For thousands of years Niagara’s waterfront has been witness to a changing world. Traditional hunting and gatherings, warring nations, settlers and refugees, traders, tourists, and pleasure seekers have all been attracted to the most important river in the largest freshwater system on earth – the Niagara River.
The NOTL Museum’s latest exhibition, All Along the Waterfront, opens on May 18 and explores the relationship between Niagara-on-the-Lake and its waterfront, its industries, growth, and its traditions — all of this due to its prized location, overlooking the mouth of the Niagara River as it pours into Lake Ontario.
Except the Niagara River isn’t actually a river. It’s a 58-kilometre long strait, or connecting channel, that flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, carrying water from the Upper Great Lakes — Superior, Huron, and Michigan.
These same waters provided an economic highway for the lucrative fur trade that dominated the settlement of Upper and Lower Canada for more than 250 years.
The economic fortunes of Niagara-on-the-Lake have been equally tied to the Niagara River: the rise and fall of a shipping industry that dominated world markets; a flourishing commercial fishing enterprise that saw massive decline in fish stocks; and a dock area that was for decades the noisy, smelly, industrial heart of the town. The environment impact of these ventures is also explored as today’s NOTL embraces the recreational and tourist appeal of the Niagara River.
The waterfront represents much of Niagara’s growth, from traditional land to tourist mecca, and the highly developed communities that now occupy its shores.
Without it, Niagara-on-the-Lake would never have even existed.
All Along the Waterfront opens May 18 and runs to Dec. 18.
Complimenting the exhibit is the NOTL Museum’s first in-person lecture this year, A History of C&C Yachts, on May 19 at 7.30 p.m. The award-winning global success of C&C Yachts is legendary. They operated their factory in Niagara-
on-the-Lake for 30 years, and were Canada’s largest builders of sailboats before being destroyed by fire in 1994.
For more information on both these events, call 905-468-3912, or check www.notlmuseum.ca