Niagara is as historically and culturally rich a place as you could hope to find in Canada, you only need to know where to look. There are a plethora of small museums and art galleries to satisfy any amateur historian or art appreciator. However, not all things are created equal, so I’ve decided to list a few of the best for your next trip to Niagara.
Daredevils of Niagara Falls Museum
This display houses memorabilia from daredevils who have plunged over the falls. The first person to do so was Annie Edson Taylor. She was a former schoolteacher and dance instructor who, in 1901, made the journey over the falls in a custom barrel that was airtight and constructed from wood reinforced with iron bands and housing a mattress. Previous to the plunge the barrel was pumped up to 30 psi using a bicycle pump. Of the incident she said, “If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat… I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the fall.” Many others have done so since, some successfully but others weren’t so lucky.
Another interesting story is that of Bobby Leach pictured here. He went over the falls in a steel barrel and broke his jaw and both kneecaps in the fall. Years later while touring in New Zealand he slipped on an orange peel and died of complications from gangrene.
Old Fort Erie & Fort George
Amateur war historians will naturally be drawn to these two sites which were prominent during the War of 1812. Old Fort Erie was the site of the bloodiest battle ever fought on Canadian soil. It took place between British and American forces from 13 July 1814 to 5 November 1814 when American forces mined and demolished the fort before retiring.
Fort George was a British stronghold in Canada that was the site of the Battle of Fort George in May 1813 when American forces captured the fort. The Americans used the fort as a base of operations to invade Upper Canada but were repelled at the Battles of Stoney Creek and Beaver dams. The site was also used as a training base during World Wars I and II
Rodman Hall Art Center
Rodman Hall is affiliated with Brock University and while in the city of St. Catharine’s, serving the greater Niagara Falls region. Rodman Hall maintains a collection of over 850 works of art including paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings. The primary focus is contemporary Canadian art but there are also pieces by American and European artists from the 19th and 20th century. Several outdoor sculptures are on display in Walker Botanical Gardens, which is adjacent to the historic house of Rodman Hall.
You’re planning to visit Niagara Falls, no doubt, for the natural wonder of the falls, so you must be one to appreciate beauty and culture in other ways as well. Stop by some of these locations near the falls to fill up on culture during your vacation.