All the advice was consistent.
See the Canadian side. So, with some trepidation, and a few false turns on the way, we drove across the Rainbow Bridge into downtown Niagara Falls. Though the Canadian border officials try to be as severe as the American ones, you can tell their heart is not in the assumed gruffness, and that they really want to be nice. Niagara Falls, ON is a pretty enough town, in the parts that we saw, but it was suffering from the aftermath of a severe thunderstorm with heavy wind and rain.
Some lovely old trees on the picturesque river front had blown over, or had major branches blown off. Maintenance crews were working hastily to clear up before the daily rush. From my perspective, a moody post-storm sky was more interesting than the usual blue sky on all the postcards.
We bought a day adventure pass each which gave us access to four of the headline attractions, including the famed “Maid of the Mist” ride. But before we started, we had first to stand and gape at the monumental volume of water thundering over the Horseshoe Falls into the Niagara Gorge. This is a place that you feel as much as see.
In due time we made our way via one of the “people movers” to the Maid of the mist and immediately my first illusion was shattered. For some reason, I had always thought that the Maid of the Mist was a single iconic vessel that has plied its trade for years, in the same way that the Earnslaw has done on Lake Wakatipu. Not true. What gave it away was the fact that I could see four “Maid of the Mist” boats all at once, and they are numbered IV through VII. OK, I was disillusioned but still looked forward to the trip.
Each of us was issued with a blue plastic disposable poncho, and we were crammed on to the boats. Now, lest you think the storm had gone completely. Alas, not so. The wind was swirling and there were still intense rain showers. Ponchos billowed everywhere. I had one camera in its own storm jacket and the other in the “shelter” of the poncho. Alas the swirling winds had the ponchos blowing over our heads and my faithful Canon 7D seems to have suffered a terminal case of water damage from the mists of Niagara and the rain. Now I get to test how good my travel insurance really is.
The rain increased in intensity and we focused on the indoor events (a movie and lunch). Even the movie (in “4D”) ensured a thorough wetting, as well as a snow fall and an earth tremor or two.
After lunch, during which I tried Canada’s “guilty secret”, the infamous Poutine, and was unimpressed, we decided that, rain or now we should at least do the white water walk. The rain redoubled its efforts, but we still had some ponchos, so we walked along the gorge walkway near water level, beside the water thundering past at over 40 km/h. Astounding.
Our first day in Canada was over, with one dead camera, and the other seemingly unscathed.