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Archer Butler Hulbert 


By Archer Butler Hulbert 

The Ohio River 

A Course of Empire 

Large Octavo, with loo Full-page Illustrations 
and a Map. Net, Sj-So. By express, prepaid. 

The Niagara River 

Large Octavo, with many Full-page Illustrations 
and Maps. Net, $3.^0. By express, prepaid, 

Q. P. Putnam's Sons 
New York London 

The Niagara River 


Archer Butler Hulbert 

Professor of American History, Marietta College ; Author of " The Ohio River, 
*• Historic Highways of America," " Washington and the West"; 
Editor of ' ' The Crown Collection of American Maps. 

With Maps and Illustrations 

G. P. Putnam's Sons 

New York and London 

Ube Itmckerbocfter press 


Copyright, 1908 



APR 2 1956 

' '■''?*S/Ty OF TO«S^ 






Ube Iftnicfterboclier prees, new JSorR 








In the endeavour to gather into one volume a proper de- 
scription of the various interests that centre in and around the 
Niagara River the author of this book felt very sincerely the 
difficulties of the task before him. As the geologic wonder of a 
continent and the commercial marvel of the present century, the 
Niagara River is one of the most remarkable streams in the world. 
In historic interest, too, it takes rank with any American river. 
To combine, then, into the pages of a single volume a proper 
treatment of this subject would be a task that perhaps no one 
covdd accomplish satisfactorily. 

Works to which the author is most indebted, especially 
the historical writings of Hon. Peter A. Porter, Severance's Old 
Trails of the Niagara Frontier, The Niagara Book, and the writings 
of the scholar of the old New York frontier, the late O. H. Mar- 
shall, and the collections of the historical societies along the 
frontier, are indicated frequently in footnotes and in text. The 
author's particular indebtedness to Mr. Porter is elsewhere de- 
scribed; he is also in the debt of F. H. Mautz, Henry Gutten- 
stein. Superintendent Edward H. Perry, whose kindness to the 
author was so characteristic of his treatment of all comers to 
the shrine over which he presides, E. O. Dunlap, and many 
others mentioned elsewhere. He has appreciated Mr. Howells's 
characteristic conscientiousness when he wrote concerning Ni- 
agara, "I have always had to take myself in hand, to shake my- 
self up, to look twice, and recur to what I have heard and 
read of other people's impressions, before I am overpowered by 
it. Otherwise I am simply charmed." The author has laboured 
under the difficulty of attempting to remain "overpowered" 
during a period of several years. That there have been serious 

vi Note 

lapses in the shape of lucid intervals, the critic will find full 

It has seemed best to treat of modem Niagara under what 
might have been called "Part I." of this volume. The history 
of the Niagara region proper begins in Chapter VII., the problems 
of present-day interest occupying the preceding six chapters. 

A. B. H. 

Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio, 
Jantuiry 26, 1908. 


I. — Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 
II. — From the Falls to Lake Ontario 
III. — The Birth of Niagara 
IV. — Niagara Bond and Free . 
V. — Harnessing Niagara Falls 
VI. — A Century op Niagara Cranks 
VII. — ^The Old Niagara Frontier 
VII I. — From La Salle to De Nonville 
IX. — Niagara under Three Flags . 
X. — The Hero op Upper Canada 
XL — The Second War with England 

XII.— Toronto 

Index ..... 






List of Illustrations 


View of Horseshoe Falls from the Canadian Side 

From a photograph. Frontispiece 

A Glimpse of Buffalo Harbor ..... 4 

Lafayette Square ....... 8 

St. Paul's Church, Buffalo ..... 12 

Niagara Falls ....... 14 

From the original painting by Frederick Edwin Church, in 
Corcoran Gallery. 

The American Rapids ...... 16 

The View from Prospect Point ..... 20 
From a photograph by Notman, Montreal. 

Goat Island Bridge and Rapids .... 24 

Horseshoe Falls from Below ..... 26 

"The Shoreless Sea" ...... 2S 

From a photograph by Notman, Montreal. 

Rustic Bridge, Willow Island ..... 30 

The Cave of the Winds ...... 32 

The American Fall ....... 36 

From a photograph by Notman, Montreal. 

Remains of Stone Piers of the "First Railway in 
America" — the British Tramway up Lewiston 
Heights, 1763 ....... 38 



Amid the Goat Island Group ..... 40 
. From a photograph by Notman, Montreal. 

Horseshoe Falls from the Canadian Shore . . 44 

From a photograph by Notman, Montreal. 

Looking up the Lower Niagara from Paradise Grove 46 
From a photograph by Wm. Quinn, Niagara-on-the-Lake. 

The Mouth of the Gorge ...... 48 

From a photograph by Notman, Montreal. 

The Whirlpool Rapids ...... 50 

The American Fall, July, 1765 . . . . .54 

From an unsigned original drawing in the British Museum. 

The Horseshoe Fall, July, 1765 .... 60 

From an unsigned original drawing in the British Museum. 

Ice Mountain on Prospect Point . . . . 64 

Cave of the Winds in Winter ..... 66 
"Maid OF THE Mist" under Steel Arch Bridge . . 70 

Beacon on Old Breakwater at Buffalo . . .72 

Winter Scene in Prospect Park .... 74 

Bath Island, American Rapids, in 1879 ... 80 

From New York Commissioners' Report. 

Path to Luna Island ... . . .86 

Green Island Bridge ...... 92 

Bird's-eye View of the Canadian Rapids and Fall . 100 
From a photograph by Notman, Montreal. 

American Falls from Below ..... 106 

The Riverside at Willow Island . . . .118 

Illustrations xi 


Goat Island Bridge, Showing Niagara's Famous Cata- 
ract AND International Hotels . . . .124 

The Path to the Cave of the Winds . . . 130 

From a photograph by Notman, Montreal, 

American Falls from Goat Island .... 136 

Horseshoe Falls from Goat Island .... 142 

Ice Bridge and American Falls .... 148 

Colonel' Romer's Map of the Country of the Iroquois, 

1700 154 

Champlain ........ 160 

Map of French Forts in America .... 164 

Niagara Falls by Father Hennepin .... 166 

The first known picture of Niagara, dated 1697. 

R. RfeNE Cavelier, Sieur De La Salle . . . 172 

Frontenac, from Hebert's Statue AT Quebec . .178 

Luna Island Bridge ....... 184 

"Carte du Lac Ontario." A Specimen French Map 

OF THE Niagara Frontier Dated October 4, 1757 190 
From the original in the British Museum. 

Stones on the Site of Joncaire's Cabin under Lewis- 
ton Heights, where the "Magazine Royale" was 
Erected in 1719 . . . . . . .198 

Specimen Manuscript Map of Niagara Frontier of 

Eighteenth Century ...... 204 

From the original in the British Museum. 

A Drawing of Fort Niagara and Environs Showing 

Plan of English Attack under Johnson . . 208 

xii Illustrations 

A Sketch of Fort Niagara and Environs by the 
French Commander Pouchot Showing Improve- 
ments OF 1756-1758 .... 210 and 211 

Canadian Trapper, from La Potherie . . .212 

Youngstown, N. Y., from Paradise Grove . . .214 

The Stone Redoubt at Fort Niagara, Built in 1770 . 216 
From the original in the British Museum. 

Pfister's Sketch of Fort Niagara and the "Com- 
munication," Two Years before the Outbreak 
of the Revolutionary War .... 220 

Fort Erie and the Mouth of the Niagara, by Pfister, 

in 1764 ........ 226 

From the original in the British Museum. 

Major-General Brock . . . . . -232 

A Plan of Fort Niagara after English Occupation, 

by Montresor ....... 238 

"Navy Hall Opposite Niagara" .... 244 

A drawing on bark by Mrs. Simcoe. 

From a photograph by Wm. Quinn, Niagara-on-the-Lake. 

Brock's Monument ....... 260 

"Queenston OR Landing NEAR Niagara" . . . 266 

A drawing on bark by Mrs. Simcoe. 

Lieutenant Pierie's Sketch of Niagara, 1768 . . 272 

From an old print. 

Old View of Fort Missisagua . . . . . 278 

Monument at Lundy's Lane ..... 284 

Lieutenant-General Simcoe ..... 294 

Illustrations xiii 


"York Harbor" ....... 296 

A drawing on bark by Mrs. Simcoe. 

"The Garrison at York" ...... 302 

A drawing on bark by Mrs. Simcoe. 

Captain Sowers's Drawings of Fort Niagara, 1769 . 308. 
From the original in the British Museum. 

The Niagara River 

Chapter I 
Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 

THE Strait of Niagara, or the Niagara River, as 
it is commonly called, ranks among the won- 
ders of the world. The study of this stream 
is of intense and special interest to many 
classes of people, notably historians, archasologists, 
botanists, geologists, artists, mechanics, and electri- 
cians. It is doubtful if there is anj^where another 
thirty-six miles of riverway that can, in this respect, 
compare with it. 

The term "strait" as applied to the Niagara cor- 
rectly suggests the river's historic importance. The 
expression, recurring in so many of the relations of 
French and English military officers, "on this communi- 
cation" also indicates Niagara's position in the story 
of the discovery, conquest, and occupation of the conti- 
nent. It is probably the Falls which, technically, 
make Niagara a river; and so, in turn, it is the Falls 
that rendered Niagara an important strategic key of 
the vast watenv^ay stretching from the mouth of the 
St. Lawrence to the head of Lake Superior. The lack 
— so far as it does exist — of historic interest in the 

2 The Niagara River 

immediate Niagara region, the comparative paucity of 
military events of magnitude along that stream during 
the old French and the Revolutionary wars proves, 
on the one hand, what a wilderness separated the 
English on, the South from the French on the North, 
and, on the other, how strong "the communication" 
was between Quebec and the French posts in the Middle 
West. It does not prove that Niagara was tha less 

The Falls increased the historic importance of 
Niagara because it limited navigation and made a 
portage necessary ; the purposes of trade and missionary 
enterprise, as well as those of conquest, demanded that 
this point be occupied, and occupation necessarily 
meant defence. Here, from Lewiston and Queens ton 
to Chippewa and Port Day (to use modem names) ran 
the two most famous portage paths of the continent. 
Here were to be seen at one time or another the foot- 
prints of as famous explorers, noble missionaries, and 
brave soldiers as ever went to conquest in history. 

The Niagara River was important in the olden time 
to every mile of territory drained by the waters that 
flowed through it. What an empire to hold in fee! 
Here lies more than one-half the fresh water of the 
world — the solid contents being, according to Darby 
1,547,011,792,300,000; it would form a solid cubic 
column measuring nearly twenty-two miles on each 

The most remote body of water tributary to Niagara 
River is Lake Superior, 381 miles long and 161 miles 
broad with a circumference of 1 1 50 miles. The Niagara 
of Lake Superior is the St. Mary's River, twenty-seven 
miles in length, its current very rapid, with water flow- 

Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 3 

ing over great masses of rock into Lake Huron. Lake 
Huron is 218 miles long and 20 miles wider than Lake 
Superior, but with a circimiference of only 812 miles. 
Lake Michigan is 345 miles long and 84 broad and 
enters Lake Huron through Mackinaw Straits which 
are four miles in length, with a fall of four feet. In 
turn Lake Huron empties into the St. Clair and De- 
troit rivers which, with a total fall of eleven feet in 
fifty-one miles, forms the Niagara of Lake Erie. This 
sheet of water is 250 miles long and 60 miles broad 
at its widest part. The area drained by these lakes 
is as follows, including their own area : 

Lake Superior 85,000 sq. m. 

" Huron 74,000 " 

" Michigan 70,040 " 

" Erie 39,680 

Total 268,720 

Considering this as a portion of the St. Lawrence 
drainage, we have the marvellous spectacle of a navi- 
gable waterway from the St. Louis River, Lake Supe- 
rior, to Cape Gaspe at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, 
of twenty-one hundred miles in length, the Niagara 
River being paralleled to-day by the Welland Canal, 
and lesser canals affording a passageway arotrnd the 
rapids of the St. Mary's in the West and the St. Law- 
rence in the East. In a previous volume in the present 
series ^ it was seen that the improved rivers in the Ohio 
basin now offered a navigable pathway over four thou- 
sand miles in length ; how insignificant is that prospect 
in view of this great transcontinental waterway two 
thousand miles in length but including the 268,000 

' The Ohio River; A Course of Empire, p. 359. 

4 The Niagara River 

square miles in the four great lakes alone ! Well does 
George Waldo Browne in his beautiful volume on this 
subject, The St. Lawrence River, say: 

Treated in a more extended manner, according to the ideas 
of the early French geographers, and taking either the river and 
lake of Nipigon, on the north of Superior, or the river St. Louis, 
flowing from the south-west, it has a grand total length of over 
two thousand miles. With its tributaries it drains over four 
hundred thousand square miles of country, made up of fertile 
valleys and plateaux inhabited by a prosperous people, desolate 
barrens, deep forests, where the foot of man has not yet left its 

Seldom less than two miles in width, it is two and one-half 
miles wide where it issues from Ontario, and with several expan- 
sions which deserve the name of lake it becomes eighty miles in 
width where it ceases to be considered a river. The influence 
of the tide is felt as far up as Lake St. Peter, about one hundred 
miles from the gulf, while it is navigable for sea-going vessels to 
Montreal, eighty miles farther inland. Rapids impede naviga- 
tion above this point, but by means of canals continuous com- 
munication is obtained to the head of Lake Superior. 

If inferior in breadth to the mighty Amazon, if it lacks the 
length of the Mississippi, if without the stupendous gorges and 
cataracts of the Yang-tse-Kiang of China, if missing the ancient 
castles of the Rhine, if wanting the lonely grandeur that still 
overhangs the Congo of the Dark Continent, the Great River of 
Canada has features as remarkable as any of these. It has its 
source in the largest body of fresh water upon the globe, and 
among all of the big rivers of the world it is the only one 
whose volume is not sensibly affected by the elements. In rain 
or in sunshine, in spring floods or in summer droughts, this phe- 
nomenon of waterways seldom varies more than a foot in its 
rise and fall. 

The history of the Niagara is so closely interwoven 
with that of the great "Queen City of the Lakes," 







Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 5 

Buffalo, that it would seem as though the famous 
waterway was in the suburb of the city and its greatest 
scenic attraction. However true this is to-day, it was 
very far from the case a century ago, for though the 
site of Buffalo was historic and important, the city, 
as such, is of comparative recent origin, coming to its 
own with giant strides in those last decades of the nine- 
teenth century. Writes Mr. Rowland B. Mahany in his 
excellent chapter on "Buffalo" in The Historic Towns 
of the Middle States: 

Few cities of the United States have a history more pictur- 
esque than Buffalo, or more typical of the forces that have made 
the Republic great. At the time of the adoption of the Federal 
constitution, in 1787, not a single white settler dwelt on the site 
of what is now the Queen of the Lakes ; and it was not until after 
the second presidency of Washington, that Joseph Ellicott, the 
founder of Buffalo, laid out the plan of the town, which he called 
■ New Amsterdam. 

On February 10, 1810, the "Town of Buffaloe" was 
created by act of the State Legislature, a name origin- 
ally given to the locality by the Seneca Indians, who, 
we shall see, dominated the old Niagara frontier; it is 
believed that the name came from the animals which 
visited the neighbouring salt licks ; and the name there- 
fore may be much older than any settlement or even 
camping site. The village of New Amsterdam was 
now merged into the town of Buffalo, which boasted 
a newspaper in the second year of its existence, 181 1. 
The story of the following years falls naturally into 
that of the disastrous war with England from 181 2 
to 1 814, in which Buffalo suffered severely. As Mr. 
Mahany suggests, the story of Buffalo is character- 
istically American, and its phases, as such offer an 

6 The Niagara River 

inviting field, but one too wide for full examination 
in the present history.^ 

The important position of the city with reference 
to the Great Lakes was very greatly increased with 
the building of the Erie Canal from 1817 to 1825. It 
is interesting to recall the fact that it was in reality 
fear of the possibility of another war with England 
that caused the deciding vote for the Erie Canal pro- 
ject to be cast in its favour.^ In the proper place we 
shall have impressed upon us the great distance that 
separated the Niagara frontier from the inhabited por- 
tion of the Republic at this early period, the great 
length of the land route and the difficulty of it; it was 
said to be far more than a cannon was worth to haul it 
to the frontier during the War of 1 8 1 2 . All this shows 
very distinctly the early condition surrounding the rise 
of the metropolis of the Niagara country, and, from be- 
ing strange that little Buffalo did not grow faster, it is 
amazing to find such rapid growth during the first 
twenty-five years of her life. 

With the opening of the canal in 1825 a new era 
d'awned ; the work of the great land companies in north- 
eastern New York drew vast armies of people thither, 
and the canal proved to be the great route for a much 
longer migration from the seaboard to the further 
north-west, to Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as to 
neighbouring Ohio. All this helped Buffalo. Num- 
bers of travellers arriving at the future site of the Queen 

» Frank H. Severance in his delightful Old Trails of the Niagara Fron- 
tier has several most interesting chapters relating to the Buffalo neighbour- 
hood. Mr. Severance has done, through the Buffalo Historical Society, 
much good work in keeping warm the affection of the present generation 
for the memory of the past, its heroes and its sacrifices. 

2 See A. B. Hulbert, The Great American Canals, vol. ii., p. iii. 

Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 7 

Citv of the Lakes at once decided that they could at 
least go farther and fare very much worse, and so sat 
down to grow up with the Niagara frontier. The prox- 
imity of the Falls had something to do, of course, with 
bringing increasingly larger numbers of travellers and 
transients to the Lake Erie village. But it was slow 
work, this building up a great city, and no doubt the 
very fact that the stones of the mighty edifice one finds 
beside that beautiful harbour to-day were laid slowly 
accounts for the solidity of the structure; Buffalo was 
not built on a boom. 

From James L. Barton's reminiscences, for instance, 
we have clear pictures of the early struggle for business 
in this frontier town, which prove it to have been t^-p- 
ically American. Mr. Barton owned a line of boats 
on the Lakes and canal but found it very difficult to 
find freight for the boats to carry down the State ; 

A few tons of freight [he writes], was all that we coxild furnish 
each boat to carry to Albany. This they would take in, and fill 
up at Rochester, which place, situated in the heart of the wheat- 
growing district of Western New York, furnished nearly all the 
down freight that passed on the canal. Thus we lived and strug- 
gled on until 1830. Our poptdation had increased largely, and 
that year numbered six thousand and thirty-one. In the fall 
of 183 1 , 1 received from Cleveland one thousand bushels of wheat. 
. . . The next winter I made arrangement with the late Colonel 
Ira A. Blossom, the resident agent of the Holland Land Company, 
to furnish storage for all the wheat the settlers should bring in, 
towards the payment on their land contracts with the company. 
The whole amount did not exceed three thousand bushels. . . . 
In 1833 the Ohio canal was completed, which gave us a little 
more business. Northern Ohio was then the only portion of the 
great West that had any surplus agrictdtural products to send 
to an eastern market. In 1833 a little stir commenced in land 
operations, which increased the next year, and in 1835 became 

8 The Niagara River 

a perfect fever and swallowed up almost everything else. Nearly 
every person who had any enterprise got rich from buying and sell- 
ing land; using little money in these transactions, but paying and 
receiving in pay, bonds and mortgages to an illimitable amount. 

In 1837 the panic affected the young lake city as it 
did all parts of the land, but by 1840 the population of 
Buffalo had swelled to over eighteen thousand. The 
record of growth of the past century is a matter of 
figures strung on the faith of a great company of active, 
enterprising, far-sighted business men, until Buffalo 
ranks among the cities of half a million population, with 
a future unquestionably secure and brilliant. 

The Niagara River is some nineteen hundred feet 
in width at its mouth here at Buffalo and forty-eight 
feet deep; the average rate of current here is under six 
miles per hour, but when south-west gales drive the 
lake billows in gigantic gulps down the river's mouth 
the current sometimes races as fast as twelve miles per 
hour. Old Fort Erie, built here at the mouth of the 
Niagara immediately after England won the continent 
from France, in 1764, was formerly the only settlement 
hereabouts, Black Rock, now part of Buffalo, at the 
mouth of the Erie Canal, was not settled until near the 
close of that century. It is believed that five forts have 
guarded the mouth of this strategic river, all known as 
Fort Erie. When the people of the opposite sides of 
the river were in conflict in 181 2, Black Rock was the 
rival of Fort Erie. The large black rock which formed 
the landing-place of the ferry across the river here, and 
which gave the hamlet its name, was destroyed when 
the Erie Canal was built. Black Rock was formally 
laid out in 1804 and in 1853 was incorporated with the 
city of Buffalo. 

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Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 9 

The upper Niagara with its even current and low- 
lying banks is not specially attractive. Grand Island, 
two miles below the mouth, divides the river into two 
narrow arms. This beautiful island, the Indian name 
of which was Owanunga, so popular to-day as a sum- 
mering place, is remembered in history especially as 
the site selected in 1825 for Major M. M.Noah's "New 
Jerusalem," the proposed industrial centre of the Jews 
of the New World, but nothing was accomplished on 
the island itself toward the object in view. 

At Buffalo, however, Noah took the title "Judge 
of Israel," and held a meeting in the old St. Paul's 
Church, where remarkable initiatory rites took place. 
In resplendent robes covered by a mantle of crimson silk, 
trimmed- with ermine, the Judge held what he termed 
"impressive and unique ceremony," in which he read a 
proclamation to "all the Jews throughout the world," 
bringing them the glad tidings that on the ancient isle 
Owanunga "an asylum was prepared and offered to 
them," and that he did "revive, renew, and establish 
(in the Lord's name), the government of the Jewish 
nation, . . . confirming and perpetuating all our rights 
and privileges, our rank and power, among the nations 
of the earth as they existed and were recognised under 
the government of the Judges." Mr. Noah ordered 
a census of all the Hebrews in the world to be taken 
and did not forget, incidentally, to levy a tax of about 
one dollar and a half on every Jew in order to carry on 
the project. A "foundation stone" was prepared to 
be erected on the site of the future New Jerusalem ; the 
following inscription was engraved upon it : 

Hear, O Israel, the Lord 
is our God — the Lord is one. 

10 The Niagara River 






At the lower extremity of Grand Island is historic 
Burnt Ship Bay, made famous, as hereafter related, 
in the old French War. 

The little town of Tonawanda, with its immense 
lumber interests, and La Salle, famous in history as 
the building site of the Griffon, elsewhere described, 
lie opposite Grand Island on the American shore, the 
former at the mouth of Cayuga Creek. On the opposite 
shore, a little below the beautiful Navy Island, is the 
historic town of Chippewa. 

Below Navy Island the river spreads out to a 
width of over two miles; it has fallen twenty feet 
since leaving Lake Erie, and now gathers into a 
narrower channel for its magnificent rush to the falls 
one mile below. In this mile the river drops fifty- 
two feet, through what are known as the American 
and Canadian Rapids, on their respective sides of the 

From a scenic standpoint it is questionable whether 
any of the delights of Niagara surpass those afforded 
by this beautiful series of cascades; sightseers are 
prepared from their earliest days for the magnificent 
beauty of the Falls themselves, but of the Rapids 
above little is known until their insidious charm 
gradually works its way into the heart to remain for- 
ever an image of beauty and rapture that cannot be 
effaced. Guide books will give adequate advice as 

Buffalo and the Upper Niagara n 

to the best points of vantage from which to view 
the various rifts and cascades. ^ 

Some years ago [writes Mr. Porter], Colin Hunter, then an 
Associate, now a Royal Academician, came over from London 
to paint Niagara. Of all the points of view he selected the one 
as seen up stream from the head of the Little Brother Island. A 
temporary bridge was bviilt to it, and here, with a guard at the 
bridge, so as to be secure from intrusion, he painted his grand 
view, looking up stream. The upper ledge of rocks, with its long, 
rapid cascade, was his sky-line; in the foreground were the tum- 
bling Rapids; far to the right of the picture the tops of a few trees 
appearing on the Canada shore above the waters alone showed 
the presence of any land. We advise . . . the visitor to clamber 
over the rocks on the Canadian shore of the Island ... go out 
as near the water's edge as possible, and you will appreciate the 
difference that a few feet in a point of observation may make in 
what is apparently the same scenery. Just before you reach the 
foot of the island a gnarled cedar tree and a rock, accessible by 
leaping from stone to stone, gives you access to a point of obser- 
vation than which there is nothing more beautiful at Niagara. 
Do not fail to get this view, for it is the Colin Himter \'iew, as 
nearly as you can get it, and you will appreciate the artistic sense 
of the great painter who chose this incomparable view in prefer- 
ence to the Falls themselves for a reproduction of the very best 
at Niagara. 

