Hornblower Niagara Funicular
Birds of the Niagara Gorge
What types of birds live in the Niagara Gorge?
In 1996, The Niagara River Corridor was identified as an important bird area. It offers numerous bird species a sanctuary during the critical stages in their life cycles, such as nesting, migration, and overwintering.
The Niagara Region also has one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of gulls in the world, with more than 100,000 observed along the river. Other birds that are spotted in the area include loons, blue jays, peregrine falcons, horned owls, and Canadian geese.
Be sure to keep an eye on them, soaring over the Niagara River, bathing beneath the thundering Falls, sitting by the rocks, or nestling between the branches.
Not only will you spot birds flocking in and around Niagara Falls, but diving in the Niagara River. Ducks, geese, and swans including American Widgeon, Canvasback, and Redhead are often spotted along the shores of Old Fort Erie as they are seen diving and bobbing for fish in the Niagara River.
As a wide variety of birds flock the skies around the Niagara Gorge, there are a various fish species that swim through Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the Niagara River. With the Niagara River hundreds of metres deep in some places, it’s relatively unaffected by excessive rain or drought, offering the best conditions for fish like salmon, steelhead, rainbow trout, walleye, muskellunge, and bass.
Canada – USA International Border Crossing
Where is the International Niagara Falls border crossing?
The Canadian and American border known as the ‘International Boundary’ is the largest international border crossing in the world. November 1, 1941, marked the completion of the ‘Rainbow Bridge’ officially known as the ‘Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge’ and opened to the public.
The bridge acts as a gateway from Niagara Falls, Canada to Niagara Falls, New York. Today, the Rainbow Bridge continues to be one of the fourteen international border crossings from Ontario, Canada to the United States.
There are three additional Canada – US border crossings from Niagara Falls and Queenston, Ontario to Niagara Falls, Lewiston, and Buffalo, New York. These include the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, the Whirlpool Bridge, and the Peace Bridge.
For further information about documentation required and border procedures please visit the Canadian Border Services website.
Strata of the Niagara Gorge
How was the Niagara Gorge formed?
The Niagara Gorge was created over 12,500 years ago when the waters of Niagara tore through rock exposing layers of strata and sediment from tropical saltwater seas dating back to approximately 400-450 million years. Layers of clay, mud, sand, and shell were combined under pressure into sedimentary rock. The Niagara Gorge is 11 kilometres (7 miles) long and stems from the Falls, downstream to the foot of the escarpment to Queenston, Ontario.
Strata is the layers of sedimentary rock bedded together, however, the rock along the bottom of the Niagara Gorge is visibly lighter – almost a green shade. The colour is from the limestone rock or also known as ‘rock flour’ and salts which contributes to the colour of the water you see in the Niagara Gorge.
Ontario Power Generation
How much electricity is produced by Niagara Falls?
The Ontario Power Generation operation is southwestern Ontario’s largest and most historical hydroelectric station. All five hydroelectric stations combined in southwestern Ontario produce 12 billion kilowatt-hours, equivalent to producing electricity for more than 1 million homes year-round.
The Niagara Region is home to the Sir Adam Beck I and Sir Adam Beck II generating stations along with the Sir Adam Beck pump generating station. The Sir Adam Beck II generating station is the Ontario Power Generation’s largest capacity hydroelectric station generating 1,499 megawatts of electricity. This is enough electricity to power 140,000 homes every year.
The Niagara Tunnel
On March 9, 2013, the Ontario Power Generation opened its newest generating system. This clean energy project was built in the city of Niagara Falls and began construction in May of 2011. The tunnel is 12.7 metres (41 feet) wide and 10.2 kilometres (6.3 miles) long. In March 2013, the tunnel was filled with water and now provides additional water to generate electricity at both Sir Adam Beck Stations.
Did You Know?
The Sir Adam Beck I Generating Station has been producing electricity for Ontario for nearly 100 years. When this generating station opened under the Queenston-Chippawa Development, it was the largest hydroelectric power station in the world.
Origin of the Falls
How old is Niagara Falls?
18,000 years ago, as part of the last ice age, southern Ontario was covered in ice 2 to 3 kilometres thick. Once the ice began to melt the water traveled southward. Ice glaciers gouged out basins that make up the Great Lakes. In this time, ice also continued to melt northward creating vast amounts of meltwater filling the basins.
It wasn’t until about 12,500 years ago that the Niagara River became free of ice. As water melted, Great Lakes including, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, were formed. Water would continue to travel northward through Lake Erie, Niagara River, Lake Ontario, down through the St. Lawrence River and out of the Atlantic Ocean.
About 5,500 years ago, the meltwaters were rerouted to Southern Ontario remaking the Niagara River and restoring the Falls to its full power. When the Niagara River intersected with an old Riverbend, one that had been hidden during the last Ice Age, tore through the Niagara Gorge walls and filled the bottom of the river clean. As opposed to being a waterfall, the water was acting as rapids. When this violent occurrence ended, it left behind water turning at a 90-degree angel. Today, we refer to this as the Niagara Whirlpool and the Whirlpool Rapids.
When looking at the Falls, you will discover white frothy foam along the river’s edge. The foam is a result of water that plummets from the Falls into the depths of the water below. The brown ring around the foam is created from the clay that is formed from suspended particles or vegetative matter. The foam is not harmful to the water or to any wildlife.
Did You Know: The Falls were once located where the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge stands today! It is due to cavitation, one of the fastest types of erosion that affects rocks surrounded by a sheer force of water and bubbles, that the Falls eroded to its location where it is today.
The Red Ponchos
What happens to all the ponchos?
Each day, thousands of guests get a complimentary red poncho to keep them dry as they approach the majestic Niagara Falls on our boats.
After use, the red ponchos are collected in our recycling bins and are compacted on-site. They are then picked up by a recycling company, where they are given a new life. What was once a red poncho could be tomorrow’s cellphone case, patio chair, or even playground equipment.
Through this initiative, Hornblower Niagara Cruises saves millions of ponchos from ending up in our landfills. By doing so, we live up to our commitment of protecting our natural resources and ecosystems and leaving the planet a better place than when we began.
Our ponchos are 100% recyclable and guests are encouraged to recycle their poncho on-site immediately after use. Several recycling bins are located on our Riverside Patio to assist guests with recycling practices.
Where does all the water come from?
The water that makes up Niagara Falls, the basin of the Niagara Gorge, and the Whirlpool Rapids, all comes from the Great Lakes. The water flows from streams and rivers that empty into the Great Lakes, from where the water flows through lake superior onward to Niagara Falls. Once it passes the Falls, the water flows out toward Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River and finally out into the Atlantic Ocean. The Niagara River is 58 kilometres (36 miles) in length and is the natural outlet from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.
The water that flows through the Great Lakes is only 1% renewable on a yearly basis consisting of groundwater and precipitation. As scientists observe Niagara Falls they are speculating that in about 2,000 years, the American Falls could dry up and in 15,000 years the Canadian Horseshoe Falls could quickly erode back four miles to a softer rock known as Salina Shale which could force a quick erosion to change the waterfall to a series of rapids.
Did You Know?
When water travels it always flows down from the seas down to the land slopes travelling from east to west, but the Niagara River actually flows north!