Niagara Falls, Ontario: An Icy Winter Wonderland
Our overnight getaway to Niagara Falls, Ontario, was rapidly coming to an end. After an exciting afternoon the day before where we explored Niagara-on-the-Lake as well as the Festival of Lights and the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls, Ontario, we had spent a comfortable night in the Marriott Hotel, on the 16th floor, overlooking the Falls. We enjoyed a generous buffet breakfast in the morning at Milestones Restaurant on the 2nd floor, again with a nice view of the waterfalls, packed our bags and got ready for one more walk along the riverfront.
My friend Linda had never visited Niagara Falls, Ontario, before, and she had only seen the Great Falls in the dark last night. So as the sun rose, she was duly impressed by the view of the giant waterfalls outside our hotel room. We bundled up, and took a stroll past the hotels along Fallsview Boulevard and down Murray Street to arrive right next to the mighty Niagara River.
Across the river we were looking at the American Falls, which incidentally receive about 10% of the water volume while the rest goes over the much larger Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. The American Falls are about 70 to 110 feet high (about 20 to 35 metres) while the Horseshoe Falls measure about 174 feet (53 metres) in height. They are certainly not the highest waterfalls in the world, but they do have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world and have been harnessed for hydropower generation since the second half of the 19th century. Power is produced by the Sir Adam Beck 1 and 2 power stations in Niagara Falls, Ontario, while the giant Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant and the Lewiston Pump Generating Plant generate electricity on the American side.
The Rainbow Bridge connects Niagara Falls, Ontario with Niagara Falls, New York and is one of the main border crossings to get from Toronto to Buffalo. Quite often one will indeed see a rainbow above the bridge, rising from the mist of the Niagara River. Queen Victoria Place at the intersection of Murray Street and the Niagara Parkway, holds a gift shop with unique Canadian giftware and souvenirs.
The Table Rock Welcome Centre is located right next to the brink of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls and holds various gift and souvenir shops; it is also the entrance area to the Journey Behind the Falls experience, an attraction that consists of an observation platform and a series of tunnels close to the bottom of the Horseshoe Falls. We stopped numerous times to take pictures with the Horseshoe Falls in the background and as we got closer to the precipice of the Falls, we were amazed by the low-lying shrubs and trees that were completely covered in ice, creating a gorgeous winter fairytale landscape with the Horseshoe Falls in the background.
We walked down a bit farther past the Romanesque-revival Rankine Generating Station, a former hydro power station built in 1905 which is located close to the Toronto Power Generating Station, completed in the Beaux-Arts style 1906 by famous Toronto architect E.J. Lennox. Both of these hydropower generating stations are shuttered today and the water that flowed through them has been redirected to the Sir Adam Beck power generating stations in Queenston, about 5 km north of Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Then we had a quick peek inside the Floral Showhouse which is home to various floral displays throughout the year before we headed back to take a WeGo shuttle bus back to Murray Street from where we walked back to our hotel. Our travel escape to Niagara Falls, Ontario, had come to an end and we were ready to check out and move on to our next destination: the Peller Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.