GENERAL ARTICLES

The City Behind the Falls

A busy industrial scene with one of the world's wonders as a backdrop—there's more to Niagara than the Big Roar

FREDERICK EDWARDS December 15 1939
GENERAL ARTICLES

The City Behind the Falls

A busy industrial scene with one of the world's wonders as a backdrop—there's more to Niagara than the Big Roar

FREDERICK EDWARDS December 15 1939

The City Behind the Falls

GENERAL ARTICLES

A busy industrial scene with one of the world's wonders as a backdrop—there's more to Niagara than the Big Roar

FROM THE windows of the hotel roof dining room, one looked down at Niagara Falls. The world-famous panorama was spread there, beautiful, magnificent, complete. Brilliant sunshine fired the seething whiteness of Horseshoe Falls with a glistening radiance. 'Hie American Falls, beyond the sun’s reach at the moment, crashed green and white over their hundred and sixty-seven-foot precipice.

Above each cascade, against a blue clear autumn sky, the eternal spray spumes hung in the air, floating. Between the two the little steamboat, Maid of the Mist, scurried fussily over the boiling, sudsy river. From the height it kx)ked like a toy a child might play with in his hath. 1 lalf a dozen people on the Maid's pier, on the American side, were no more than black dots beneath their towering background of cliff and cataract. The thunderous roar of Niagara reached the ears muted, not aggressive. It was the sound of many bass drums, a long way off.

To the waiter we remarked, doubtless with entire lack of originality, that this must be the finest restaurant view in the world. He said:

“Yes. I supjxxse it is. But after you’ve been looking at it for three or four years, it's just a lot of water falling over some big rocks.”

Twenty-eight thousand people within the industrial area of which the City of Niagara Falls. Ontario, is the centre, feel that way about the Falls.

They hold a profound admiration for the mighty spectacle—as all mankind must—but they live next door to it, and familiarity lias bred, not contempt certainly, but perhaps a slight boredom. Except for the comparatively small proportion of citizens who earn a seasonal living directly from the Falls, residents of the city can take their cataracts or leave them alone.

The Falls, they say, have been there for 35.000 years. They will be there a long time yet. Meanwhile there are jobs to be looked after—jobs having nothing whatever to do with the world wonder at their gates.

Visitors by the Million

■DIVE MILLION people from all parts of the globe visit Niagara Falls, Ontario, every year. Most of them go there during the summer months, between May and October. They arrive at that section of the city where the big hotels, the rooming houses, auto camps, restaurants and souvenir stores are concentrated within sight and sound of the tumultuous waters. There most of them stay until it is time to go home again.

There is no discernible reason why the traveller bent solely on sight-seeing should move beyond the borders of this comparatively small area. Within its limits he will find plenty to do.

He may promenade along River Road, developed into one of the world’s most beautiful walks, since the old International Railway was abandoned, its tracks torn up and replaced by a wide avenue, with a waist-high native stone wall on the Gorge side. He may wander through Queen Victoria Park, saunter among the ravines of the lovely Niagara Glen, gaze down on the Falls from Table Rock, walk beneath them through Table Rock tunnel, or look up at them from the deck of the bustling little steamer.

He can. if he feels in adventurous mood, ride high above the Whirlpool in a suspended cable car. Should he seek culture, he can listen to band or choir music in the Oakes Garden Theatre. Then, having acquired such souvenir bric-a-brac as his purse affords, he can return to the place from whence he came, content. He has seen and enjoyed Niagara Falls.

That is one side of the picture. The other is that when he gets back home, whether he knows it or not, his normal life may be touched every day by products of the place he has just left.

