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Reliving the War of 1812 in Niagara Falls

Monday, October 20th, 2014

sheratonblog3.jpegThe War of 1812 was one of Canada’s most dramatic military engagements. Declared on June 11, 1812, the war waged between the Britain and America lasted nearly three years, and battles between the British military giants and their old enemies the Americans took place all over North America — including Niagara Falls. No fewer than seven distinct historic battles took place in the Niagara region, as it was such a significant center of agriculture, trade, and beauty that both armies wanted to claim the area as their own. The most famous of all battles waged in Canada was that of Lundy’s Lane, and it has earned its place in history for being one of the bloodiest and deadliest battles that has ever occurred within Canadian borders.

The Battle of Lundy’s Lane

In the summer of 1814, British and American forces crawled all over the surrounding Niagara landscape. An American army had just defeated the British at the Battle of Chippawa, and surrounding British armies were relocating southward toward the falls to give aid to their faltering comrades and prepare for retaliation against the Americans.

The Americans and British had several hints about their enemies’ movements, as both armies reported sightings of scouts and messengers in unexpected regions; however, when a British sentry was nearly killed by the relocating American army, the drums of war began to sound. The sentry raced back to the main force to explain his findings.

sheratonblog4.jpegMeanwhile, the Americans were informed about the British force by a local tavern owner afraid for her livelihood. They learned that the British were currently camped at the base of a strategically significant hill at Lundy’s Lane. In the time it took the Americans to move toward the region, the small British army was bolstered by many reinforcement troops, and they remained confidently camped on Lundy’s Lane Hill.

While most of Britain’s land forces were encamped on the hill, the Americans still vastly outnumbered them, and soon the British abandoned the hill and were on the verge of defeat. The battle carried long into the night and next day, and large numbers of soldiers were critically wounded and killed.

Yet, the urgent need for supplies forced the Americans back to Chippewa, allowing the British to reinforce their troops and entrench themselves on Lundy’s Lane Hill. Despite several vigorous attempts by the Americans, they were never able to regain their position on top, and they withdrew to Fort Eerie, burning everything in their wake.

Total casualties for this battle alone number in the thousands, though the Americans suffered nearly twice the deaths of the British. Since this infamous battle, Niagara Falls is proud to claim 200 years of peace and prosperity. With borders firmly in place and trade agreements established among the French, British, and Americans, Niagara Falls

Niagara’s War of 1812 Today

History buffs and military fanatics love experiencing places of significance in defining historic wars — and Niagara Falls is just that. During your stay in Niagara Falls, you can learn more about the region’s experience during the War of 1812 by visiting the Niagara Falls History Museum. Inside, you’ll learn in-depth details about the war and participate in hands-on activities like wearing the British military uniform and handling a few period weapons. Just outside the museum, visitors can take a walking tour through the site of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. The museum and battleground tour are pleasant and informative, and interested parties are sure to have a blast — figuratively, as all weaponry is currently non-functional.

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Niagara Falls Is for Birthdays

Friday, October 10th, 2014

sheratonblog1.jpegA major problem with organizing children’s birthday parties is there is rarely anything for parents and chaperones to do while the kids have fun. At regular arcades, adults usually sit around the food while kids go wild on games and entertainment; at regular water parks, adults must guard everyone’s belongings while kids splash around the rides and pools. While a child’s birthday party is a major milestone, for many adults the party can turn out to be a real drag — even when the kids are having the time of their life.

This year, you can change all that with a birthday celebration in Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is a destination perfect for adults and children alike. While kids explore the arcades in Clifton Hill, adults can wander around bars and shops. While kids race each other on the lightening-fast slides in Fallsview Indoor Water Park, adults can soak up the sun next to the pools. Plus, while kids marvel in the magnificent power of the thundering water of the falls, adults will be right there with them, equally amazed. Niagara Falls is perfect for your child’s next birthday because you’ll be having fun with your kids at every turn.

