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Niagara on the Lake, Canada: The pretty one
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief

Main Street, Niagara on the Lake, Canada

Nicknamed The Loveliest Town in Canada, Niagara on the Lake is located on the Niagara Peninsula at the point where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario. Niagara on the Lake is the only town in Canada that has a Lord Mayor (British influence!). The town's present name of Niagara on the Lake was adopted around 1880 as a Postal Address to distinguish the town from Niagara Falls. The name was not officially adopted until 1970, when the Town of Niagara and the Township of Niagara merged.

Clock Tower, Main Street, Niagara on the Lake, Canada It was just about an hour’s drive from Niagara Whirlpool to Niagara on the Lake. We were dropped in the centre of the main street and were given just about 2 hours to grab a bite and explore this beautiful town.

To save time to buy lunch, we pre-ordered a sandwich and fries from the van itself. Our van driver carried a menu and had his recommendations. It was a good idea, as the restaurants were packed with tourists. Our food was ready to be taken out. And what better location to have lunch other than in a garden on a pleasant summer afternoon?

Post lunch, we walked most of the main street. Both sides were shops with creative facades selling souvenirs, local artefacts, restaurants and of course ice cream. Niagara on the Lake is known for the ice cream. When there, please do grab your favourite flavor… would be difficult since you will find dozens of combinations.

Today, Niagara on the Lake draws tourists with its quaint colonial-style buildings, the Shaw Festival, Fort George and wineries. The Niagara Region has the second-highest percentage of seniors in Ontario and the town has been rated among the best places to retire in Ontario. Standing witness are the oldest Anglican and Catholic churches in Ontario, and the oldest surviving golf course in North America. A pretty town today, but its history was not so rosy.

Winery Facade, Niagara on the Lake, Canada The town had its importance in the history of Canada: it served as the first capital of the Province of Upper Canada, the predecessor of Ontario, called Newark from 1792 to 1797. During the War of 1812, the town, the two former villages of St. David's and Queenston, and Fort George were the site of numerous battles following the American invasion of Upper Canada, and the town was razed.

Fort George, just south of the settlement, was built in 1796-1799. During the War of 1812, Niagara was taken in the Battle of Fort George by American forces in May 1813 after a two-day bombardment by cannon from Fort Niagara and the American fleet, followed by a fierce battle. After capturing Fort George, the Americans built their own fortifications here. The fort was retaken by the British in December 1813 but left to fall into ruins and abandoned in 1815. Only a small portion of the fort remains; and now has been fully restored. Fort Mississauga was built, starting in 1813, but was not completed until after the war in 1816.

Shaw Statue, Main Street, Niagara on the Lake, Canada Leaving behind the bloody wars, today the town is home to the Shaw Festival, a series of theatrical productions featuring the works of George Bernard Shaw, his contemporaries, or plays about his era (1856–1950), running from April to November. The festival operates three theatres in the centre of town: the Festival, Royal George, and Court House theatres, and features one of a repertory acting company, scenic staff, and collection of resident and guest directors. The festival attracts over 5 million visitors every year.

Niagara on the Lake and around produces over 70% of Canadian wines. One of the favourite is Ice Wine. Like the town’s ice-cream, it is almost customary to visit one of the wineries for a wine-tasting session. Accordingly, our day trip included one such session.

Shop Facade, Main Street, Niagara on the Lake, Canada Not being a connoisseur of wine, I felt left out while others in the group were enjoying the pouring. Of course, I did try the ice wine. It was really very sweet. Since I have a sweet tooth, I found it delicious. I am told, it’s a dessert wine. Of course.

Thankfully, the driver kept himself away from the tasting session. Back on the road, we touched base at 5:30 PM as scheduled. The rest of the evening we spent walking the unexplored streets around our hotel in Toronto.

The next morning we would leave for Quebec City.

Niagara on the Lake Image Gallery Photo viewer Photo viewer

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Shop Facade, Main Street, Niagara on the Lake, Canada Vineyard, Niagara on the Lake, Canada Wine Tasting, Niagara on the Lake, Canada Winery Facade, Niagara on the Lake, Canada    

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