olympian Kurt Browning, the torch relay headed south on Hurontario (Highway 10) to Lakeshore Road in Port Credit.

Here are a few pictures of the torch relay, and a short video to give some idea of the happy crowds that lined the relay route. Click on an image to enlarge, then click the Back button to return to this page.

Santa at the Lighthouse Port Credit ON

Santa handed out Canada flags and good cheer at the Lighthouse 'home' of the Port Credit BIA. The BIA handed out pizza, sandwiches, hot coffee and hot chocolate. The cup of hot coffee was a perfect antidote for my frozen fingers. Thanks, Ellen!

Olympic Torch Relay Bus Mississauga

The torch bearers did a good job keeping on schedule! Their ETA in Port Credit was 1:50 p.m., and they were punctual! All told, the torch relay will cover 45,000 kilometers or 28,000 miles.

Crowds Cheering Torch Bearers

Though crowds were sparse when I arrived around 1 p.m., within a half hour, the sidewalks were filling fast all along Lakeshore Road, and the Starbucks west of the Lighthouse had lines out the door!

Olympic Torch Relay Handover on Lakeshore Rd. Bridge

As flashing lights atop police cars heralded the approaching torch, crowds spilled from the sidewalks on either side of the Lakeshore Road bridge and filled the traffic lanes. Oddly enough, for as regimented and rule-ridden as Canadians usually are, the police did not block traffic lanes, other than at intersections.

I half - expected some excited, distracted relay watcher to come a cropper, but drivers slowed down and gave the right of way to jaywalkers.

Taking up the torch, Holding it high!

Now, as luck would have it, I lost my lovely vantage point from the terrace at the Lighthouse when an eastbound cube van got stuck in the relay crowd and blocked the view.

A fast run around the lighthouse, down the stairs and around the base brought me out onto Lakeshore Road in time to take a few fast pictures before the police cleared the roadway.

Torch Relay Port Credit

In the video below, you can hear what I heard as this torch bearer's name: I heard 'Laura', and checking online, the only Laura mentioned as torch bearer in Mississauga is 'Greer'. If I have incorrectly identified her, please correct me.

 Torch Heads West Through Port Credit

Here's a shot of the joyful- looking torch bearer jogging along Lakeshore Road West towards Clarke Hall.

Approaching Mississauga Road

Laura kept up a lively pace, and quite a few in the crowd tried to keep up with her as the relay neared the intersection at Mississauga Road.

Olympic Torch Shawnmarr and Lakeshore

And though I gave it my best, I couldn't catch up, let alone overtake the relay contingent. My plan was to take a picture as the torch passed the Brueckner Rhododendron Gardens near my house.

Here's a short video of the torch relay sights and sounds in Port Credit.