FREDERICK EDWARDS

Should he live in Canada, there’s a fair chance that the flat silverware he uses at each meal was made at Niagara Falls. If he is a farmer, the chemical fertilizer he spreads on his fields may very well be a Niagara Falls product. Perhaps his wife wears a Niagara Falls corset or girdle, and it is likely that the carpet sweeper she trundles over her rugs was made in Niagara Falls. Cotton cellulose products used in his home may bear a Niagara Falls label, and so may some of his breakfast food, the native wines on his table, the batteries in his flashlight, and any chains he may require. Perhaps he owns stock in a producing gold mine. If so, the cyanamids used to refine the ores from that mine were most certainly processed in Niagara Falls. Any machinery he may use was probably smoothed and polished by abrasives made in Niagara Falls.

The address alone has an advertising value. Internationally famous products made at Niagara Falls, Ontario, add up to a long list of infinite variety. Power generated at the Falls is carried all over Central Ontario, and that is the basic industry; but within the industrial area, including the City of Niagara Falls, the Township of Stamford, and the Village of Chippawa, are made such widely known commodities as Community, Tudor, and William Rogers and Son silver plate, Shredded Wheat, Bissell carpet sweepers, Weed chains, Burgess flashlights and Spirella corsets.

Three factories produce fiat silverware at Niagara Falls. Ontario; the Canadian plant of Oneida Limited, the William Rogers and Son plant of the International Silver Company, and the plant of the McGlashan, Clarke Company. Carborundum, universally employed as an abrasive, is produced in two plants, one on the Canadian side, one in Niagara Falls, New York; and two other concerns, the Norton Company and the Lionite Abrasive Company, make artificial abrasives there. Among them these four establishments made ninety per cent of all the artificial abrasives used, not only on this continent, but in the world.

American Cyanamid manufactures nitrates, chemical solvents and fertilizers in huge volume. There are two canning companies, Bright’s and Ellis. The American Can Company produces the precision machinery and tools necessary to perfect the modern vacuum type metal container. Animal traps, paper boxes, sporting goods, woven wire screens for paper making, porcelain insulators for high voltage power lines, cut stone, soft drinks and candles, safes and vaults, cranes and hoists and leather goods all contribute to the diversified picture that is Niagara Falls.

Altogether there are more than forty major industries operating plants within the area. The canneries, and to some extent the cyanamid works, function on a seasonal basis, but the others are going the year round and the

tourist season affects them not at all. Only orders count. They are likely to be as busy or busier when the Falls are frozen and the River Road bleak and deserted, as in midsummer when the glad cries of the peripatetic pilgrim are heard voicing shrill sentiments of awe and astonishment from Queenston Heights to Table Rock.

The area's industries employ anywhere from 6.CXX) to 10,000 men and women annually. The Cyanamid Company is the largest single employer, carrying a payroll ranging between six hundred and twelve hundred at various times of the year. Of the forty-odd industrial plants five are located in Stamford Township and one in Chippawa Village. The others are all within the city limits of Niagara Falls.

The tourist sees them, if at all. merely as factories; but to a large majority of the residents they represent yearround bread and butter, rent and taxes, gas and oil. In their lives the industries are vastly more important than the spectacle of 222,000 cubic feet of water tumbling from the Niagara River into the Gorge every second of the day and night.

Yet it is true that the mighty cataracts that draw transient guests from the earth’s farthest places are responsible also for Niagara Falls industries.

Two power organizations, the publicly owned Ontario Hydro Commission and the privately operated Canadian Niagara Power Company, develop approximately one million horsepower of electrical energy from the Falls—one fourth of the estimated total capacity. The power is cheap, and it is certain, since there are no lengthy transmission lines to suffer possible breakdowns. Continuous operation of such electro-chemical industries as the Cyanamid and Carborundum companies demands the use of vast and constant electrical energy. They could function efficiently in few other localities on the continent.

That being the case it is not surprising to find that the life of Niagara Falls, Ontario, as an industrial community began with the development of electrical power from the Horseshoe Falls in the first decade of this century.

It is not an old city, dating its incorporation as a town under its present name only to 1904, when the villages of Drummondville and Clifton, in the Township of Stamford, were joined to create the town of Niagara Falls. The original villages have to some extent retained their separate entities, a circumstance making for certain peculiar local characteristics fascinating and sometimes baffling to the explorer from foreign parts.

