Formed millions of years ago, from receding glaciers – Niagara Falls, honeymoon destination, famous film backdrop and a valuable source of hydroelectric – power still has the wow factor for a weary world traveller. Formed from three waterfalls (the Horseshoe, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls if you’re interested) that straddle the border between Canada and the USA, the Falls are unusually wide and are a beautiful technicolour green. Tourists can get up close to the thundering water, and taking pictures of yourself with the Falls as a backdrop is compulsory. The ‘Maid of the Mist’ boats set off every hour or so under the Bridal Veil Falls with hundreds of plastic ponchoed passengers preparing to brave the spray.
What is less known is that the first person to go over the falls in a barrel and survive unharmed was a school teacher named Annie Edison in 190. Her successful attempt was actually preceded by domestic cat who had the hapless task of testing the barrel’s strength! After exiting her vessel, somewhat bruised and bleeding, apparently Annie ( a master of understatement no doubt) said “No one ought ever to do that again!” Of course Annie’s sage advice was duly ignored and acrobat Nick Wallenda crossed the falls at its most dangerous point on a skywire just last year.
Visits to Niagara Falls rose sharply in 1953 after the release of Niagara, a dramatic tale of forbidden love which gave Marilyn Monroe her first star billing.
The drive to Niagara along the river was said to be the prettiest in the world by Winston Churchill and it is still quite gorgeous. The microclimate of Niagara means that vineyards and peach trees abound in the surrounding countryside. When we were there it was the cherry season and we also tried some Saskatoon berries which I have never heard of before.