A Visit to Niagara Falls

Last weekend was the second annual ‘Family Day' holiday here in Ontario, Canada, so for fun we went to Niagara Falls to view the main attraction there, the Falls. The Niagara River was still mostly covered in ice but it is beginning to break-up. Springtime is coming.
“Family Day” is a new holiday in Canada, celebrated by just three provinces so far, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. The third Monday of February, this is only the second occurrence of this new and controversial perennial holiday. Because this is a provincial holiday and not a federal one, all government offices and agencies remained open for business. Only about 1/3 of the citizens of the three provinces enjoyed this holiday off. This is a bit of a concern and may be remedied in the future for all of Canada. A ‘family holiday' that only three provinces and only one-third of its resident enjoy is hardly fair.

Niagara River Between Canada and The United States

Niagara River Between Canada and The United States

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The visible falls on the upper-right is the American Falls. During the summer months, ferry boats ply up and down the Niagara River to the whirlpool as the base of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. I have ridden this boat ride many times from the American side, but have yet to make the trip from the Canadian side of the river. The technical border between The United States and Canada is in the middle of the Niagara River, but the boats from both sides actually cross this imaginary border on its course to the base of the Canadian Falls.

Rainbow Bridge, with the American Niagara Falls in the Distance

Rainbow Bridge, with the American Niagara Falls in the Distance

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Horseshoe Falls, From Just Above the Edge
Niagara Falls is several waterfalls actually. The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are on the U.S. side of the river, and the larger Horseshoe Falls is the Canadian falls. There are several islands in the river above the falls on the American ownership, the largest being Luna Island. On the American side there are footbridges that you can walk out onto the islands and get close to the Niagara River's edge.

Horseshoe Falls, Canadian Falls

Horseshoe Falls, Canadian Falls

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Edge of The Horseshoe Falls, Near the Precipice
Some distance upriver we watch the water disappear over the Horseshoe Falls and continue down the Niagara River.

Tourist Haven

Tourist Haven

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The Horseshoe Falls is a favorite with tourists from all over the world. Tourism is a major force here, with over 20-million visitors every year visiting the Falls. Both the U.S. and the Canadian sides have an attraction called “The Maid of the Mist,” ferry boats that take passengers for short trip up to the whirlpool for a breathtaking view of the Horseshoe Falls.

The best known attraction after the Falls itself, has to be the “Maid of the Mist” ferry boats. These boats operate from docks on both the American and Canadian sides and for a reasonable fee, tourists can ride the boat up to the base of the Horseshoe Falls for a view of the Horseshoe Falls. The boat rides run about about 30-minute intervals, during the summer months so getting onto the boat is seldom a problem although sometimes the boat is filled nearer to capacity. Other time, not. I rode one Maid of the Mist with my niece and nephew whom were visiting from Missouri, and the boat we rode was not even one-third filled. We had nearly the entire lower deck to ourselves!

On the American side, tourists can take an elevator down to the river level and walk under Bridal Veil Falls for a small fee. You are given single-use rain gear (a plastic poncho imprinted with logos from the Falls,) and special slippers to wear. It is far too wet for convention footwear, and most people's person footwear would not be nearly adequate for the wet slippery conditions.

Your group is then lead along a footpath to wooden walkways with handrails, and you can even go up onto a ‘Hurricane Deck.’ There, you are nearly under Bridal Veil Falls! The falling water and wind is comparable to a sizable hurricane gale force, hence the name given. You are instructed to remove glasses, contact lenses and anything that can be swept away, as the force of the torrent is enough to strip articles from your body.

Once when I visited this Hurricane Deck experience, a tourist lost one of her contact lenses and realized that it as she existed. I guess her vision was fuzzy. Another patron discovered that the force of the downpour had stripped his (hopefully inexpensive) camera from its canvas belt pack, and it too was gone. He seemed more amazed that the downpour could do that, than being upset over it.

On the Canadian side you can go on a guided walking tour (again, in a provided poncho and special footwear) behind the Horseshoe Falls. There is a cavern of some sort back there. I think it is called “The Devils Hole’ but I have yet to visit this unique wonder.

Table Rock View, Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian Side of Niagara Falls

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At peak flow, some 6-million cubic feet of water goes over the crest line of the falls every 60-seconds, with the average being closer to 4-million cubic feet per minute. Niagara Falls is not the tallest waterfall in either America or Canada, but it is probably the widest and has the most water going over it.

Both the Canadian and American sides have hydro-electric generating facilities here on the mighty Niagara River just below the Falls. During the day, more water is let over the falls for tourism enjoyment and during the late evenings, more water is diverted into the generating facilities to produce electricity. There is a slight but noticeable difference in the amount of water that is diverted.

The rivalries between Thomas A. Edison and Nikola Tesla are a part of the history of power generation and Niagara Falls. Development of Alternating Current and the ability to transmit “AC” power over longer distances and with very little line-loss won out over Direct Current (“DC”) and became the standard preferred power source for the nation and the world.

A Rainbow Over the Horseshoe Falls

A Rainbow Over the Horseshoe Falls

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Taken from a moving car as we were leaving, I captured this couple and the nice rainbow over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.

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