Reading: Tracy Hanes and Betty VanHoogmoed, Niagara Region, Oshawa, Ontario: Marco Polo Imp.; MapArt Pub. Co., a Review
An outstanding Canadian Region
Tracy Hanes and Betty VanHoogmoed, Niagara Region, Marco Polo imprint, MapArt Publishing Co., Oshawa, Ontario, 2000 p.p. 120 (later reprinted)
This book has as its subject not only the magnificent Falls, but also the Region in Ontario which takes its name from the Falls. It is not always that a region possesses the fine combination of outstanding scenic qualities but also rich, historic associations, but both can be attributed in abundance to the Niagara Region, situated in Canada's most populous Province's Niagara Peninsula.
So the visitor to the area must expect this book to be about the Region as a whole, and, for a guide-book of its size, the book has a notable proportion of space given over to the Region's historical events and background.
The book describes historical events with direct relevance to the Falls themselves: not only the fate of the various daredevils who have recklessly gone over the Falls since the 19th century (1) but also an amazing event in 1848, when the Falls literally ceased to fall: they froze over (2).
Other significant historical events and localities in the Region which are discussed are its associations with the settlement of United Empire Loyalists, the War of 1812 (Fort Erie, Queenston, with Brock's Monument and the Laura Secord Homestead), and the Underground Railroad, or Freedom Trail. A useful timeline of salient, historical events in the Region has been supplied (3): significant, early happenings include the cited arrival of the Atiquandaronk First Nations at around 1300AD, and that of explorer Etienne Brulé in 1626. Another, immensely important event for the Region was the establishment of the Niagara Parks Commission in 1888.
Predictably — and rightly — much is made of Niagara-on-the-Lake's architectural scenic and historic qualities (4). Situated at the mouth of the Niagara River on Lake Ontario, one of its claims to fame among Canadians is that it was the seat of Upper Canada's first parliament in the late 18th century and at the time known as Newark. Today, its vineyards command more attention than any rôle in political administration.
Hydro-electricity, as harnessed at the Falls and the Niagara River, which has been enormously important for Canada's economy, is also described (5).
A whole section is devoted to St. Catherines, the Region's largest city (6); it is especially known for hosting the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta for the past century at Port Dalhousie. Included in the section is information about the Welland Canal Centre.
A related feature in a futher section of the book is the Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum: the town which hosts this cultural facility stands at the southern end of the Welland Canal. through which huge amounts of shipping tonnage passes between Lakes Erie and Ontario (7).
The scenic Jordan Valley Resort Trail is described as an extension of the Ontario Waterfront Trail (8).
Travellers need to bear in mind that this book deals with the entity known as Niagara Region on the Canadian side of the border; not covered by the book is the US's Niagara County, New York, which shares the Falls and has equally historic and scenic qualities.
May 7, 2013
(1), Hanes and VanHoogmoed, p, p. 36
(2), op. cit., p. 43. The eerie silence which greeted local people on this occasion is said to have caused fear among them.
(3), op. cit., p. p. 10-11
(4), op. cit., p. p. 51-65.
(5), op. cit., p. 15.
(6), op. cit., p. p. 67-77.
(7), op. cit., p. 81.
(8), op. cit., p. 82. Interestingly, the prominent geological feature nearby known as the Niagara Escarpment stretches way west and north of the actual Niagara Region.
MJFenn is an independent writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my reviews may be of interest
- Reading: Richard T. Wright and Stan Garrod, Canada: The Scenic Land, North Vancouver, BC: Whitecap B
- Reading: Toronto, Markham, Ontario: The Postcard Factory, a Review
- Reading: Roderick Stewart, Wilfrid Laurier: A Pledge for Canada, Lantzville, BC: XYZ Pub., 2002: a R
- Reading: General Rick Hillier, A Soldier First, Toronto, Ontario: HarperCollins Publishers, Ltd., 20
- Reading: W. H. Thompson, Sixty Minutes with Winston Churchill, London: Christopher Johnson, a Review