The following information has been prepared to inspire future visits to Niagara Falls and we look forward to welcoming visitors back in keeping with any public health restrictions. Due to fluctuating COVID-19 restrictions, we recommend visitors contact businesses directly to confirm availability.
Niagara Falls, Ontario holds a place in history as one of the final destinations of the renowned ‘Underground Railroad’, a secret network of routes from Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and on to Niagara-on-the-Lake that enslaved people from the United States followed to find freedom in Canada. It is estimated that 30,000-40,000 enslaved people escaped into Canada from the US from 1800-1865. Among those who escaped to Canada was a heroine named Harriet Tubman who made 13 return trips to liberate others through the Underground Railroad between 1852 and 1857. Burr Plato also escaped to Canada where we he went on to become a prosperous businessman and politician in local government and had property acquisitions on what is now Stanley Avenue in Niagara Falls.
For those who wish to retrace the final steps of the thousands who found freedom in Canada and pay hommage to the heroes and heroines who helped them, here are some ways to explore the region.
Canada’s stories of freedom and courage can be explored through Niagara Parks’ collection of displays and monuments honouring Black Canadian history. Follow the scenic Niagara River Parkway from Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and to Niagara-on-the-Lake and learn about Niagara’s role in the legendary Underground Railroad. Stand in the spot where Harriet Tubman first crossed into Canada in 1851 and see the printing press that printed Canada’s 1793 Act Against Slavery.
- Whether driving leisurely along the Parkway or walking or cycling the 56-km (35 mi) Niagara River Recreation Trail, over 20 plaques and displays highlight some of the most historic moments that unfolded in the Niagara region. Use this map to help plan out your journey to explore Black Canadian history at these sites along the Niagara River.
- The Niagara River Recreational Trail is a paved path that meanders through some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. Perfect for hiking or cycling or by Ebike, travel through Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and the Queenston and Niagara-on-the-Lake taking in historical sites, attractions, restaurants and parkland along the way.
- The Crossing: Bertie Street Ferry Landing & Freedom Park - a Niagara Freedom Trail plaque describes the ferry system which crossed into Canada.
- Little Africa – a popular settlement for freedom seekers arriving in Canada during the 1840s. Look for a plaque on a rock on the south side of the Niagara Parks Marina parking lot.
- The Niagara Movement – the site of the inaugural meetings of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), originally called the Niagara Movement.
- Nathanial Dett Memorial Chapel of the British Methodist Episcopal Church The British Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1836. The Nathaniel Dett Memorial Chapel is a designated National Historic Site part of the Freedom Trail points of interest in history of the Underground Railroad.
- Harriet Tubman Tribute – in June 2017 Niagara Parks Commission unveiled an interpretive plaque commemorating Harriet Tubman’s first crossing into Canada in 1856. She crossed on a suspension bridge near the current Whirlpool Bridge Plaza along the Niagara Parkway north of the falls. Look for a series of plaques at the entrance to the White Water Walk and Whirlpool Bridge.
- Niagara Falls History Museum – visit black history exhibits throughout the year.
- Louis Roy Press and 1793 Act Against Slavery (Queenston) – the oldest wooden printing press in Canada which was used to print the 1793 Act Against Slavery. Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum (Queenston)
Other nearby sights:
Soar above the Gorge on the Whirlpool Aero car, a cable car with incredible views of the Niagara Whirlpool high above the racing Niagara River. Explore the WildPlay Whirlpool Adventure Course, a unique Niagara experience of suspended obstacles and ziplines provides a new fun and thrilling way to see the world-famous whirlpool and Niagara Gorge from high above. Deep in the Great Gorge, the Niagara Glen is a designated Nature Reserve with 4 km (2.5 mi) of paths that wind through a pristine pocket of Carolinian Forest.
- Voices of Freedom Park is designed to celebrate black history. An app featuring interactive map an audio stories about people of African descent who lived and worked in Niagara-on-the-Lake allows users to learn more.
- William and Susannah Steward House –William Steward was involved in freeing Solomon Mosby and his home in the Negro Village represented a successful businessman who contributed to building Niagara-on-the-Lake and protecting African American refugees in the region.