What’s in a Street Name?

THE TOWN has not been put together on any deliberate plan. It simply assembled itself.

It possesses no one principal shopping street, and

no through thoroughfare at its heart. There are actually three shopping districts; in the north on Queen Street, in the southeast, or centre section, around the Falls and on Clifton I lili, and in the southwest on Main Street.

To move from one section of the city to another the wayfarer must follow a meandering, circuitous route, sometimes along streets that change their names without warning. One treads Victoria Avenue’s winding sidewalks and is suddenly in Ferry Street. Continuing along Ferry Street, one discovers Lundy’s Lane, which is the same Ferry Street that two miles back was Victoria Avenue. Or one may stroll along Portage Road from Queenston toward the south, and so come to Main Street. A mile or so farther on at the boundary of Queen Victoria Park, Main Street becomes Portage Road again.

Further supporting this casual, we're-all-homefolkstogether-so-what’s-the-odds feeling one gets from walking about Niagara Falls, is the fact that two railways, the Canadian National, and the Michigan Central division of the New York Central, run their tracks through and across the town as the original surveys mapped them through the villages.

So one strolls along a tree-lined residential street and bumps his bewildered nose against a sign reading: "Dead End. No Thoroughfare.” Or again, attempting to establish the boundaries of the city, one encounters the township hall of Stamford on Ferry Street, well within the limits of Niagara Falls.

It is explained that when the town was incorporated, the Township of Stamford was permitted by a gentlemen's agreement to retain ownership of its township building and the land where it stands. 1 herefore the reeve and other officials of Stamford Township must go into Niagara Falls to transact their business. Never a dull moment.

"This.” one of the younger native sons observed a trifle acidly, “is the smallest city in Canada that it’s easiest to get lost in.” The phrasing may appear involved, but the meaning is crystal clear.

Queen Street, in the north end of the city, is considered in official circles to be the principal shopping district, although there are about as many blocks of shops and one of the two motion picture theatres as well, on Main Street, at the other side of town.

The Dominion Government Building, containing the Post Office and Customs I louse, is on Queen Street as is the City Hall. Here are half a dozen blocks of bright, up-todate stores, a locally owned department store, branches of the familiar chains, bank buildings and a movie. There are more shops and a branch of a Toronto department store on Victoria Avenue, but for the most part that fine thoroughfare is residential, or at least, professional. The General Brock and the Foxhead Inn, the two leading hotels,

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overlook the Falls in the southeast, or central section. They have fine stores on their street level, carrying stocks for the most part designed to attract the tourist trade; woollens, linens, handicrafts and china.

Visitors who care to wander beyond the sound of the tumult of the cataracts, observe immediately that the city has turned its back on the Falls and the Gorge, to spread its business and residential areas over a comparatively narrow strip of territory approximately five miles long by a mile and a half wide, all of it above and beyond the River Road.

It could hardly be otherwise, since the Niagara Parks Commission, administered under the authority of the Provincial Government, long since staked a permanent claim covering all the Canadian side of the Gorge, and the area in the southeast surrounding the Horseshoe Falls. That was in 1887, the Jubilee year. The original purchase of 154 acres, comprising Queen Victoria Park, has since been extended, until today the parks commission’s domain covers thousands of acres along the river bank reaching from Fort Erie to Fort George at Niagara-on-the-Lake, a distance of thirty-eight miles.

The sagacity of that move, made more than half a century ago, is visibly established today by a comparison of the view across the river from the Canadian side with the view across the river from Niagara Falls, New York.

Our American friends know well that they are away behind the parade in this particular respect. They are now trying to catch up. Extensive plans have been drawn for doing away with some of the ghastlier excrescences defiling the American bank, and replacing them with what amounts to a duplication of the river development carried out by the Niagara Parks Commission on the Canadian side.