Birthday Packages

Sheraton on the Falls offers two fantastic birthday packages to travelers looking to celebrate big this year.

The Fallsview Indoor Water Park package promises wet and wild fun for everyone in the family. This package includes seven all day passes (plus one for the birthday kid) to the country’s best water park. Lunch will be provided for every guest, who gets to choose from a selection of hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizzas. For dessert, the birthday kid gets to blow out candles on his or her very own birthday cupcakes, and every guest will be given sparklers to celebrate the occasion. Plus, every kid gets to go home with souvenirs, like a Fallsview cup and loot bag filled with tons of exciting goodies.

While kids are roaming the three-acre park and riding the 16 thrilling slides, adults can have some fun of their own at the Planet Hollywood Beach Club bar, which serves any cocktail you can think up. There are a handful of adults-only spas and pools, where the older crowd can lounge without the fear of a kid’s cannonball disrupting their relaxation.

Unlike regular water parks that are only open for a handful of months due to seasonal temperatures, Fallsview is inside, meaning it remains operational even as temperatures outside start to turn. Rain or shine, your party will go on at Fallsview Indoor Water Park.

sheratonblog2.jpegThe second birthday package combines the fun of Fallsview Indoor Water Park with the thrill of Adventure City. Adventure City offers even more excitement for party-goers, who with this package gain all-day admittance to bumper cars, mini golf, a 4D theater, and more. The group still gains the perks of the regular Fallsview Indoor Water Park package — filling lunch, excellent loot — but the games and rides at Adventure City provide the opportunity to take home even more amazing prizes. Adults and kids alike will love practicing their skee-ball tosses and racking up tickets to cash in for all manner of items, from stuffed animals to expensive tech devices.

Even outside the packages, Niagara Falls offers a wealth of attractions perfect for children and adults. If you have a big birthday to celebrate, reward both you and your kid with a trip to Niagara Falls.

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Top 6 Books Set in Niagara Falls

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Lady reading a book There is no better time to read than when you’re on vacation. When you’re away from your everyday troubles, you have ample time to sit back, relax, and devote yourself to a compelling story in a far off land. Niagara is a beautiful land filled with mystery and excitement, so it’s no wonder so many authors place their characters in the midst of the falls. During your relaxing Niagara vacation, pick up a tome set in Niagara, and be consumed body and mind with the drama and wonder of the place.

“The Falls” by Joyce Carol Oates

Oates is a prolific and excellent writer, and she proves her skill once again with this impressive tome. The plot follows young Ariah Erskine in the mid-20th century through her wedding, honeymoon, and widowhood — which all occurs on the same fateful day. But all is not hopeless for Ariah at Niagara Falls, and what follows is a story of passionate romance, but also distrust and greed.

“The Whirlpool” by Jane Urquhart

Another tale of tragedy and mystery set at the falls, this story follows the lives of four different individuals living in or visiting Niagara in the late 19th century whose lives all converge at the whirlpools at the bottom of the falls. The prose is rather Gothic in tone, so if you’re a fan of dark romances, this book is for you.

“The Day the Falls Stood Still” by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Niagara FallsBuchanan has lived in the Niagara region for much of her life, and her beautifully realistic depiction of life around Niagara Falls shows it. This novel follows 17-year-old Bess Heath, an upper-class girl who falls almost instantly for a working-class boy, Tom Cole — a romance riddled with obstacles in early 20th century Niagara Falls, Ontario. You’ll learn plenty about the region and the exploitation of the falls, and you’ll be swept off your feet by the drama of Bess’s and Cole’s budding love.

“The Widows” by Suzette Mayr

One of the few novels on this list not starring a young person in love, “The Widows” instead is concerned with the lives of three old women who make a pact to go over the falls in a steel barrel. However, what sounds like an absurd literary jaunt actually has plenty of meaty layers to peel back, including issues of racism and homophobia.