- Simcoe Memorial – where John Graves Simcoe made the first legislative steps in the Act Against Slavery of 1793.
- Negro Burial Ground – a provincial historical plaque marks the site of a former Baptist Church and burial ground.
Other nearby sights:
Sprawling vineyards, award-winning wines and a remarkable microclimate make Niagara’s wine country one of the most visited wine regions in the world. Enjoy patios and unique culinary experiences overlooking lush vineyards at Peller Estates, Two Sisters Vineyards, Lailey Winery, Trius Winery, Wayne Gretzky Estates, and Ravine Vineyard. Oast House Brewers housed in a refurbished red barn takes pride in working with local ingredients with BBQ style cuisine and live entertainment on their two-tiered patio.
Skip the self-guided options and pre-book a unique and memorable bespoke tour with Niagara Bound Tours led by Lezlie Harper, a fifth-generation Canadian descendant of freedom seekers who came to Canada from Kentucky in 1851. Niagara Bound Tours for individuals, groups and schools provide historical perspective while capturing the essence of what those forced to flee were faced with.
February is Black History Month
Each February during Black History month explore special exhibits, lectures and tours to honour Black Canadian History in Niagara Falls presented by the Niagara Falls History Museum and Niagara Parks.
BLACK HISTORY SPEAKER SERIES 2022 (Live-streamed) Presented by Niagara Parks
Niagara Parks will host a three-part virtual speaker series exploring perspectives on Black history and culture in Canada, delivered by leading historians and commentators. The online interactive events will be held on the last Wednesday of the month in January, February and March.
The virtual series features an incredible line-up of speakers, including the president of the Essex County Black Historical Research Society Irene Moore Davis and associate professor of African American History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Dr. Dann Broyld. Closing off the series on March 30th will be President of the Ontario Black History Society, Natasha Henry.
Niagara is home to many of Canada's most impactful events in Black history, notably as a key site during the underground railroad and original crossing point of American abolitionist Harriet Tubman. As the cultural stewards of the Niagara River Corridor, Niagara Parks is proud to partner with leaders in the Black community to share this important history and contemporary issues as well.
The interactive online sessions will each focus on a unique topic related to Canadian Black History and Culture.
- January 26, 2022: Irene Moore Davis, Exploring Black History in Essex County
- February 23, 2022: Dr. Dann Broyld, Black and in the Niagara Borderlands Before the Civil War
- March 30, 2022: Natasha Henry, 'Sale of Said Negro Woman': Chloe Cooley and the Enslaved Black People in Niagara
Additional event details and tickets are available at niagaraparks.com/blackhistory. Tickets are $15 per event, with access to all three events available for $35. All sessions will begin at 7:00pm and will be hosted on Zoom.
ABOUT NIAGARA FALLS CANADA
Home of the legendary Canadian Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil waterfalls, Niagara Falls is a four-season destination renowned for its awe-inspiring natural wonders combined with world-class accommodation, thrilling entertainment and a burgeoning culinary scene. Visitors from Ontario, across North America and around the world who come to experience adventure, discover family fun, feel the romance and create unique and memorable experiences have made it Canada’s #1 leisure travel destination.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
For more information about unique and memorable experience in Niagara Falls, please visit www.niagarafallstourism.com and these helpful resources:
WHERE TO STAY
Book a room in nearby hotels within walking distance of the Falls or a Fallsview room to enjoy a Room with a View, the majesty of the Falls from the comfort of your bed, any time of the day. Niagara Falls campgrounds and cottages afford visitors a special way of getting a little closer to nature.
- Niagara Falls' commitment to guests and employees: SafetoPlay.ca, Health and Safety Guidelines, COVID-19 Information
- What's Open in Niagara Falls: Niagarafallstourism.com/blog/whats-open-niagara-falls/
- Niagara Falls Illumination: Niagarafallstourism.com/Illumination/
- Niagara Falls Itinerary Ideas: Niagarafallstourism.com/blog/itinerary/
- Attraction Packages: Niagarafallstourism.com/attraction-packages/
- Niagara Falls 24/7 Live Cam: Niagara Falls Live Stream
LET’S STAY CONNECTED