Another beautiful point from which to view the 
Rapids is on Terrapin Rocks, the so-called scenic and 
geographical centre of Niagara. Here the power of 

» Congressman Peter A. Porter's Guide Book may be recommended 
highly; its use to the present writer, taken in addition to its author's per- 
sonal assistance and advice, must be acknowledged in the most unreserved 
way. Numerous references to Mr. Porter's various monographs, espe- 
cially his Old Fort Niagara and Goat Island, in addition to his Guide, will 
be met with frequently in this volume. To one really interested in Niag- 
ara history Old Fort Niagara will be found most attractive and compre- 
hensive; its numerous references to authorities put it quite in a class by 
itself among local histories. 

12 The Niagara River 

the magnificent river, the "shoreless sea" above you, 
the clouds for its horizon, grows more impressive with 
every visit. By day the sight is marvellously impres- 
sive; by night, under some circumstances, it is yet more 
wonderful. Of this night view Margaret Fuller wrote, 
most feelingly: 

After nightfall as there was a splendid moon, I went down to 
the bridge and leaned over the parapet, where the boihng rapids 
came down in their might. It was grand, and it was also gor- 
geous; the yellow rays of the moon made the broken waves ap- 
pear like auburn tresses twining around the black rocks. But 
they did not inspire me as before. I felt a foreboding of a might- 
ier emotion to rise up and swallow all others, and I passed on 
to the Terrapin Bridge. Everything was changed, the misty ap- 
parition had taken off its many coloured crown which it had worn 
by day, and a bow of silvery white spanned its summit. The 
moonlight gave a poetical indefiniteness to the distant parts of 
the waters, and while the rapids were glancing in her beams, the 
river below the Falls was as black as night, save where the reflec- 
tion of the sky gave it the appearance of a shield of blue steel. 

As the Falls of Niagara slowly creep backward in 
tune to their stupendous recessional toward Lake Erie 
they encroach more and more on the magnificent do- 
main of the Rapids, nor will their gradual increase in 
height atone for this savage invasion nor palliate the 
offence committed . A thousand years more, we are told , 
and the visitor will view the "Horseshoe " Fall from the 
upper end of the Third Sister Island, and the marvel- 
lous canvas of Colin Hunter will be as meaningless as 
Hennepin's picture of two centuries and more ago. The 
American Fall, receding much more slowly than the 
Horseshoe Fall, will invade the beautiful rapids above 
Goat Island bridge at a very much later date, for, as 
we shall see, the greater fall recedes almost as many 

St. Paul's Church, Buffalo. 

Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 13 

feet per year as the lesser recedes inches. And in this 
connection it is interesting to note that if the recession 
continued to Lake Erie and onward into that lake until 
the line of fall was a mile long at its crest, with the water 
falling 336 feet, Victoria Falls in the Zambesi River 
would still exceed their American rival by sixty-four 
feet in height! 

The accessibility of tjie Niagara Rapids, because 
of the fortunate location of the Goat Island group is, 
in itself, one of the great charms of the region, and this 
may explain in part the insuppressible desire of early 
visitors to reach these glorious points of vantage. The 
view of the rapids from the Goat Island bridge to-day 
is said to be the source of chief pleasure "to half the 
visitors to Niagara." ^ 

George Houghton's beautiful lines on "The Upper 
Rapids" express with fine feeling the effect of these 
racing cascades on the sensitive mind : 

Still with the wonder of boyhood, I follow the race of the Rapids, 
Sirens that dance, and allure to destruction, — now lurking in 

Skirting the level stillness of pools and the treacherous shallows, 
Smiling and dimple-mouthed, coquetting, — now modest, now 

forward ; 

Tenderly chanting, and such the thrall of the weird incantation. 
Thirst it awakes in each listener's soul, a feverish longing, 
Thoughts all absorbent, a torment that stings and ever increases, 
Burning ambition to push bare-breast to thy perilous bosom. 

1 Frederick Almy in Tlie Niagara Book, p. 51. This volume has been of 
perennial interest to the author because of the contributions of the vener- 
able William Dean Howells and E. S. Martin. No one who in early life 
has essayed the life of journalist and correspondent can read Mr. Howells's 
article in this little book without immense relish; its htunour is contagious, 
and its descriptions of Niagara in i860, fascinating. 

14 The Niagara River 

Thus, in some midnight obscure, bent down by the storm of 

(So hath the wind, in the beechen wood, confided the story). 
Pine-trees, thrusting their way and trampUng down one another, 
Curious, lean and Hsten, replying in sobs and in whispers ; 

Till of the secret possessed, which brings sure blight to the hearer, 
(So hath the wind, in the beechen wood, confided the story), 
Faltering, they stagger brinkward, — clutch at the roots of the 

Cry, — a pitiful cry of remorse, — and plunge down in the darkness. 

Art thou all-merciless then, — a fiend, ever fierce for new victims? 
Was then the red-man right (as yet it li veth in legend) , 
That, ere each twelvemonth circles, still to thy shrine is allotted 
Blood of one human heart, as sacrifice due and demanded? 

Butterflies have I followed, that leaving the red-top and clover, 
Thinking a wind-harp thy voice, thy froth the fresh whiteness 

of daisies. 
Ventured too close, grew giddy, and catching cold drops on their 

Balanced — but vainly, — and falling, their scarlet was blotted 


When, about 1880, William M. Hunt was commis- 
sioned to decorate the immense panels of the Assembly 
Chamber of the Capitol at Albany, N. Y., he chose, 
with true artistic feeling, the view of the rapids above 
Goat Island bridge as the choice picture to represent 
the great marvel and chief wonder of the Empire State 
— Niagara. It is generally conceded that Church's 
Horseshoe Falls takes rank over all other paintings of 
Niagara, but Colin Hunter's Rapids of Niagara excel 
any other view of either the Falls, Gorge, or Rapids 
on canvas to-day. 

But we must observe here that these Rapids were 
something aside from beautiful to the French and Eng- 


Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 15 

lish officers whose duty it was to defend and supply 
"the communication" from Fort Frontenac to Fort 
Chartres; they probably seemed very "horrid," in the 
old time sense, to those who struggled under the bur- 
dens of the ancient portage path. The southern ter- 
mini of the two pathways — one on either side of the 
river — were Chippewa and Port Day, respectively. 
The route from Lewiston to Port Day was evidently 
the common portage until after the War of 181 2 when 
the Canadian path was opened. A little below what 
is known as Schlosser Dock stood the French fort guard- 
ing this end of their old portage path, Fort du Portage 
or Little Fort Niagara, built about 1750, nine years 
before England conquered the region. Near by stands 
the one famous relic of the old regime, the Old Stone 
Chimney of Fort du Portage, later a chimney of the 
English mess-house at Fort Schlosser. As will be 
noted later Fort du Portage was destroyed by the re- 
treating French, after the capture of Fort Niagara by 
Sir William Johnson; to guard that end of the portage 
the English under Colonel Schlosser built Fort Schlosser 
in 1 761. The road occupying the course of the ancient 
portage does not extend to the river now, but it bears 
the old name, and on it you may see, not half a mile 
back, outlines of the earthen works of one of the eleven 
block-houses built in 1764 by Captain Montresor the 
first of which was erected on the hill above Lewiston; 
these block-houses guarded the important roadway 
from the assaults of Indians such as the famous Bloody 
Run Massacre of 1763. Frenchman's Landing is the 
modem name for the cove below the Old Stone Chimney 
where was the terminus of the earliest portage path 
guarded by the block-house known as the first Little 

1 6 The Niagara River 

Fort Niagara. This whole district is now the site of 
the power-houses and mills that are making Niagara a 
word to conjure with in the centres of trade as certainly 
as in the ancient day it was a mesmeric word in the 
courts and camps of the Old World. 

The thunder of Niagara Falls reaches our ears even 
amid the music of these beautiful Rapids, and we are 
drawn on to the marvellous group of islands that 
impinge upon the cataract. 

What is commonly known as the Goat Island group 
consists of the island of that name, containing some 
seventy acres of land, and sixteen other islands or rocks 
contiguous thereto. Without undertaking to dispute 
or defend many of the extravagant assertions made in 
behalf of Goat Island, to which have been given the 
titles "Temple of Nature," "Enchanted Isles," "Isle 
of Beauty," "Shrine of the Deity," "Fairy Isles," etc. 
it would, I think, be difficult to disprove the statement 
often made that no other seventy acres on the continent 
are more interesting than these bearing this homely 
name. From the standpoint of the artist and natural- 
ist this statement would probably pass unquestioned. 
The views already alluded to of the American and Cana- 
dian rapids to be gained from this delightful vantage 
point are probably unparalleled. To the botanist Goat 
Island is a paradise. Sir Joseph Hooker affirmed that 
he found here a greater variety of vegetation within 
a given space than he had found in Europe or in Amer- 
ica east of the Sierras, and Dr. Asa Gray confirmed 
the extravagant statement. Wrote Frederick Law 
Olmsted : 

I have followed the Appalachian chain almost from end to 
end, and travelled on horseback "in search of the picturesque" 






Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 17 

over four thousand miles of the most promising parts of the conti- 
nent without finding elsewhere the same quality of forest beauty 
which was once abundant about the Falls, and which is still to 
be observed on those parts of Goat Island where the original 
growth of trees and shrubs has not been disturbed, and where 
from caving banks trees are not now exposed to excessive dryness 
at the root. 

In a report, prepared by David F. Day for the New 
York State Reservation Commissioners, we find ex- 
plained, in part, the notable fertility of this little plot 
of groimd, although the oft-returning misty rain from 
the Falls, and the fact that Goat Island never experi- 
ences the dangers of a "forward" spring have much 
to do in preserving its beautiful robe of colours : 

A calcareous soil enriched with an abundance of organic mat- 
ter like that of Goat Island would necessarily be one of great fer- 
tility. For the growth and sustentation of a forest and of such 
plants as prefer the woods to the openings it would far excel the 
deep and exhaustless alluvians of the prairie states. 

It would be difficult to find within another territory so re- 
stricted in its limits so great a diversity of trees and shrubs and 
still more difficult to find in so small an area such examples of 
arboreal symmetry and perfection as the island has to exhibit. 

The island received its flora from the mainland, in fact the 
botanist is unable to point out a single instance of tree, shrub, or 
herb, now growing upon the island not also to be found upon the 
mainland. But the distinguishing characteristic of its flora is 
not the possession of any plant elsewhere unknown, but the 
abundance of individuals and species, which the island displays. 
There are to be found in Western New York about 170 species 
of trees and shrubs. Goat Island and the immediate vicinity of 
the river near the Falls can show of these no less than 140. 
There are represented on the island four maples, three species 
of thorn, two species of ash, and six species, distributed in five 
genera, of the cone-bearing family. The one species of bass- 
wood belonging to the vicinity is also there. 

1 8 The Niagara River 

Mr. Day has a catalogue of plants in his report to 
the Reservation Commissioners, giving 909 species of 
plants to be found on the Reservation, of which 758 
are native and 151 foreign. Wrote Margaret Fuller: 

The beautiful wood on Goat Island is full of flowers, many of 
the fairest love to do homage there. The wake robin and the 
May apple are in bloom, the former white, pink, green, purple, 
copying the rainbow of the Falls, and fit it for its presiding Deity 
when He walks the land, for they are of imperial size and 
shaped like stones for a diadem. Of the May apple I did not 
raise one green tent without finding a flower beneath. 

Explaining the climatic advantages of the island 
Mr. Olmsted remarks: 

First, the masses of ice which every winter are piled to a great 
height below the Falls and the great rushing body of ice cold 
water coming from the northern lakes in the spring prevent 
at Niagara the hardship under which trees elsewhere often suffer 
through sudden checks to premature growth. And second, 
when droughts elsewhere occur, as they do every few years, of 
such severity that trees in full foliage droop and dwindle and 
even sometimes cast their leaves, the atmosphere at Niagara is 
more or less moistened by the constantly evaporating spray of 
the Falls, and in certain situations bathed by drifting clouds of 

It is a very irony of fate that this marvellous gem 
among the islands of earth could not bear a name befit- 
ting its place in the admiration and esteem of a world ; 
it was, I believe, Judge Porter himself that named this 
beautiful spot "Iris Island," a name altogether fitting 
in both wealth of suggestion and beauty of association. 
One John Steadman, remembered as a contractor to 
widen the old portage path from Lewiston to Fort 
Schlosser, and former owner of the island under a 

Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 19 

"Seneca patent," planted some turnips here, we are 
told, in the year 1770 a.d., and in the following autumn 
placed here "a number of animals, among them a male 
goat," to get them out of the reach of the bears and 
wolves that infested the neighbouring shore near his 
home two miles up the river. In the spring of 1771 it 
was found that the severe winter had been too much 
for all but the "male goat," who, unfortimately, sur- 
vived the ordeal, and by so doing bids fair to hand his 
name down through the centuries attached to the most 
beautiful island in the world. In the Treaty of Ghent, 
which set our boundary line here, the island bears the 
name "Iris." Mr. Porter has stated that even if it 
were desirable to change the name now "it would seem 
impossible now to do so." ^ Is this the truth? Could 
not the commissioners who have the matters in hand 
do a great deal toward inaugurating a change to the 
old official name that would in the long run prove effec- 
tive? The present writer is most positive that this 
could be done and that it is a thing that ought certainly 
to be attempted immediately. It would be surprising 
how much the change would be favoured if once at- 
tempted, if guide books and maps followed the new 
nomenclature. The only possible satisfaction that one 
can have in the present name is in the horrifying reflec- 
tion that if the male goat had died the island would 
probably have been "Turnip Island" if not "Colic 

Below the islands resound the FaUs. Perhaps there 

« Goat Island, p. 28. This most interesting pamphlet by Mr. Porter will 
be found quite a complete guide to a study of Niagara Falls, and is most 
worthy the perusal of those who care to examine more than the mere 
surface of things at Niagara. • 

20 The Niagara River 

is no better method of describing this almost indescrib- 
able wonder than by taking the familiar walk about 
them beginning at the common point of commence- 
ment, Prospect Point. 

It is important on visiting the Falls for the first 
time to obtain as good a view as possible, as the first 
view comes but once. Many are somewhat disap- 
pointed with it, since from a distance the Falls give 
the idea of a long low wall of water, their great height 
being offset by their great breadth of almost a mile. 
The best view is from the top of the bank on the Cana- 
dian side; but as most of the tourists reach the Ameri- 
can side first it is from this standpoint that most visitors 
gain their first impression. No better vantage ground 
can be gained on the American side than Prospect 
Point. Here, placed at the northern end of the Amer- 
ican cataract, is the best position to make a study of 
the geography of Niagara. Stretching from your feet 
along the line of sight extends the American Fall 
to a distance of 1060 feet. At the other side of the 
American Fall is the Goat Island group. This group 
stretches along the cliff for a distance of 1300 feet 
more. Beyond this extends the line of the Horse- 
shoe Fall for a further distance of 3010 feet, making 
in all a total of slightly over a mile. To the right, 
down the river is the gorge which Niagara has been 
chiseling and scouring for unnumbered centuries ; this 
chasm extends almost due north for a distance of seven 
miles to Lewiston. Down the gorge the gaze is unin- 
terrupted for a distance of nearly two miles, almost to 
the Whirlpool where the river turns abruptly to the 
left on entering this whirling maelstrom, issuing again 
almost at right angles to continue its mad plunges. 

The View from Prospect Point. 
From a photograph by Xotman, Montreal. 

Buffalo and the Upper Niagara 21 

To the left, up the river lie the American Rapids, 
where the water rushes on in its madness to hurl its 
volume over the 160 feet of precipice and into the awful 
chasm below. Just below Prospect Point and some- 
what higher in altitude than it, is what has been called 
Hennepin's View, so named after Father Hennepin, 
who gave the first written description of the Niagara. 
Here one sees not only the Horseshoe Fall in the fore- 
ground, as at Prospect Point, but the American Fall 
also, which lies several feet lower than otu: point of 

Proceeding up the river the next point of interest 
reached is the steel bridge to Goat Island. The first 
bridge to this island was constructed by Judge Porter 
in 1 81 7 about forty rods above the site of the present 
one. In the spring of the next year this bridge was 
swept away by the large cakes of ice coming down the 
river. It was rebuilt at its present site, its projector 
judging that the added descent of the rapids would 
so break up the ice as to eliminate any danger to the 
structure ; and the results proved his theory true. This 
structure stood until 1855 when its place was taken 
by a steel arch bridge, which served the public imtil 
1900. In that year the present structure authorised 
by the State of New York took its place. 

Looking upon this structure, one w^onders how the 
foundations could possibly have been laid in such an 
irresistible current of water. First, two of the largest 
trees to be found in the vicinity were cut down and 
hewTi fiat on two sides. A level platform was erected 
on the shore at the water's edge and on this the hewn 
logs were placed about eight feet apart, supported on 
rollers with their shore ends heavily weighted with 

22 The Niagara River 

stone. These logs were then run as far out over the 
river as possible, and a man walked out on each one 
armed with an iron pointed staff. On finding a crevice 
in the rock forming the bottom of the river, these 
staffs were driven firmly into the rock and then lashed 
to the ends of the timbers, thus forming a stay to them 
and furnishing the means necessary for beginning the 
construction of the crib. The timbers were planked, 
and the same process was pursued until the island was 

While the second bridge was under construction, 
the famous Indian chieftain and orator, Red Jacket, 
visited the Falls. The old veteran is said to have sat 
for a long time watching the process of bridging the 
angry waters, the transforming power of the white man 
at work, conquering a force which to him appeared 
more than able to baffle all the ingenuity of man. On 
being asked by a bystander what he thought of the 
work of construction he seemed mortified that the 
white man's hand should so desecrate these sacred 
waters; folding his blanket slowly about him, with his 
eyes fixed upon the works, he is said to have given 

forth the stereotyped Indian grunt, adding " D n 


Upon this bridge we find one of the best positions, 
as we have noted, from which to view the Rapids. 
From the point of their beginning, about a mile above 
the Falls to the crest of the cliff the descent is over fifty 
feet. Here, standing upon what seems in comparison 
but a frail structure, one can realise the grandeur of 
the Rapids. In the terrible race they seem to be trying 
to tear away the piers of the bridge which are fretting 
their current. 

Chapter II 

From the Falls to Lake Ontario 

THESE American rivers of ours have their mes- 
sages, historical, economic, and social, to both 
reader and loiterer. And, too, are not these 
streams so very much alive that through the 
years their personaHties remain practically imchanged, 
while generations of loiterers come and go on forever? 
Are not the eccentricities of these great living forces 
forever recurrent, however whimsical they may seem, 
to us as we stop for our brief instant at the shore? 

The word Niagara stands to-day representing power; 
the most common metaphor used, perhaps, to represent 
perpetual irresistible force is found in the name Niagara. 
Now it is admitted that nothing is more interesting 
than to observe the contradictions noticeable in most 
strong personalities. View the Niagara from this per- 
sonal standpoint. I think its most attractive features 
may be summed up in a catalogue of its eccentric 
contradictions. It is famous as a waterfall, yet its 
greatest beauty is to be foimd in its smallest rapids. 
Its thundering fall outrivals all other soimds of Nature, 
yet you can hear a sparrow sing when the spray of the 
torrent is drenching you; the "noise" of Niagara is 
often spoken of as the greatest sotmd ever heard, yet 
most of the cataract's music has never been heard 
because it is pitched too low for human ears. Niag- 


24 The Niagara River 

ara's Whirlpool is a placid, mirrored lake compared to 
the rapids above and below it and brings from the 
lips of the majority of sightseers, looking only at the 
surface of things, words of disappointment. The great 
message and influence of the foaming cataract and rap- 
ids and terrible pool, to all awake to the finer meanings, 
as has been so beautifully brought out by Mr. Howells, 
should be one of singular repose. The louder the music 
the more certain the strange influence of this message 
of quiet and calm. 

Take, for instance, what is so commonly called the 
roar of Niagara, but which ought to be known as the 
music of Niagara, first at the Rapids and then the Falls. 

There is sweet music in Niagara's lesser rapids. Mrs. 
Schuyler Van Rensselaer observes, most felicitously: 

It is a great and mighty noise, but it is not, as Hennepin 
thought, an "outrageous noise." It is not a roar. It does not 
drown the voice or stun the ear. Even at the actual foot of the 
falls it is not oppressive. It is much less rough than the sound 
of heavy surf — steadier, more homogeneous, less metallic, very 
deep and strong, yet mellow and soft; soft, I mean, in its quality. 
As to the noise of the rapids, there is none more musical. It is 
neither rumbling nor sharp. It is clear, plangent, silvery. It 
is so like the voice of a steep brook — much magnified, but not 
made coarser or more harsh — that, after we have known it, each 
liquid call from a forest hillside will seem, like the odour of grape- 
vines, a greeting from Niagara. It is an inspiriting, an exhila- 
rating sound, like freshness, coolness, vitality itself made audible. 
And yet it is a lulling sound. When we have looked out upon 
the American rapids for many days, it is hard to remember con- 
tented life amid motionless surroundings; and so, when we have 
slept beside them for many nights, it is hard to think of happy 
sleep in an empty silence. 

A most original and interesting study of the music 

From the Falls to Lake Ontario 25 

of the great Falls was made some years ago in a more 
or less technical way by Eugene Thayer.^ It had been 
this gentleman's theory that Niagara had never been 
heard as it should be heard, and his mission at the cat- 
aract was accomplished when there met his ears, not 
the " roar," but, rather, a perfectly constructed musical 
tone, clear, definite, and unapproachable in its majestic 
proportions ; in fact Mr. Thayer affirms that the trained 
ear at Niagara should hear " a complete series of tones, 
all uniting in one grand and noble unison, as in the 
organ, and all as easily recognisable as the notes of any 
great chord in music." He had heard it rumoured that 
persons had been known to secure a pitch of the tone 
of Niagara; he essayed to secure not only the pitch 
of the chief or ground tone, but that of all accessory 
or upper tones otherwise known as harmonic or over- 
tones, together with the beat or accent of the Falls 
and its rhythmical vibrations. 

All the tones above the ground tone have been named over- 
tones or harmonics; the tones below are called the subharmonics, 
or undertones. It will be noticed that they form the complete 
natural harmony of the ground tone. "What is the real pitch 
of this chord? According to our regular musical notation, the 
fourth note given represents the normal pitch of diapason ; the 
reason being that the eight-foot tone is the only one that gives 
the notes as written. According to nature, I must claim the 
first, or lowest note, as the real or ground tone. In this latter 
way I shall represent the true tone or pitch of Niagara. 

How should I prove all this? My first step was to visit the 
beautiful Iris Island, otherwise known as Goat Island. Donning 
a suit of oilcloth and other disagreeable loose stuff, I followed 
the guide into the Cave of the "Winds. Of course, the sensation 
at first was so novel and overpowering that the question of pitch 

» Scribner's Monthly, vol. xxi., pp. 583-6. 

