May 11, 2015
Sir Harry Oakes, A Great Niagara Benefactor
In the early 1920’s one of Canada’s richest (if not, the richest) person moved to Niagara Falls after discovering gold in Northern Ontario. He remained in Niagara Falls until 1934 when he moved to Nassau, Bahamas.
While living in Niagara he was very generous to the residents of our city. The location of our Greater Niagara General Hospital was built on land donated by this very generous man. He also donated the land where you find Oakes Park Athletic Field. His family contributed anonymously to numerous worthwhile causes in Niagara Falls.
Where the celebrated Oakes Garden Theatre is found is a result of a land exchange with the Niagara Parks Commission. In exchange for this property he received a small piece of property above the falls where he built in 1928 Oak Hall. Today this is the headquarters of The Niagara Parks Commission. There are still a few people who can remember how Mr. Oakes kept men of any age, as long as they could handle a shovel, employed during the depression of the 1930’s.They were paid $2.00 for a half days work.
Sir Harry Oakes died in the Bahamas in July 1943.
Descendants of Mr. Oakes still own property and operate businesses on Clifton Hill (Niagara’s Street of Fun) in Niagara Falls.