Necessary building restrictions inherent in the parks commission’s requirements have compelled the extension of the city proper away from the Falls. Residences line the west side of River Road, and the residential and business streets run west, north and south from that boundary.

Ninety-nine out of every hundred families in Niagara Falls live out of sight and sound of the roaring cataracts.

Homes—Tourist and Otherwise

T\7HEN THE exploring stranger,

* V having consulted his pocket compass, gets into the city proper, he will find any number of admirable and interesting conditions, distinct and different from those he may have observed in his home town or elsewhere. There is no swanky residential area. On almost every street in the town a home of wealth and luxury may have a humble cottage beside it. The citizens feel that this is an excellent thing, emphasizing the essential democracy of the community. It is true, too. that while there is no district dedicated to the stately homes of the very rich, there is no slum section either. And there are no tenements.

Emphatically, Niagara Falls is a residential as well as an industrial city. Almost all the houses are self-contained and completely detached. The semidetached or duplex house is rare. Most of the residential lots have a fifty-foot frontage, allowing ample space for a garage and a garden with tlowers blooming luxuriantly even into late October, in the fertile soil for which the whole Niagara Peninsula is famous. The houses are well constructed, too, and the average value of an employed workingman’s home is quoted as $5.(XX).

In its role of tourist centre Niagara Falls is, inevitably, well supplied with tourist accommodation, and often the sign. “Tourists” hangs before a residence fit to

be ranked among the finest anywhere, with none of the frumpish, down-at-heels look that often accompanies such symbols.

Tourism has been an ancient and honorable vocation in Niagara Falls since its beginnings, and it is practiced as such. The city inspects and licenses the rooming houses, insisting on a high standard of allround accommodation, and each house advertising rooms for tourists must display the number of its license.

It has been said that Niagara Falls as an incorporated city is comparatively a stripling, and that is true; but it is true also that a lot of early Canadian history was written, some of it in blood, within what are now the city limits. The name. Niagara, is of Indian origin, and long before the first white man came within sight of the cataracts, the lands around the Falls were occupied by neutral Indian tribes, who suffered the pains and penalties of all neutrals, living as they did between the warlike Iroquois and what is now upper New York State on one side, and the equally belligerent Hurons of the Georgian Bay country.

The fields and orchards around Niagara Falls have yielded a vast number of Indian relics in past years. Mr. James Morden, headmaster of the Dunn Street School in Niagara Falls, is an acknowledged authority on the history of that part of Canada. He has a huge collection of authentic Indian tokens; skulls, bones, arrowheads, pipe bowls, amulets, sacred stones, wampum and tomahawk heads, most of them dug from Stamford Township pastures.

A British Settlement

TT IS generally believed that Father *■ Hennepin, the famous French priestexplorer, was the first white man to gaze ujxm Niagara Falls, in about 1678; but although the French knew of the existence of the Niagara Peninsula, they seem never to have attempted to settle it. That was done by British families.

The Niagara Falls district, of course, was coveted and fought-for territory during the War of 1812. The site of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, where British forces under General Drummond stopped the American invaders in July, 1814, is within the present city limits of Niagara Falls. And near by, in Drummond Hill Cemetery, is the grave of Laura Secord, whose heroic twenty-mile foray through forests and swamps in June, 1813, brought warning to a British force, enabling them to surprise and capture an American colonel with 542 men.

After the war ended in 1814 the country around the Falls was settled by farmers, many of them United Empire Loyalists, who established the village settlements of Clifton, Drummondville and Stamford. Drummondville was named for the General Drummond who led the British troops at Lundy’s Lane, and later was knighted and became Administrator of both Upper and Lower Canada. The city of Drummondville, Quebec, derives its designation from the same doughty soldier.

The earliest industries in the district were, inevitably, restricted to local needs. There were grist mills, sawmills, general stores, blacksmiths’ and saddlers’ shops, and taverns. The tourist was unknown. There were no railroads, travel was difficult and hazardous, and therefore limited to journeys made from necessity, not for fun.

