Niagara-on-the-Lake: Springing to Life

By Dave Brown   Trail Canada

Niagara-on-the-Lake is considered by many to be a summer-time "post card community" nestled in the corner of the Niagara peninsula. The quaint charm and nostalgia that visitors have observed and enjoyed is available all year round; and by visiting in the spring, one can also avoid some of the street congestion associated with the hectic summer tourist season.


The Shaw Festival with its three theatres, begins showing live performances in April, and increases its offerings substantially by the end of May. Theatre fans can choose from a number of plays to suit various tastes, and on most days there is at least one matinee and one evening performance. This year, delaying a visit until June, may also have a broader appeal.

A Strawberry Festival is planned for June 16th, and will be a celebration of the beginning of the harvest for the Niagara tender fruit industry. This promises to be well attended, but bring your appetite as this event features shortcake, crepes, drinks, ice cream and milk shakes, all with a strawberry theme! Also on the itinerary is a barbeque and bake sale with various culinary delights, a silent auction, and a number of other craft booths and vendors.


The heritage business district is associated with excellent shopping in approximately 90 shops. With the authentic look and feel of a village from Colonial times, it is not hard to see why these stores serve as a perfect backdrop for the souvenir hunter. The opportunities are quite varied to accommodate a range of interests and shopping needs.

When all possibilities are exhausted, a photo of the Courthouse or the clock tower on Queen Street will rekindle memories of a fresh spring day in the old town.

Historic sites

The historic Fort George is open from the beginning of May and allows visitors to time-travel to the year 1812, when the United States planned to invade and capture Canada. Buildings have been carefully restored and refurnished and tourists are encouraged to touch the artefacts to experience life in the garrison.

The collection at the Niagara Historical Society & Museum, which is open year round, is a hidden gem in the town and is located a short walk from the Fort. It was established in 1897 and boasts one of Ontario's most impressive collections of early furniture, military and Canadian memorabilia, and textiles.


A stroll through the town can also showcase many lovingly restored heritage homes. Tree-shaded streets and horse-drawn carriages enable tourists to enjoy the simple pleasures and relaxed pace of small town life at its most gracious.

Starting on May 1, golfing enthusiasts can play 27 unique holes of golf at the Royal Niagara Golf course which is about a 15 minute drive from the centre of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Wine enthusiasts will also appreciate the town which serves as the beginning of the wine route and is home to approximately 17 wineries. Touring winery boutiques, sampling award winning wines, enjoying winery retail shopping and fine dining experiences are "all season favourites".

Many attractions await the curious visitor, as tulips and cherry blossoms spring from the earth in May like a colourful fountain of floral expression.

The majestic and charming scenery of Niagara-on-the-Lake was once proclaimed "the prettiest Sunday drive in the world" by Sir Winston Churchill in the 1940's and this thought has been shared by millions of appreciative tourists in the years ever since.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Features

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