“Stone House Diaries” by Robert C. Moore

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, you’ll love this extensive exploration of the history of Niagara Falls the city. Spanning several generations of Niagara Falls natives, from the Loyalists coming to Canada from America to nearly modern-day Canadians, the stories told depict how life has changed in Niagara Falls over the past few centuries.

“City of Light” by Lauren Belfer

Although this story is actually set on the Buffalo, New York side, Belfer includes plenty of history and drama that includes the entire falls system. Set at the turn of the century, “City of Light” examines Niagara Falls at the peak of the industrial Revolution, when it was full of the bustling activity of high society and big industry — not to mention crime. This story is an engaging thriller that will keep you interested until the very last page.

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Relax and Enjoy the View at the Christienne Fallsview Spa

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Woman receiving spa treatmentPeople usually go on vacation to take a break from their regular lives. There are plenty of activities and experiences in Niagara Falls designed to bring your mind away from everyday stress, but one of the most prominent and effective are those found at Christienne Fallsview Spa inside the gorgeous luxury hotel Sheraton on the Falls.

You’ll be able to stimulate and soothe all of your senses at the spa, which offers all sorts of services and packages to suit any taste. Luxuriate in your complementary spa robe with your fresh, calming tea, and surround yourself in our signature aromatherapy scent, then feel your stress melt away under the pressure from these relaxing services offered at Christienne Fallsview Spa.

Massages

There is no better way to relieve your stress than to have a professional massage by one of our Registered Massage Therapists.  We have several options to choose from depending on your specific needs.  Ranging from Stress Relief to Deep Tissue to Hot Stone, the choice is yours.  If you like to try something a little different we also offer Reiki which is specific hand positions and light touches to balance your energy and Reflexology which is the application of pressure to specific points and areas of the feet.  We also offer a Relaxation massage that is performed by our Spa Therapists. Come and experience all that massage can do for you.

Facials

We hold much of our tension in our facial muscles, and to maintain a healthy appearance, it’s important to let them relax every once and a while. All of our facials are fabricated to enhance beauty and youthfulness, but like the massages, there are plenty of options of various tastes. Cleansing facials will clear and tighten pores, while collagen treatments will firm and lift sagging skin damaged from age or the sun. There is even a facial specially designed to keep men’s skin young and healthy.

Body Treatments

Person receiving body treatmentWe offer a variety of full-body treatments to reawaken your tired body. Our scrubs and wraps will cover you head-to-toe with luxurious products to soothe your muscles and reawaken your skin. If you’re looking for a slimmer, younger-looking body, try out the Aromatic Body Contouring Treatment, which will exfoliate your dead, dried skin and relax your tired muscles with a detoxifying body mask. Or, bring your body back to its prime health with the Detox Remedy Wrap, which uses natural marine products like sea salt and seaweed to rid your body of harmful toxins that affect your appearance.

Hydrotherapy Tub

The spa services cannot be beat — except by its unparalleled hydrotherapy tub. This gorgeous infinity tub will wrap you up in warm and soothing water flowing gently around your body. Right next to you is a wall-mounted fireplace to keep the room nice and warm, and the rainforest shower above you can gently rinse you off when you’re finished. However, the reason this tub is the absolute best feature of the spa is the view that accompanies it. Your hydrotherapy tub is placed right next to a window that allows full views of the Canadian and American falls in all their glory. While the water from your bath flows slowly over the sides of the tub, the powerful water of the Niagara River plunges over the falls. It is a truly magical experience.

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5 Stunning Golf Courses Around Niagara Falls

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Man teeing off It’s no wonder that Niagara Falls has become a golfer’s paradise. The landscapes around Niagara Falls are beautiful and lush, allowing for amazing views on world-class courses. After reviewing the more than 15 courses in the Niagara region, we’ve come up with this short list of our absolute favorites. If you’re traveling with a golfer, or you and your loved ones are golf enthusiasts, try your swing at one of these world-renowned courses.