One Samuel Zimmerman, a native of Pennsylvania, is honored by historians today as the real founder of what is now Niagara Falls. Certainly he was the pioneer Big Businessman of the community.

It is in the records that Samuel Zimmerman, having been born in Huntington

County, Pa., in 1815, left the United States and settled in the village of Clifton in 1842, when he was twenty-seven years old. The legend is that when he arrived the total of his belongings added up to the clothes he had on, a grey horse and a black buggy, but subsequent events show that he possessed also a shrewd commercial sense, ambition, energy and an abiding faith in the future of his adopted country'.

These qualities brought him into the construction business in due course. He built four locks and an aqueduct on the first Welland Canal. Later Zimmerman contracts included sections of the Great Western Railway, the first railway bridge over the Gorge, the first suspension bridge, and a number of short railway lines connecting Ontario towns. He built steamships, founded a bank and established the first waterworks in the Niagara district.

So far as the general public is concerned, though. Samuel Zimmerman's chief claim to undying fame is that he seems to have been the first man to envision the future of Niagara as a tourist resort, possibly a natural development from his close association with the railways. He built the first Clifton House—in its day one of the finest resort hotels on the continent, with groves and fountains, illuminated promenades, a concert hall and an exclusive and expensive clientele.

Samuel Zimmerman came to an untimely and ironic end on March 12. 1857, when he was but forty-two years old and at the pinnacle of his colorful career. He was one of many passengers killed when a Toronto train on the same Great Western Railway he had helped to construct, broke through a swing bridge over the Desjardins Canal, and plunged fifty feet to crash through the ice below.

But the great man left his indelible mark on his home town. The Clifton House brought thousands of wealthy globe-trotters to view Niagara Falls, and they in turn told others of the wonders they had seen there. For many generations the name Clifton House was synonymous with good living at Niagara Falls. The hotel Zimmerman built was burned in the summer of 1898. It was promptly rebuilt, and the second Clifton 1 louse stood until the last day of December, 1931, when it, too, was destroyed by fire.

This time the hotel was not replaced, since the modern General Brock had been erected a few years previously. Instead, the site of the Clifton House and its neighbor, the Lafayette, was purchased by Harry Oakes, the mining millionaire, then a resident of Niagara Falls, and turned over to the parks commission. The commission, in 1937, erected the Oakes Garden Theatre on the property, and so added vastly to the beauty of the River Road development. Altogether the land, the formal gardens and the open-air stage and amphitheatre cost around three quarters of a million dollars. It was worth it.

The Great Stunt Era

ALTHOUGH Niagara Falls had become A a world-famous resort in the days of Samuel Zimmerman and the Clifton House, it was not until after the turn of the century that the community as a whole began to take on dignity and substance. Outside the elegant boundaries of the exclusive Clifton House, the Falls, in its earlier incarnations, was a raffish, rowdy sort of bazaar, a carnival village devoted largely to circus stunts, slapstick shenanigans and the sometimes violent plundering of innocent travellers by the hardy natives.

The sober historians refer to this phase as “the stunt era.” It is fairly widely known that the Great Blondin crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope, that Captain Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel, was drowned-attempting to swim the Niagara Whirlpool,.and that numerous daring individuals have gone over the

Of less common knowledge is the fact that for many years a permanent tightrope was anchored across the Gorge, alongside the Suspension Bridge, and local heroes of both sexes walked it twice a week throughout the summer, while gaping crowds gazed upon the spectacle from both banks.

Modern Niagara Falls scorns such antics, and it seems probable that the last rope has been stretched across the Gorge and there'll be no more passenger-carrying barrels tossed into the river. The parks commission, the municipal authorities and most of the citizens want no more of that sort of stuff. The town has grown up and has put away childish things.

Today the City of Niagara Falls is administered under a modification of the city manager plan that does away with the necessity for employing a city manager. The mayor is elected annually, and supported by a council of seven aldermen. There are no wards. The system calls for the election of four aldermen-at-large one year and three the next. Election day is the first Monday in December and nominations close a week earlier.

