Destination Ontario: Bloomin’ Gorgeous
Springtime in Niagara
Some 12,000 years ago, the falls at Niagara were defined when melting glaciers formed the Great Lakes. The rushing waters that ran downhill from one lake (Lake Erie) to another (Lake Ontario) carved out a river, and at one point passed over a steep, cliff -like formation – the Niagara escarpment. As the water began to wear its way back up the river, the deeply cut path that was left behind is now known as the Niagara Gorge.
The southern end of the Golden Horseshoe, Niagara Region encompasses the cities of St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland, as well as the charming towns of Niagara-on-the- Lake, Grimsby and Fort Erie. The City of Niagara Falls is a vibrant community that affords residents with a plethora of opportunities in the areas of recreation, arts and culture. While urban amenities are in abundance, there’s still a relaxed stillness that comes with living in this beautiful area.
Come spring, it’s a visual flower feast. A drive through the Niagara region is an annual ritual for many, as the orchards are bursting with delicate blossoms on fruit-bearing trees. The Japanese flowering cherry trees, found at the Botanical Gardens, Queenston Heights Park and Kingsbridge Park are expected to bloom by mid-May.
Located along the scenic Niagara Parkway is the Floral Clock, which was constructed in 1950. The clock’s face, complete with working mechanisms, is planted two times per year with 15,000 to 20,000 carpet plants arranged in beautiful designs. It is the second most photographed highlight in the region.
Created in 1967 to commemorate Canada’s Centennial Year, the fragrant Lilac Garden is located north of the Floral Clock and features 200 different lilac varieties in a range of colours.
The Botanical Gardens is located just north of Niagara Falls on the Niagara Parkway. For more than 80 years, visitors have found solace while strolling the beautiful gardens. Also located here is the Butterfly Conservatory, and the world-famous rose garden that features more than 2,400 varieties.
The first fireworks’ display took place on September 14th, 1860. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the annual Falls Fireworks Series, Niagara Parks has expanded their schedule to include 111 fireworks daily displays throughout the summer. Special holiday shows are scheduled for the Memorial Day long weekend (May 25 to 28).
View the falls from the water, the air or the ground. No matter your vantage point, it’s an awe-inspiring experience – no matter the time of year.
Less than a half hour drive from the Falls, at the mouth of the Niagara River, is the quaint 18th century town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, often referred to as Ontario’s loveliest town. Home to the renowned Shaw Festival, the town is an eclectic dining, shopping and sightseeing experience.
Old Fort Erie, Fort George, Brock’s Monument and Laura Secord’s homestead are just a few of the landmarks that will delight history buffs. The area was also an important stop on the legendary 1800s Underground Railroad.
In addition to slots and gaming tables, Fallsview Casino Resort showcases international performers.
Niagara boasts close to 100 parks and several championship courses, including Legends on the Niagara, Oak Hall Par 3 and the Whirlpool Golf Course, which was designed by golf architect Stanley Thompson and is rated as one of Canada’s most highly rated public golf courses.
Because of the two large bodies of water, Niagara Region is considered to be a moderate climate zone. Southern Ontario is roughly at the same latitude as southern France (Provence). The area’s temperatures make it ideal for growing tender fruit, and the conditions are ideal for ripening many varieties of grapes.
The Niagara Peninsula is one of four recognized viticultural areas by the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) in the Ontario Wine Industry. The European-style vineyards and wineries attract visitors from around the world. Many offer full tours of their facilities, and some have onsite dining, which feature sumptuous menus paired with their own VQA vintages.
The extended warm-weather season is also popular with boating, golf, hiking and biking enthusiasts.
Photography, courtesy of Niagara Falls Tourism