Grand Niagara Resort

This course is unarguably one of the most beautiful in the entire country, if not the world. The course is relatively quiet, set well into the rural surroundings of Niagara Falls, allowing for a serene and stress-relieving game of golf. This course is relatively challenging, especially for amateur golfers, so bring plenty of balls and be prepared to go into the rough if you haven’t perfected your swing. The designer and builder of the course is confident that this course will soon host a major championship — so book your tee time while you still can.

Thundering Waters

Playing golf on this course is the closest you can get to playing around the falls themselves. Only 1500 yards from the power and majesty of the falls, Thundering Waters really earns its name. This is definitely one of the hardest courses in the Niagara region; the course is littered with sand traps and woods, and the green doesn’t grab, so your balls will roll. However, the thick woods and rolling hills make for a stunning view no matter where you’re swinging, so be sure to take a break from wedging your ball back onto the fairway to take in the beauty.

Whirlpool Golf Club

This course is maintained by the Niagara Parks, and thus it is one of the most cost-effective courses available to golfers on vacation in Niagara Falls. From the course, you can get amazing views of the Niagara Gorge and Niagara River Whirlpool rapids. More than 60 years old, this course has withstood the test of time; its hills are as challenging as ever and make for plenty of blind shots to keep golfers of all abilities on their toes.

Legends on the Niagara

Men on golf courseComprised of three separate courses (named Battlefield, Ushers Creek, and Chippawa) Legends on the Niagara has been rated among the top 100 courses in Canada for several years now. Each individual course is intended to challenge golfers of different abilities, so it’s the goldilocks of golfing in the Niagara region. Plus, the courses meld almost seamlessly with the surrounding landscape, meaning golfers get unmatched views. Many golfers say that these courses are some of the best-kept in the area, which means you can count on having the best course available no matter what time of day or year.

Royal Niagara

Another course relatively close to the falls, Royal Niagara is nestled comfortably between the Niagara Escarpment, the popular Bruce Trail, and the Welland Canal, which all offer gorgeous and important scenery. This course takes advantage of the natural environment, using native land contours and woods to shape each hole. Paying homage to its environment, the course has an abundance of water features, so make sure you aim carefully if you don’t want to take too many penalties.

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Windows is participating in LCBO “Taste Local Love Local” Campaign

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Windows by Jamie Kennedy RestaurantWindows by Jamie Kennedy is participating in the LCBO’s “Taste Local Love Local” campaign.   The initiative showcases restaurants that pair local VQA Ontario wines-by-the-glass and Ontario craft beers with local fare. More than 150 restaurants across the province are participating in this year’s campaign, which is largest ever promotion of domestically produced wines. “Taste Local Love Local” runs to Oct.11, 2014.

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5 Movies Filmed in Niagara Falls

Monday, September 15th, 2014

American Falls brinkNiagara Falls is a beautiful and mystical place — which makes it the perfect setting for films of all types. Movies with genres as disparate as romantic comedy and film-noir, action/adventure and satire have placed their heroes and villains in Niagara Falls, and plenty of them required filming scenes in Niagara itself. If you or someone you’re traveling with is a big movie buff, you can’t miss Niagara Falls for its deep roots in movie history.

“Niagara” (1952)

This film-noir thriller is long been lauded as the film that brought Marilyn Monroe into the spotlight and launched her movie career. The plot of “Niagara” follows two married couples on their honeymoons in Niagara, but what should be a happy time turns sour as the younger couple, played by Monroe and Joseph Cotten, starts to show their marital problems.

This film is credited with some of the best footage ever taken of the falls. To get the same views on your trip, head to Skylon Tower on the Canadian side and New York State Park Observation Tower on the American side.

“Luv” (1967)

Based on an absurd play of the same name, “Luv” is a slapstick romantic comedy starring Jack Lemmon. The plot follows depressed and suicidal Harry Berlin, played by Lemmon, as he is saved from death by his old friend Milt, who drags Harry into his love triangle in an attempt to leave his wife, Ellen, happy after the divorce. In the midst of the hilarity and confusion of the plot, Harry and Ellen visit Niagara Falls for their honeymoon. You can test your love like this famous couple — or just see some amazing scenery — at Prospect Point.

