Niagara Falls and Dundurn Castle
Niagara is located some 80 kilometers from Toronto, right on the border with New York, USA. The town apparently consists of nothing but hotels, restaurants, casinos, and anything that could be touristic, but it is spotless !
Just driving by Niagara falls, one gets an overwhelming spectacle !
Along the whole length of the two waterfalls parking is prohibited, but as far as the eye can see, there are magnificently landscaped lawns, and a very wide sidewalk. The lawns never need any watering, because the millions of water droplets from the falls and the wind permanently take care of that...
At that, it is usually a good idea to wash your car after a visit to the Niagara Falls, because the droplets from the falls contain quite a bit of suspended particles of clay and decayed vegetative matter. This mostly comes from the shallow eastern basin of Lake Erie.
The majestic Niagara Falls actually consist of two waterfalls.
The first fall is 55 meters high, 328 m wide, and it is located on American soil. The second fall is 54 m high and 640 m wide, it is called the horseshoe , and it is located in Canadian territory.
The water flow is a gigantic 5,520 cubic meters of water per second !
The force of the water crashing down is so great, that it erodes the horseshoe by 36 centimeters per ten years . However, this erosion is artificially controlled, because in 1950 the waterfall still eroded nearly one meter per year...
In the American part there is a talus , a sloping pile of rock fragments, at the bottom of the fall. This talus is the result of two collapses in 1932 and 1954.
In 1969, the entire American part was temporarily dammed , to allow the complete cleanup of this mess...
The Maid of the Mist
The Maid of the Mist presents a thirty-minute cruise on the lake below the falls.
Apparently, the overview from the Canadian side seems to be more popular than the one from US, because the Canadian boats are usually packed like sardines, while the American boats are only half full...
This Maid of the Mist organizes boat tours since 1846, though then it was by steamboat.
The cruise goes up to about fifty meters from the falls, and everyone needs to wear a plastic raincoat to avoid getting soaked. Also, at that point the ship's engines work at full power, just to keep stationary and not to be pushed back by the rushing water !
The sight of the two waterfalls is simply irresistible. No wonder that millions of tourists from all over the world come to admire this grand spectacle !
Video : Niagara Falls and the Maid of the Mist
Hamilton : Dundurn Castle
The Dundurn Castle, a mansion dating from 1835, is located in Hamilton.
The exterior is attractive and elegant, except perhaps the somewhat gaudy patio above the entrance, supported by no fewer than six huge columns. Perhaps another "pour épater les bourgeois" ?...
The rear facade once offered a beautiful overview on the entire bay, but now the trees at the rear end of the estate have grown so high, that it is almost impossible to see the water.
The dining room and the staircase are nicely decorated, while the rest of the interior is more functional.
The remarkable construction at the front of the castle is the dovecote of Sir Allan McNab, who was one of Canada's first prime ministers.
This strange (Dutch ?) word actually refers to a pigeon or dove house, because in ancient Europe, the possession of a dovecote was a symbol of status and power, and was consequently regulated by law.
Only nobles had this special privilege, known as "le droit de colombier".
Video : Dundurn Castle
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