Civic Government

THERE IS only one city council committee—on Finance, with a chairman appointed annually by the incoming council. Other city business is handled by commissions. Members of the Hydro Commission and the Board of Education are elected by the taxpayers; the Housing Commission is appointed by the council, and representatives of the council sit on the Library Board and the Children’s Aid Society. Accounts of these bodies are audited annually by city auditors.

Permanent appointed officials include a city clerk, city engineer and city treasurer. The city clerk is William S. Orr. who does double duty. Mr. Orr was first appointed city engineer in 1928. Ten years later he took over the additional office of city clerk. The city treasurer for some years has been Mr. W. Soulsby.

Some vital statistics, in easily digestible tablet form:

Population of the City of Niagara Falls, 18.928. Of the industrial area, including Stamford Township and Chippawa Village, approximately 28,000.

Assessment of Niagara Falls for 1939, $18,256,746. Tax rate, thirty-six mills, a slight reduction this year.

The voters’ list contains 9.651 names. Police Department. Chief M. I). Tisdale and nineteen officers, including one motorcycle patrolman. The department operates two patrol cars and a police telegraph system, is now planning to install shortwave radio.

Fire Department. Chief Jack Shapton, an assistant chief and twelve paid firemen. A volunteer fire company brings the total fire-fighting personnel to fifty men.

Area of Niagara Falls, 1,794 acres of land and 140 acres of water. There arc thirty miles of paved streets, sixty miles of paved sidewalks.

Six public schools, one separate school, one high school. There is also the Niagara Falls College for Boys, Mount Carmel Seminary, and the Loretto Ladies’ School.

A modern hospital, directed by a hospital board responsible to the city council.

More than twenty churches, representing every denomination.

Eight branch banks, representing five Canadian banking institutions.

The town has a hustling Chamber of Commerce drumming up new business in the shape of industries and conventions. D. L. Willson, manager of the Niagara Falls branch of the Bank of Montreal, is the present president. The secretary is F. Carl Ward, a former salesman, who says he doesn’t see much difference in the job of selling the obvious advantages of Niagara Falls to the universe than selling any other commodity to a more limited clientele.

There is one daily newspaper, the Niagara Falls Ere«mg Review. The paper, first appearing in 1879, celebrated its diamond jubilee last November. The present publisher. Frank H. Leslie, bought the property when it was a weekly throwaway in 1904. Under Mr. Leslie’s management and the astute editorship of James Cowan, a shrewd and experienced Scottish journalist—you find those Scottish newspaper chaps all over the place—the enterprise has progressed steadily. In 1914 the Review first appeared as a daily, published in its own building on Park Street, a block away from City Hall. Today the Review has a circulation of around 8,000, holds membership in the Canadian Press, prints a number of metropolitan features and runs twelve pages every evening on modern machinery. It covers all the surrounding territory from Thorold to Fort Erie.

“The Lincoln and Welland”

ON VICTORIA AVENUE the armories of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment bears the date. 1911. but the regiment goes back to 1867, the year following the Fenian Raid. During the Great War the regiment sent many officers and men overseas, and recruited the 98th Battalion C.E.F. entirely. In front of the armories today stands a piece of artillery that has been pretty badly banged up. apparently by shrapnel. The gun is stamped with the names “Krupp” and “Essen.” Mr. Hitler might like to know where it is.

For the most part the population of Niagara Falls is of British-Canadian ancestry or of British birth. After the war there was considerable British immigration, chiefly of skilled workers and professional men. An Imperial Veterans’ organization of which Major J. L. Miller, M.C.. formerly of the Royal Engineers, is president, has two hundred members—an unusually good showing for a city of that size. Colonel C. H. Vandersluis is Commander of the local unit of the Canadian Corps Association, and Lieutenant Jack Cross, R.A.F., heads the Canadian Legion branch. There are quite a few former fliers in the community. Chamber of Commerce Secretary Carl Ward was a wartime pilot and later flew Handley-Page planes between London and Paris on one of the first commercial air lines in the world.

