What Travel Writers Say

Niagara's Winter: a crystal wonderland

© By Hans Tammemagi
  American Falls - Niagara My favourite Niagara season is winter. I love to bundle up and stroll beside the mighty Niagara Falls. Only a few other people are about, and far below, Maid of the Mist boats are pulled up on shore looking forlorn and tiny.
     The mist from the roaring cascades has covered everything in thick ice; I am surrounded by a sparkling wonderland of crystal. With every breeze, I hear the musical tinkling of ice crackling and breaking from branches.
     During the long winter nights, the Festival of Lights features colourful lighting displays and entertainment. Enormous Niagara Park's spotlights illuminate the cascading Falls in a breathtaking palette of pastels.
     Some winters, huge chunks of ice tumble over the Falls and jam against the river banks, growing into a giant ice jam like a crevassed, gnarly glacier. In the late 1800s, huge crowds were attracted to the ice bridges. Entrepreneurial huts sprang up on the ice and sold everything from souvenirs to hard liquor. However, venturing along the ice bridge was prohibited in 1912 after three people were swept to their deaths.
     When we want peace and solitude, my wife and I head for the Bruce Trail. It leads us into the forest where the trees cast stark shadows on the white forest floor. Occasionally, paw prints cross the snow, which has drifted into Winter Vineyard Toast beautiful soft shapes. Far below, barren vineyards are lined up like Napoleon's soldiers marching on Moscow.
     Soon we hear the muffled roar of water. Seductively, the sound beckons us forward until we see a waterfall encrusted with a thick icy beard. Water tumbles over the rocks and bubbles around ice-coated rocks.
     Sometimes, we gather at a frozen pond. With boots lined up as goal posts, we flail and slither through a game of shinny hockey. Or we skate for miles up one of the creeks exploring the rolling landscape.
     In mid-March, the maple trees recognize that Old Man Winter is loosening his grip, and a sugary sap begins to course in their veins. I head to the Sugar Bush where I lick the sweet syrup.
     When darkness falls, I seek the warmth of a nearby winery and savour some ice wine. As the honeyed nectar refracts the flames of a roaring fire, I offer a toast to winter, my favourite season.

Hans Tammemagi has written two travel books: Exploring Niagara - The Complete Guide to Niagara Falls & Vicinity and Exploring the Hill - A Guide to Canada's Parliament Past & Present. He is the environment columnist for the Vancouver sun.

Balls Falls Ice Castle  Brink Of Falls - Winter  Maple Syrup Pots  Maple Syrup Toffee Sticks 

Photo Credits
Hans Tammemagi
Tourism Niagara

If you go
Niagara Falls Winter
as seen on
Accommodation/general information: www.tourismniagara.com; www.infoniagara.com
Niagara Falls and Festival of Lights: www.niagaraparks.com
Wineries: www.winesofontario.org
Hikes, waterfalls and Sugar Bush: www.conservation-niagara.on.ca
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niagara_Falls
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Niagara_Falls_(Ontario)

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/


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