Visiting Floral Clock Park, Niagara Falls, Ontario: brainchild of Dr. Richard Lankaster Hearn
Changing floral designs since 1950
Apart from the Falls themselves, the remarkable clock, in what is known as Floral Clock Park, is among the most often visited visitor attractions of Niagara Falls, in Ontario's Niagara Region.
Some history and features
Not so many people are aware of its history, however. After World War Two, Dr. Richard Lankaster Hearn, General Manager (and later Chairman) of Ontario Hydro, while visiting Scotland, had been encouraged by maintenance electrician foreman Hugh Duncan to seek out a floral clock in Princes Street, Edinburgh. This gave rise to the desire to create something comparable in Canada.
Pat Ryan and Walter Ewart collaborated in the original design of the clock. What was created in 1950 was actually much bigger than the floral clock in Edinburgh, which had served as its original inspiration. Whereas the Edinburgh clock is approximately 3 metres wide, the Niagara Parks's Floral Clock is 12.2 metres in diameter.
The original clock was sponsored by Ontario Hydro. Today, the changing floral designs of the clock and its maintenance are the responsibility of the Niagara Parks Commission's Parks Department.
15,000 to 20,000 flowers (colourful annuals; carpet plants) are planted each year, in designs which have varied. In spring, violas are often used, while, in the summer and fall, Alternanthera are often planted. For contrast, blue Festuca grass is often used, as is California golden privet. (Needless to say, the planting process on the clock-face necessitates the stopping of the clock!)
Speakers in a stone tower broadcast the Westminster chimes four times every hour. This tower is 7.3 metres high from its base; however, viewed from the sloping front of the clock, only 3.7 metres of the tower are visible. The hands of the clock weigh a total of 0.57 tonnes. The lengths of the hands of the clock are as follows: the hour hand: 4.42 metres; the minute hand: 5.3 metres; the second hand: 6.4 metres. It is thus one of the world's biggest working clocks.
While Floral Clock Park is technically in Queenston, adjacent to the Sir Adam Beck Power Plant, it is integral to the the Niagara Parks, the literature of which has sometimes referred to the Floral Clock as being in Niagara Falls.
Also worth seeing
At Niagara Falls , Ontario / Niagara Falls , New York, excellent views of the Falls may be obtained from many angles; Table Rock Point is an especially good viewing place for the Canadian Horseshoe Falls.
Queenston Heights (distance: approx. 1 kilometre); Brock's Monument commemorates a hero of the War of 1812.
How to get there: Floral Clock Park is a regular stopping point of the Niagara Parks's Peoplemover Buses.The QEW links Niagara Falls with Hamilton and Toronto. The nearest large airport to Niagara Falls, Ontario, is Buffalo Niagara International Airport (distance from Queenston Heights: 41.6 kilometres). Continental Airlines flies from New York Newark to Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where car rental is available. The Niagara Region of Ontario is accessible from the United States via the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls, and the Peace Bridge at Buffalo, NY/ Fort Erie, ON. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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