“Last Embrace” (1979)

If you love action and espionage — and movies with big twists — you’ll love watching this before your trip to Niagara Falls. This thriller follows Roy Scheider as a U.S. government agent afraid for his life. The heart-pounding climax of the film takes place in Niagara, as the protagonist and antagonist run around the falls, including through the powerful hydroelectric power plant, right before the terrifying and memorable ending at the top of Horseshoe Falls.

“Bruce Almighty” (2003)

Horseshoe Falls Aerial Who could forget the fantastic comedy and heartwarming message of Jim Carrey’s recent role in “Bruce Almighty”? After suffering too long as an out-of-luck news journalist, Carrey as Bruce is blessed with the omnipotence of God — but also cursed with the responsibilities. At the beginning, the film shows Carrey at the falls interviewing a captain of the Maid of the Mist, the popular boat tour that brings visitors right underneath the plummeting falls, so be sure to book a ticket if you want to see the falls like Bruce.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” (2006)

Even the most researched film buffs may not know that one of the most impressive scenes in this movie was filmed partially at Niagara Falls. As Captain Barbossa sails his precious Black Pearl to the edge of the Earth to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp), he most navigate several obstacles, including a gut-wrenching drop over a colossal waterfall. To get the shot, producers collaborated with Niagara Falls staff to hang a crane over Horseshoe Falls to get the perfect view of the rushing water.

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The Origin Story of Niagara Falls

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

sotfblog52.jpegNiagara Falls certainly earns its place as one of the Natural Wonders of the World. The sheer size of Horseshoe Falls — 2,200 feet in length and 177 feet in height — and the amount of water —6 million cubic feet per minute over the falls — alone can inspire great awe in any observer. While many are keen on experiencing some mysticism along with the beauty of the falls, others are too curious to let the history of the falls slide on by. If you are a scientist at heart and yearn to know more about the story behind Niagara Falls, read on for a brief exploration of the creation of the falls.

In the Beginning

At the end of the most recent Ice Age, the world was a very different place. Glaciers covered most of North America, rendering it almost completely unrecognizable from the topography we are familiar with today. As the Earth warmed and the mountains of ice receded, huge amounts of cold water from the glaciers were left behind and collected into unfathomably large, land-locked lakes. However, the glaciers of the area did not simply retreat and leave the land barren; instead, several centuries of advancing and withdrawing carved the landscape to encourage certain paths for the melted water to take.

In eastern North America, some of the water channeled itself into the 36-mile-long Niagara River which emptied out over the edge of a cliff, what we now call the Niagara Escarpment. More than 12,000 years ago, when the water first rushed over that cliff, the falls were much farther south in what is now Lewiston, New York.

As Years Passed

While the falls are still in relatively the same area of the globe, they look dramatically different from when the water first started falling. First, the falls are no longer located in Lewiston, New York, as you may astutely notice. Due to the process of erosion, or the gradual wearing away of sediment due to constant friction like that of wind or water, the falls of the Niagara River have worn the Niagara Escarpment all the way back north to where you can find it today.

In the Present

sotfblog53.jpegNiagara Falls is still very effective by the same processes that shaped it thousands of years ago. Erosion of the landscape by the river and the falls continues every minute, and the falls continue to recede into the surrounding landscape. Additionally, the freezing and thawing of the Niagara River moves and shifts the sediment even during the seeming calm of winter.

Modern technology is helping people slow the erosion of Niagara Falls to preserve its current status as one of the Natural Wonders of the World. Some of the water from the Niagara River has been diverted through dams and hydroelectric power stations to help fuel the energy consumption of the surrounding area.