From the days of Samuel Zimmerman, Niagara Falls citizens of means have been generous to their town. Harry Oakes was a notable benefactor, up to the time of his departure from Canada to settle in the West Indies. In addition to the site for the Garden theatre, the mining magnate presented the town with a sixteen-acre property for a municipal athletic field. Publisher Frank H. Leslie some time ago donated land on the west side for a swimming pool, completed in 1928 at a cost of $30,000; and William and Charles Doran, brothers, now deceased, gave a wading pool for the small nonswimmers.

Falls in barrels, some successfully, others to die in their foolhardiness.

The local Lions Club provides equipment for the two pools and maintains them, conducting a learn-to-swim campaign each summer. There's plenty of play in Niagara Falls. The town boasts of four golf clubs within easy reach, a riding club, bowling club, badminton club and skating club. Niagara Falls teams play senior amateur hockey in the Ontario Hockey Association and senior baseball in the Ontario Baseball League. They do pretty well in that fast company, too.

In its peak depression year the city and province shared a hack-breaking relief bill of between $600,000 and $700.000. The city was forced to default on the principal of its debentures in 1934. There has been no default on interest payments at any time.

By 1937 economical city administration had made it possible to pay off the default of about $700,000. New call debentures were issued to the amount of $500,000, and last spring they were called and refunded at a saving to the city of one per cent on

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the interest rate. Niagara Falls debentures,

quoted at 65 in 1935, sold this year at 112.

As a matter of fact, the past two years have been pretty optimistic for Niagara Falls, Ontario. There has even been money spent on civic improvements. The River Road widening was one such job. The construction of a new front on the old City Hall is another, and sort of funny, at that.

In Honor of Their Majesties

UNTIL last spring the City Hall of Niagara Falls did the town no credit. Originally built for a market, the square dark grey stone building displayed all the architectural beauty of an old-fashioned jail. Nor was its appearance helped any by the construction many years ago by some forgotten genius, of a fretted and frescoed wooden balcony above the main entrance. Not to put too fine a point on it, the place was a mess. And the King and Queen were coming in June to visit Niagara Falls.

Here was no simple problem. Civic funds could not afford a new City Hall, and it seemed pretty well impossible to do anything with the old one, except tear it down. City Engineer Orr burned midnight oil through most of the summer of 1938 thinking the thing through. He read books, looked at pictures, talked to architects, and finally came up with plans that transformed the ugly old structure into a passable reproduction of an authentic example of the early colonial. Four high steel columns, painted white, support a roofed portico, the whole presenting a dignified front in keeping with the weathered grey walls. The cost was around

$3,000, comparatively considered a trifle.

Plans are under way, and may be completed before this is printed, to double the illumination of the Queen Street shopping district by installing new lamp standards and using more powerful bulbs. The Provincial Department of Highways is extending the Queen Elizabeth Way in a straight line through the city from west to east, linking Toronto and Hamilton directly with the new Rainbow Bridge. Children of the Glenview district are to get a new playground.

Things are looking up. The Canadian Carborundum and the Burgess Batterycompanies have built additions to their plants in the past few months.

Last August N iagara Falls gained official recognition from the Department of Transport as—if you please—a water port. That came about as a result of a keen bit of conniving on the part of the Chamber of Commerce and City Hall.

Obviously Niagara Falls is not. in the strict sense of the word, a port; but the regulations say that any industrial area within a given distance of a port may obtain the advantages of port ranking in the matter of freight rates, and those advantages are considerable. Carl Ward figured it out that Niagara Falls is only a fraction over seven miles from Thorold Docks on the Welland Canal, well within the required distance.

With the figures to support the argument, application was made to the Department of Transport for water port ranking. It was granted. The result will be savings of thousands of dollars annually in shipping costs for practically every major industry in the Niagara Falls area.

That’s fast thinking.