Niagara Parkway Drive & Sightseeing

Fort Erie entrance to the museum

Fort Erie entrance to the museum

Our plan for today is to drive the Niagara Parkway, which follows along the entire river from Fort Erie north to the small town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. We were pleasantly surprised, as it is one of the rare water front roads that predominantly runs along the banks of the river affording spectacular views. Today’s agenda includes a tour of Fort Erie, drive along the river to the Falls, followed by stops at the whirlpool, Queenston Heights Park, Brock Monument, McFarlane House, Fort George and a walk around Niagara-on-the-Lake. A rather busy day of sightseeing; read on to find out if we achieved all our goals.

 

View of Buffalo across Lake Erie

View of Buffalo across Lake Erie

We departed the campground after breakfast and headed along the QEW to Fort Erie, where we took the final exit before the bridge to the U.S. Once clear of the motorway we headed along the shores of Lake Erie until arriving at Old Fort Erie. The signage wasn’t the best so we parked along the shore line below the fort. Before heading to the fort we took the dogs for a short walk along the beach, enjoying the views across the lake of Buffalo, NY. Since it was overcast, we dropped the windows and left the dogs in the truck while we headed over to the fort. At the entrance we discovered the fort’s parking lot.

 

 

Fort Erie

Shortly after trading our passes for visitor stickers we joined a tour conducted by a guide dressed in period costume. The tour started with an informative short film about the War of 1812, and the taking and siege of Fort Erie. We left the film theatre and our guide commenced the walk around the grounds, with a discussion on the cannon used by the British troops who laid siege on the Fort.

Fort Erie drawbridge

Fort Erie drawbridge

The tour then proceeded across the moat and drawbridge to enter the Fort, where we were treated to a live fire exercise with the smaller of 2 cannons. Two cannons are situated on a platform just outside the inner gate, the smaller cannon still functions, but the larger cannon, which could hit Buffalo, is not safe for use. The live fire exercise is conducted by a team dressed in period costumes and is performed very professionally, with all safety concerns being addressed.

 

 

 

Firing the small cannon

Firing the small cannon

At this point the tour continued into the Fort, but the skies had cleared and we were concerned about the dogs, so Andy ran back to the car while Judi continued with the tour. While not in danger, the truck was starting to get warm even with windows well down, so I decided to move the truck up to the Fort parking lot, finding a shady spot. After giving them some water I returned to the tour.

The following photographs are from the rooms inside the Fort. This is the officer’s messroom, a comfortable space that is paid for by the officers from their salaries.

Fort Erie Officers Messroom

Fort Erie Officers Messroom

Officer’s Galley, where the officer’s paid one of the enlisted men to be the cook. The shortbread on the table was cooked in the oven and was as good as mother made. We all sampled a piece of the shortbread.

Fort Erie officer's galley

Fort Erie officer’s galley

Doctor’s office and hospital ward, with 2 bunks and an operating table. The display case exhibited the primitive tools the doctors used in the 1800’s.

Fort Erie operating table and medical ward

Fort Erie operating table and medical ward

Quarters for the Fort’s Commanding Officer and his family, with the bed having been preserved by the family and donated back to Niagara Parks.

Fort Erie Commanding Officer's Quarters

Fort Erie Commanding Officer’s Quarters

On completion of the tour through the barracks and other rooms, we were treated to our 2nd live fire exercise, this time it was muskets. This exercise was again performed by people dressed in period costumes and was performed with the utmost professionalism and safety. Reloading the muskets after the first volley.

Fort Erie reloading muskets after first firing

Fort Erie reloading muskets after first firing

Firing the muskets

Firing the muskets

Firing the muskets

The musket firing concluded an exception tour of the fort.

Lake Erie

On leaving the Fort we drove along the banks of Lake Erie to the end of Lakeshore Drive. This is the view looking West along the lake.

Lake Erie looking West across the lake from Lakeshore Road

Lake Erie looking West across the lake from Lakeshore Road

Niagara Parkway

Having spent way longer than expected at the Fort we cancelled the Railway Museum and headed towards the Parkway, crossing beneath the bridge over to Buffalo. Wow, the current passing the bridge trestles was exceptional, there is a considerable volume of water moving from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. Wasn’t able to stop and photograph the current at the bridge, but this was taken from just after the railway bridge. The current here is also considerable.

Niagara Blvd looking down the Niagara River from just north of the railway bridge

Niagara Blvd looking down the Niagara River from just north of the railway bridge

On clearing the town of Fort Erie the Parkway consisted of the river and a grass verge on one side and a single row of homes on the other. It was simply a spectacular drive with beautiful scenery on both sides of the road.

Having already scouted Kingsbridge Park and the Falls, we drove onto our next stop – Niagara Whirlpool

Niagara Whirlpool

 We pulled into the Thompson’s Point view point, located above the whirlpool and aero car. The whirlpools are located at a bend in the river and consist of significant rapids.

Thompsons Point - Niagara Whirlpool and Aero Car across the river

Thompsons Point – Niagara Whirlpool and Aero Car across the river

Thompsons Point - Judi with the river in the background

Thompsons Point – Judi with the river in the background

 Floral Clock

Shortly after passing the Ontario Hydro generating plant we saw a sign for a Floral Clock. This is something we hadn’t read about, so decided to check it out. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any elevation for a better aspect photo.

Niagara Parkway floral clock just downriver from the generating station

Niagara Parkway floral clock just downriver from the generating station

Queenston Heights Park

We took a drive around the park, which is well laid out and has lots of parking. It is well used by families enjoying the sunshine. BBQ’s were everywhere, so it is obviously a great location to enjoy a picnic and/or BBQ. They even had a covered pavilion filled with picnic tables for the not too sunny days. The parking lot adjacent to the Brock Monument was full, so we elected to drive around to the rear entrance.

Queenston Heights Park - flower garden with Brock Monument in the background

Queenston Heights Park – flower garden with Brock Monument in the background

Niagara River Viewpoint

The following photographs were taken at a viewpoint just after Queenston Heights Park

Queenston - Judi at a viewpoint with lower reaches of Niagara River in the background

Queenston - Andy at a viewpoint with lower reaches of Niagara River in the background

McFarlane House

Unfortunately the last tour was 16:00 and we were too late, since we spent so much time enjoying the previous stops.

McFarlane House & garden

McFarlane House & garden

McFarlane House with Judi, Duke and Kona

Fort George

Similar to our previous stop, the Fort was closed for the day by the time we arrived, so this will be added to the list of places to visit the next time we are in the Niagara area. We continued on to Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is a quaint, touristy town, but does not have much parking for full sized trucks. Therefore, as we were getting some hunger pangs, we decided to have a quick drive through town and head for the Irish Pub close to the campground for dinner.

Irish Pub

Judi offered to drive home so Andy could enjoy a couple of hopped beverages. What else would you have in an Irish Pub, but Guinness, which for a touristy place was actually good. For the 2nd pint I decided to try the local IPA they had one tap. Lots of flavour, bit lighter than the Guinness, but definitely enjoyable. Oh! yes we did have food, but the quality was definitely on the lower side of average.

A thoroughly enjoyable day we headed back to the campground to rest up for tomorrow’s excursion for a close up look at the Falls. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s