The Niagara Region of Ontario is where I have called home all my life. You almost forget all the beauty that Niagara has to offer when you are around it all the time. From one the great 7 wonders of the world, Niagara Falls to some of the best wineries in the world, Niagara has so many things to see and do for everyone.
From Grimsby to the east to Niagara Falls and the US Border to the west. With two great lakes, Lake Ontario to the North and Lake Erie to the south it is a diverse and large region. There are 4 US border crossings, 1 in Fort Erie, The Peace bridge which will transport you to Buffalo NY. 3 in Niagara Falls. Queenstown-Lewiston, the Whirlpool Bridge (Nexus only), and the Rainbow Bridge all leading to Niagara Falls NY.
Come take a tour with me and see the tourist places as well as a few places only the locals know about.
Anytime anyone comes to visit they want to see Niagara Falls. I understand why as it is a breathtaking sight. With 3160 tons of water falling over the brink every second it is a powerful rush of water to behold.
The Niagara river is the border for the US and Canada in Niagara flowing between the two great lakes, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Niagara Falls is made up of 3 different falls. The Bridal Veil Falls, the American Falls and the largest of the three, the Canadian Horshoe Falls.
The absolute best place to visit the Falls is table rock. You can travel down through the tunnels behind the Falls and feel and hear the rushing water above you. Following the tunnel you come to table rock. A rock formation that sits about midway of the Falls. This is by far my most favorite place in the Falls. I find the roar of the water and feel of its spray calming and exhilarating. Did you know that Niagara Falls is the largest source of negative ions in the world? Negative ions gives you a feeling of happiness and contentment. Maybe that is why Niagara Falls is known as the Honeymoon capital of the world. Millions of people come here every year to begin their life together. Many times in the summer as you walk the boulevard there are wedding photos being taken and fresh love in the air.
Niagara Falls is and was also a large hydro station. Hence Canadians calling power supplies hydro. My American friends are first confused when we say it then amused. Lol! The only time the water has been “shut off” was in 1969 when they stopped the water on the American side to fix an erosion problem. I remember that as a little girl and my parents taking me to see it. Erosion of the Falls is something that happens naturally when water flows. It is said that originally the Falls were 7 miles from where they are now when history started recording in the early 1600’s.
If you look at the top of the Falls there is a small island called Goat Island and an old barge. Goat Island (New York, USA) is a small crop of land in the middle of the rushing waters. It gets its name from a man named John Stedman who in 1778 took his goats to the island to protect them from wolves. Unfortunately the harsh winter killed all of the goats but one old Billy goat and British soldiers hearing the story nicknamed the island Goat Island and the name stuck.
The old barge that sits there today was stranded there by two fishermen in 1918 that came terribly close to going over. It has not moved in 100 years but in 2019 after a bad Halloween storm it did move about 50 meters and shift positions but is still stuck on the rocks. I am amazed that it is still there as those waters can have up to 68 mph flow at any given time.
Many people have attempted to make the trip over the falls and survive. The first person ever recorded was Annie Edison Taylor who in 1901 went over in a barrel and survived. It is a long drop at 176 feet included in that is 100 feet of rock at the bottom. I would rather just watch the falls hit the bottom. Lol!
The city of Niagara Falls has a lot to offer with Lundy’s Lane and the wax museums and attractions. If you like casinos there are two in Niagara Falls with many hotels to choose from that will give you an amazing view when they light the falls in different colors at night.
Some of my favorite attractions are the Bird Kingdom (watch out for the lorikeet cage they bite) and the Butterfly Conservatory. For a wild lunch you can go to the Rainbow Cafe where you can sit with an animatronic gorilla or snack while a python slithers above you.
Down Niagara Parkway is a little town called Niagara-on-the-lake. It is such a pretty little town with a feeling of walking back in time. You can take a carriage ride or stay at the Prince of Whales hotel (which they say is haunted) or stroll down main street with all the little shops. My favorite shop is the candy store where you can find old fashioned candy. The only place I can find real black balls. You know the kind you have to suck till its gone because there is no biting them.
The history of Niagara-on-the-lake started way back in the 1700’s with it being the first capital of upper Canada before we were the province of Ontario. It was instrumental in the war of 1812 with Fort George close by. It is also home to the oldest Anglican and Catholic churches in Ontario and the oldest surviving golf course in North America. Today it is known for the Shaw festival as well as the award winning wineries surrounding it. A quaint little town with colonial style buildings where you can stroll down memory lane.
Niagara Region has some of the best wineries in the world. Growing up here where ever you were when spring came you could smell the blossoms of promised fruit in the air. Cherries, apples, peaches and grapes which ever your favorite you could count on it being just around the corner. Unfortunately a lot of those orchards have been paved over but some were changed to create some award winning wines. Wineries such as Pelham Estate Winery, Trius Winery, Henry of Pelham and even Wayne Gretzky has a Winery here. There are wine tours that you can walk from Winery to Winery, which is not a bad idea.
Ice wine which is believed to have been done by Germans in the early 1700’s. The first Ice wine to be produced in Canada was in British Columbia in the early 1970’s but it really took off in the early 1980’s when Ontario wineries such Hillebrand Estates, Inniskillen to name a few tried their hand at ice wine. At first picking them and keeping them in cold storage. The grapes for ice wine need to be pressed at no warmer then -7 C (20 F) and still frozen. Today they let them hang on the vine usually until late December or early January when our region is at the right temperature producing some of the finest ice wines in the world.
I am not a wine drinker but I am a grape eater. Come to Niagara on a nice fall day and you can smell the grapes ripening on the vines. It is such a sweet smell.
One place that not everyone knows about is the Nickle carousel in Port Dalhousie. The carousel arrived in Port Dalhousie in 1921 to be included in an amusement park. There are 68 animals on the indoor carousel all hand carved by Charles Loeff in 1898 -1905 and is considered one of his few remaining originals. There are a total of 350 original hand carved carousels in North America, nine of which are in Canada. It is a walk back in time where you could have a fun ride for only 5 cents. Yes it still only costs 5 cents.
These are just a few examples of the great things to see and do in Niagara. Let’s explore the history of Niagara next week and touch on something that very few places have!
Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure.
See you next week