26 The Niagara River 

was lost in one of personal safety. Remaining here a few min- 
utes, I emerged to collect my dispersed thoughts. After regain- 
ing myself, I returned at once to the point of beginning, and went 
slowly in again (alone) , testing my first question of pitch all the 
way; that is, during the approach, while under the fall, while 
emerging, and while standing some distance below the face of 
the fall, not only did I ascertain this (I may say in spite of my- 
self, for I could hear but one pitch) , but I heard and sang clearly 
the pitch of all the harmonic or accessory tones, only of course 
several octaves higher than their actual pitch. Seven times 
have I been under these singing waters (always alone except the 
first time), and the impression has invariably been the same, so 
far as determining the tone and its components. I may be al- 
lowed to withhold the result until I speak of my experience at 
the Horseshoe Fall, and the American Fall proper — it being 
scarcely necessary to say that the Cave of the Winds is under the 
smaller cascade, known as the Central Fall. 

My next step was to stand on Luna Island, above the Central 
Fall, and on the west side of the American Fall proper. I went 
to the extreme eastern side of the island, in order to lose as far 
as possible the sound of the Central Fall, and get the full force 
of the larger Fall. Here were the same great ground tone and 
the same harmonics, differing only somewhat in pitch. 

I then went over to the Horseshoe Fall and sat among the 
Rapids. There it was again, only slightly higher in pitch than 
on the American side. Not then knowing the fact, I ventured 
to assert that the Horseshoe Fall was less in height, by several 
feet, than the American Fall; the actual difference is variously 
given at from six to twelve feet. Next I went to the Three 
Sister Islands, and here was the same old story. The higher 
harmonics were mostly inaudible from the noise of the Rapids, 
but the same two low notes were ringing out clear and un- 
mistakable. In fact, wherever I was I could not hear anything 
else ! There was no roar at all, but the same grand diapason — 
the noblest and completest one on earth ! I use the word com- 
pletest advisedly, for nothing else on earth, not even the ocean, 
reaches anywhere near the actual depth of pitch, or makes 
audible to the human ear such a complete and perfect harmonic 

Horseshoe Falls from Below. 

From the Falls to Lake Ontario 


Remembering always that the actual pitch is four octaves 
lower, here are the notes which form this matchless diapason : 

M.M. J = 60. 

^"^^^-H — I — I — ■ — I — 1 — I — I — ; — ! — I — ' — 1 — i — '■ — i — . — ■■ ! — . — ' — ■ - 

Mrs. Van Rensselaer tells us there is yet another 
music at Niagara that must be listened for only on 
quiet nights. It is like the music of an orchestra so 
very far away that its notes are attenuated to an 
incredible delicacy and are intermittently perceived, as 
though wafted to us on variable zephyrs. 

It is the most subtle, the most mysterious music in the worid. 
"What is its origin? Such fairy-Hke sounds are not to be ex- 
plained. Their appeal is to the imagination only. They are 
so faint, so far away, that they almost escape the ear, as the 
lunar bow and the fluted tints of the American Fall almost escape 
the eye. And yet we need not fear to lose them, for they are as 
real as the deep bass of the cataracts. 

Whether it be the resounding waterfall producing 
this wondrous harmony of the floods, or the most 
charming choral of the Rapids, the music of Niagara 
on the mind properly adjusted and attuned must create 
a most profoimd impression of repose. The exception 

28 The Niagara River 

to this rule, most terrible to contemplate, is certainly 
to be found in the cases of the unfortunates whose minds 
are so distraught or unbalanced that this same call of 
the waters acts like poison and lures them to death, 

I still think [wrote Mr. Howells in his most delightful sketch, 
Niagara, First and Last] that, above and below the Falls, the 
Rapids are the most striking features of the spectacle. At least 
you may say something about them, compare them to some- 
thing ; when you come to the cataract itself you can say nothing ; 
it is incomparable. My sense of it first, and my sense of it last, 
was not a sense of the stupendous, but a sense of beauty, of 
serenity, of repose. 

In her beautiful description, given elsewhere in our 
story, Margaret Fuller explains the effect of the Rapids 
by moonlight on the heart of one who, during the day, 
had passed through the familiar throb of disappoint- 
ment in the great spectacle at Niagara. 

Now I take it one must see in Niagara this element 
of repose or find in it something less than was hoped for. 
To one who expects an ocean pouring from the moon, 
a rush of wind and foam like that to be met with only 
in the Cave of the Winds, there is bound to come that 
common feeling that the fact is not equal to the picture 
imagination had previously created. Take the Whirl- 
pool; seen from the heights above, it 

has that effect of sculpturesque repose [writes Mr. Howells], 
which I have always found the finest thing in the Cataract itself. 
From the top the circling lines of the Whirlpool seemed graven in 
a level of chalcedony. ... I have no impression to impart except 
this sense of its worthy unity with the Cataract in what I may 
call its highest aesthetic quality, its repose.^ 

All this is most impressively true of the central won- 

» The Niagara Book, p. 15. 

5 ^ 





From the Falls to Lake Ontario 29 

der of the entire spectacle, the Falls themselves. That 
mighty flood of water, reborn as it dies, forms a marvel- 
lous spectacle. Writes Mrs. Schuyler Van Rensselaer: 

Very soon we realise that Niagara's true effect is an effect of 
permanence. Many as are its variations, it never alters. It 
varies because light and atmosphere alter. Tremendous move- 
ment thus pauseless and unmodified gives, of course, a deeper 
impression of durability than the most imposing solids. ... As 
soon as this fact is felt, the Falls seem to have been created as a 
voucher for the permanence of all the world. ^ 

But how conform this repose and spirit of perma- 
nency with the echoing tones of that never-ending, 
never-satisfied dominant chord ? How reconcile the re- 
pose of those dropping billows with the tantalising un- 
rest of that for ever incomplete, unfinished recessional 
that has been playing down this gorge since, perhaps, 
darkness brooded over the deep — that seems to await 
its fulfilment in the thunders of Sinai at that Last Day? 

And what could be more human than this in any 
river — a seeming calm w^ith over it all a never-ending 
cry of unrest, of wonder, of unsatisfied longing never 
to find repose until in that far resting-place of which 
Augustine thought when he wrote: 

Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. 

Across the American Rapids lies the Goat Island 
group which divides the waters into the two 
falls. Goat Island is about half a mile long and 
half as wide at its broadest part, but slopes to a 
point at its eastern extremity. Its area is about 
seventy acres. Besides this there are a number of 

> The Century Magazine, vol. xxxvi., p. 197. 

so The Niagara River 

smaller islands and rocks varying in diameter from 
four hundred feet to ten feet. Of these smaller 
islands five are connected with Goat Island by bridges , 
as are also the Terrapin Rocks. 

At the end of the first bridge is situated Green 
Island, named after the first president of the Board of 
Commissioners of the New York Reservation. The 
former name was Bath Island because of the "old 
swimming hole" — the only place where one could dip 
in the fierce current of Niagara without danger. Just 
a short distance above Green Island are two small 
patches of land called Ship Island and Bird Island 
from supposed resemblances to these objects in general 
contour, the tall leafless trees in winter supposed to be 
suggestive of masts. These islands were formerly 
both connected with Goat Island by bridges; one, 
known as "Lover's Bridge," from its romantic name 
was so greatly patronised that both bridges were 
destroyed by the owners on account of danger. 

On Green Island formerly stood the immense 
Porter paper-mill, which not only contributed its 
own ugliness to the beautiful prospect but also ran 
out into the current long gathering dams for the 
purpose of collecting water. All this was removed 
when the State of New York assumed control. 

Passing from the bridge and ascending the steps 
which lead to the top of the bank, the shelter house is 
reached. All around and, in fact, covering nearly all the 
island, is the primeval forest in its ancient splendour — 
fit companion of the Falls, which defy the puny power 
of man. 

Occasional glimpses of the river may be had through 
the dense foliage as one proceeds to Stedman Bluff, 

Rustic Bridge, Willow Island. 

From the Falls to Lake Ontario 31 

where one of the grandest panoramas to be seen 
anywhere on earth bursts upon the view. Here one 
appreciates the beauty of the American Fall better than 
at Prospect Point. Turning towards the American 
shore stone steps lead down to the water's edge, and 
thence a small bridge spans the stream separating 
Goat Island and Luna Island, so called from the fact 
that it has been considered the best place from which 
to view the lunar bow. The smaU stream dividing 
these islands in its plunge over the precipice forms the 
"Cave of the Winds." Half-way across Luna Island 
is to be seen a large rock on whose face have been carved 
by an imknown hand the following lines : 

All is change. 

Eternal progress. 
No Death! 

The author of the sentiment is unknown, but no one 
has more truly voiced the spirit of the great cataract. 
From the edge of the cliff on Luna Island is to be 
obtained the finest view down the gorge. Along the 
front of the American FaU are to be seen the immense 
masses of wave-washed rocks which have faUen from 
the cliff above. From rock to rock stretch frail wooden 
bridges, the more important of which lead to the cave. 
Lima Island is the last point which one can reach 
from Goat Island toward the American shore. Pro- 
ceeding toward the Canadian Fall, one reaches at a 
short distance the Biddle Stairs. Here a break in the 
foliage reveals a grand view down the gorge with the 
Canadian Fall directly in front. A stairway leads to a 
wooden building down which runs a spiral stairway to 
the rocks below. This stairway received its name from 

32 The Niagara River 

Nicholas Biddle, of old National Bank fame, who pro- 
posed this means of reaching the rocks below and 
offered a contribution for its construction. The offer 
was rejected, but his name was given to the structure, 
A trip to the rocks below this point is well worth 
while, difficult though it be; the descent of the spiral 
stairway is eighty feet. Turning to the right one comes 
out upon a ledge of rock with the roaring waters below 
and the line of the cliff above, along the top of which 
objects appear at only half their real size. Passing 
aroimd a short curve there bursts upon one's view 
the fall which forms the Cave of the Winds — a 
most beautiful sheet of water. The passage of the 
cave can hardly be described by the pen. Here one is 
assailed on all sides by fierce storms and clouds of 
angry spray. The cave seems at first dark and repelling, 
for in this maddening whirl of wind and water one is 
at first almost blinded ; but as soon as the eye becomes 
accustomed to the darkness, it can follow the graceful 
curve of the water to where it leaves the cliff above. 
The dark, forbidding, terraced rocks are seen dripping 
with water. The passage of the cave is too exciting to 
be essayed by persons with weak hearts, but the 
return across the rocks in front of it on a bright day is 
genuinely inspiring. Here the symbol of promise is 
brought down within one's very reach; above, around, 
on all sides are to be seen colours rivalling the con- 
ception of any artist — ^whole circles of bows, quarter 
circles, half circles, here within one's very grasp. The 
far fabled pot of gold is here a boiling, seething mass of 
running, shimmering silver. If possible, more glorious 
than all else, up above, along the sky-line, there 
appears the shining crest of the American Fall, glim- 

The Cave of the Winds. 

From the Falls to Lake Ontario 33 

mering in the sunlight like the silvery range of some 
snow-covered mountains. 

In size the cave is about one htmdred feet wide, a 
hundred feet deep, and about one himdred and sixty 
feet high. At one point in the cave, on a bright day, 
by standing in the very edge of the spray, one be- 
comes the centre of a complete circle of rainbows, an 
experience probably unequalled elsewhere. 

About half-way between the stairway and the cave 
is the point from which, in 1829, Sam Patch made his 
famous leap, elsewhere described. 

On the side of the Horseshoe Fall is to be found a 
fine position from which to view the mighty force of 
the greater mass of waters. For some distance along 
the front of the fall inmiense masses of rock have 
accumulated. The trip over these rocks is fraught with 
danger and is taken by very few. For those who care to 
take the risk, the sight is well worth the effort. Just 
above at the crest are Terrapin Rocks, where formerly 
stood Terrapin Tower. Professor Tyndall went far out 
beyond the line of Terrapin Rocks to a point which has 
been reached by very few of the millions of visitors 
to this shrine. Passing along the cliff toward Canada, 
Porter's Bluff is soon reached, which furnishes one 
of the grandest views of the Horseshoe Fall. Fifty 
years ago, from this point one could see the whole Hne 
of the graceful curve of the Horseshoe; since that 
time the rapid erosion in the middle of the river (where 
the volume is greatest) has destroyed almost all trace 
of what the name suggests. The sides meet now at a 
very acute angle, the old contour having been entirely 

One of the most interesting experiments conducted 

34 The Niagara River 

under these great masses of falling water was essayed 
by the well-known English traveller Captain Basil 
Hall in 1827. It seems that Babbage and Herschel 
had said that there was reason to expect a change of 
elastic pressure in the air near a waterfall. Bethink- 
ing himself of the opportunity of testing this theory 
at Niagara during his American tour, Captain Hall 
secured a mountain barometer of most delicate work- 
manship for this specific purpose. In a letter to 
Professor Silliman the experimenter described his 
experience as follows, the question being of interest to 
every one who has attempted to breathe when passing 
behind any portion of this wall of falling water: 

I think you told me that you did not enter this singular 
cave on your late journey, which I regret very much, because 
I have no hope of being able to describe it to you. In the whole 
course of my life, I never encountered anything so formidable 
in appearance; and yet, I am half ashamed to say so, I saw it 
performed by many other people without emotion, and it is 
daily accomplished by ladies, who think they have done nothing 

You are perhaps aware that it is a standing topic of contro- 
versy every summer by the company at the great hotels near 
the Falls, whether the air within the sheet of water is condensed 
or rarefied. I have therefore a popular motive as well as a 
scientific one, in conducting this investigation, and the result, 
I hope, will prove satisfactory to the numerous persons who 
annually visit Niagara. 

As a first step I placed the barometer at a distance of about 
150 feet from the extreme western end of the Falls, on a flat 
rock as nearly as possible on a level with the top of the "talus" 
or bank of shingle lying at the base of the overhanging cliff, 
from which the cataract descends. This station was about 30 
perpendicular feet above the pool basin into which the water 

The mercury here stood at 29.68 inches. I then moved the 

From the Falls to Lake Ontario 35 

instrument to another rock within 10 or 12 feet of the edge of 
the fall, where it was placed, by means of a levelling instrument, 
exactly at the same height as in the first instance. 

It still stood at 29.68 and the only difference I could observe 
was a slight continuous vibration of about two or three hun- 
dredths of an inch at intervals of a few seconds. 

So far, all was plain sailing ; for, though I was soundly ducked 
by this time, there was no particular difficulty in making these 
observations. But within the sheet of water, there is a violent 
wind, caused by the air carried down by the falUng water, and 
this makes the case very different. Every stream of falling 
water, as you know, produces more or less a blast of this nature ; 
but I had no conception that so great an effect could have been 
produced by this cause. 

I am really at a loss how to measure it, but I have no hesita- 
tion in saying that it exceeds the most furious squall or gust of 
wind I have ever met with in any part of the world. The direc- 
tion of the blast is generally slanting upwards, from the surface 
of the pool, and is chiefly directed against the face of the cliff, 
which being of a friable, shaly character, is gradually eaten away 
so that the top of the precipice now overhangs the base 35 or 40 
feet and in a short time I should think the upper strata will 
prove too weak for the enormous load of water, which they bear, 
when the whole cliff will tumble down. 

These vehement blasts are accompanied by floods of water, 
much more compact than the heaviest thunder shower, and as 
the light is not very great the situation of the experimenter with 
a delicate barometer in his hand is one of some difficulty. 

By the assistance of the guide, however, who proved a steady 
and useful assistant, I managed to set the instrument up within 
a couple of feet of the "termination rock" as it is called, which 
is at the distance of 153 feet from the side of the waterfall 
measured horizontally along the top of the bank of shingle. 
This measurement, it is right to mention, was made a few days 
afterward by Mr. Edward Deas-Thompson of London, the guide, 
and myself with a graduated tape. 

While the guide held the instrument firmly down, which 
required nearly all his force, I contrived to adjust it, so that the 
spirit level on the top indicated that the tube was in the perpen- 

3^ The Niagara River 

dicular position. It would have been utterly useless to have 
attempted any observation without this contrivance. I then 
secured all tight, unscrewed the bag, and allowed the mercury 
to subside ; but it was many minutes before I could obtain even 
a tolerable reading, for the water flowed over my brows like 
a thick veil, threatening to wash the whole affair, philosophers 
and all, into the basin below. I managed, however, after some 
minutes' delay to make a shelf or spout with my hand, which 
served to carry the water clear of that part of the instrument 
which I wished to look at and also to leave my eyes comparatively 
free. I now satisRed myself by repeated trials that the sur- 
face of the mercurial column did not rise higher than 29.72, It 
was sometimes at 29.70 and may have vibrated two or three 
hundredths of an inch. This station was about 10 or 12 feet 
lower than the external ones and therefore I should have expected 
a slight rise in the mercury; but I do not pretend to have read 
off the scale to any great nicety, though I feel quite confident 
of having succeeded in ascertaining that there was no sensible 
difference between the elasticity of the air at the station on the 
outside of the Falls and that, 153 feet within them. 

I now put the instrument up and having walked back towards 
the mouth of this wonderful cave about 30 feet, tried the experi- 
ment again. The mercury stood now at 29.68, or at 29.70 as 
near as I could observe it. On coming again into the open air 
I took the barometer to one of the first stations, but was much 
disappointed though I cannot say surprised to observe it full 
of air and water and consequently for the time quite destroyed. 

My only surprise, indeed, was that under such circumstances 
the air and water were not sooner forced in. But I have no 
doubt that the two experiments on the outside as well as the 
two within the sheet of water were made by the instrument 
when it was in a correct state: though I do not deny that it 
would have been more satisfactory to have verified this by 
repeating the observations at the first station. 

On mentioning these results to the contending parties in the 
controversy, both asked me the same question, "How then do 
you account for the difficulty in breathing which all persons 
experience who go behind the sheet of water?" To which I 
replied : ' ' That if any one were exposed to the spouts of half a 








From the Falls to Lake Ontario 37 

dozen fire engines playing full in his face at the distance of 
a few yards, his respiration could not be quite free, and for my 
part I conceived that this rough discipline would be equally 
comfortable in other respects and not more embarrassing to the 
lungs than the action of the blast and falling water behind this 
amazing cataract." 

It is almost impossible to conceive of the immense 
mass of water tumbling over this precipice. It has been 
estimated in tons, cubic feet, and horse-power, but 
the figures are so large as to stagger the human mind. 
Out there at the apex of the angle, the water, over 
twenty feet deep, is drawn from almost half a continent, 
forming a picture to make one's nerves thrill with 
awe and delight, where the international boundary 
line swings back and forth as the apex of the angle 
formed sways from side to side. 

Just off the shore of the island are seen Terrapin 
Rocks. Why this name was applied is uncertain. 
These rocks are scattered in the flood to the very 
brink of the fall and in the titanic struggle with the 
rush of waters seem hardly able to maintain their 
position. Upon these rocks on the very brink of the 
Falls in 1833 was erected, by Judge Porter, Terrapin 
Tower, for many years one of the centres visited by 
every person journeying to the Falls. From its sum- 
mit could be seen the wild rapids rushing on toward the 
precipice; below shimmering green of the fall. Down, 
far down, in the depths beneath was the boiling, 
seething caldron, from which arose beautiful columns 
of spray. From this position, forty-five feet above 
the surface of the water, probably a more comprehen- 
sive view of the many features of Niagara could be 
obtained than from any other point. Forty years 

38 The Niagara River 

later it was blown up, not because it was unsafe, as al- 
leged, but that it might not prove a rival attraction 
to Prospect Point. Recently suggestions have been 
made looking toward the restoration of this ancient 
landmark, but no definite action has been taken. 

Over a half -century ago, almost opposite this tower 
on the Canadian side, was to be seen the immense 
Table Rock hanging far out over the current below. 
On the 25th of June, 1850, this large mass of rock fell. 
Fortunately the fall occurred at noon with no loss 
of life ; it was one of the greatest falls of rock known to 
have taken place at the cataract, for the dimensions 
of the rock were two hundred feet long, sixty feet 
wide, and a hundred feet deep. Like the roar of 
muffled thunder the crash was heard for miles around. 

It was from the Terrapin Rocks to the Canadian 
side that Blondin wished to stretch his rope, elsewhere 
described, and it was over the very centre of Niagara's 
warring powers he desired to perform his daring feat, 
looking down upon that shimmering guarded secret 
of the "Heart of Niagara." The Porters, who owned 
Goat Island, however, refused to become parties to 
what they considered an improper exposure of life and 
Blondin stretched his cable farther down the river, 
near the site of the crescent steel arch bridge. 

Standing upon these rocks and looking out over 
that hurrying mass of waters, it seems almost impos- 
sible to imagine any power being able to stop them; 
but on the 29th of March, 1848, the impossible hap- 
pened, the Niagara ran dry. From the American 
shore across the rapids to Goat Island one could walk 
dry-shod. From Goat Island and the Canadian shore 
the waters were contracted to a small stream flowing 

Remains of Stone Piers of the "First Railway in America " ' — 
the British Tramway up Lewiston Heights, 1763. 

From the Falls to Lake Ontario 39 

over the centre of what was then the Horseshoe ; only a 
few tiny rivulets remained falling over the precipice at 
other points. The cause of this unnatural phenomenon 
was wind and ice. Lake Erie was full of floating ice. 
The day previous the winds had blown this ice out into 
the lake. In the evening the wind suddenly changed 
and blew a sharp gale from exactly the opposite 
direction, driving the mass of ice into the river and 
gorging it there, thus cutting off almost the whole 
water supply, and in the morning people awoke to 
find that the Niagara had departed. The Amencan 
Fall was no more, the Horseshoe was hardly a ghost 
of its former self. Gone were the rapids, the fighting, 
struggling waters. Niagara's majestic roar was re- 
duced to a moan. All day people walked on the rock 
bed of the river, although fearful lest the dam formed 
at its head should give way at any moment. By 
night, the warmth of the sun and the waters of the 
lake had begim to make inroads on the barrier and by 
the morning of the next day Niagara had returned in 
all its grandeur. 

However cold Niagara's winter may be, the moan 
of falling water here can always be heard, though at 
times the volume is very small. The winter scenes here 
often take rank in point of wonder and beauty with 
the cataract itself. When the river is frozen over be- 
low the Falls the phenomenon is called an " Ice Bridge," 
the blowing spray sometimes building a gigantic spark- 
ling moimd of wonderful beauty. The island trees 
above the Falls, covered by the same spray, assimie 
curiously beautiful forms which, as they glitter in the 
sun, turn an already wonder-land into a strange fairy- 
land of incomparable whiteness and glory. 

40 The Niagara River 

A short distance up the river along the shore a 
position just opposite the apex of the Falls is reached. 
Here, along the shore of the island, the waters are 
comparatively shallow, but toward the Canadian shore 
races the current which carries fully three fourths 
of Niagara's volume. Out in the very midst of the 
current is a small speck of land, all that is now left of 
what was once Gull Island, so named from its having 
been a favourite resting place for these birds, which 
can hardly find a footing now on its contracted shores. 
From what can be learned of the past history of this 
island, it must have occupied about two acres three 
quarters of a century ago. Its gradual disappearance 
shows to what degree the mighty forces of Niagara 
are removing all obstacles placed in their path. Goat 
Island is gradually suffering the same fate. At points 
the shore line has encroached upon the island to a 
distance of twenty feet in a half-century. At this 
point the carriage road used to run out beyond the 
present edge of the bluff. 

