Niagara Falls: Canada v America. 

When. I posted some of my pictures from the Clifton Hill entertainment area near Niagara Falls, Ontario, one of my American relatives posted a response saying that he really appreciated the American decision to make the area surrounding the falls a national park so that the area would not become commercialised, as the Canadian side of the falls had done. 

I agreed with him. It’s lovely that there is parkland surrounding the falls area, and that people are encouraged to enjoy the natural beauty of the falls. There is a small wooded area where one cat watch the squirrels and chipmunks play, and monuments to various historical events and figures that are significant to the area. It’s really very nice indeed. 

On reflection, though, the two sides are not so different. On both sides, people can enjoy the scenery without directly encountering any kind of commercialism. There is parkland for sitting, having a picnic, or just taking some time out. On both sides, without walking too far, people can find a gift shop, a casino, and various other opportunities for dining and retail therapy. Both casinos and their advertising are quite visible from the falls. Both sides have a Hard Rock Cafe, and I have visited and eaten in each of them. Both are excellent. Both sides run a cruise on the river that takes people right up close to the falls to witness their power and grandeur face to face. Both sides are fantastic, and I encourage everyone to visit both so that their experience of Niagara Falls is complete. 

 Clifton Hill is actually several blocks’ walk from the falls themselves, and doesn’t overwhelm one’s perception of Niagara Falls as one of the world’s natural wonders at all. You can visit Niagara Falls, CA, without going anywhere near there. There is lots of fun to be had at Clifton Hill if one is so inclined, and it’s also possible to enjoy the sights and sounds of the area without spending any extra money. Yes, it’s commercialised to a greater degree than the area surrounding the falls in New York State, but there is commercialism on both sides. 

When it all boils down about which “side” is better, my decision isn’t based on opportunities for dining, gambling or any other entertainment. It’s quite simple, really. The view from the American side is impressive, but nowhere near as stunning as it is on the Canadian side. Even the American side of the falls looks better from Canada.  

 

  

I declare Canada the winner, eh. 

Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls is nothing short of amazing. Powerful, inspiring and breathtakingly beautiful, this is one place that stole a piece of my heart the moment I set foot here eighteen months ago. 

Then, it was at the tail end of winter. There was snow on the ground and parts of the cascades were frozen. There were icebergs in the river. The purity of the glistening whiteness only added to the majesty of the falls. 

  
This time, it’s early autumn and the trees are just beginning to try on the fashionable shades of the season, although the leaves are still mostly green. A blue sky, cheerful sunshine and 24C made for a magnificent day for visiting the falls. 

  
It’s not easy to even get close to describing the falls in words. There is a constant rumble of water tumbling over the cliffs, while a plume of mist rises into the sky from the base of the Horseshoe Falls, the name given to the Canadian side of the falls. 

There are cruises which depart from either side of the falls. The American one is named Maid of the Mist, while the Canadian is named Hornblower. The cruises don’t run in the winter, so it wasn’t an option to experience one last time I was here. This time, though, I was very keen to experience the falls up close and personal, so to speak. 

I donned my complimentary rain poncho and boarded the boat with my friends Sean and Jenn. In the interests of looking all mature and sensible. I said I was excited; internally, though, I was squealing like a six year old on a roller coaster. We set off, and I have a vague suspicion that some of those excited squeals may have escaped as we got nearer to the falls. 

  
What a mind-blowing experience. The power of the water, the tingling coolness of the mist, the overwhelming humility of realising how big those falls are and how small I am, and the joy of being so close to something so magnificent all combined to be almost overwhelming in the most incredibly pleasant of ways.  

 
Later in the day, as we stood on a balcony just above the top of the Horseshoe Falls, I reflected on my love for this place and the exhilaration of the sheer joy that I feel here. I can’t explain it, but both emotions are very real. 

  
This is truly an experience and a day I will never forget.  Niagara Falls, I love you.