Niagara Falls, Ontario, April 6th

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Niagara Falls from the Canadian side, 6th April, 2018 © Alan Gignoux

6.30am – Jetlag has got the better of me and I slip out the back door of the Lion’s Head Inn.  The inn is on the riverside road and I jog along the sidewalk, ignoring a sign saying “Sidewalk closed for winter season, November – April.”  It’s 0 degrees and the river is covered in ice floes pressing against each other like crazy paving.  I follow the bend of the road, taking in the elegant Victorian houses, many of them bed and breakfasts, that stare down the American shore opposite.  Arriving at the bridge between the USA and Canada, the American Falls come into view; they are part frozen and water cascades over chunks of ice that look like ruins.  In the distance, I can see the impressive curve of the Horseshoe Falls; the entire scene emerges through mist in shades of white – grey white sky, yellow white ice, green white water, brown white trees and the ever present plume of clean white mist created when the water from the falls hits the river.  The sound track to this scene is an almighty roar that accompanies you wherever you go…

9am – Breakfast at the Lion’s Head where the inn owner’s son, Damian, cooks up an excellent breakfast of yoghurt, fruit and baked bananas, with – of course – maple syrup, followed by an omelette with goat’s cheese and vegetables.  We share the table with a young couple from Amsterdam who are exploring the East Coast and have driven up from New York to see the Falls.  We ask them why they’ve come and the wife explains that her husband loves waterfalls…

We discuss the differences between the Canadian and the American sides of the Falls and Damian notes the disparity in house prices – a large Victorian on the Canadian side would sell for $2.5 million, while a house on the American side can be snapped up for $50,000.  What explains this sizeable difference?

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FormerToronto Power Generating Station, Niagara Falls, Ontario, April 6th, 2018. Copyright Alan Gignoux.

10.30am – Alan and I explore the shores of the river at the top of the Horseshoe Falls, visiting the former Toronto Power Generating Station, designed by Toronto architect E.J. Lennox.  It’s a colonnaded palace in the Beaux-Arts style that would work well as a dictator’s residence or a Newport mansion.  Fallen into disuse, it sits on the horizon by the Niagara River, a remnant of a more confident era.

11am – We speak to a local man fishing at the rapids for trout – he explains that the ice at Lake Erie has been broken up by the 90km per hour winds a couple of days before and the floes are making their way downstream in great blocks…

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Upside Down House, near Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario, 6th April, 2018 © Alan Gignoux

12pm – Clifton Hill, the entertainment centre of Niagara Falls, Ontario, lined with amusements, such as Movieland Wax Museum, Dinosaur Adventure Golf and Ripley’s Museum.  At the Big Top Mirror and Lazer Maze we are astounded by a moving replica of a tightrope walker crossing the ceiling above an old-fashioned circus master. We miss the opportunity of a coffee at the Sweet Jesus Cafe (it’s closed) and end up at a Starbucks instead.

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Cadillac Motel, Ferry Street, Niagara Falls, Ontario, 6th April, 2018 © Alan Gignoux

1.30pm – Ferry Street.  We run across the Cadillac Hotel with a stylish black and white leather sofa in reception, a clock where cars substitute for numbers, and a pair of miniature pink flamingos, nodding at the desk.  The hotel, which was founded in the 1960s, has been recently renovated and each room features an oversized high definition photo of a different Cadillac model over the bed headboard – we check out the Marilyn Monroe room.  We are told that even off-season the hotel is busy at the weekends – it’s necessary to book 6 weeks in advance.

We are surprised to see packs of teenage girls moving down the sidewalks like swarms of bees.  We find out that they’re here for an inter-state cheer leading competition.

4pm Back at the Lion’s Head.  Time to edit the photographs and book interviews for next week.

 

 

 

 

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