Passing on along the shore of the island, Niagara's 
scenery is present everywhere. At quite a distance up 
stream the Three Sister Islands are reached. These 
islands were named from the three daughters of 
General P. Whitney, they being the first women to 
visit them, probably in winter when the waters were 

To the first Sister Island leads a massive stone 
bridge. From this bridge is to be obtained a fine view 
of the Hermit's Cascade beneath. This little fall re- 
ceives its name from having been the favourite bath- 
ing place of the Hermit of Niagara, a strange half-witted 
young Englishman by the name of Francis Abbott 

From the Falls to Lake Ontario 41 

who lived in solitude here for two years preceding his 
death by drowning in 1831, during his sojourn at the 

These three Islands are replete with small bits of 
scenery and overflowing with beauty. In them are to 
be found the smaller attractions of Niagara; not so 
much of the stem majesty and awful grandeur, but 
smaller and more comprehensible features come before 
the view following each other in rapid succession. On 
the second Sister Island is one point which should 
be visited by every one. Just before reaching the 
bridge to third Sister Island, by turning to the right 
and proceeding along a somewhat difficult path for 
a short distance one comes to a point at the water's 
edge and finds lying right below him the boiling waters 
with their white, feathery spray ; here also is the small 
cataract between the second and third islands fed by the 
most rapid although small stream of Niagara. From 
this point is to be obtained one of the most varied 
of scenic effects of any point at the Falls. The scenery 
from the third Sister must be seen to be appreciated. 
From its upper end one looks directly at the low cliff 
which forms the first descent of the Rapids. Here the 
waters start from the peaceful stream above on their 
maddening race for the Falls. Out along the line of 
the cliff the waters deepen and increase in rapidity 
toward the Canadian shore. Just below this ledge, 
probably three hundred feet from the head of the 
island, the current is directed against some obstruction 
which causes it to spout up into the air, causing what 
is called the Spouting Rock. 

Many have been the changes wrought by the waters 
themselves since white men knew the Falls; but a 

42 The Niagara River 

thousand years hence the visitor to Niagara will behold 
the main fall not from Terrapin Rocks or Porter's Bluff, 
but from this third Sister Island. The Rapids then 
shall have almost entirely disappeared, but their beauty 
will be compensated for by the additional grandeur 
of the fall itself. The gorge will have widened and 
the fall itself shall have added fifty feet to its height, 
making it two hundred feet high. Third Sister Island 
should be gone over thoroughly, for it offers some of 
the finest views, especially of colouring, above the Falls, 
and many of them. 

Niagara owes its sublime array of colour to the purity 
of its water. Nothing finer has been written on this 
subject than the words of the artist Mrs. Van Rens- 
selaer, whom we quote : 

To this purity Niagara owes its exquisite variety of colour. 
To find the blues we must look, of course, above Goat Island, 
where the sky is reflected in smooth if quickly flowing currents. 
But evfery other tint and tone that water can take is visible in 
or near the Falls themselves. In the quieter parts of the gorge 
we find a very dark, strong green, while in its rapids all shades 
of green and grey and white are blended. The shallower rapids 
above the Falls are less strongly coloured, a beautiful light green 
predominating between the pale-grey swirls and the snowy crests 
of foam — semi-opaque, like the stone called aquamarine, be- 
cause infused with countless air-bubbles, yet deliciously fresh 
and bright. The tense, smooth slant of water at the margin of 
the American fall is not deep enough to be green. In the sun- 
shine it is a clear amber, and when shadowed, a brown that is 
darker, yet just as pure. But wherever the Canadian fall is 
visible its green crest is conspicuous. Far down-stream, nearly 
two miles away, where the railroad-bridge crosses the gorge, it 
shows like a little emerald strung on a narrow band of pearl. 
Its colour is not quite like that of an emerald, although the 
term must be used because no other is more accurate. It is a 

From the Falls to Lake Ontario 43 

purer colour, and cooler, 'W'ith less of yellow in it — more pure, 
more cool, and at the same time more brilliant than any colour 
that sea-water takes even in a breaking wave, or that man has 
produced in any substance whatsoever. At this place, we are 
told, the current must be twenty feet deep ; and its colour is so 
intense and so clear because, while the light is reflected from 
its curving surface, it also filters through so great a mass of 
absolutely limpid water. It always quivers, this bright-green 
stretch, yet somehow it always seems as solid as stone, smoothly 
polished for the most part, but, when a low sun strikes across 
it, a little roughened, fretted. That this is water and that the 
thinnest smoke above it is water also, who can believe? In 
other places at Niagara we ask the same question again. 

From a distance the American fall looks quite straight. 
When we stand beside it we see that its line curves inward and 
outward, throwing the falling sheet into bastion-like sweeps. 
As we gaze down upon these, every change in the angle of vision 
and in the strength and direction of the light gives a new effect. 
The one thing that we never seem to see, below the smooth brink, 
is water. Very often the whole swift precipice shows as a myriad 
million inch-thick cubes of clearest glass or ice or solidified 
light, falling in an envelope of starry spangles. Again, it seems 
all diamond-like or pearl-like, or like a flood of flaked silver, 
shivered crystal, or faceted ingots of palest amber. It is never 
to be exhausted in its variations. It is never to be described. 
Only, one can always say, it is protean, it is most lovely, and it 
is not water. 

Then, as we look across the precipice, it may be milky in 
places, or transparent, or translucent. But where its mass 
falls quickly it is all soft and white — softer then anything else in 
the world. It does not resemble a flood of fleece or of down, 
although it suggests such a flood. It is more like a crumbling 
avalanche, immense and gently blown, of smallest snowflakes; 
but, again, it is not quite like this. Now we see that, even apart 
from its main curves, no portion of the swiftly moving wall is 
flat. It is all delicately fissured and furrowed, by the broken 
edges of the rock over which it falls, into the suggestion of 
fluted buttresses, half-columns, pilasters. And the whiteness 
of these is not quite white. Nor is it consistently iridescent 

44 The Niagara River 

or opalescent. Very faintly, elusively, it is tinged with tremu- 
lous stripes and strands of pearly grey, of vaguest straw, shell- 
pink, lavender, and green — inconceivably ethereal blues, 
shy ghosts of earthly colours, abashed and deflowered, we feel, 
by definite naming with earthly names. They seem hardly 
to tinge the whiteness ; rather, to float over it as a misty bloom. 
We are loath to turn our eyes from them, fearing they may 
never show again. Yet they are as real as the keen emerald 
of the Horseshoe.^ 

One should walk through the New York State 
Reservation, which extends for some distance above 
the commencement of the Rapids, to get a more 
complete view of the scenery above the Falls, the 
wooded shores of Goat Island, the swiftly moving 
waters, the broad river, the beginning of the Canadian 
Rapids, and the Canadian shore in the distance. On 
up the river at a distance are to be seen those forest- 
clad shores of Navy Island and Grand Island. 

On the Canadian side of the river, after crossing the 
steel arch bridge just below the Falls, beautiful Vic- 
toria Park is first reached. From this position a new 
and entirely different view of the American Fall is 
obtained from almost directly in front. Turning and 
going up the river a fine view of the Horseshoe is ob- 
tained from a distance. Just opposite the American 
Fall is Inspiration Point, from which the best view 
of the Falls is to be obtained. From here one can 
watch the little Maid of the Mist as she makes her 
trips through the boiling waters below. 

On up the river one wanders, past Goat Island, 
whose cliff is seen from directly in front. Just before 
reaching the edge of the Horseshoe the position of 

» The Century Magazine, xxxvi., 198-201. 

•J ^ 



From the Falls to Lake Ontario 45 

old Table Rock is seen. Little is left of this old and 
once famous point for observing Niagara's wonders. 
Several different falls of immense masses of rock, one 
of which has been mentioned, have reduced it to its 
present state. Here the Indian worshipped the Great 
Spirit of the Falls, gazing across at his supposed home 
on Goat Island ; and here comes the white man to look 
upon the wonders of that mighty cataract with a feel- 
ing almost akin to that of his red brother. Here one 
could stand with the maddening waters rushing be- 
neath, the Falls near at hand, its incessant roar assail- 
ing the ears while the spray was wafted all rotmd. 
Little wonder that the red man worshipped, or 
that the white man looks on with feelings of awe, 
admiration, and wonder. 

Passing on up the river and aroimd the pumping 
station for the neighbouring village, one reaches the 
point at the water's edge from which the " Heart of 
Niagara ' ' can best be seen,where millions of tons of water 
are continually pouring over the cliff and causing some 
of the most beautiful effects produced by the spray 
called the "Darting Lines of Spray" to be seen any- 
where at the Falls. From this point one sees up the 
river over a mile of the Rapids with their madh' hurry- 
ing waters rushing on as if to engulf ever^'thing below. 

Along the water's edge, the journey should be pur- 
sued. A short distance farther up stream, a crib 
work has been built as a protection to the bank. Here 
is to be gained one of the finest views of the Canadian 
Rapids, one feature of which can not be seen to so 
great advantage from any other point. The "Shore- 
less Sea," as this view has been called, is a grand and 
inspiring sight. Gazing up the stream the Rapids are 

46 The Niagara River 

seen tumbling on toward one, with no land in sight. 
The clouds form the sky-line and it is as if the very 
chambers of heaven had been opened for a second 
deluge. It is, indeed, a "Shoreless Sea," tumbling 
on, a grand and awful sight. 

Pursuing one's way on up the river, Dufferin Islands 
are reached. These are formed by a bend in the cur- 
rent. Here is a sylvan retreat, full of lovers' walks 
and beauties of nature. Here is the burning spring — 
escaping natural gas from a rift in the rock. Not far 
from this point, on up the river, was fought the battle 
of Chippewa. About a mile above these islands, at 
the mouth of Chippewa Creek, stood Fort Chippewa, 
built by the British in 1790 to protect this, their most 
important portage. 

To reach the points of interest, just mentioned, on 
the Canadian side, as well as those down the river, it 
is best to make the trip from one scenic position to 
another by electric car. Returning to the Horseshoe 
one will doubtless have called to his mind that about 
a mile back to the left occurred the famed battle of 
Lundy's Lane on July 5, 1814. At the edge of the 
cliff on the right was the position of the "Old Indian 
Ladder," by means of which the Indians used to de- 
scend to the lower level for the purpose of fishing. This 
ladder was only a long cedar tree, which had been de- 
prived of its limbs and had been placed almost perpen- 
dicularly against the clifif. On down the way a short 
distance, the road which leads down the face of the cliif , 
to the Maid of the Misfs landing, is reached. Just 
beyond this point, at the top of the inclined railway, is 
to be obtained the best view of the steel arch bridge. 
Just below the bridge, opposite, on the American shore, 

From the Falls to Lake Ontario 47 

a maddened torrent comes pouring from the base of 
the cliff as if anxious to add its fury to that of the 
waters round. It is the outlet of the tunnel which 
disposes of the tail water from the electric power- 
house over a mile above, mentioned in our chapter on 
power development at Niagara. The manufacturing 
plants of the Hydraulic Company, the first to use 
Niagara's waters to any great extent for power, are 
situated just opposite. 

A short distance on down the stream, and after 
descending a slight incline, the point where Blondin 
stretched his rope across the gorge in 1859 is reached. 

Next on the journey the cantilever bridge is reached. 
This bridge was constructed in 1882. Just below this 
is the steel arch bridge, both being railroad bridges. 
The second one was first constructed as a suspension 
bridge by John A. Roebling, being the first railroad 
bridge of its kind in the country. It has been several 
times replaced, the present structure having been 
erected in 1897. Just below the railroad bridges 
several persons have made the trip across the gorge 
on ropes. 

Soon the Whirlpool is reached, and the madly rush- 
ing waters are seen as at no other place on the surface 
of the earth. Roimding the rapids, the car runs over 
a trestle work in crossing the old pre-glacial channel of 
the river referred to in our geologic chapter. Here 
one can look down on the waters almost directly be- 
neath him, with the forests covering the sloping incline 
of the ancient bed of the river stretching up to the 
level above. Just as the car finishes the rounded 
curve of the Whirlpool, at the point of the chff at the 
outlet, one catches the best view of both inlet and outlet 

48 The Niagara River 

at the same time, flowing directly at right angles to 
each other. The car continues on its course, now 
near, now farther back from the edge of the gorge. 
One catches occasional glimpses of the bridge far below, 
over which the electric line passes back to the Amer- 
ican shore. For over three miles the car continues 
its course along the cliff before the next point of special 
interest presents itself in Brock's monument. 

From this monument one of the finest panoramic 
views of the surrounding regions can be obtained. 
The monument stands on Queenston Heights, with 
the remains of old Fort Drummond just back of it. 

All about is historic ground. On the surrounding 
plain and slopes was fought the battle of Queenston 
Heights. Every inch of ground has some story to tell 
of that struggle. The car soon begins to descend the 
incline which, ages ago, formed the shores of Lake 
, Ontario. Below, at the end of the gorge, the river 
seems to forget its tumultuous rush, and spreading 
out pursues a placid and well-behaved course to the 
lower lake. 

About half-way down the descent, the point where 
General Brock fell is reached, which point is marked 
by a massive stone monument set in place in 1861 by 
King Edward VII., then Prince of Wales. Just below 
to the right is seen an old, ruined stone house which 
was General Brock's shelter after being wounded, 
and in which was printed, in 1792, the first newspaper 
of Upper Canada. The bridge is soon reached, in the 
crossing of which, a fine view of the last mad rush of 
the waters is gained as they issue from the gorge into 
the placid stream leading to the lake below. On they 
come with the waves piled high in the centre, tearing 
along in a mad fury, until they seem to be pacified by 


From the Falls to Lake Ontario 49 

a power stronger even than their own; and they glide 
smoothly along to the end of their course in the lower 

On the American heights stood old Fort Gray, 
connected with the history of the War of 1812. On 
the American shore was the head of navigation, and 
up the cliff all the freight sent over the old portage 
was hoisted by hand and later by machinery. High 
up on the American cliffs, half-way between the Whirl- 
pool and Lewiston, is the famous "Devil's Hole," an 
interesting cave know^n among the Indians, we are 
told, as the "Cave of the Evil Spirit." Here, it has 
been stated, geologists find some of the clearest evi- 
dences of the former existence of the presence of the 
Falls in that far day when the migration had extended 
thus far up the river from the escarpment at Lewiston. 

Much has been said about the rapids of the river 
below the Falls — the lesser Rapids of Niagara. What 
of this seething, spouting, tumbling mass that races 
along below these towering cliffs, maddening, ungov- 
ernable, almost horrifying to gaze upon? It is very 
singular how little is said about this torrent. They 
illustrate very significantly the fact that mere power 
has little of charm for the mind of man; it interests, 
but often it does not please or delight. In our chapter 
on the foolhardy persons to whom these bounding 
billows have been a challenge, and w^ho have attempted 
to navigate or pass through them, are descriptions of 
their savage fury and wonderful eccentricities. The 
most interesting fact respecting these great rapids is 
the unbehevable depth of the channel through which 
they race, since it sometimes approximates, according 
to the best sources of. information, the height of the 

50 The Niagara River 

towering cliffs that compose the canyon. By gov- 
ernment survey we know that the depth of the river 
between the Falls and the cantilever bridge is two 
hundred feet. The Whirlpool is estimated as four 
hundred feet deep, and the rapids above the Whirlpool 
as forty feet deep; the rapids below the Whirlpool are 
thought to be about sixty. 

The romantic situation of the two ancient towns, 
Lewiston and Queenston, at the foot of the two escarp- 
ments, on opposite sides of the river, is only equalled 
by the absorbing story of their part in history when 
they were thriving, bustling frontier outposts. The 
beauty of the locations of these interesting towns 
contains in itself sufficient promise of growth and pros- 
perity equal to, or exceeding, that of beautiful Youngs- 
town, near Fort Niagara, or Niagara-on-the-Lake on 
the Canadian shore. This lower stretch of river teems 
with historic interest of the French era and especially 
of the days when the second war with Great Britain 
was progressing ; in our chapters relating to those days 
will be found references to these points of present-day 
interest in their relation to the great questions that 
were being settled by sword and musket, by friend and 
foe, who met beside the historic river that empties 
into Lake Ontario between old Fort George and old 
Fort Niagara. 

For ease of access, romantic situation, historic 
interest, and many of the advantages usually desired 
during a hot vacation recess, these towns along the 
lower Niagara offer a varied number of important ad- 
vantages; if by some magic touch a dam could be 
raised between Fort Mississagua and the American 
shore, rendering that marvellously beautiful stretch of 


From the Falls to Lake Ontario 51 

river — unmatched in some wa^^s by any American 
stream — slack water, one of the most lovely boating 
lakes on the Continent could be created, whereon inter- 
national regattas in both winter and summer could be 
held of imusual interest. Is it supposable that this 
could be effected without great detriment to either 
the yachting fraternity, whose sails, from the verandah 
of the Queen's Royal, are always a delight, or the 
steamboat interests, which could land as well at Fort 
Niagara, perhaps, as at Lewiston, or at Niagara-on-the- 
Lake, which could be connected with the Gorge 
Route. The river's current is all now that keeps the 
lower Niagara from being as popular a resort of its kind 
as can be suggested. All the elements of popularity are 
in fair measure present here, and immensely enjoyed 
yearly by increasing multitudes. 

A little beyond the mouth of the Niagara, just over 
those blue waves, rise the spires of the queen city of 
Canada, Toronto. To all practical purposes this beau- 
tiful city stands at one end of Niagara River, as Buffalo 
stands at the other. Historically and commercially 
this is altogether true, and we elsewhere weave its 
history into our record. 

Chapter III 
The Birth of Niagara 

GEOLOGIC time presents to the scientist one 
of the most difficult problems with which 
he has to deal. When the different divisions 
into which he would divide the ages are num- 
bered by thousands and even millions of years, the 
human mind is appalled at the prospect; and when 
the calculations of different geologists vary by hundreds 
of thousands of years, the lay mind can not help grow- 
ing somewhat credulous, and at times be tempted to dis- 
card the whole mass of scientific data relating to the 

Niagara River forms one of the best, if not the best, 
means of studying the lapse of time since the Ice Age. 
Finding, as students do here, the best material in ex- 
istence for this study, leads to exhaustive scientific 
analysis of every clue presented by the Cataract and 
the deep Gorge it has cut for itself through the solid 
lime rock and Niagara shale forming its bed. 

We are prone to look upon the great wonders of the 
world as destined to last as long as the earth itself. 
We do not realise that the mountains, miles in height, 
are slowly crumbling before our eyes, or realise that 
the rivers are carrying them slowly toward the 
sea, filling the lakes and lower portions of land along 
their courses. These slow but ceaseless forces are con- 


The Birth of Niagara SS 

tinually at work, reducing the surface of the earth to 
that of a level plain and at the same time depriving 
the land of its lakes by filling their depressions with 
silt. The winds and the waters, together with the 
wearing power effected by frost, are the forces strug- 
gling at this great levelling task. The work is partly 
done ; in many of the older regions the lakes and eleva- 
tions have almost entirely disappeared. Other parts 
of the land are comparatively new; and it is here that 
one sees the rough moimtain or the deep canyon of the 
river; sufficient time not having elapsed to wear away 
the elevation in the one case nor the steep banks in the 

One needs but to look at a relief map of the Niagara 
district to note the Falls and the outline of the Gorge 
to see at once that this is a comparatively new region 
or, at least, that the formative forces which gave it 
its present characteristics were at the highest stage of 
their career when the lands to the south had almost 
reached their present stage. These facts can be ob- 
served by any person visiting the Niagara district; it 
does not require a geologist to trace roughly their 

Questions naturally arise in calculating the age 
of Niagara. If, as all the facts seem to indicate, 
this river has had a very recent beginning, what then 
did it do before it occupied its present course? What 
will be its final destiny? What will happen when it 
has worn its Gorge back to Lake Erie? Or will the 
general level of the land be so changed that the Falls 
will never recede to the lake? The last and most 
important of all is: How long has it taken the Falls to 
grind out the Gorge thus far? This latter question, 

54 The Niagara River 

viewed in its relation to the first one, fomis the basis of 
the present chapter. The great work of the Cataract 
is going on before our very eyes. The history of this 
great river is working itself out at the height of its 
glory, in an age when all can behold. It is the more 
interesting since it is the only example of the kind 
known. One can easily look back to the time when 
the water flowed along the top of the plateau to Lewis- 
ton and the Falls were situated at that point. This 
date, of course, witnessed the birth of Niagara, for, 
wherever the waters flowed before, they could not have 
taken this course before the Falls began their work. 
The day that witnessed the beginning of the one wit- 
nessed also the birth of the other. Likewise one can 
not help looking forward to the day when Niagara 
shall have accomplished its work, when its waters 
shall have completely ground the plateau in two, and 
so drained Lake Erie to its bottom. 

What did the waters of the lakes do before the 
Niagara began its history? How long has it been at 
its present work? These are the questions interesting 
to every one ; and by far more interesting to one who 
is making a study of the formative forces now contrib- 
uting, and which have contributed to bring about the 
present characteristics of surface structure. A few 
important facts exist, and these now are beyond doubt, 
upon which rest the inferences concerning the age 
of the Falls. In ancient times the waters of Lake 
Erie did not find an outlet through Niagara River, so 
there was no channel ready made for the river when it 
began its present course. Even after the beginning of 
the river the upper lakes, Huron, Michigan, and Supe- 
rior, did not discharge their waters through Niagara 

The Birth of Niagara 55 

Until comparatively recent times only the waters from 
Lake Erie discharged through this channel and there- 
fore for many ages only a small fraction of the present 
volume could possibly have been at work on the Falls. 

The striking features of the Gorge are modem, and 
have been very little affected by those agencies which 
are continually moulding the contours of land surfaces. 
The inclination of the river's bed has varied greatly 
with the ages, due to gradual uplifting or depressing of 
the earth's crust; consequently the current has varied 
greatly in velocity with these changes. A calculation 
of the work done by the river during each epoch of its 
history is indeed fraught with many difficulties. Much 
investigation, however, has been made along this line 
and with a rather satisfactory degree of success. 

Niagara appears to have had a life peculiar to itself; 
but what is imique in its history, is the presentation of 
characteristics which in the case of other rivers have 
long since passed away. Rivers, and especially very 
large ones, appeal to us as ''imchangeable as the hills 
themselves"; but the truth is, that the very hills and 
motmtains are changing as a result of the forces exerted 
by water. Niagara, as viewed by the geologist, is 
imique, not on accoimt of its having a different history 
than any other river, but for the reason that it had a 
more recent beginning. The calculation of the life of 
such a stream is interesting in itself, besides the other 
great questions settled by the solution of such a prob- 
lem as the probable number of years that the river 
shall exist in its present form, the centuries which have 
elapsed since the ice retreated from this region, and the 
ascertaining of certain facts concerning the antiquity 
of man. In order to make a thorough study of these 

56 The Niagara River 

topics, one must take a view of the reHef features 
of the Niagara region, and make a careful review of 
what conditions existed at the time that this district 
was covered by the great ice sheet, together with the 
changes effected during the retreat of the Great Glacier 
to the north. 

Niagara River has its origin in the eastern end of 
Lake Erie, about three himdred feet higher than the 
surface of Lake Ontario. Passing from Erie to the 
last-mentioned lake the descent is not gradual, but one 
finds a gently rolling plain with almost no slope for 
nineteen miles imtil almost at the very shore of Lake 
Ontario, where almost unexpectedly one comes upon 
a high precipice from which a magnificent view of the 
lower lake may be gained, only a narrow strip of beach 
intervening. This cliff is called by geologists the 
Niagara escarpment. 

When the river leaves Lake Erie its waters are in- 
terfered with by a low ledge of rock running across its 
channel. After passing this its waters meet no more 
troublesome obstructions until coming to the head of 
Goat Island. The river can scarcely be said to have 
a valley. One is reminded more of an arm of the lake 
extending out over this region. The country from 
Lake Erie to near the head of the Rapids above the Falls 
rests on a stratum of soft rock ; from the Falls northward 
the underlying strattim is formed by a ledge of hard lime- 
stone, and beneath this a shale and two thin strata of 
sandstone. By the descent of the Rapids and the Falls, 
the waters are dropped two hundred feet, and thence 
through the Gorge they rush along at an appalling 
rate over the descent, through the Whirlpool and on 
to Queenston for a distance of seven miles. From 

The Birth of Niagara 57 

this city to the lake there is little fall and so only a 
moderate current. 

