Millions of visitors travel to Niagara Falls, Canada each year to witness the natural wonder of the famous Falls. Vacationers continue to make yearly visits staying at many of the family-friendly and luxurious hotels, Bed & Breakfasts and Inns taking in a few days to enjoy the city’s many attractions including our own, Hornblower Niagara Cruises. Before the famous ‘Honeymoon Capital’ even got its name, before the city was even built or before Hornblower Niagara Cruises began operating Niagara Falls was an untouched natural beauty with only nature surrounding it. This blog will take you back to not just the creation of the Falls but to some of Niagara Fall’s historical landmarks.
12,500 Years Ago: The Last Ice Age
18,000 years ago Southern Ontario was once covered in thick sheets of ice from to the last Ice Age. When the ice began moving southward, it began to melt which gouged out the basins of Canada’s Great Lakes.Once the ice began moving northward the ice melted and released mass amounts of water to fill the basins. It wasn’t until 12,500 years ago that the Niagara Region was free of Ice. Originally there were five spillways from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, but eventually they became one forming ‘Niagara Falls.’ The Falls was located miles up the Niagara River from where it sits today at the escarpment of Queenston/Lewiston. With erosion of the rocks Niagara Falls continued to move backwards every 1 foot per year, making the Falls the fastest moving waterfalls in the world. Today, visitors can stand at Table Rock to witness the volumes of water plummet over the crestline.
1830s: Here Comes The Hotels
Fast forward to the 1830s when Niagara Falls first started developing featuring only a few hotels including one of city’s first the Clifton House located at the foot of Clifton Hill where the Oaks Garden Theatre sits today. The land was purchased by Captain Ogden Creighton calling the land ‘Clifton’ after Clifton On The Gorge in River Avon in Bristol England. The land was ideal and used for attractions and hotels overlooking the Niagara River. The location of the Clifton House also happens to be located where the Hornblower Group Check In booth is located today. Another older hotel and most notable for hosting celebrities such as Walt Disney, King George, Queen Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe is the Crowne Plaza, formerly known as The General Brock Hotel after Canada’s British General from the War of 1812. After a few name changes, the hotel today is known as the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls Fallsview. The hotel is still a popular accommodation among visitors travelling to the city today.
Photo Courtesy of: Niagara Falls Library
1842: What Is An Ice Bridge?
The question often comes up in many blog forums and across the news if Niagara Falls ever freezes? Back in 1842 locals and many visitors would travel far to witness the massive snow covered formation at the base of the American and Bridal Veil Falls. Back in 1842 one of Niagara’s Early Guide books first talks about the the Ice Bridge. ‘The river never freezes over but large masses of ice are sometimes collected and blocked in, so as to form a natural bridge, extending up to the foot of the Falls and for two miles down the stream.’ Each year the Ice Bridge would form between December until April while milder Winters would see a shorter life span for the bridge. At once, daring visitors would access the famous ice bridge by what is today a off access road located at Hornblower Niagara Cruises. Visitors would skate down Clifton Hill to River Road and continue onto the road that once took visitors to the maid of Mist boat docks and onto the ice bridge. This was a dangerous but also popular for those daring.
19th Century: The Famous Rock
During the mid 19th century, Table Rock was and is still a very popular tourist spot in Niagara Falls, Canada. The large shelf rock that sticks out from the side of the Gorge wall welcomes millions of travellers looking to get a close up picture and sense of the Falls. Since Table Rock was created it has seen a few rock collapses since 1818 until 1897 when the last piece of the rock was blasted.
Photo Courtesy of: Niagara Falls Library