Originally Dufferin Islands, just a five-minute drive south of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls off the Niagara Parkway, was very different two hundred and eleven years ago. Then the Niagara River rushed around four very small islands at the head of the embayment (indentation of the shoreline) and one large island at the centre of the embayment. A small community consisting of a saw and grist mill and an iron foundry were located here to take advantage of the rushing water. These buildings were burnt down by invading Americans soldiers during the War of 1812 and never replaced.
Things changed even more when the nearby Toronto Power Generating Plant (it’s still here but ceased operating in 1974) was built in the early 1900’s. Builders needed a place to put all the soil taken during the construction of this plant so they sought permission fromThe Niagara Parks Commission to place the soil in the fast-flowing inlet creating seven additional islands. With calmer waters, what soon followed was a favourite swimming area enjoyed by the locals until the mid 1980’s. The swimming pool closed due to several drowning accidents.
Dufferin Islands is still a very popular area to enjoy a picnic during the summer months. In the winter, spectacular lighting displays are found here during the annual Ontario Power Winter Festival of Lights.