The deep, narrow gorge extending from the Falls 
to Lewiston is the especial subject of study to the 
geologist. This canyon is scarcely a quarter of a mile 
wide, varying little in the distance from cliff to cliff 
throughout most of its course. This chasm opens up 
before the student with almost appalling suddenness, 
while travelling over an otherwise regular plain. Its 
walls are so precipitous that few opportimities are 
offered for scaling them ; and their height from the bot- 
tom of the river varies from two himdred to five htm- 
dred feet. An examination of both sides of the Gorge 
shows the same order in the layers of rock and shale 
on comparatively the same level, with the same thick- 
ness of each corresponding stratimi. If a superstitious 
person had come unexpectedly upon this gigantic 
fissure ages ago, he might easily have imagined it to 
have been the work of some mighty m^iihological hero ; 
but the modem scientist has reached a much better, as 
well as a much more satisfactory conclusion, namely, 
that this immense cleft has been sawed by the force of 
the water, from a structure whose features were con- 
tinuous, as is manifest by- the similarity of the exposed 
strata on the two sides of the stream. To be convinced 
of the fact that the Falls are gradually receding, it is 
only necessary to observe them closely for a few years. 
The breaking away of an immense mass of rock previ- 
ously described is one of the recent events in the history 
of the river. This estabhshes the fact that the Gorge 
is growing longer from its northern end through the 
agency of the waterfall. 

These facts show us the river working at a 

$8 The Niagara River 

monstrous task. Its work is only partly done. Two 
questions come to us almost immediately: When this 
work is done what will it do? and, What did it do 
before its present work begun? The waters of Lake 
Erie could never have flowed to Lake Ontario with- 
out wearing away at the Gorge we now see. The 
birth of the river and the cutting of the canyon were 
simultaneous. Of this much we are assured. 

A superficial study of a map of North America will 
show at once a great difference in the northern and the 
southern sections. From the region of the Great Lakes 
northward the district is one continuation of lakes, 
ponds, swamps, and rivers with many rapids. South 
of the Ohio there are few lakes, and the rivers flow on 
with almost unbroken courses. Here is a region much 
older than that to the north; and its waters have had 
ages more in which to mould down elevations and fill 
up depressions. The cause of this difference in the 
characteristics of the streams of the North and those 
of the South is to be explained by the great Ice Age. 
As far as we now know there may have been little dif- 
ference in relief forms between the two sections be- 
fore the encroachment of the ice. During the glacial 
epoch the whole northern part of the continent was 
covered with a thick ice sheet, which was continually 
renewed at the north, and as continually drifted slowly 
in a general southerly direction. As this heavy ice 
cap passed over the surface, it acted somewhat like a 
river in its erosive power, only working much greater 
changes. It not only picked up loose particles, but 
also scoured and wore away solid rocks along its bed. 
Thus the whole configuration of the country was 

The Birth of Niagara 59 

At the southern terminal of the glacier, where it 
ended in the ocean, the ice' broke away in large bergs, 
as in the northern seas to-day; but where the advancing 
ice met the warmer climate on land, it was melted and 
thus deposited 'at its terminal all the material it carried. 
The eroding power of this ice sheet, together, with 
the deposit of its materials on melting, brought about 
a great change in the configuration of the country. 
Many old valleys were obliterated, while a number of 
new ones were carved. As the ice retreated northward 
with the change of climate, new lakes and rivers were 
formed. Many times the streams escaping from the 
lower level of lakes were forced to find an entirely new 
course, and so to carve a new channel of their own. 
The region of the Great Lakes and the Niagara River 
is no exception to this rule; and it is with the ending 
of the Ice Age that the history of the river begins. 

A glance at a map shows a low range of hills or 
rather a gentle swell in the land surface forming the 
watershed between the lakes and the streams flowing 
to the south. At the time of the farthest southerly 
extension of the glacier it reached beyond this elevation ; 
and its waters were discharged into the rivers flowing 
to the south. When the southern terminal had re- 
treated to the north of this divide, but still blocked all 
outlet to the north or east, there was doubtless a num- 
ber of lakes here discharging their waters across the 
present low watershed to the south. Some of these 
ancient valleys can still be traced for long distances of 
their course. These lakes passed through their varying 
history as those of to-day, their surface troubled by 
wind and storm and their waves leaving indelible 
carvings upon their shores. 

6o The Niagara River 

One of these lakes occupied what is now the western 
end of Lake Erie, shortly after the ice front had passed 
to the north of the watershed mentioned. There are 
still very definite markings which show that its waters 
were discharged across the divide by a channel into 
the present Wabash River and thence into the Ohio. 
This channel can be traced throughout most of its 
course very easily. There are at least four distinct 
shore lines preserved to us, which show four successive 
levels of the lake as it reached lower outlets before the 
Niagara River was bom. All of these old shore lines 
can be traced throughout most of their courses. 

As the ice continued to retreat, next we notice the 
greatest change in elevation of the surface of the water. 
The ice front finally passed to the north of the present 
Mohawk River, thus allowing the waters to escape by 
that outlet, and, as a consequence, lowering the surface 
of the lakes by over five hundred feet. This drained 
a great extent of land and dropped the surface of 
Ontario far below the present level of the Niagara 
escarpment. Then for the first time the Niagara 
began to flow, and its Falls began their work. Im- 
mediately upon the formation of this new, lower lake 
it began the work of leaving its history carved upon 
the rocks, sands, and gravels which formed its shores. 
Its first ancient beach is more easily traced for almost 
its entire course than any of the other old levels. It 
does not even take the trained eye of the scientist 
to see its unmistakable history written in the sands. 
The earliest western travellers describe the Ridge Road 
running along this old, deserted beach as showing 
unmistakable signs of having been an ancient shore 
line of the lake. 

The Birth of Niagara 6i 

In following the course of this old shore line a grad- 
ual slope is noticed, and if this was a shore line, we 
must account for this variation in elevation, since the 
surface of the water is always level. The explanation 
is to be found in the fact that portions of the earth's 
surface are gradually rising while others are as gradually 
sinking. On comparing the old coast line with the 
level of the present one, we find that the lake has 
gradually inclined to the south and the west. This 
change in elevation had its share in determining the 
configuration of the lake as well as the relief features 
of the surroimding region. The point of discharge was 
at Rome, New York, as long as the barrier blocked the 
regions north of the Adirondack Mountains. As soon 
as the encroaching warmth of the south had removed 
this barrier to the level of the Rome outlet, the water 
began flowing by the St. Lawrence course. True the 
first outlet was not the same as the present one ; but it 
must have been many times shifted in the course of 
the retreat of the ice. As a result of this alternate 
shifting, together with the changing of the level of the 
lake, there are to be found the markings of numerous 
shore lines, some of which pass imder the present level 
of the waters. 

These different variations must of necessity have 
had a great effect on the work of Niagara River. When 
the Niagara began to flow, instead of its terminal being 
nearly seven miles from the escarpment, it was only 
between one and two miles away, and the surface of 
the lake was about seventy-five feet higher than now. 
While the outlet remained at Rome, the eastern end 
of the lake was continually rising, which caused the 
waters at the western end to rise over one hundred feet. 

62 The Niagara River 

This placed the shore of Ontario almost at the foot of 
the beautiful cliff at Queenston and Lewiston. After 
having occupied this position for a long period, the 
surface of the waters again fell over two hundred feet, 
carving an old shore line which is now submerged. 
After this, various changes of level in the land and shift- 
ings of the ice barrier caused numerous old shore lines 
to be faintly carved. These changes continued until 
the present outlet was established and the waters began 
to flow along the present course of the St. Lawrence. 

One might think that with these changes all the 
variable factors of our problem have been discussed; 
but these same factors also had their effect upon the 
upper lakes. In a study of the old markings of all the 
lakes of this region, it seems that the northern shores 
were continually rising; this, of course, points to an 
occupation of a more northerly position by the lakes 
than at present, and also a laying bare of northern 
parts, and shifting of waters south, or possibly both 
of these changes at once. 

In the most ancient system of which we can obtain 
an approximately definite knowledge, Lake Huron was 
not more than half its present size, while Georgian 
Bay formed the main body, connecting with Huron 
by a narrow strait. Michigan and Superior occupied 
about their present limits, but were connected with 
Huron by rivers rather than short straits; Erie occu- 
pied only a fraction of its present position, having no 
connection with Huron. The waters of the upper 
lakes were doubtless discharged from the eastern end 
of Georgian Bay, which then included Lake Nipissing, 
by way of the Ottawa River, into the St. Lawrence. 
Thus the Niagara was deprived of about seven-eighths 

The Birth of Niagara 63 

of its present drainage area, and consequently was 
totally unlike its present self. There is some indi- 
cation that there may have been an outlet from Geor- 
gian Bay by a more southerly route, namely, the Trent 
River. If this were so, the northern route must have 
been blocked by the ice, since the Trent Pass is much 
higher than the one leading from Lake Nipissing, by 
way of the Ottawa. These are some of the possibilities 
which must be taken into consideration before any 
sure calculation can be made as to the age of the Falls, 
for there must have been an epoch in the history of 
the river, were it short or long, during which it carried 
only a very small fraction of the waters which it bears 
at present. 

Let us turn again to the gorge of the river itself. 
We have noted the similarity of structure of its two 
sides. This similarity is continuous throughout ex- 
cept at about half-way from Queenston to the Falls, 
where the river makes a turn in its course of almost 
ninety degrees. On the outside of this angle is the 
only place in the whole course where the material of 
the cliff changes. Here there is a break in the solid 
rock of the bank, which is filled with loose rock and 
gravel. This rift, to whatever it may be due, is of 
pre-glacial origin, for it is filled with the same material, 
the glacial drift, which covers the whole region. The 
cliff along Lake Ontario also presents very few breaks ; 
but a few miles to the west of Queenston at St. Davids 
a broad gap is found in the otherwise unbroken wall. 
This gap is also filled with glacial drift. On its first 
discovery it was supposed to be a buried valley, and 
no connection with the Whirlpool was attributed to it. 
Later it was supposed that the break in the side of the 

64 The Niagara River 

Gorge, and the one at St. Davids, were parts of one 
and the same course of some pre-glacial stream. This 
supposition has been proven by the course having been 
traced through most of its distance by the wells sunk 
in the region. Later this interpretation of the facts 
foimd was destined to furnish further explanations. 
The question at once arose: How far and where did 
the upper course of this ancient valley extend? If 
it had cut across the course of the modem river, there 
would have been a break in the continuity of the cliff 
somewhere on the opposite side of the Gorge; but this 
can nowhere be found to be the case. The upper 
course of this ancient channel, therefore, must have 
coincided with that of the present channel. When, 
then, the Falls had receded to the side of the 
present Whirlpool, it reached a point where the greater 
part of its work had been performed. From here to 
whatever distance the upper course of the ancient 
river extended, the only work to do was to remove the 
loose gravel and boulders with which the glacier had 
filled its channel. This, of course, was effected much 
more rapidly than the wearing away of the hard lime- 
stone bed. Just what was the depth, and how far 
this old deserted valley extended, it is almost impossi- 
ble to estimate. These changes are some of the most 
potent with which one must reckon in any calculation 
of the time since the beginning of Niagara's history. 
However, some work has been done in this line ; and a 
broad field is still open for future investigation. 

At a very early date (1790), and when it was sup- 
posed by many to be almost sacrilegious to discuss 
the antiquity of the earth, Andrew Ellicott made an 
estimate of the age of the Falls by dividing the length 

Ice Mountain on Prospect Point. 

The Birth of Niagara 65 

of the Gorge by the supposed rate of recession. This 
gave as a result 55,000 years as the age of Niagara 
River. The next estimates which commanded atten- 
tion were those of Bakewell and Sir Charles Lyell. 
Each of these men made separate estimates, but were 
compelled to take as the basis of their calculation the 
recession as given by residents of the district. Bake- 
well's calculations preceded Lyell's by several years, 
and resulted in ascribing to the Falls an age of 12,000 
years. Lyell found the age to be about 36,000 years. 
The popularity of the latter caused his estimate to 
be accepted for a long period; many persons imdoubt- 
edly placing more faith in his results than he himself 
did. This method of dividing the distance by the rate 
of recession would be correct if there were no variables 
entering into the problem, and if the rate of recession 
were known; but these first calculations involved errors 
in the rate of movement of the Falls besides making 
no allowance for the variations which have been 
mentioned above. 

In order to obtain a sure means for measuring the re- 
cession of the Falls, Professor James Hall made a survey 
of the Horseshoe Falls in 1842, under the authority of 
the New York Geological Survey. This survey plotted 
the position of the crest of the Falls, and established 
monuments at the points at which the angles were 
taken ; thus leaving lasting marks of reference to which 
any future survey might be referred. In 1886, Pro- 
fessor Woodward of the United States Geological 
Survey, by reference to the markings left by Hall, 
found the rate of recession for the period to be about 
five feet per annum. It would, however, be necessary 
to extend these observations over a long period of time, 

66 The Niagara River 

since certain periods are marked by large falls of rock. 
Sometimes the centre of the Falls recedes very rapidly, 
while at other times the centre is almost stationary 
and the sides show the greater action. One of the 
most recent calculations of the age of the Falls was 
made by J. W. Spencer. Having made a thorough 
study of the history of the river revealed in its markings, 
and also of the Lakes, making allowance for all the 
variable factors, he calculated the duration of each 
epoch separately; and found the age of the river to be 
about 32,000 years. This restilt is about the same as 
that obtained from those based upon the relative ele- 
vations of different parts of the old deserted shore 
lines; and another based upon the rate of the rising 
of the land in the Niagara district. 

The many variable factors entering into the calcula- 
tions so far discussed, have led to an earnest search for 
some means of determining the age of the river, which 
does not involve so many indeterminate and unknown 
quantities. This means of calculation, and one which 
seems to be much more free from unknown factors, 
seems to have been hit upon by Professor George Fred- 
erick Wright, whose calciilations are based upon the 
rate of enlargement of the mouth of the river at the 
Niagara escarpment, where the Falls first began their 
existence. The cliffs at the mouth of the Gorge, as is 
the case with the newer portions of the river and in- 
deed is characteristic of all canyons when first, formed, 
were undoubtedly almost perpendicular when they 
were first cut by the rushing waters of the Niagara 
River. The mouth of the Gorge at Lewiston is of 
course the oldest part of the river; and if it were possi- 
ble to measure the age of this part, this would surely 

Cave ot the Winds in Winter. 

The Birth of Niagara 67 

give the date of the birth of Niagara. Immediately 
upon the formation of the Falls at Lewiston, the waters 
began the cutting of the Gorge ; and immediately upon 
the formation of a gorge there was set to work upon 
its walls* the disintegrating agencies of the atmosphere, 
free from indeterminate variables, tending to pull 
do\sTi the cliffs upon each side of the stream which 
jealously walled it in. 

This work has gone on year after year and century 
after century, without being affected by either the 
volimie of the river's waters or the shifting in the ele- 
vation of the land. The work of the atmospheric 
agencies in enlarging the mouth of the Gorge has had 
the effect of changing its shape from that of a rectangle, 
whose perpendicular sides were 340 feet, to a figure 
with a level base formed by the river, whose sides slope 
off at the same angle on each side. Now if it were pos- 
sible to measure the rate at which this enlargement is 
taking place, the problem of determining the age of 
the river would be a more simple one. 

The relative thickness of the different layers of 
material forming the walls of the Gorge is not the same 
throughout; at the escarpment at Lewiston, the sum- 
mit is found to consist of a stratum of Niagara lime- 
stone, about twenty-five feet thick. Beneath this 
layer of lime is to be found about seventy feet of 
Niagara shale. The Niagara shale rests upon a twenty 
foot layer of hard CHnton limestone, which in turn is 
supported by a shale seventy feet thick. Forming 
the base is twenty feet of hard Medina sandstone, 
beneath which is another sandstone which is much 
softer and much more susceptible to erosion and the 
disintegrating forces of the atmosphere. These thick 

68 The Niagara River 


layers of shale form the part upon which the atmospheric 
powers exert their energies, undermining the strata 
composed of material which with much more effect 
resists the attempt of any agency to break it down. As 
the shale is removed from beneath the harder layers 
immense masses of the latter fall and form a talus 
along the lower part of the cliff. This in brief is the 
manner in which the mouth of the Gorge is growing 

The present width of the mouth of the Gorge at the 
water's level is 770 feet. It is not likely that the river 
was ever any wider than now at this point, since its 
narrowest portion is over 600 feet, and this where the 
hard layer of Niagara limestone is much thicker than 
at the mouth. The current here is comparatively 
weak, so that there has been little erosion due to it. 
On the contrary the falling masses of sandstone and 
limestone have probably encroached somewhat upon 
the ancient margin of the stream, its weak current 
being unable to sweep out these obstructions which 
have formed an effectual protection to the bank. 

The observations necessary to Dr. Wright's calcula- 
tions were taken along the line of a railroad, which, 
very opportunely, had been constructed along the 
eastern cliff. Here for a distance of about two miles 
the course of the road runs diagonally down the face 
of the cliff, descending in that distance about two hun- 
dred feet, and in its descent laying bare the layers of 
shale upon which the observations must be made. 
Along the course of the road at this point, watchmen 
are continually employed to remove obstructions fall- 
ing down or to give warning of danger when any large 
masses fall. The disintegration goes on much more 

The Birth of Niagara 69 

rapidly in wet thawing weather than at other times 
of the year. Often in the spring the whole force of 
section hands is required for several days to dispose 
of the material of one single fall. At the rate of one- 
fourth of an inch a year of waste along this cliff there 
ought to fall sHghtly over six hundred cubic yards 
annually for each mile where the waU is 150 feet high. 
At this rate the enlargement at the terminal of the 
Gorge would take place, Dr. Wright estimates, in some- 
what less than ten thousand years. No accotmts have 
been kept by the railroad of the amount of fallen mate- 
rial, but some estimate can be made from the cost of 
removal of the faUing stone, together with the obser- 
vations of the watchmen, one of whom has been in the 
employ of the railroad in this capacity for twelve 
years, and also by noticing the distance to which the 
cliff has receded since the construction of the road. 

Only a superficial observer can see at once that the 
amoimt of removal has been greatly in excess of the 
rate mentioned above. The watchman, of whom 
mention has been made, was in the employ of the com- 
pany which constructed the road in 1854, and therefore 
knows where the original' face of the cliff was located. 
At one point, where the road descends to the Clinton 
limestone, the whole face of the Niagara shale is laid 
bare. Here the shale has been removed to a distance 
of twenty feet from its original position, and the rocks 
forming the roof overhang to about that distance. 
Now this mass of shale must have been removed since 
1854. This would require a rate of disintegration much 
in excess of the one assumed. Necessarily some allow- 
ance must be made for the fact that the atmospheric 
agencies have here had a fresh section of the shale upon 

70 The Niagara River 

which to work. Yet making all due allowance for the 
above condition, the rate at the mouth of the Gorge 
could not have been much less than that assumed above. 
The actual process of the enlargement has been peri- 
odic. As the falling shale undermines more and more 
the capping hard layers, from time to time these latter 
fall in immense masses. Any calculation of age based 
upon a few years of disintegration would be worthless ; 
but one based upon centuries would come very near a 
true average. The walls of the Gorge were at first per- 
pendicular, but as the undermining process goes on they 
become sloped more and more, the falling masses form- 
ing a protection to the lower parts of the softer strata. 
One fact, however, to be noticed is that this protecting 
talus has never as yet reached so high as to stop the 
work of the disintegrating agencies. The horizontal 
distance from the water's edge back to the face of the 
Niagara limestone, which forms the top of the cliff, is 
380 feet. On the above assumption of the rate of reces- 
sion as one-fourth of an inch annually, the rate at the 
top of the cliff must have been about one-half inch for 
each year. From the observations made, it is difficult 
to believe that the retreat of this upper portion has 
been at a lower rate than a half-inch yearly ; if this be 
true, this new line of evidence places the birth of the 
Niagara and the beginning of the cutting of the Gorge 
at Lewiston at about ten thousand years ago. 

The history of the Great Lakes and the birth of 
Niagara have a different interest for us, than alone to 
form the connecting link between the present and a 
past age devoid of life. Closely connected with this 
geologic history is the history of the human race. Un- 
fortimately for us, the men inhabiting these parts in 






The Birth of Niagara 71 

prehistoric ages have not left the traces of their existence 
upon the rocks and sands as have the waters of Niagara 
and the Lakes. Meagre, however, as is our knowledge 
we are still confident that man has been a comrade of 
the river during its entire history. Much to our disap- 
pointment, he was not possessed with the means of 
recording his knowledge for the satisfaction of future 
generations. Probably no such thought ever entered 
his brain. All that we know is, that along the old 
deserted shores of Lake Ontario in New York, which 
now form the Ridge Road, he constructed a rude hearth 
and built a fire thereon. The shifting of elevation or 
the rising of the surface of the lake buried beneath the 
waters hearth, ashes, and charred sticks, and thus by 
a mere accident do we know that human history 
extends back at least as far as the Ice Age. 

In these modem days, when we are prone to believe 
that aU forms of animate existence and inanimate as 
well have been the result of an evolution, we cannot 
think of the man who possessed the art of fire as the 
primeval man. Whatever age may be assigned to the 
Niagara, whatever may be the antiquity of that great 
cataract, upon which we are wont to look as everlast- 
ing, the age of the human race must be considered 

Chapter IV 
Niagara Bond and Free 

NO one acquainted with the Niagara of to-day 
can imagine what were the conditions exist- 
ing here before the days of the New York 
State Reservation and Queen Victoria Park. 
That old Niagara of private ownership, with a new fee 
for every point of vantage, was a barbarous incongruity 
only matched by the wonder and beauty of the spec- 
tacle itself. The admission to Goat Island was fifty 
cents, and to the Cave of the Winds, one dollar. To 
gain Prospect Park, the "Art Gallery," the inclined rail- 
way, or the ferry, the charge was twenty-five cents. It 
cost one dollar to go to the "Shadow of the Rock," or 
go behind the Horseshoe Fall. The admission to the 
Burning Spring was fifty cents, likewise to Lundy's 
Lane battle-ground, the Whirlpool Rapids, the Whirl- 
pool. It cost twenty-five cents to go upon either of 
the suspension bridges. In addition to this a swarm 
of pedlars were hawking their wares at your elbows, 
and tents were pitched at every vantage point, contain- 
ing the tallest man or the fattest woman, or the most 
astonishing reptile then in a state of captivity in all 
the world. 

Not even the five-legged calves missed their share 
of plunder at Niagara, according to Mr, Howells, who 


Beacon on Old Breakwater at Buffalo. 