If you’re still fascinated by the processes that continue to shape the falls, the rivers and the surrounding land, you can learn more during your trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario. The Niagara Falls History Museum presents information for all ages on the science and history of the falls, and it includes predictions of what will happen to the falls if the current rate of erosion continues unimpeded.

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Onguiraaha Is A Short Walk from Sheraton on the Falls

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

onguiaahra“Onguiraaha – Thunder of Waters, ” a new outdoor sound and light show opened to rave reviews over the weekend.

Niagara Falls started with “single drop of water” 12,000 years ago and it will end the same way 50,000 years from now, according to a new “sound and light show” being staged until December in Queen Victoria Park.

Standing within throwing distance of the Niagara River is the perfect setting to learn about water – “one of the most powerful forces in nature” – and how it shapes the geography that surrounds us.

All the while, a narrator talks you through how Niagara Falls was created 12,000 years ago when a single drop of water decided to run downhill toward Lake Ontario and started carving out the Niagara gorge.

As the show ends, the narrator forecasts a day 50,000 years from now when a single drop of water “will push the falls into oblivion, leaving just a river.” This kind of sound and light show is a natural for Niagara Falls.

Onguiraaha – Thunder of Waters opened on Friday Aug. 22 and is on until Monday Sept. 1., 2014. It runs three times every night – at 7:15 p.m., 8:15 and 9:15. On Friday and Sunday night, the show was a warm-up for the thousands of people hanging out in Queen Victoria Park waiting for the 10 p.m. fireworks display.

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The Surprisingly Useful Side of Niagara Falls

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

sotfblog42.jpegWe certainly could talk to death about the beauty and awesomeness of Niagara Falls. Not only is the general environment simply perfect — we love the temperatures in every season — and the city full of activities for any group, but the waters themselves are so powerful and thrilling as to stop visitors in their tracks.

However, not many travelers to the region realize that the rushing water they’re watching is also being used to generate power as well! People have been using Niagara Falls for resources and energy for thousands of years, but in the past centuries we’ve been able to harness its power to fuel our modern lifestyle. Here’s a brief look at how we get energy from the falls, so you can stand in ever-more wonder of this amazing natural feature.

A Brief History of Energy in Niagara

Around the end of the 19th century, Canadians and Americans began looking for energy sources to enhance their quality of life. Power from steam and coal was rapidly increasing in importance as technology was developed that required more muscle than a horse or ox could provide. Humanity had long known about the usefulness of rivers and streams in efforts like grinding grain, and the intense waterworks of the Niagara region seemed a choice place to experiment with hydro power.

In 1893, Canadians installed the first hydroelectricity plant in Niagara Falls to provide energy to a small radius of the surrounding region. The plant pumped only 2,200 kilowatts of energy to the local population and was meant primarily to supply power to an electric railway joining nearby Queenston and Chippawa.

The capacity of hydroelectric plants has since grown and changed, and today both Canada and America boast a sizable amount of energy provided to local communities by the falls. When the current Niagara plant first began pumping in 1961, it was the largest facility of its kind in the Western world, churning out 2.4 million kilowatts of energy every day. For reference, this is enough to power to light 24 million standard light bulbs all at once!

How Hydroelectricity Works

sotfblog44.jpegTo obtain energy from the rushing water, engineers have devised a brilliant system of channeling the already moving water through energy-catching turbines. To best preserve the ecosystem, water is diverted from the main channel of the river and pushed through channels under the city of Niagara Falls. There, the water (at a speed of about 375,000 gallons per second) forces its way through a series of turbines, somewhat like familiar old-fashioned water wheels, that power generators. That is how we turn the mechanical energy of the falls’ water into electrical energy which we can use and store more efficiently.

What You Can Do During Your Visit

While you’re staying in the more lavish Niagara Falls, Ontario and seeing the sights on the Canadian side, you can easily pop over to the New York side to pay a visit to the Niagara Power Project Visitor’s Center for more information on how hydroelectricity was developed and what the energy is used for today.

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