I’m still coming up to speed with my Canada posts and hope to complete them all before winter there is actually over! But now that I’m sitting here writing this in humid 35 degree Celsius weather, it seems like ages ago that my teeth were chattering in bone-chilling -40 degrees Celsius, in what was Canada’s coldest winter in over 5 decades!
Like I’ve said before, it’s hard to describe how being in such extreme weather feels, but if there’s one place where it can actually be seen, it’s at Niagara Falls. As you can imagine, it’s a piece of cake for a small pool of water to freeze in seconds, but at Niagara Falls, 60,000 litres of water surge down every second! While the entire waterfall doesn’t actually freeze due to the sheer force and volume of moving water, there are certain sections of Niagara Falls that actually do, making it a breathtaking sight.
I’ve been blessed to have seen the Niagara Falls in summer, on the 4th of July with a mind-blowing number of fireworks exploding at the horizon, on the occasion of neighbouring USA’s Independence Day. If you’d have told me then that something could ACTUALLY surpass the experience of watching glittering sparkles and flashes of light in the sky over the mesmerizing Niagara Falls, I wouldn’t have believed you. Turns out, visiting the Falls in winter actually does!
The cold weather means that visitors can’t get on boats that take them to the foot of the falls or walk through the tunnel that leads you directly behind the waterfall to watch it cascade down a few feet front of your eyes. However, the touristy Clifton Hill strip and all its attractions, as well as in the indoor butterfly conservatory are some of the things you can still do.
Shady trees I saw in summer were mere frozen branches covered in pristine white snow, literally bowing to the falls with the weight of the icicles on their branches, like natural Christmas ornaments. As you carefully inch closer to the falls on the icy pavements, you get your first glimpse of the freezing water swiftly crashing onto the river below, with mist rising up into the air…mist that can be felt from quite a distance away.
It’s this misty spray that freezes on everything it touches – the walkways, the railings, lamp posts, the plants and the windscreens of cars parked nearby. If you’re lucky, you’ll see huge blocks of ice being pushed over the falls where they swirl like mini glaciers.
Such is the beauty of Niagara Falls in winter that thousands of tourists brave the frigid weather, cameras in hand to get that prized photograph of it. The icy wind that numbs not only your fingers and toes, but entire face, making it difficult to smile or speak, is the only downside. Fortunately, I visited on a Monday morning after the Christmas – New Year rush had subsided, and Canadians were back to work, which meant the Falls were almost deserted! That is pretty darn rare!
Photos definitely don’t do it justice, especially those shot on a camera phone! However, if you were planning on visiting Canada and were crossing off the idea of visiting the country in the winter, I hope they nudge you to reconsider!