Niagara Bond and Free 73 

paid his money out to assure himself, as he affirms, 
that this marvel was in no wise comparable to the Falls. 
" I do not say that the picture of the calf on the outside 
of the tent," he observes, "w^as not as good as some 
pictures of Niagara I have seen. It was, at least, as 
much Hke." A writer of a decade before this (1850) 
speaks very strongly of the impositions to which a trav- 
eller is subjected at Niagara. How early in the century 
complaints began to appear cannot be stated ; it would 
be interesting to be able to get information on this point 
since it would determine a more important matter still 
— the time when the Falls began to attract visitors in 
sufficient proportions to bring into existence the evils 
we find very prevalent at the middle of the century. 
The latter writer observes : 

It wotild be paying Niagara a poor compliment to say that, 
practically she does not hurl oflE this chaffering by-play from 
her cope ; but as you value the integrity of your impression, you 
are bound to affirm that it hereby suffers appreciable abatement ; 
you wonder, as you stroll about, whether it is altogether an 
unrighteous dream that with the slow progress of culture, and the 
possible or impossible growth of some larger comprehension of 
beauty and fitness, the public conscience may not tend to ensure 
to such sovereign phases of nature something of the inviolability 
and privacy which we are slow to bestow, indeed, upon fame, 
but which we do not grudge, at least, to art. We place a great 
picture, a great statue, in a musetmi; we erect a great mommaent 
in the centre of our largest square, and if we can suppose our- 
selves nowadays bmlding a cathedral, we should certainly iso- 
late it as much as possible and subject it to no ignoble contact. 
We cannot build about Niagara with walls and a roof, nor girdle 
it with a paHsade ; but the sentimental tourist may muse upon 
the chances of its being guarded by the negative homage of 
empty spaces, and absent barracks, and decent forbearance. 
The actual abuse of the scene belongs evidently to that immense 

74 The Niagara River 

class of iniquities which are destined to grow very much worse 
in order to grow a very Uttle better. The good humour en- 
gendered by the main spectacle bids you suffer it to run its 

There was at least no bettering of conditions at 
Niagara between 1850 and 1881, when more or less 
active steps began to be taken for the freeing of the 
beautiful shrine. True, Goat Island was kept ever in 
its primeval beauty, which by far counterbalanced the 
Porter mills on Bath Island; as William Dean How- 
ells wrote, while these "were impertinent to the scenery 
they were picturesque with their low-lying, weather- 
worn masses in the shelter of the forest trees beside 
the brawling waters' head. But nearly every other 
assertion of private rights in the landscape was an 
outrage to it." 

One of the strongest direct appeals to the nation's 
conscience in behalf of enslaved Niagara appeared in 
1 88 1 and is worthy of reproduction, if only for its vivid 
description of the status of affairs at the Falls at that 
time : 

The homage of the world has thrown a halo round Niagara for 
those who have not seen it, and Niagara has left its own impress 
upon every thoughtful person who has seen it, and every un- 
pleasant feature therefore is brought into bold relief. Where 
the carcass is, there also will the eagles be gathered together. 
A continuous stream of open-mouthed travellers has offered 
rare opportunities to the quick-witted money-makers of all 
kinds; the contrast between the place and its surroundings, 
perceived at first by the few, has been for years trumpeted 
throughout the country by the number of correspondents who 
write periodical accounts of the season, and to-day every sane 
adult citizen may be said to know two things about Niagara: 
first, that there is a great waterfall there, and second, that a 

Winter Scene in Prospect Park. 

Niagara Bond and Free 75 

man's pockets will be emptied more quickly there than anywhere 
else in the Union. . • . Niagara is being destroyed as a simmier 
resort. It has long since ceased to be a place where people stay 
for a week or more, and it is now given up to second-class tourists, 
and excursionists who are brought by the car-load. The constant 
fees, the solicitation of the hackmen, the impertinences of the 
store-keepers, have actually been so potent that it is a rare thing 
to find any of the best people here. The hotels are not to blame ; 
the Cataract House for instance, is a quiet, comfortable hotel, 
excellently managed, and in the hands of gentlemanly pro- 
prietors, and it is probably by no means alone in this respect. 
The hotel-keepers are aware of the state of things ; they do not 
encourage the excursion traffic. Some even seek to avoid the 
patronage of the excursionists. From all over the country — 
from places as far as Louisville — ^the railway company bring 
the people by thousands : they pour out of the station in a stream 
half a mile long. Of course, like locusts, they sweep everything 
before them. Several places — Prospect Park, for instance — 
cater to the tastes of this class alone. Several evenings in the 
week Prospect Park is filled with a crowd of free-and-easy men 
and women, fetching their own tea and coffee and provisions 
and enjoying a rollicking dance in the Pavilion. And all this 
within fifty yards of the American fall ! For their entertainment 
there is an illuminated spray-fountain, and their appreciation 
knows no bounds when various coloured lights are thrown upon 
the Falls. Then a crowd of fifty swoops down upon one of the 
hotels — men, women, and children — all in brown linen dusters; 
all hot, hungT}', and careless. These people must not be deprived 
of their recreation. Heaven forbid! None have a greater right 
than they to the influence of Niagara. But this way of visiting 
the place is all wrong; they derive Httle benefit, and they do 
infinite harm. 

In this second sense the destruction of Niagara is making 
rapid strides in a far more dangerous direction. The natural 
attractions of the place are being undermined. On the American 
side the bank of the river above the Falls is covered for a quarter 
of a mile with structures of all kinds, from the extensive parlors 
and piazzas of the Cataract House to the Uttle shanty where the 
Indian goods of Irish manufacture are sold. 

7^ The Niagara River 

For the purpose of securing bathrooms and water-power, 
dams of all kinds have been built; these are wooden trenches 
filled with rough paving-stones. Some of the structures project 
over the Rapids, being supported by piles. The spaces between 
the various buildings are used to store lumber, and as dust 
heaps. One of them contains a great heap of saw-dust, another 
a pile of scrap-iron. The banks and fences bear invitations to 
purchase Parker's hair-balsam and ginger tonic. The proprietor 
of Prospect Park has made a laudable attempt to plant trees 
upon his land; these extend for a few yards above the Falls. 
In return, however, he has erected coloured arbours, and a 
station for his electric light, which are almost as unpleasant as 
the other buildings. 

Just below the Suspension Bridge the gas-works discharge 
their tar down the bank into the river; a few yards further on 
there are five or six large manufactories, whose tail-races empty 
themselves over the cliff. The spectator on Goat Island, on the 
Suspension Bridge, or on the Canadian side cannot help seeing 
this mass of incongruous and ugly structures extending along the 
whole course of the Rapids and to the brink of the Falls. Of 
course, under these circumstances the Rapids are degraded into 
a mill-race, and the Fall itself seems to be lacking a water-wheel. 

One half of Bath Island — ^which lies between Goat Island and 
the shore — is filled with the ruins of a large paper-mill which 
was burnt in 1880. It is now being rebuilt and greatly enlarged. 
Masses of charred timbers, old iron, calcined stones and bricks, 
two or three great rusty boilers, the dirty heaps surmounted by 
a tall chimney — such are the surroundings of a spot, which, for 
grandeur and romantic beauty, is not equalled in the world. 
A short distance below Bath Island lies Bird Island, a mere 
clump of trees in the midst of the rushing water, a mass of dark- 
green foliage overhanging its banks and trailing its branches 
carelessly in the foam. This little spot has been untrodden by 
man — the most fearless savage would not risk his birch-bark 
boat in these waters. But what those who profit by it call the 
rapid strides of commercial industry, or possibly the development 
of our national resources, will soon destroy this little piece of 
Nature; already the owners of the paper-mill have built their 
dam within twenty yards of it, extending through the waters like 

Niagara Bond and Free 77 

the limb of some horrid spider, slowly but surely reaching its prey. 
Let the comiection be made, and a couple of men with axes turned 
loose in this little green island, and before long the rattle of a 
donkey-engine or the howl of a saw-mill swells the chorus of this 
soi-disant civilisation. The following does not sound very en- 
couraging for the preservation of Niagara's scenery. It is taken 
from a paper, Niagara as a Water Power: 

"... Hence it is that we are soon to see a development 
of this peculiar power of Niagara which will stand unrivalled 
among motors of its class in the world. 

" Already people talk of the storage of electricity and quote 
the opinions of scientists about the possibilities of the future. 
Sir "WilHam Thompson — it is said — gave as his opinion that 
it would be perfectly feasible to light London with electricity 
generated at Niagara. 

"There is no assurance that Goat Island may not be sold at 
any moment for the erection of a mill or factory. Indeed if a 
rapid development of the mechanical appHcation of electricity 
should take place — thus enabHng speculators to offer very high 
prices for the immense power that could be controlled from Goat 
Island, it is almost certain that such a sale would result. And 
with its accompHshment would disappear the last chance of 
saving Niagara ! " 

The honour of first suggesting the preservation of 
Niagara Falls has been claimed by many persons. But 
the first real suggestion dates back as early as 1835, 
though made without details. It came from two 
Scotchmen, Andrew Reed and James Matheson, who, 
in a volume describing their visits to Congregational 
churches of this country, first broached the idea that 
Niagara should "be deemed the property of civihsed 

In 1885, by the labours of several distinguished men, 
principally Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted, a biU was 
passed in the Legislatture of New York instructing the 

78 The Niagara River 

commissioners of the State Survey to prepare a report 
on the conditions and prospects of Niagara. This 
report was prepared by Mr. James T. Gardner, the 
director of the New York State Survey, and Mr. Olm- 
sted. It strongly protested against such waste and 
degradation of the scenery as have been described 
in this chapter; it set forth the dangers of ultimate 
destruction, and made an eloquent appeal in favour 
of State action to preserve this natural treasure. The 
report strongly urged the establishment of an " In- 
ternational Park," and gave details of its construction 
with maps and views. It proposed that a strip of land 
a mile long and varying from one hundred feet to 
eight hundred feet broad, together with the buildings 
on it, should be condemned by the State, appraised by 
a commission, and purchased. The erections on Bath 
Island and in the Rapids were to be swept away. 
Trees and shrubberies were to be planted, roads and 
foot-paths appropriately laid out. The cost was esti- 
mated at one million dollars.^ 

Why the bill should have met with so much oppo- 
sition before it was finally passed, is to-day a question 
hard to answer; at any rate the political history of the 
bill is interesting. 

As in the case of most modem propositions the 
question was generally asked: 

" Is the game worth the candle? Is it worth while 
to spend a million dollars — to take twenty-five cents 
out of the pocket of each tax-payer in the State of New 
York — in order to destroy a lot of good buildings and 
plant trees in place of them, and, moreover, to do this 
for the sake of a few persons whose nerves are so deli- 

> The Nation, No. 84 (September i, 1881). 

Niagara Bond and Free 79 

cate that the sight of a tremendous body of water rush- 
ing over a precipice is spoiled for them by a pulp-mill 
standing on the banks?" 

Indeed, it is said on good authority, that Governor 
Cornell, after listening to a description of the shameful 
condition at the Falls and the surroimdings at the time 
when he sat in the gubernatorial chair remarked: 
"Well, the water goes over just the same does n't it? " 

Mr. Cleveland, being elected Governor of New York 
in 1882 seemed always in favour of the preservation 
of the scenery at Niagara Falls. Governor Robinson, 
in 1879, likewise an advocate of the idea, even caused 
some preliminary steps to be taken but the follow- 
ing gentlemen especially deserve to be entered in the 
Golden Book of Niagara: Thomas K. Beecher, James 
J. Belden, R. Lenox Belknap, Prof. E. Chadwick, 
Erastus Coming, Geo. W. Curtis, Hon. James Daly, 
Benjamin Doolittle, Edgar van Etter, R. E. Fen ton, 
H. H. Frost, General James W. Husted, Thomas L. 
James, Thomas Kingsford, Benson J. Lossing, Seth 
Low, Luther R. Marsh, Randolph B. Martine, Rufus 
H. Peckham, Howard Potter, D. W. Powers, Pascal 
P. Pratt, Ripley Ropes, Horatio Seymour, Geo. B. 
Sloan, Samuel J. Tilden, Senator Titus, Theodore 
Vorhees, Francis H. Weeks, Wm. A. Wheeler. Thev 
all made strenuous efforts to advance the bill intro- 
duced into the Legislature by Jacob F. Miller of New 
York City. One of its foremost promoters also was 
Mr. Thomas V. Welch, Superintendent of the New York 
State Reservation at Niagara, whose valuable pamphlet 
How Niagara was Made Free affords much of our mate- 
rial for this chapter. A bill entitled "Niagara Reser- 
vation Act" passed the New York Assembly and the 

8o The Niagara River 

Senate, and was signed by Grover Cleveland on April 
30, 1883. Commissioners were appointed consisting of 
William Dorsheimer, Sherman S. Rogers, Andrew H. 
Green, J. Hampden Robb, and Martin B. Anderson. But 
the final bill had to undergo many vicissitudes ere it 
was lastly amended and passed. The appraisals alone 
amounted to $1,433,429.50, and the then existing 
financial depression had to be dispelled before anything 
definite could be done. Between 1883 and 1885 there 
arose a most unjustifiable raid against the measure. 
I have already alluded to it above. John J. Piatt of 
the Poughkeepsie Eagle wrote for instance : * ' We regard 
this Niagara scheme as one of the most unnecessary 
and unjustifiable raids upon the State Treasury ever 
attempted." Mr. Piatt became later on a warm 
advocate of the plan, but the wrong was done. Some 
denounced the bill as a "job" and a "steal" and 
berated Niagara Falls and its citizens, particularly the 
hackmen, hotel-men, and bazaar-keepers as sharks and 
swindlers, who had robbed the people individually 
and were now seeking to rob them collectively. They 
said they would oppose the bill by every means, 
hoped it would be defeated — bursts of temper mildly 
suggestive of strangers who had visited Niagara and 
had suffered at the hands of her showmen in the golden 
days of Niagara's army of fakirs and extortionists. 

Thus the matter dragged and great fears were en- 
tertained that the case would be lost. Meanwhile the 
above-named prominent citizens had not been idle. 
They had sent to their friends and constituents a kind 
of a circular and obtained about four thousand sig- 
natures in favour of the measure. Clergymen, educa- 
tors, editors, and attorneys were well represented; 

OO h 


Niagara Bond and Free 8i 

medical men without exception signed the petition, 
which was finally submitted to Governor Hill. For a 
time it almost seemed that the Governor shared the 
views of Governor Cornell. He was " pestered to death ' ' 
in behalf of the bill until the matter actually created 
a stir, as though the very welfare of the State depended 
on it. Great pressure was brought on Mr. Hill to sign 
the bill; he visited the Falls himself, went over the 
ground, but he was non-committal and even his inti- 
mates had no idea whether he would affix his signature. 
Yet he seemed apparently more favourably disposed 
than heretofore. 

There was left a feeling of uneasiness and uncertainty [writes 
Mr. Welch], concerning the fate of the bill. Another week passed. 
Rumours were rife concerning the intention of the Governor 
to let the bill die, in lack of his signature, and thus arrived the 
30th of April, 1885, the last day for the scheme allowed by law. 

The forenoon was spent in a state of feverish anxiety — not 
lessened by frequent rumours of a veto in the Senate or Assembly ; 
some of them started in a spirit of mischief by the newspaper 
reporters. "When noon came, it seemed as if the bill would surely 
fail for lack of executive approval. But the darkest hour is 
just before daybreak. Shortly after noon a newspaper man 
hurriedly came to the writer ^ in the Assembly chamber and said 
that the Governor had just signed the Niagara Bill. A hurried 
passage was made to the office of the Secretary of State to see 
if the bill had been received from the Governor. It had not been 
received. At that moment the door was opened by the Govern- 
or's messenger who placed the bill in the hands of the writer 
saying " Here is your little joker." A glance at the bill showed 
it to be the "Niagara Reservation Bill," and on the last page was 
the much coveted signature of David B. Hill, rivalling that of 
Mr. Grover Cleveland in diminutive handwriting. 

It is reported that the " King of the Lobby," a man notorious 
for years in Albany, expressed his satisfaction at the approval 

> Mr. Thomas V. Welch, loc. cit. 

82 The Niagara River 

of the bill, saying "The 'boys' wanted to 'strike' that bill, but 
I told them that they must not do it; that it was a bill which 
ought to pass without the expenditure of a dollar — and it did." 

The Report of the Commissioners of the State 
Reservation at Niagara lies before me. It is dated 
February 17, 1885.1 The commissioners were ap- 
pointed in 1883 to consider and report what, if any, 
measures it might be expedient for the State to adopt 
carrying out the project to place Niagara under the 
control of Canada and New York according to the 
suggestions contained in the annual message of Gov- 
ernor Cleveland with respect to Niagara Falls. The 
report states that the attractions of the scenery and 
climate in the neighbourhood of the Falls are such that 
with their ready accessibility by several favourite 
routes of travel it might reasonably be expected that 
Niagara would be a popular summer resort ; that there 
was nevertheless, no desirable summer population, at- 
tributed chiefly to the constant annoyances to which 
the traveller is subjected: pestering demands and 
solicitations, and petty exactions and impositions by 
which he is everywhere met. While it is true that 
such annoyances are felt wherever travellers are drawn 
in large numbers, at Niagara the inconvenience becomes 
greater because the distinctive interest of Niagara as 
compared with other attractive scenery is remarkably 
circumscribed and concentrated. That the value of 
Niagara lies in its appeal to the higher emotion and 
imaginative faculties and should not be disturbed and 
irritated; that tolls and fees had to be removed; 
traffic was to be excluded from the limits from whence 

» Senate Document, No. 35, Albany, N. Y. 

Niagara Bond and Free 83 

the chief splendour of the scenery was visible. That 
the only prospect of relief was to be found in State 
control; that the forest was rapidly destroyed which 
once formed the perfect setting of one of Nature's 
most gorgeous panoramas, and that the erection 
of mills and factories upon the margin of the river had 
a most injurious effect upon the character of the scene. 
It was therefore resolved on June 9, 1883, that 

in the judgment of this board it is desirable to select as proper 
and necessary to be reserved for the purpose of preserving the 
scenery of the falls of Niagara and of restoring the said scenery 
to its natural condition, the following lands situate in the 
village of Niagara and the County of Niagara to-wit: Goat 
Island, Bath Island, the Three Sisters, Bird Island, Luna 
Island, Chapin Island, and the small islands adjacent to said 
islands in the Niagara River, and the bed of said river between 
said islands and the main land of the State of New York; and, 
also, the bed of said river between Goat Island and the Canadian 
boundary; also a strip of land beginning near "Port Day" 
in said village, running along the shore of said river, to and in- 
cluding "Prospect Park" and the cliff and debris slope, under 
the same, substantially as shown by that part coloured green 
on the map accompanying the fourth report of the Board of 
Commissioners of the State Survey, dated March 22, 1880; and 
including also at the east end of said strip sufficient land not 
exceeding one acre for purposes convenient for said reservation, 
and also all lands at the foot of said falls, and all lands in said 
river adjoining said islands and the other lands hereinbefore 

By the adoption of the foregoing resolution, the 
area of a reservation was preliminarily defined. A 
commission of appraisement was installed. As was to be 
expected the claims for the condemned land were about 
four million dollars. The awards, however, amounted 
to $1,433,429.50 only. Some interesting and import- 

84 The Niagara River 

ant questions were raised as to the rights of the riparian 
owners to use the power afforded by the Niagara River 
for hydraulic purposes and to receive compensation 
therefor. Upon this basis the owners were prepared 
to present claims aggregating twenty or thirty millions 
of dollars. After full argument and careful considera- 
tion, the commissioners of appraisement rejected all 
such claims, except where the water power had been 
actually reduced to use and used for a period long 
enough to create a prescriptive right. They held : 

(i) that Niagara is a public stream, and its bed and waters 
belong to the State; (2) that as against the State private 
riparian owners have no right to encroach on its bed to divert 
its waters or to subject them to the burden of manufacturing 
uses, unless they have acquired such right by grant from the 
State or by prescription. 

The preamble of the Preservation Act ^ which was to 
make Niagara free read : 

Whereas, the State Engineer and Surveyor has completed 
and submitted to this board a map of the lands selected and 
located by it in the village of Niagara Falls and the County of 
Niagara and State of New York, which, in the judgment of 
this board are proper and necessary to be reserved for the pur- 
pose of preserving the scenery of the falls of Niagara, and 
restoring the said scenery to its natural condition; now, there- 
fore, it is Resolved, etc. 

1 Resolved, That this board hereby selects and locates the lands here- 
after described, situate in the village of Niagara Falls, and the County of 
Niagara and State of New York, as in the opinion of this board proper 
and necessary to be reserved for the purpose of preserving the scenery of 
the falls of Niagara, and restoring the said scenery to its natural condition, 
and does hereby determine to take such land for the purposes aforesaid, 
and which said land is bounded and described as follows, to-wit: All 
that certain piece or parcel of land situate in the village of Niagara Falls, 
town and County of Niagara, State of New York, distinguished in part as 
part of lots numbers forty-two (42), forty-three (43), and forty-four (44) 

Niagara Bond and Free 85 

On the morning of July 15th the Seventh Battery 
unlimbered its howitzers to salute the rising sun with 
a hundred salvos. The day unfortunately proved dark 
and foreboding. A storm burst in the morning and 
drove the crowds to shelter, and the last drops had 
hardly ceased .pattering, when the hour of noon, the 
time fixed for the ceremony, arrived. The grounds of 

of the mile strip, as the same was surveyed and conveyed by the State of 
New York, in part as islands known as Goat island, Bath island, the 
Three Sisters, Bird island, Luna island, Chapin island. Ship island. Brig 
island, Robinson's island, and other small islands lying in Niagara river 
adjacent and near to the islands above-named, and in part as lands 
lying under the Niagara river, bounded and described as follows, to-wit: 
Beginning at a point on the easterly bank of the Niagara river, where 
the same is met and intersected by the division line between lands now or 
formerly occupied by Albert H. Porter, and lands now or formerly owned 
or occupied by the Niagara Falls Hydraulic and Manufacturing Canal 
Company; running thence on a course north three degrees forty-nine and 
one-fourth minutes west; along said last mentioned division line, one 
(i) chain and ninety-five (95) links to a stone monument standing in the 
southerly line of Buffalo street, in the village of Niagara Falls; thence on 
a course south eighty-six degrees forty-five and one-fourth minutes west 
along said southerly line of Buffalo street ninety and nine-tenths (90.9) 
links to a point in the division line between lands now or formerly owned 
or occupied by Albert H. Porter, and lands now or formerly owned or oc- 
cupied by the estate of Augustus 8. Porter; thence on a course south 
eighty-six degrees forty-five and one-fourth minutes west along said 
southerly line of Buffalo street ninety and nine-tenths (90.9) links to a 
point in the division line between lands now or formerly owned or occupied 
by the estate of Augustus S. Porter and lands owned or occupied by Jane 8. 
Townsend; thence on a course south eighty-six degrees forty-five and one- 
fourth minutes west, along said southerly line of Buffalo street, two (2) 
chains and seventy (70) links to the intersection of the same with the 
easterly line of Seventh street; thence on the same course south eighty- 
six degrees forty-five and one-fourth minutes west, across said Seventh 
street, one (i) chain and three-tenths (.3) of a link to the westerly 
boundary thereof; thence along said westerly boundary of Seventh 
street and on a course south three degrees forty-nine and one-half 
minutes east, one (i) chain and fifty-four and seventy-seven one- 
himdredths (54.77) links to a point in said westerly line of Seventh street, 
distant seventy-six(76) links northerly, measuring on said westerly line 
of Seventh street, from the intersection of the same with the northerly 

86 The Niagara River 

Prospect Park were wet and the trees shook their water 
freely in the Hght breeze, but some thousands collected 
on the grass around the pavilion, notwithstanding 
these disheartening circumstances. When President 
Dorsheimer, however, began his speech the sun smiled 
through the clouds, and the day thereafter was perfect 

line of River street; thence on a course south fifty-seven degrees forty- 
seven and one-fourth minutes, west one (i) chain and sixteen (i6) 
links to a point in the division line between lands now or formerly 
owned or occupied by Albert H. Porter and lands now or form- 
erly owned or occupied by Mrs. George W. HoUey, which said point 
is distant northerly measuring along said division line seventy (70) 
links from the northerly line of River street; thence on a course south 
fifty-six degrees fifty-five and one-half minutes west, one (i) chain and 
sixteen (16) links to a point; thence south fifty-eight degrees forty min- 
utes west, one (i) chain and fifteen (15) links to a point; thence south 
sixty-three degrees forty-three and one-fourth minutes west one (i) 
chain and eleven (11) links to a point; thence south sixty-seven degrees 
nineteen and one-fourth minutes west, one (i) chain and sixty (60) links 
to a point in the division line between lands owned or occupied by Mrs. 
George W. HoUey and lands owned or occupied by Jane S. Townsend 
distant sixty (60) links northerly measured on said division line from the 
northerly boundary of River street; thence on a course south seventy -two 
degrees nineteen minutes west, two (2) chains and ten (10) links to a 
point in the division line between lands owned or occupied by Jane S. 
Townsend, and lands owned or occupied by Josephine M. Porter, dis- 
tant, measuring on said division line sixty-four (64) links northerly from 
the northerly boundary of River street; thence on a course south seventy- 
three degrees thirty-four and one-half minutes west, one (i) chain and 
four (4) links to a point; thence south seventy-six degrees twenty-eight 
and one-half minutes west, one (i) chain and two (2) links to a point; 
thence south eighty-two degrees four and three-fourths minutes west, one 
(i) link to a point, thence south eighty-six degrees forty -three and one- 
fourth minutes west, one (i) chain to a point; thence south eighty-nine 
degrees fifty-six minutes west, one (i) chain to a point ;thence north eighty- 
eight degrees forty-three minutes west one (i) chain and one (i) link to a 
point in the easterly boundary of Fourth street, distant ninety (90) links 
northerly, measuring on said easterly boundary of Fourth street, from the 
intersection of the same with the northerly boundary of River street; 
thence across said Fourth street and on a course north eightj'^-two degrees 
thirty-two and one-half minutes west, one (i) chain and one (i) link to 

Path to Luna Island. 

