A visitor takes a photograph at the brink of the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ont., as cold weather continues through much of the province on Friday, December 29, 2017. About 14 million people visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls each year, most of them in the summer months, according to local authorities. But record cold temperatures have turned the natural attraction into a winter wonderland, drawing more visitors this winter than usual, the Niagara Parks Commission says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett

Niagara Falls a frozen winter wonderland

Record cold temperatures have turned the natural attraction into a winter wonderland, drawing more visitors this winter than usual

Diane Zhao has made the journey from China to Niagara Falls three times before, but she has never seen it like this — a veritable ice palace, straight out of a fairy tale.

“I just wanted to see the ice and the frozen falls,” Zhao said of her fourth trip to the falls. “It’s so huge and beautiful.”

About 14 million people visit the Niagara Region in southern Ontario each year, most of them in the summer months, according to local authorities.

The Canadian side of Niagara Falls, the region’s star attraction, has seen more visitors than usual this winter, the Niagara Parks Commission says, as record cold temperatures in recent weeks have turned the surging waters and their surroundings into an icy winter wonderland.

“This has been wonderful,” parks commission chair Janice Thomson said. “Just in the past week we’ve seen (such a) flow of people.”

Word of the wintry spectacle has spread across the globe in recent days as stories about the icy falls have been published by the likes of CNN, the Washington Post, BBC and news outlets in continental Europe.

Many visitors hear the falls have frozen and want to see the mighty flow of water brought to a standstill, Thomson said.

“Of course we know the falls aren’t frozen over,” Thomson noted.

Rather, spray and mist freeze into a crust over top of the water, creating the illusion that the falls have stopped falling, she explained.

Niagara Falls has only truly stopped once, the Niagara Parks Commission says — for 30 hours in March 1848, when millions of tons of ice temporarily clogged the source of the Niagara River.

While the falls aren’t truly frozen today, the effect is still stunning, and the same mist that freezes over the falls has formed an icy casing over every tree branch, railing and lamppost in the surrounding area.

Huge blocks of ice are pushed over the falls and into the frigid waters below, where they swirl in whirlpools or freeze into a glacier-like “ice bridge” that sometimes reaches 10 storeys high.

“It’s amazing,” said Australian Maya Oxley, who is in Canada visiting relatives and made a trip to the falls this week.

Oxley said she saw the falls in winter 14 years ago and had to come back.

“It’s beautiful in winter, and not many crowds,” she said.

For Ariana Durgadeen, who was visiting from Trinidad with her mother, the ice was an introduction both to Niagara Falls and to a real Canadian winter.

“I’m really enjoying it so far, except the wind,” Durgadeen said. “It’s a bit cold but really nice and beautiful.”

About eight million people stop by the Niagara Parks Commission’s paid attractions around the falls every year. Less than a million of them come in the winter time, Thomson said.

While the cold weather means visitors can’t ride a boat on the Niagara River to get close to the falls, tourists in the winter can still take the Journey Behind the Falls, a tunnel with two portals behind the falls.

Winter visitors can also take advantage of indoor attractions like the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory, or Niagara’s Fury, a 360-degree “multi-sensory” theatre where visitors learn about the ancient origins of the falls.

“(Niagara Falls) is a different, unique experience in winter,” Thomson said.

Peter Goffin , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Province announces $100-million grant funding for Northwest communities

The Northern Capital and Planning Grant will go to four regional districts and 22 municipalities

Security guard now on patrol at three Terrace banks

Company hired to secure ATM vestibules due to safety concerns

LNG Canada sponsors driver’s license training in Terrace, Kitimat

The $80,000 contribution is part of the company’s commitment to hire locally

Prince Rupert Gas Transmission project searches for partners

TransCanada is renewing permits for its natural gas pipeline project to North Coast.

Coastal GasLink stops work to investigate archaeological find

OGC archaeologists are en route to the Houston-area site where Unist’ot’en report finding stone tools

Mermen calendar targets ‘toxic masculinity,’ raises big money for charities

Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club gave a cheque for more than $202,000 to Violence Prevention NL

‘Our entire municipality is heartbroken’: Seven children die in Halifax house fire

A man and woman remained in hospital Tuesday afternoon, the man with life-threatening injuries

Minister says plans to fight poverty, climate change, focus of B.C. budget

The NDP said in its throne speech last week that affordability will be the hallmark of its initiatives

UPDATED: ‘Violent’ B.C. man back in custody after Alberta arrest

Prince George man with ties to Vernon was being sought by police

After a week away, SNC-Lavalin questions await MPs returning to Parliament

Two have resigned already: Jody Wilson-Raybould was veterans affairs minister and Gerald Butts was Trudeau’s principal secretary

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Chanel: Iconic couturier Karl Lagerfeld has died

He spent virtually his entire career at luxury labels catering to the very wealthy

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Most Read