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An oasis of mature forest and wildlife in the Niagara River, Navy Island was settled originally by the Lamoka people of the late Archaic Period, 4000 years ago, and, later, by the Meadowood culture peoples, 3000 years ago. Their arrowheads and scrapers have been found along the shoreline.

brtnavyisDuring the early influx of Europeans, the French, who called this place Ile de la Marina, built four bateaux here which they used to supply their posts on the upper Great Lakes.

The British later established a shipyard here. From 1761 to 1764, they built the first vessels to sail the upper Great Lakes under their flag. When the Pontiacs western Indians attacked British outposts following the ceding of New France, these sailing ships were used to move troops and supplies.

During the War of 1812, the British built a blockhouse and stockade on Navy Island. On December 14, 1837, William Lyon Mackenzie and 200 supporters seized the island, setting up a provisional government, constructing batteries and entrenching the blockhouse. The British attacked the rebels and they retreated to the American mainline on January 11, 1838. In the years that followed, many squatters took up residence and farmed here.

In 1875, the Queens Hotel was established. This wood-frame structure was a popular summer resort until it was destroyed by fire in 1910. Today, Navy Island has regenerated and healed itself with mature forests. The Federal Government has leased it to The Niagara Parks Commission since the 1930s.

wfol2The Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights transforms Niagara Falls, Ontario into stunning displays utilizing colours with millions of sparkling lights making up beautifully illuminated displays.  The Festival captures the magic of the holiday season from November 21, 2015 to January 31, 2016.

The Winter Festival of Lights began in 1983 and is proud to be Canada’s largest illumination festival and the premiere illumination festival in North America, attracting over 1 million visitors and hundreds of motor coaches annually.

The Ontario Power Generation Winter Festival of Lights transforms Niagara Falls into an array of breathtaking colour with millions of sparkling lights and animated scenic displays, located within the Niagara Parks Winter Wonderland and adjacent tourist districts.

Donations are gratefully accepted by Festival Ambassadors at the exit of Dufferin Islands (suggested contribution ($5 – $10 per car; $1 per coach bus passenger), proceeds collected are used to enhance the lights and displays.

NFwineryfallAs the Niagara Wine Festival kicks off, marking its 64th year, efforts are being made to ensure the staple St. Catharines event stays fresh and entertaining.

This year’s festival will feature 29 wineries and 12 culinary vendors within Montebello Park, with a total 40 wineries included through the Discovery Pass Experiences program. Winery visits with the passes begin this Saturday, with festivities at the park kicking off the following weekend.

Prior to the Grande Parade, held Sept. 26, a pre-show filled will a variety of entertainers will get underway in front of St. Catharines city hall and at the corner of Ontario and St. Paul Streets. The pre-show will kick off at 9:30 a.m. followed by the parade at 11.

In addition to live entertainment and an abundance of wine to try, the festival includes a variety of wine seminars and a children’s area for families.

Montebello Park festival hours:

Friday, Sept. 18 and 25, 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 19 and 26, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 20 and 27, noon to 8 p.m.

For a full schedule and more information, visit www.niagarawinefestival.com.

PanAm-logoThe 2015 Pan American Games, officially the XVII Pan American Games and commonly known as the Toronto 2015 Pan-Am Games are a major international multi-sport event celebrated in the tradition of the Pan American Games, as governed by Pan American Sports Organization (PASO). The games are being held from July 10th to 26th, 2015 in Toronto, Canada, with preliminary rounds in certain events having begun on July 7th, 2015. Marking the third Pan-American games hosted by Canada, and the first in the province of Ontario, the Games are being held at venues in Toronto and seventeen other Golden Horseshoe communities. Both the Pan-American Games and 2015 Parapan American Games are being organized by the Toronto Organizing Committee for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games (TO2015).
The Games are hosting 6,135 athletes representing 41 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in the Americas, marking the largest multi-sport event hosted in Canada, in terms of athletes competing. A record of 45% of competitors are expected to be women, the most ever for any multi-sport event.The Games’ program consists of 364 events in 36 sports, which includes the 28 sports that will be contested at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Canoe slalom and golf will make their Pan-American Games debut, as well as women’s competitions in baseball, C-1 canoe and rugby sevens.

A total of 36 sports, 51 disciplines and 364 medal events were contested at the games. Basque pelota is the only sport dropped from the last games. Golf (after being added to the Olympic program for 2016) also made its Pan American Games debut. Canoe slalom, the only Olympic discipline to never have been held at the Games, also made its debut, meaning for the first time ever the entire Olympic sports program was contested.

The 2015 Pan American Games used a mixture of new venues, existing and temporary facilities, some of them in well-known locations such as Exhibition Place. After the Games, some of the new facilities will be reused in their games time form, while others will be resized. Ten of these venues were newly built, while fifteen were renovated to stage the games.

Toronto will become one of the most populous cities in history to hold the Pan American Games. In July, Toronto has an average mean temperature of 22.3 °C (72.1 °F) and afternoon maximum average of 26.6 °C (79.9 °F) The average humidity is 74%, and the city (downtown area) averages five days with the temperature exceeding 30 °C (86 °F) and about 65 millimetres (2.6 in) of precipitation, mostly brief periods of showers and sometimes thunderstorms.

In January 2012, the Toronto Organizing Committee for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games (TO2015) announced that sixty percent of the originally proposed venues would be dropped, in favour of a clustering system seen at other multi-sport events such as the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom.  Exhibition Stadium will stage the rugby sevens competition.

The opening and closing ceremonies will be held at Pan Am Dome, which will be referred to during the Games as the “Pan-Am Ceremonies Venue” due to sponsorship rules. Some of the competition venues in the Toronto area include Exhibition Stadium, the Pan Am / Parapan Am Fields, the Exhibition Centre and the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Competition venues outside the city of Toronto include Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium, Mississauga Sports Centre, Markham Pan Am Centre in Markham, the Oshawa Boxing Centre in Oshawa, and the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course in St. Catharines. Most of the torchbearers were selected by a random selection, while the others were selected by torch relay communities and games partners. The relay began on May 30th, 2015 in Toronto and finishes on July 10th, the date of the opening ceremony. The Games began July 10th with closing ceremonies July 26th, 2015.

table_rock_house_2012The first humans arrived in Niagara Region almost 12,000 years ago, just in time to witness the birth of the Falls. During this time (the Palaeo-Indian Period, which lasted until 9,000 years ago), Niagara was inhabited by the Clovis people. The Woodland Period lasted from 3,000 to 300 years ago, culminating in the peak of Iroquois culture in southern Ontario. Palaeo-Indian sites in Niagara would most likely be associated with the series of relic beach ridges that once formed the shore of early Lake Erie. Although he never saw Niagara Falls, the Indians he met along the St.Lawrence River told him about it. Etienne Brule, the first European to see Lakes Ontario, Erie Huron and Superior, may also have been the first to behold the Falls, in 1615. In December 1678, Recollet priest Louis Hennepin visited Niagara Falls.

Between 1849 and 1962, thirteen bridges were constructed across the Niagara River Gorge. Niagara Suspension Bridge In 1855, John August Roebling, the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, built the Niagara Railway Suspension Bridge, the first bridge of its type in the world. Between the late 1700s and the middle 1800s, boats were the main way to get to Niagara Falls. One of the first electrified street car services was provided in Niagara, and in 1893 the Queenston/Chippawa Railway carried boat passengers from Queenston to Table Rock and beyond. Later it was extended along the lower Gorge on the American side of the River, connecting back into Canada at the Upper Arch Bridge.

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