Niagara Bond and Free 87 

The excursion trains began to pour their passengers 
into the village early. They came from the counties 
bordering on the Pennsylvania line and from the 
northern and western ends of the State and from the 
towns in the Canadian dominion. It is estimated that 
at least thirty thousand strangers were imloaded in the 
village. The visitors included country folk and residents 

a point in the westerly boundary of Fourth street, distant eighty-six (86) 
links northerly measuring on said westerly boundary of Fourth street: 
from the intersection of the same with the northerly line of River street : 
thence on a course north seventy-eight degrees fifty-three minutes west, 
two (2) chains and six (6) links to a point in the division line between 
lands owned or occupied by Peter A. Porter, and land owned or occupied 
by S. M. Whitney, which point is distant seventy (70) links northerly, 
measuring on said division line, from the northerly line of River street; 
thence on a course north seventy-nine degrees seventeen and three-fourths 
minutes west, one (i) chain and three (3) links to a point; thence north 
seventy-six degrees eight minutes west, one (i) chain and four (4) links 
to a point; thence north seventy-three degrees seven and one-fourth 
minutes west, ninety-five (95) links to a point; thence north seventy-one 
degrees twenty-five and one-fourth minutes west, fifty (50) links to a 
point in the division line between lands owned or occupied by S. M. 
Whitney, and lands owned or occupied by Albert H. Porter which point 
is distant northerly, measuring on said division line, seventy (70) links 
from the northerly line of River street; thence on a course north sixty- 
eight degrees thirty-five and one-fourth minutes west, sixty-eight (68) 
links to a point; thence north sixty-three degrees thirty-eight and one- 
fourth minutes west, ninety-eight (98) links to a point; thence north 
fifty-three degrees fifteen and one-fourth minutes west, one (i) chain 
and thirteen (13) links to a point in the division line between lands owned 
or occupied by Albert H. Porter and lands owned or occupied by Jane 
S. Townsend, which point is distant northerly, measuring on said division 
line, ninety-two (92) links from the northerly line of River street; run- 
ning thence on a course north forty-eight degrees fifty-six and one-fourth 
minutes west, eighty-nine (89) links to a point; thence north fifty degrees 
one and one-half minutes west, one (i) chain and two (2) links to a point; 
thence north fifty-five degrees two and one-half minutes west, one (i) 
chain and one (i) link to a point; thence north sixty degrees ten minutes 
west, fifty (50) links to a point in the division line between lands owned or 
occupied by Jane S. Townsend and lands owned or occupied by the heirs 
of Augustus S. Porter, which point is distant northerly, measuring on 
said division-line, one (i) chain and fifty-six (56) links from the northerly 

88 The Niagara River 

of the city, and about two thousand militiamen, prin- 
cipally from the Fourth Division, although there were 
several organisations among them representing Cleve- 
land, Detroit, Utica, Buffalo, and Rochester. There 
was a sprinkling of British redcoats among the gold- 
laced officers who dotted the village streets. One of 
the Canadian battalions desired to come over and join 

line of River street; thence on a course north sixty degrees fifteen and 
one-half minutes west, fifty (50) links to a point; thence north sixty- 
Beven degrees ten and one-half minutes west, ninety-nine (99) links to a 
point; thence north sixty-eight degrees nineteen and three-fourths min- 
utes west, one (i) chain to a point; thence north seventy-one degrees 
forty-five and one-fourth minutes west, one (i) chain to a point distant one 
(i) chain and twenty-eight (28) links, measuring on a course north twenty- 
seven degrees east from the northerly line of River street; thence on a 
course north sixty-three degrees fifty-five and one-half minutes west, one 
(i) chain and eleven (11) links to a point; thence north fifty-five degrees 
one and one-fourth minutes west, one (i) chain to a point; thence north 
fifty-one degrees forty-one and one-half minutes west, eighty-nine (89) 
links to a point; thence north forty-seven degrees fifty minutes west 
eighty-three (83) links to a point; thence north forty-five degrees forty- 
two minutes west, one (i) chain and two (2) links to a point; thence north 
forty-two degrees twenty-five minutes west, two (2) chains and two (2) 
links to a point; thence north forty-three degrees seventeen and three- 
fourths minutes west, one (i) chain and nine (9) links to a point in the 
easterly boundary of Mill street, distant northerly, measuring along 
said easterly boundary of Mill street, twenty (20) links from the inter- 
section of the same with the northerly boundary of River street; thence 
on a course north twenty-eight degrees nineteen and one-fourth minutes 
east, and along said easterly boundary of Mill street, two (2) chains and 
thirty (30) links to the intersection of said easterly line of Mill street with 
the southerly line of Buffalo street; thence on a course north sixty -two 
degrees forty-five minutes west, across said Mill street, one (i) chain 
to the westerly boundary line thereof, and to the point of intersection 
of the westerly line of Mill street with the southerly line of Buffalo street; 
thence on a course north sixty-one degrees thirty-two minutes west, 
along the southerly boundary of Buffalo street, five (5) chains and thirty- 
two (32) links to the point of intersection of the southerly line of Buffalo 
street with the easterly boundary line of the Mill slip (so called), which 
point is distant northerly measuring on said easterly line of the Mill slip, 
seventy-one (71) links from the intersection of the same with the northerly 
line of River street ; thence on a course north sixty-one degrees thirty-two 

Niagara Bond and Free 89 

in the celebration. The United States authorities 
extended a welcome but the Canadian authorities 
declined to allow their soldiers to cross the river. A 
few of the officers got permit to come. 

Governor Hill and his staff were met by a conmiittee 
appointed to receive them, consisting of Thomas V. 
Welch and O. W. Cutter. There were also Senators 

minutes west, across said Mill slip, fifty-one and forty-two one-hundredths 
(51.42) links to a point in the westerly boundary line thereof, distant 
northerly, measuring along said westerly line of said Mill slip, seventy- 
five and twenty-three one-hundredths (75.23) links from the intersection 
of the same with the northerly line of River street; thence along said 
westerly boimdary line of said Mill slip and on a course south fifty-four 
degrees four and three-fourths minutes west, seventy-five and twenty- 
three one-hundredths (75-23) links to the intersection of said westerly 
boundary line of said Mill slip with the northeasterly boundary line of 
River street; thence on a course north thirty-three degrees ten minutes 
west, along said north-easterly boundary line of River street, five (5) 
chains and seventy-four and two-tenths (74.2) links to a point in said 
northeasterly line of River street, where the same is intersected by the 
southerly line of Bridge street, which point is marked by a stone monu- 
ment erected at the intersection of said lines of said streets; thence on a 
course north six degrees thirty-six and one-fourth minutes east, across 
said Bridge street, one (i) chain and three (3) links to the northerly 
boundary line thereof, and to the point of intersection of the northerly 
boundary line of Bridge street with the northeasterly line of Canal street; 
thence on a course north thirty-seven degrees thirty-three and one-half 
minutes west, and along said northeasterly boundary line of Canal street 
four (4) chains and eighty-seven (87) links to the intersection of said 
northeasterly line of Canal street with the southerly line of Falls street; 
thence on a course north thirty-seven degrees thirty-six and three-fourths 
minutes west, one (i) chain and eighty-two (82) links across Falls street 
to the northerly boundary thereof; thence on a course north thirty-seven 
degrees thirty-six and three-fourths minutes west, and along said north- 
easterly line of Canal street, one (i) chain and twenty-two (22) links to an 
angle in said north-easterly line of Canal street ; thence on a course north 
two degrees thirty-eight and one-fourth minutes west, and along the 
easterly line of Canal street, ten (10) chains and one and eighty-five one- 
himdredths (1.85) links to the intersection of the easterly line of Canal 
street with the southerly line of Niagara street ; thence on a course south 
eighty-seven degrees fourteen minutes west, across said Canal street, one 
(i) chain and fifty and thirty-four one-hundredths (50.34) links to the 

90 The Niagara River 

Bowen, Low, Lansing, Ellsworth, Baker, Van Schaick, 
Titus and "Tim" Campbell. Of Assemblymen there 
were present Mr. Hubbell of Rochester, who fathered 
the bill in the last Legislature which led to the day's 
ceremonies; Hon. Jacob L. Miller, who, in 1883, intro- 
duced the bill creating the Niagara Park Commission; 
Hendricks, Kruse, McEwen, Bailey, Scott, Raines, 
Haskell, Dibble, Connelly, Major Haggerty, General 
Bamum, Whitmore, Storm, Ely, Secretary of the 
Senate John W. Vrooman, and Ex-Senators Mac Arthur 
and Loomis. 

westerly boundary line thereof; thence on a course south two degrees 
fifty-one minutes east, along said westerly boundary line of Canal street, 
two (2) chains and sixty-seven and twelve one-hundredths (67.12) links to 
a point in the westerly line of Canal street, supposed to be the northeasterly 
corner of Prospect Park (so called); thence on a course south eighty-six 
degrees nineteen and one-half minutes west, along the north boundary 
of said Prospect Park, one (i) chain and three (3) links to an angle in said 
boundary line ; thence on a course north fifty-two degrees eighteen minutes 
west, along said northerly boundary of said Prospect Park, six (6) chains 
and eighty-five (85) links to the water's edge of the Niagara river; thence 
along said line prolonged into said river, and on a course north fifty-two 
degrees eighteen minutes west, more or less, to the boundary line between 
the United States of America and the Dominion of Canada; thence along 
said boundary line up the middle of said river to the Great Falls; thence 
up the falls through the point of the Horse Shoe, keeping to the west of 
Iris or Goat island and the group of small islands at its head, and following 
the bends of the river, and along said boundary line to a point at which 
said boundary line meets, and is intersected by the prolongation of the 
line running north three degrees forty-nine and one-fourth minutes west, 
first above mentioned; thence following said line, and on a course north 
three degrees forty-nine and one-fourth minutes west, more or less, to the 
point or place of beginning. 

Together with all the right, title, and interest of all persons or corpora- 
tions of, in, and to the premises embraced within said boundary lines, 
including all water-rights, made-land (so called), debris, titles, or claims 
(if any) to lands lying under the Niagara river, rights of riparian owners, 
easements, and appurtenances of every name and nature whatsoever, 
including all the rights of, in, and to all streets, or portions of streets, 
embraced and included within said boundary lines. 

Niagara Bond and Free 91 

Of editors and other public men well known "up 
in the State" there were Carroll E. Smith and W. H. 
Northrup of Syracuse; S. Callicott and John A. 
Sleicher of Albany; Willard S. Cobb of Lockport; 
William Purcell of Rochester; Congressman Wads- 
worth; Ex-Congressmen Brewer and Van Abram 
and Solomon Scheu. Of State officials were mentioned 
Civil Service Commissioner Henry A. Richmond; 
Professor Gardner of the old State survey; Secretary 
Carr; Attorney-General O'Brien; Treasurer Maxwell; 
Engineer Sweet; Insurance Superintendent John A. 
McCaU; and Superintendent of Public Instruction 
William H. Ruggles. Letters of regret were received 
from Governor-General Lansdowne of Canada, Samuel 
J. Tilden, and President Cleveland. 

The last admission fee to Prospect Park was collected 
in the night of July 15, 1885, and a till fuUof quarters 
w^as taken before the gates were thrown open at mid- 
night. The owners of Goat Island left their gates open 
all night. Ever3i:hing was free, however, on the 15th 
and such a company as swarmed over the islands in 
consequence was never seen before. They crowded 
the walks and fringed the cliffs and shores at every 
available point. They recklessly clambered down 
to the bottom of the Falls and clustered on the ledge 
of rocks overlooking the Horseshoe and American 
Falls. Persons who had lived aU their lives within 
twenty miles of the Falls now beheld them for the 
first time. They brought their luncheons, and when 
the sun came out they picnicked on the greensward. 

The hurdy-gurdy shows which had sprung up like 
mushrooms within twent\^-four hours all over the 
village were doing a brisk business. The Indian shops 

92 The Niagara River 

also were all open but the other stores and places of 
business in the village were closed for the day. The 
air was filled from morning till night with the blare of 
military bands, the monotonous soimd of numberless 
organs, and the shouts and cries of venders and show- 
men. Every building in the village was decorated with 

The pavilion in the park was reserved for invited 
guests and for those who participated in the ceremonies. 
Near the Governor and his staff sat the Commissioners 
of the Niagara Park Reservation. Among the dis- 
tinguished guests were prominent Canadians who took 
a warm interest in the project of an International 
Park at Niagara. They were Lieutenant-Governor 
Robinson, Captain Geddes, and Lieutenant-Colonel 
Gowski, members of the Niagara Park Association; 
the Hon. O. S. Hardy, Secretary of Ontario, and the 
Attorney-General of that Province, the Hon. O. 

The opening-prayer was offered by the Right- 
Reverend A. Cleveland Coxe. He was followed by 
Erastus Brooks, who, in a brief speech, introduced 
the subject of the day's celebration, and concluded 
by saying that no better investment had ever been 
made by any State, corporation, or people, and added 
that Lord Dufferin had promised that Canada would 
join in establishing a free park on their own side of the 
Falls. Great enthusiasm followed, and the whole 
audience of five thousand people then joined in singing 
America. President Dorsheimer, in behalf of the 
Commission, then formally presented the Park to the 
State of New York. After briefly reciting what 
the Commission had done he said: "From this hour 





Niao^ara Bond and Free 93 


Niagara is free. But not free alone ; it shall be clothed 
with beauty again, and the blemishes which have been 
planted among these scenes will presently be removed. 
As soon as the forces of Nature, nowhere more powerful 
than at this favoured place, can do the work, these 
banks will be covered with trees, these slopes made 
verdant, and the Cataract once more clothed with the 
charms which Nature gave it." 

As he concluded the firing of guns signalled to the 
crowds on the islands and on the Canadian side that 
Niagara was the possession of the State of New York, 
and that Governor Hill was about to accept the gift 
in the name of the people of the State. The Governor 
was warmly cheered when he stepped forward to 
speak. He gave a brief sketch of the history of the 
Falls, and likewise alluded to the opening of the Erie 
Canal, the laying of the comer-stone of the State's 
magnificent Capitol at Albany and the opening of the 
East River bridge. Then he accepted the Park with 
some appropriate words, concluding as follows: "The 
preservation of Niagara Park, the greatest of wonders 
is, indeed, a noble work. Its conception is worthy 
the advanced thought, the grand liberality, and the 
true spirit of the nineteenth century." 

After this followed the singing of the Star Spangled 
Banner, the audience joining earnestly in the chorus. 
The oration was delivered by that polished member of 
the New York Bar, Mr. James C. Carter, giving a full 
history of the region. The two Canadian officials, 
Lieutenant-Governor Robinson and Attorney-General 
Mowat were then introduced, and congratulated the 
State of New York for the enterprise and public spirit 
shown by the people and the public officers. The 

94 The Niagara River 

exercise concluded with the Doxology and a bene- 
diction. In the afternoon Governor Hill with Gen- 
erals Jewett and Rogers reviewed the militia. In 
the evening fireworks were set off from Prospect 
Park, Goat Island, and the brink of the Falls from 
the Canadian side. Earlier in the day the Comp- 
troller's check for five hundred thousand dollars 
was received by the Porter family, the Goat Island 
property had been transferred to the commissioners, 
and Niagara was free. 

There had been, of course, strong objection on 
the part of the army of landholders and monopolists 
who were to be thrown out of their "easy money" 
livelihoods. Of this the excellent "leader" in the 
New York Times of July 15th deals as follows: 

It would be alike idle and unjust to blame the people of Niag- 
ara Falls for this state of mind. They have done what the mem- 
bers of any other community would have done in making the 
most of their neighbourhood as a wonder of nature. Even the 
obstinate . . . who declines to be bought out, and insists upon 
his right to make merchandise out of the river, is entitled to 
respect for the tenacity with which he proposes to resist the 
acquisition of his property by the State upon the ground that 
the law authorising the acquisition is unconstitutional. 

He would very possibly be willing to acknowledge the right 
of eminent domain if it were proposed to take his land for a 
railroad, but the idea that it shall be taken in order that a river 
. . . shall be kept for dudes to look at undoubtedly strikes 
him as unmixed foolishness. However excusable this state of 
mind may have been, nobody who does not own a point of view 
or at least a hack at Niagara will dispute that its consequences 
have been deplorable. Though Niagara has continued to be a 
frequential resort it has by no means been as popular as it would 
have become with the increasing facilities of travel and the 
increasing advantages taken of them, if the fame of the gross and 

Niagara Bond and Free 95 

petty extortions had not been almost as widely spread as the 
fame of Niagara itself. While the local monopoHes have deterred 
people from visiting the Falls, they have nevertheless been so 
lucrative that the most important of them is reported upon the 
authority of one of its managers to have returned a net annual 
profit, of thirty thousand dollars, and the report is not incredi- 
ble, prodigious as the figure seems as a profit upon the mere 
command of a point of view. This hedging about and looking 
up of a boon of nature was perhaps the most objectionable inci- 
dent of the private shore of Niagara. To a tourist who goes to 
Niagara from any other motive than that of saying that he had 
been there the importunity to which he had been subjected at 
every turn was absolutely destructive of the object of his visit. 
The prosaic and incongruous surroundings of the cataract 
completed the disillusion which importunity and extortion were 
calctilated to produce. Many tourists would have been glad to 
pay down, once for all, as much as their persecutors could have 
reasonably hoped to extract from them for the privilege of 
being allowed to look without molestation upon the work of 
nature undisfigured by the handiwork of man. "For many 
years this has been impossible, and for several years it has been 
evident that it could be made possible only by the resumption on 
the part of the State, as a trustee of its citizens and for all man- 
kind, of the ownership and control of the shore. This resump- 
tion will be formally made to day. But it was really brought 
about in the Legislature in the winter of 1884, when the full 
force of the opposition to the project was brought out and 
fairly defeated. The State of New York has in effect decided 
that the preserv^ation of a sublime work of nature under con- 
ditions which will enable it to affect men's minds most strongly 
is an object for which it is worth while to pay the money of the 
State. It is this emphatic decision which marks a real advance 
in civilisation over the state of mind of the Gradgrinds of the 
last generation and of the contemporaneous wood-ptdp grinder 
that the proper function of the greatest waterfall in the world 
is to turn mill-wheels and produce pennies by being turned 
into a peep show." 

The Reservation forms a beautiful State Park with- 

96 The Niagara River 

in the growing city of Niagara Falls, N. Y., which lies 
just back of it numbering now a population of nearly 
twenty-five thousand people. The city is well laid 
out, and its promoters "point with pride" to the 
advances made during the last decade and bespeak 
for "Industrial Niagara" a future of great distinction 
in the commercial world. 

The first town worthy of the name here on the 
American side of the Falls was named Manchester by 
Judge Porter when he settled here in 1806, 102 years 
ago, believing that the site could eventually be occupied 
by the "Manchester of America." Judge Porter's 
many inducements to promoters were not accepted 
until about the middle of last century (1853) when the 
present canal was begun. For many years even this 
improvement lay unused; it was not until 1878 that 
the present company was organised and any real 
advance was made. Of the recent wonderful develop- 
ment along power lines at Niagara we treat in another 
chapter under the title of "Harnessing Niagara Falls." 
But the supreme interest in these lines of activity 
must not let us lose sight of the important element of 
local environment. 

It is of almost national interest that Niagara is so 
centrally located, that within seven hundred miles of 
this great cataract live two-thirds of the population 
of the United States and Canada. This of itself, were 
there no Niagara Falls, would guarantee the growth 
of the town of Niagara Falls. Add to this strategic 
location the exceptional advantages . to be found 
here by industrial plants looking for a home, and 
also the evident fact that Niagara Falls is a delightful 
spot in which to reside, it is clear that if a great and 

Niagara Bond and Free 97 

beautiful city does not develop here in the next 
century human prophecy will have missed its guess and 
tons of advertising will have been wasted. Twenty- 
five million dollars are, it is said, invested in capi- 
tal now in the present town, and the value of 
imports and exports in 1906 was over two millions 
and over twelve millions, respectively. Fourteen 
railways here find terminals and the town has over 
one himdred mails daily. With splendid educational 
advantages, with twenty miles and more of pavement 
already laid, with a beautiful and efficiently conducted 
public library, with a city water pumping plant capable 
of handling twenty million gallons daily, and nearly 
forty miles of drains, with a citizenship active, patri- 
otic, and capable, is it any wonder that Niagara Falls' 
real estate agents and suburban resident promoters are 
thriving like the old cabmen and side-show operators 
thrived in the "good old days" of private ownership 
along the Niagara's bank? 

There is no discoimting the advances this interest- 
ing little city has made in the past ten years and more, 
and there is very little possibility, on the face of 
things of a tremendously accelerated growth in the 
coming century. Big problems are here being worked 
out; big schemes are afoot, big things will happen — 
an advance will come because of the plain merit of the 
bare facts of the case without iinnecessary induce- 
ment or overcapitalisation of the advertising agencies. 
The world needs power to do its work, and until we 
sit down calmly and figure out a way for the ocean tides 
to do our work, as ought in all conscience to be the 
case to-day, Niagara Falls will hold out extraordinary 
inducement to all industrial promoters which cannot 

9^ The Niagara River 

be rivalled in many ways at any other point. If only 
the ends of industry can be achieved without destroy- 
ing this great continental scenic wonder! There are 
those who are unwilling to take a single rainbow from 
that ocean of rainbows amidst the Falls to drive another 
wheel. But there is surely a sane middle ground to be 
found here, and it is certain that brave, thinking men 
are on the sure track to find it. 

Similar in geographic position, quite as much could 
be said for Niagara Falls, Ont., as has been said of her 
twin city on the American shore. In point of beauty 
nothing can excel the magnificent Queen Victoria 
Park, opened in 1888, which lies opposite the New York 
State Reservation; the view of the two falls from it, 
or from the airy piazzas of the superb Clifton Hotel 
which flanks it, is unmatched. At present writing the 
guardians of the New York State Reservation, and 
other sensitive persons, are justly exercised over a 
genuine "Yankee trick," more or less connived in, 
they darkly hint, by the authorities, who have per- 
mitted a series of hideous signboards to be erected on 
the Canadian shore to serve the purpose of bringing 
out more vividly by contrast the unrivalled beauties 
of Queen Victoria Park. 

