Toronto and Niagara Falls, Sep. 2007

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

In September we flew to Toronto, which was a stepping stone for our big roadtrip that would start in Winnipeg,Manitoba.
It gave us a chance to revisit some places we had been to in 1998, but on that trip rain diminished the effect some of the sights had to offer then.

Horseshoe Falls Niagara Falls is very different on a sunny day and today there wasn't even a cloud in sight!
I prefer to avoid these massive tourist spots, with their Disney-like presentations, but the warm and sunny day mellowed me apparently (or maybe it is old age setting in) and we had a very enjoyable day.
Niagara Falls (French: les Chutes du Niagara) is a set of massive waterfalls located on the Niagara River, straddling the international border separating the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of New York. The falls are located 120 kms south-southeast of Toronto, Ontario, between the twin cities of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and Niagara Falls, New York.
The drive from Toronto was easy, all major highways, however the scenery was quite uninteresting. In our petite Toyota Yaris, which we had obtained from Thrifty / Dollar carrental agency at the airport in spite of a strike there, we sped to the main tourist destination in the area: Niagara Falls.

Photo opportunities plenty Digital camera's galore: everybody is snapping away, in spite of the water thrown up by the massive power of the waterfalls.
Part of the fun is watching other people, drawn to this spot from so many other places in the world.

Where's the pot of gold?

With the sun high in the sky, a rainbow decorated our visit and sometimes even a second rainbow could be seen.
Throughout the afternoon, with the sun moving through the sky, the rainbow changed location and intensity.

Niagara Falls is composed of two major sections separated by Goat Island: Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side of the border and American Falls on the United States side.
I think the Canadian side has the best view to offer.
That bridge in the distance is called 'Rainbow Bridge', now you know why!
Passing under rainbow
The name "Niagara" (Iroquois Nation pronunciation "Nee-ah-GAh-rah" is said to originate from an Iroquois word "Onguiaahra" meaning "The Strait".
The region's original inhabitants were the Ongiara, an Iroquois tribe named the Neutrals by French settlers, who found them helpful in mediating disputes with other tribes.
Source: Wikipedia

Most remarkable building in the skyline of Niagara Falls is this tower.
We did not feel the need to seek such a high vantage point for a better view. We strolled through Queen Victoria Park and found the walkways and platforms offering plenty of the spectacular views on both the American- and Horseshoe Falls.

Dan Diggins (Myspace) brought entertainment: when we walked up, he played a song of Leonard Cohen and I knew we were in for a few good tunes.

And indeed we joined the crowd, processed vey effectively, and went out on the water. It was impressive to hear the thunderous roar of the fall up close and noticed how the boat had to work its engines to keep stationary under the Horseshoe Falls.
The name of the boats, Maids of the Mist, is very appropriate: mist rising from the falls engulved us totally.

The Maid into the Mist...

On the way back to our hotel a little outside Toronto (Country Inn & Suites in Oakville, a very pleasant hotel) I passed this shipwreck and took advantage of this photo opportunity.
The shipwreck brought memories of Gordon Lightfoot's song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald", which initiated my interest in singer/songwriter music. Long, long time ago.

Corner Café
Sightseeing in Downtown Toronto.
Over our morning coffee's at a corner store, we made our plan and decided where to go.

I prefer to walk, taking in the usual little details of streetlife.
Since I like browsing in camera shops we started out in the area of Yonge- and Church street. Bought some stuff with Downtown Cameras in Queen Street.
Meanwhile we kept an eye on the dominant CN Tower, drifting in that direction.
Corner of Queen and ..

It was hard to find inspiring buildings, trying find some contrast 'old' and new, avoiding massive amounts of 'looking up'-photos. Instead I rather photograph a backalley, however strange that may seem.
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and it is the provincial capital of Ontario. Don't make the mistake of naming Ontario, Manitoba 'states' like in the US. They are provinces, BIG provinces!
I always keep an eye out for bookstores , like Chapters, Borders and Barnes & Noble but failed to see any. The same for musicstores, such as Tower Records and Virgin, but di dnot see any... Many shopping malls are below groundlevel here, but the ones we investigated were mainly foodcourts. Should have made a plan, have an adress, but that wasn't important today as we had a lot of travelling to do still .
Toronto on Wikipedia.

Having said that about lack of shopping malls: I did come across this plaque of the HBC on Yonge street. And this is of course a huge shopping mall, but I wasn't inclined to go for some general browsing.
For me the HBC is synonymous to much of Canadian history, in particular to the fur trade which lasted some 200 years. In the course of these holidays, in spite of having several books on the subject, I had to buy an additional book on the fur trade...

I like taking pictures of regular day to day events, such as this one...
Or this one...

A visit to the CN Tower is another thing I have to put my mind to, to join the immense crowds and undergo the Disney-like spectacle... but found it definitely worth it!

In 1998, due to rain and low hanging clouds, we did not even bother going up the CN Tower, but on this bright day it was just the thing to do. You could see forever!
One can actually see small specks taking off from this downtown airport.
The CN Tower is located in downtown Toronto and is a communications and tourist tower. Height: 553.33 metres (1,816 ft).

On 12Sep07, after holding the record for 32 years, the CN tower was surpassed in height by the Burj Dubai (not yet completed at time of writing). The CN Tower remains the signature icon of Toronto, attracting more than two million international visitors annually!
CN originally referred to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower. Following the railway's decision to divest non-core freight railway assets, prior to the company's privatization in 1995, they transferred the tower to the Canada Lands Company (CLC), a federal Crown corporation responsible for real estate development. Local residents wished to retain the name CN Tower.
[Source: Wikipedia]

Could not resist taking this photo, a corny subject, but anything Canadian made a good impression on me that day.

Love those old adverts
I love these 'vintage' advertisemants on old buildings. This one was on an open lot, an improvised carpark, and I expect this building may wel go down one day soon too.

I always enjoy people bringing music to the streets; did not catch the name of this musician. He played a more classical tune, if I remember correctly. Pretty feet...
Mine felt tired, while in much more comfortable footwear, feeling the strain of tramping Toronto's sidewalks all afternoon.

We left the city and fought our way out through the rushhour. Both in and out of this town we found the roads terribly congested.
But we were well pleased with our visit to Toronto, a good start on our Canadian holidays.

Other pages dedicated to this vacation:
Roadtrip through Canada's Prairie Provinces
Northwest Ontario