Niagara-on-the-lake - Day 2

Once I did all the activities from the adventure pass, I realized I had nothing planned for the next day, and not a lot to do left around the Falls, when I saw the WeGo bus also offered a shuttle bus to Niagara-on-the-lake. No idea what and where it was, a quick google search informed me it was a town north of the Falls with a lovely historic old town. That was the perfect place to go until my return-bus!

The next morning I woke up, packed my stuff and left my bag with the hostel staff as I checked out, I would come pick it up on my way to catch the bus. I had a delicious breakfast and headed to the WeGo bus stop, that took me to Floral Clock. There I bought a round-trip ticket to Niagara-on-the-lake (14$ CAD) and waited for the shuttle (also a WeGo bus http://www.wegoniagarafalls.com/routes/).
It is also a hop-in hop-off system with a few stops : Floral Clock, Queenstown Heights Parks, Laura Secord, Homestead, McFarland House and Fort George. The shuttle runs from May to October, departs Floral Clock at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1;30pm, 2;30pm, 3:30pm and 4:30pm and departs Fort George at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm (last departure depends on Shaw performance schedule). It took around 30 minutes from Floral Clock to Fort George.
I think if you have all day long to visit it might be interesting to stop along the way at some stops, but I had a bus to catch at 7pm and was a little nervous with time so I decided to head straight to Fort George (http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/on/fortgeorge/index.aspx) which I did not visit, but I guess if you have time it can be interesting. Also if you have time, and the weather allows it I would suggest renting a bicycle instead of taking the bus (first depart is at 10:30, I would have loved an earlier one), the road connecting the Falls and Niagara-on-the-lake is really pretty, and most part of it has a bicycle lane. I spotted a small local market near « Laura Secord Homestead » with fruits, vegetables, honey etc. if you want to take a break and grab something fresh to eat.
The area is also famous for its wineries, a lot of you can find along the road, and some offering tours. They also have « ice wine », which I had never heard of it before, so when a friend of me told me we also had ice wine in France, I was surprised! Shame on me! At least I know what I will try to find to bring to the Christmas dinner with my family once I go back to France.

From the Fort George stop I grabbed a free map and walked to the old town (around 5minutes walk, but there is also a free shuttle, look for a small white bus). I wandered along the historic center of the town, it was so pretty! No surprise here when Niagara-on-the-Lake is apparently often called the loveliest town in Ontario.
Here is a little history of Niagara-on-the-lake as explained on the city’s Chamber of Commerce website (https://www.niagaraonthelake.com/page/About_Niagara-on-the-Lake) : « Site of the old Neutral Indian village of Onghiara, it was settled at the close of the American Revolution by Loyalists coming to Upper Canada, many of whom had been members of the much feared Butler's Rangers based during the American Revolution at Fort Niagara, then under British control.
In 1781 the British Government purchased land from the Mississaugas; a strip of land 6 miles wide along the western bank of the Niagara River for "300 suits of clothing". By 1782, 16 families had become established and had cleared 236 acres. In 1791 part of the military reserve at the mouth of the river was chosen as the future townsite. In 1792, Newark - as it was named by Governor Simcoe, became the first capital of the newly-created colony of Upper Canada, and the legislature met here for five sessions, until Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe moved the capital to York. By 1796, 70 new homes were built, and the town continued to prosper as the economic, administrative and judicial centre for the Niagara Peninsula. The physical appearance of the town, with the exception of the powder magazine at Fort George was virtually erased by the burning of the town by the Americans during the war of 1812.
Rebuilt, Niagara became an active commercial centre, with a busy shipping and ship-building industry, as well as many shops and warehouses. The beautiful old homes lining the tree-shaded streets attest to the prosperity of its citizens. »

I made a quick stop for lunch, and an exciting stop to taste ice wine at Wine country Vintners (27 Queen Street), 2 ice wine for 7$ or 3 for 10$, their wine is 3 for 7$ and you get either way 7$ off towards wine purchase on the same day, if you are interested in bringing home a bottle or two.

I then went to explore the shore side where there was a cute park, and Fort Mississauga (you have to go across a golf course to reach the Fort, this is pretty funky).

As I wrote before I did not had time to do everything I wish I could have done, but depending on the time you have, here is a few ideas of things to do :
  • Shaw Festival Theatre (www.shawfest.com) : the famous provocative and entertaining Shaw Festival Theatre showcases 10 productions each year performed in four theatres for an audience of more than 250,000. If you like unconventional plays this could be a pleasant afternoon or evening.
  • Art galleries : the King Street Gallery, contemporary Canadian Art Gallery (153 King Street) and the Native Cnadian Art Gallery, that promote original work by Native Canadian artists (129 Queen Street).
  • Wine :  Frog pond Farm Organic Winery, first certified winery in Ontario. (1385 Larkin Road www.frogpondfarm.ca). You can also find wineries tour like this one https://www.niagarawinetourguides.com/wine-and-beer.html.
  • the Niagara Falls beer Festival in August
  • the Niagara Icewine Festival (January 13-29, 2017)
  • if you are looking for gifts for family, friends and yourself, I would recommend "Maison Apothecary" (27 Queen St) to buy locally made eco-cleaning products, baby care products, personal care products.

And at Plusios Gifts (23 Queen Street) you can find bags from the Canadian cruelty-free and vegan-friendly brand Pixie Mood (https://www.pixiemood.com), perfect souvenir to bring back with you!

And here is some ideas of where to eat :
  • Il Gelato di Carlotta - latteria - 59 Queen St (I had a very good "vegetable panini" for 9$, and apparently really good gelato if you believe the happy customers who were right after me in line)
  • And two restaurants I did not try : Back House - 242 Mary St, integrated sustainable cuisine (http://backhouse.xyz/menu/) and Treadwell Cuisine - 114 Queen St, farm to table (http://treadwellcuisine.com)
Usefuls links :
Last but not least, public restrooms! You can find clean public washrooms in the parking lot next to Grace United Church and next to the Chamber of Commerce.

If you plan to visit Niagara Falls I highly recommend you also take some time to visit Niagara-on-the-lake. It was such a lovely old town! I was lucky the weather was really nice, you know warm and sunny, which just made this day perfect. But I would imagine the old town has so much charm even in a rainy day it would be a delightful break from the Falls. 

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