Yesterday, I mentioned my current location of Niagara Falls. I have visited on two previous occasions – once in 1999 and once last year – and both times, the weather has not been kind. April and May is a funny time in Canada. Sometimes the weather is amazing and sometimes, it’s dreadful (much like I am used to in the UK!). I have to say, on this occasion, thank you for the lovely weather bestowed upon me this weekend!
A short while ago, I had a message from my friend who I am staying with, asking if I would like to go on a helicopter ride over Niagara Falls. Unsurprisingly, there was little hesitation before I quickly replied saying, ‘Yes please!’ And so, on my first day back in Canada, after dropping a very excited young man off at ‘soccer’ (the kicking the ball around variety, known to me as football), we headed off to the helipad. I had never been on a helicopter before but bearing in mind I have thrown myself down a bobsleigh run (in Calgary) with no driver or brakeman, I wasn’t particularly daunted by the prospect.
The views were spectacular – 0ver Horseshoe Falls, American and Bridal Falls, which collectively make Niagara Falls – and I even had the honour of sitting in the front, next to the pilot. The whole experience was awesome and so much the better for it being a lovely sunny day! For some unaccountable reason, I had never seen the barge before which is wrecked ‘up stream’ from the Falls. The Niagara Scow (also known as “The Old Scow”) is an unofficial name for the barge which brought two men very close to plunging over the Horseshoe Falls. It was wrecked in 1918, so I could hardly have missed it on previous visits. Now, the barge brings a different danger as, if it ever came adrift, it would crash down onto the Maid of the Mist Tours below.
There is a plaque on the Canadian side explaining the wreck and there is a history of the events of the day on Wikipedia. The two men who were set adrift in the barge – Gustave Luffberg and Frank Harris – survived the events of 6 August 1918 with the help of William “Red” Hill, Sr. who was awarded a Carnegie Medal for his efforts. He and his sons also assisted in many other recoveries and rescues in the next few decades.
Amazing day and now, my travels continue as I venture back towards Toronto for a few days of sightseeing/work and seeing some geneamates before the conference.
[Did you know: The first person to go over the Falls in a barrel and survive was a 63 year old female schoolteacher! Well, enough said!]