Chapter V 
Harnessing Niagara Falls 

LORD KELVIN, when visiting Niagara Falls, 
was not moved by that which appeals to 
the ordinary tourist, the roaring of the cata- 
ract, the waters in their mad rush from the 
Falls to the whiilpool and thence to Lake Ontario, 
nor the mists rising night and day from the waters 
churned into foam. For him, Niagara was a monster 
piece of machinery, accomplishing nothing but the 
pounding out of its own life on the rocks which formed 
its bed. In his mind's eye there appeared vast factories, 
deriving their power from the Falls, furnishing hundreds 
of men employment and distributing millions of dollars' 
worth of products to be placed nearer the hands of the 
poorer classes because of having been created by the 
cheap power furnished here by nature. 

Various estimates have been made regarding the 
volume of water flowing over the Falls; but the cal- 
culations by United States engineers extending over a 
number of years places the amount at about 224,000 gal- 
lons a foot per second. These are the figures taken as 
the basis of many calculations ; upon this basis the Falls 
would furnish 3,800,000 horse-power exclusive of the 
rapids. If the fall of about fifty feet which is produced 
by the rapids in their descent from the Dufferin Islands 
be added to this amoimt, the sum total of power would 


loo The Niagara River 


be greatly increased. To make some use of this almost' 
inconceivable amount of power which has been wasting 
itself for ages has been the problem which has caused 
much investigation and to-day it seems to be nearing a 
practical solution. 

Niagara Falls were first used as a source of power 
in 1725, when a primitive saw-mill was built just 
opposite Goat Island to saw lumber for the construction 
of Fort Niagara. For years men have made many 
attempts to use some of the power to be had here for the 
taking, and in a very small way have been successful. 
A number of establishments for several decades have 
been making use of power developed by the Falls 
by means of the Hydraulic Canal on the American 
side. This canal was begun in 1853 and passes through 
the city of Niagara Falls, terminating on the cliff half 
a mile below the cataract ; here are to be found a num- 
ber of mills, which however utilise only a small fraction 
of the fall available, probably because at the time of 
their construction, the high grade water-wheels of 
to-day were not in existence. Some of the waste 
water from the tail races of these mills is now being 
collected into large iron-tubes and is used again by 
mills situated at the base of the cliff. 

In 1885, the late Thomas Evershed, of Rochester, 
New York, devised a plan for wheel-pits a mile and a 
half above the Falls. The water was to be conducted to 
these pits by lateral canals, from which it was to be tak- 
en to the river below the Falls by means of a tunnel cut 
through the solid rock. This plan seemed more practi- 
cable than any proposed heretofore, and commanded 
the attention of many leading engineers of the country. 
The present great developments at the Falls had their 


.2 5 
OS ^ 



Harnessing Niagara Falls loi 

inception in the organisation of the Niagara Falls 
Power Company. This company obtained a charter 
from the State of New York in 1886, giving them per- 
mission to use water sufficient to generate two hundred 
thousand horse-power. This company could accom- 
plish very little on account of its limited capital. In a 
short time, however, New York capitalists and bankers, 
perceiving the practicability of the company's plans, 
became interested in the project, and furnished the 
necessary funds. The first earth was turned for this 
great w^ork in October 1890 and the ttmnel was com- 
pleted in the autumn of 1893. The first main wheel- 
pit was ready for its machinery by the following March. 
The device for applying Niagara's power to the 
turbines is on the same principle of construction, 
in each of the recently erected plants as in this first 
one. In the case of the Niagara Falls Power Company, 
a broad deep inlet leads from the river at a point a 
mile and a half above the American Falls, two thou- 
sand feet back in a north-easterly direction. The canal 
is protected by a lining of heavy masonry, w^hich is 
pierced at its upper end by a niunber of gateways; 
through these water is admitted by short canals to 
pits emptying into huge steel pipes or penstocks, as 
they are called. These penstocks terminate at the 
bottom in wheel boxes, in which are placed the bronze 
turbine wheels, connected with the surface by means 
of steel shafts parallel to the penstocks. From the 
turbine wheels the water whirls and rushes on through 
a subterranean passage to the main timnel. Here it 
starts on its long journey of over a mile under-ground, 
beneath the heart of the city, until it emerges again 
at an opening in the cliff just below what is known as 

I02 The Niagara River 

the new suspension bridge. A very ingenious plan was 
adopted for the application of the power to the turbines. 
The penstocks are brought down under the wheels and 
are made to discharge their waters upward into the 
boxes. This contrivance causes the water to bear up 
the great weight of the wheels, from the bearings be- 
neath for their support, besides that of the hundred 
and forty feet of shafting connected with the turbines 
for transmitting power to the surface. 

The tunnel which receives these waters after leaving 
the turbines is no less than six thousand seven hundred 
feet long, and discharges below the Falls just past the 
suspension bridge. Its cross-section somewhat re- 
sembles a horseshoe in shape, and this sectional area 
is three hundred and eighty-six square feet throughout, 
the average height and width being twenty-one and 
sixteen feet respectively. The company owning the 
mills connected with this tunnel, together with the 
Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing 
Company, of which mention has been made, are the 
only ones using water to any great extent on the 
American side. 

On the Canadian side, three great canals are drawing 
water from the river. It is the construction of these 
mammoth Canadian power plants, and the devising 
of means for leading water to the turbines together 
with the development of a plan for the disposal of the 
waste water by means of some form of tail race, which 
must necessarily consist of a monster tunnel broken 
through the solid rock, which has developed some of 
the greatest and most unique engineering problems 
ever before dreamed of, and which has presented a 
work hazardous and spectacular in the extreme. 

Harnessing Niagara Falls 103 

To meet the engineering problems concerned in 
locating the three Canadian plants along the shore of 
the river, involving the taking of water by some form 
of canal, and the disposal of waste water through 
tunnel or by other means to the lower river, each 
without interfering with any of the other plants, taxed 
even Yankee engineering ingenuity. One company 
had to unwater a considerable area of Niagara River 
at Tempest Point where the waters have a great depth 
and the current is of high velocity. From here then 
a tunnel, the largest in the world, must be broken 
through solid rock, under the bed of the river, to a 
point directly behind the great sheet of water plunging 
over the apex of the V formed by Horseshoe Falls. A 
second company takes its water through a short canal 
to its wheel-pits, which are sunk about half a mile above 
Horseshoe Falls in Queen Victoria Park, discharging 
it through a tiinnel two thousand feet long into the 
lower river. To find room for the third of these com- 
panies was a puzzling problem for some time. Finally 
the difficulty was solved by a departure from the 
plan of the other companies, both in the manner of 
taking water from the river and in the location of the 
power-house. Instead of locating the wheel-pits above 
the Falls as in the case of the others, this company has 
it power-house located in the Gorge below the Falls 
along the lower level. It takes its water from farther 
up the river than any of the companies, thus being 
further removed from any difficulties arising from 
recession of the Falls besides obtaining the additional 
power to be given by the descent of the rapids to the 
crest of the cliff, which amoimts to about fifty feet. The 
water is taken from near the Dufferin Islands throusfh 

I04 The Niagara River 

the largest steel conduit in the world, which runs not 
far from the shore of the river, skirting the other plants, 
and terminates at the power-house situated in the 
canyon below the Falls. 

It is interesting to visit and survey these hydro- 
electric power-generating stations, to note the different 
methods for taking the water from the river and for 
carrying it to the lower river after having passed through 
turbine wheels. It is well here to take a brief resume of 
the main features connected with the obtaining of this 
water supply and its disposal. The first American 
company, that of the Niagara FaUs Hydraulic Power 
and Manufacturing Company, takes its water through 
a canal from the upper river. This canal passes through 
the centre of the city of Niagara Falls to the cliff just 
below the first steel cantilever bridge, the power plant 
and industries making use of its waters are located here 
at the top of the cliff. The other American company 
known as the Niagara Falls Power Company takes 
its water by a short canal, about a mile above the 
Falls and discharges the dead water through a tunnel 
that runs under the city of Niagara Falls to a point near 
the water's edge in the lower river directly below the 
first steel bridge. The Canadian Niagara Falls Power 
Company, allied with the American company, takes 
its water from Queen Victoria Park and discharges 
it below the Falls through a two thousand foot tunnel. 
The Toronto and Niagara Power Company, with its 
power plant built in the bed of the river near Tempest 
Point takes water through massive stone forebays in 
the river and sends it to the lower level through a 
tunnel beneath the river's bed opening directly behind 
the V in the Horseshoe Falls. The Ontario Power 

Harnessing Niagara Falls 105 

Company takes its water into large steel conduits near 
Dufferin Islands. These underground pipes conduct 
the water along the shore of the river to the power 
house situated on the lower level. The waste water is 
discharged through draft tubes directly into the river. 

With this general picture of these great power 
companies in mind, it is proper to survey some of the 
more interesting details of construction which may 
appeal to individual taste and curiosity. Space forbids 
entering into the minutia either of construction or 
machinery used. Only the main principles of interest 
to the general reader can be touched upon. 

Let us descend first into the tunnel under the bed of 
the river, which discharges the tail water from the 
power-house of the Toronto Company, hurling it with 
almost inconceivable fury against the mass of foaming 
water pltmging over the Horseshoe precipice. Here 
is a sight to thrill even the most jaded traveller hunting 
for new wonders. A trip through this imdergroimd 
passage which American genius has shot through a 
mass of solid shale and limestone, beneath the bed of the 
river, will in itself more than compensate for a trip 
to Niagara Falls. Some idea of the size of this tunnel 
is indicated by the fact that two lines of railways were 
maintained in it to dispose of the rock and shale 
excavated by the workmen. Clad in rubber coat 
and boots the visitor to the Falls ma}- wend his way 
down along the visitors' gallery which is suspended from 
the roof of the ttmnel, one hundred and fifty -eight feet 
below the river bed, to where the outrushing waters 
join the great volume of the river in its headlong 
plimge over Horseshoe Falls. Here standing behind 
that mighty veil of rushing water, with the spray 

io6 The Niagara River 

swept into the opening by furious storms of howling 
winds, one beholds a spectacle, almost terrifying in its 
grandeur, the equal of which perhaps can not be found 
in any of the numerous attractions of the Falls. 

Before work on the main tunnel was begun, a 
shaft was sunk on the river bank just opposite the 
crest of Horseshoe Falls. From this shaft a tunnel 
was dug to the point where the lower end of the main 
tunnel would terminate. No difficulties were experi- 
enced in the driving of this opening until near the face 
of the cliff behind Horseshoe Falls. Here, with only 
fifteen feet to go, water began to rush into the cavern 
through a fissure in the rocks. The engineers fought 
against the water for several days but could not stop 
its flow. Finally eighteen holes were drilled into the 
cliff between the end of the tunnel and where the 
final opening was to be made ; these holes were loaded 
with dynamite, which, together with a large charge 
placed against the end of the passage, was exploded, 
after the tunnel had been flooded. This only accom- 
plished a part of what was desired. An opening was 
made in the cliff but too near the roof of the tunnel 
to allow of any work. What to do now was a difficult 
problem, but American daring accomplished the work. 
Volunteers were called for to crawl along the ledge 
of rock running along the cliff behind the Falls to where 
the opening had been made. Several men offered to 
make this almost impossible trip. Lashed together 
with cords, with the thunder of the Falls in their ears, 
blinded by spray which was driven into their faces with 
cyclonic fury, the men at last reached the opening 
and placed a heavy charge of dynamite against the 
opposing wall. This was discharged, making a suffi- 

American Falls from Below, 

Harnessinof Niagara Falls 107 

'£> ^"^"fe 

ciently large opening for the water to run out, and the 
work was continued. 

In the design of the main tunnel, ingenious provision 
was made for recession of the Falls. From the opening 
in the cliff for three himdred feet the lining will be put 
in in rings six feet long; this arrangement will allow 
a joint to drop out whenever the Falls recede so that 
it is exposed, thus leaving a smooth section always 
at the end of the tunnel. Through this main tunnel 
and through the branch races, the water, after having 
left the turbines, will whirl along at the rate of twenty- 
six feet per second, having generated a total of 125,000 
electric horse-power. In engineering problems connected 
with the tunnel and the construction of the plant, the 
work of this company far surpasses that of any of 
the others. In order to secure a place for the wheel-pit 
and gathering dam, an area of about twelve acres in the 
bed of the river was converted into dry land. To do 
this a coffer dam was constructed 2153 feet in length 
and from twenty feet to forty-six feet wide in water 
varying in depth from seven feet to t\^'enty-four feet, 
besides being very swift in most places. About two 
thousand feet above the Falls, in the space thus de- 
prived of its water, an immense wheel-pit was sunk 
into the solid rock. On the bottom of this pit, 150 
feet below the surface rest the monster turbines, from 
which two tail-races conduct the water to the main 
timnel. A large gathering dam sufficient to supply the 
maximum capacity of this plant runs obliquely across 
the river for a distance of 750 feet. The height of this 
dam varies from ten to twentv-three feet; it is con- 
structed of concrete, the top being protected by a 
course of cut granite. The power plant is located on the 

io8 The Niagara River 

original shore line and parallel to it in Queen Victoria 
Park. In the power room are to be found eleven 
monster generators capable of developing 12,500 horse- 
power each. 

A short distance farther up the river at the Dufferin 
Islands is the beginning of the mammoth steel conduits 
of the Ontario Power Company. These pass about a 
hundred yards from the shore and conduct the water 
to the power-house situated in the canyon below the 
Falls. This contrivance for water transmission con- 
sists of three steel pipes, the largest in the world, 
eighteen feet in diameter, and a little over six thousand 
feet long. This plant has the advantage of the others 
in several respects. While it draws its water from 
farther up the river, it preserves it for a longer time 
from the recession of the Falls, besides securing to it 
the greater amount of power per volume by obtaining 
the additional advantage of the descent of the rapids 
which amounts to about fifty-five feet. The power 
plant located as it is in the Gorge discharges its waste 
waters directly into the lower river without the neces- 
sity of an intervening tunnel. Lastly, the plan of 
applying the power to the turbines is slightly different 
in this case from the others, being made possible by 
its different plan. Here the turbines are placed 
vertical instead of horizontal, and are directly con- 
nected with the main generators, which are the only 
machines located on the floor of the station. 

A departure from the ordinary construction of the 
dynamo is noticed in those for use at Niagara. The 
ordinary one is built with the field-magnets so placed 
that the armature revolves between them, the field - 
magnets being stationary. In these monster dynamos, 

Harnessing Niagara Falls 109 

developing thousands of horse-power, and weighing 
many tons, the field -magnets revolve around the 
armature which remains stationary. With such an 
enonnous weight of swiftly revolving parts, it became 
necessary to lessen the immense centrifugal force 
tending to tear the machine to pieces. Engineering 
skill surmoimted this problem as it did all others in 
what might be called this mighty scientific drama, 
and, by reversing the parts of the dynamo, secured the 
desired result. The field -magnets, being placed on the 
outside and being made the revolving part, by their 
mutual attraction for its armature within their ring 
are pulled, as it were, toward the centre, thus lessening 
the great strain produced by the centrifugal force upon 
the large steel ring upon whose inner circumference 
they are mounted. 

The currents furnished by the power-houses at 
Niagara are all alternating. This kind of current being 
decided upon for various reasons. It can be used for 
driving dynamos as well as any, and as nearly all the 
power developed at the Falls is used in this way no 
provision is made for a direct current. Where a direct 
current is desired the electricity is made to drive a 
dynamo of the alternating type which in turn is made 
to drive another of the kind of current desired. Es- 
tablishments on or near the grounds use the power 
furnished them direct from the power-house. When the 
power must be transmitted to a distance, it becomes 
necessary to use a step-up transformer for the purpose 
of losing as little power as necessary in the transmis- 
sion, this to produce a higher voltage. When the 
current reaches those places where it is to be used a low 
voltage is again obtained by the step-down transformer. 

no The Niagara River 

Almost, if not quite as interesting as the develop- 
ment of all this power, together with its transmission, 
are the manufacturing establishments springing up here 
to take advantage of the great opportunities offered 
by the harnessing of this mighty cataract. Among 
those which stretch along the river for several miles 
are to be found those interested in the manufacture 
of carborundum, aluminum, carbide, graphite, caustic 
potash, muriatic acid, emery wheels, railway supplies, 
hook-and-eye fastenings, and shredded wheat, which 
are of special interest to the visitor. 

Industrialism has seized upon the immense power 
of Niagara and is now shaping it into commodities for 
the use of man. Now what is the real menace to the 
Falls? Many lament the erection of the power plants 
and • manufacturing establishments in the vicinity ; 
but those, at least already in existence, have come to 
stay. So we may turn our attention from the marring 
of the surrounding beauty to the Falls themselves. 

Geological changes are taking place so slowly that 
they need not be reckoned with as a probable destroyer 
of the Falls for ages yet to come. Moreover, their 
effect is treated in another chapter. The history of 
the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing 
Company, as a user of power from the Falls, antedates 
even its legislative recognition. Between the years of 
1888 and 1894 nine companies were recognised or char- 
tered in the State of New York. These charters were 
granted very freely, no revenue was required for 
the use of the waters, and in sorae cases no limita- 
tion was placed upon the amount to be used. Of these 
charters, all were granted in good faith; but it is very 
doubtful if all were received in that spirit. Some of 

Harnessing Niagara Falls m 

the companies failed to effect an organisation, others 
offered to sell their rights as soon as obtained. Various 
limitations were put upon the time in which work must 
be begim. At least three of the charters have lapsed 
by their own time limitations, one franchise was 
sold by its original owners ; one other shows at times 
faint signs of life; another is leading a questionable 
existence, while two, the Hydraulic Power and Manu- 
facturing Company and the Niagara Falls Power 
Company, are producing and selling power. To these 
two organisations are to be credited the great indus- 
trial development on the American side and they are 
not yet using the amount of water allowed them by 
their charters. 

As a result, of course, the flow of water is of smaller 
voltune; but this cannot be perceived by the casual 
observer. However, citizens of Niagara Falls insist 
that the decreased flow is manifested in other 
ways; such as the annual gorging of ice at the 
head of the American channel almost laying this 
channel bare and sending its water to the Cana- 
dian side. This happens very rarely with a normal 
depth. Besides this it became necessary not long ago 
to move the dock at which the Maid of the Mist 
lands, the water line having retreated as a result of 
decreased volume. 

The two American companies are not expecting to 
diminish their consumption of water in any way. The 
growing demands for power have caused each contin- 
ually to enlarge its plants. The Niagara Falls Power 
Company, realising the great growing demand for 
cheap power, has obtained a large interest in one of 
the Canadian companies. The amount of water which 

112 The Niagara River 

may be used by these companies according to charter 
limits is as follows: 

Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manu- 
facturing Co 7,700 cu. ft. per sec. 

Niagara Falls Power Company 8,600 " 

(( <( K 

Total 16,3 


The power produced by these companies at present 
is no fair estimate of the amount of water taken from 
the river. On the American side, below the steel arch 
bridge, may be seen what is called the "back yard view 
of Niagara." Here a number of small cascades are 
seen spouting from the side of the cliff, only a small 
part of the fall being utilised by the factories situated 
there. Some of this water is now being collected into 
penstocks, to be utilised again at the base of the cliff. 

On turning to the three Canadian companies, those 
of the American side pale beside their gigantic propor- 
tions. In contrast with the companies chartered, it 
may be said that none of these is inactive; on the 
contrary they are giving the strongest manifestations 
of energy. Following are the limits to which they 
may make use of Niagara's waters: 

Canadian Niagara Power Co 8,900 cu. ft. per sec. 

Ontario Power Co 12,000 

Toronto and Niagara Power Co 11,200 

(( K 
(( i( 

Total 32,100 

Adding to this total the charter limits of the two Amer- 
ican companies now operating, the grand total is raised 
to 48,400 cubic feet per second. This of itself is a dry 
fact and does not form much of a percentage of the 

Harnessino^ Niag^ara Falls 113 

'Cs *"*"& 

whole voliune going over the Falls. Such a loss would 
not mean so much if it would manifest itself the same 
along the whole crest of the Hne of the cliff; but here 
must be taken into consideration the configuration 
of the bed of the river. 

The bed of Niagara is composed of rock which dips 
gradually and uniformly westward. The ledge is ten 
feet higher on the American side than on the Canadian. 
The water of the American fall is therefore ten feet 
shallower. The amoimt of water going over the Falls 
has been variously estimated, engineers differing in 
their conclusions as much as sixty thousand cubic feet 
per second. Averages based upon the estimates of 
United States engineers for forty years, of the amount 
of mean flow of water passing Buffalo from Lake Erie, 
shows 222,400 cubic feet per second. This of course 
does not make allowance for that taken by the WeUand 
and the Erie canals. This is probably about eqtialised 
by the amount entering the lake and river between 
this city and the Falls, so that the figures forming 
the basis of most computations are 224,000 cubic feet 
per second. The amount of power capable of develop- 
ment by the Falls is about 3,800,000 horse-power, 
which would be greatly increased by adding the fall 
from the beginning of the rapids to the crest of the cat- 
aract. Goat Island, situated just off the American 
shore, divides the waters very unevenly, sending more 
than three-fourths the volume toward the Canadian 
shore. Now, as has been seen, less than one-fourth 
the whole volume pours down the American channel; 
and as this is much shallower than the main body of 
water, it is here that any diminished flow will be first 
felt. At the head of the island the great body of the 

114 The Niagara River 

current turns toward the west, by far the larger amount 
converging into the funnel of the magnificent Horseshoe 
Falls. The American channel in contrast contains 
a very feeble flow, and therefore would be the first to 
exhibit any dearth of water. 

Calculations based upon the preceding figures, tak- 
ing into consideration the length of the Falls, and the 
difference in elevation of the river's bed at the crest, 
show that when the flow has been reduced by 184,000 
cubic feet per second, or by 40,000 cubic feet, the water 
in the American channel will be brought down to the 
rock bottom of the shore's edge. Then, although the 
Horseshoe Falls will continue to be an object of ad- 
miration to the traveller, and although the current will 
continue to sweep through the American channel and 
over the American Falls, the beauty and grandeur of 
the latter will fade away. Let the amount of water 
abstracted from the river be doubled, and, though 
the Canadian Falls would still continue an object of 
admiration, the American channel would be entirely dry. 

Returning to the present and immediately contem- 
plated draft upon the river's waters, we find that the 
two American and the three Canadian companies, when 
using their charter limits, will take 48,000 cubic feet 
per second. This will bring the level at the crest of the 
Falls down to the bottom of the river at the American 
shore. This, then, is the immediate prospect. Many 
thmgs may intervene before this point is reached. We 
are not permitted to stop, however, with the considera- 
tion of these five companies alone. One of the last 
organisations chartered by the State of New York to 
obtain water from Niagara is the Niagara Lockport 
and Ontario Power Company. In 1894, this company 

Harnessing Niagara Falls 115 

obtained a franchise placing no restriction upon the 
amount of water to be used, and limited to ten years in 
which to begin work. In 1904, they came again to the 
Legislature, asking for an improved charter in several 
respects, especially a lengthening of time in which to 
begin operations. This company proposed to take 
water from near La Salle and not to return it to the 
river at all, but to take it overland by canal to Lock- 
port and then empty it directly into Lake Ontario. 
The bill providing for this charter passed both houses, 
but it was vetoed by Governor Odell. The veto took 
place on May 15, 1904. The original charter was 
granted on May 21, 1894. Six days of grace yet re- 
mained of the ten years allowed the company. There 
is said to be a slender, shallow ditch south of Lockport, 
which represents the work done in the six days left. It 
has been rumoured that the most of this company's 
stock has passed into the hands of a great corporation. 
Undoubtedly, under some form of reorganisation, there 
wiU, in the near future, be an attempt on the part of 
its members to gain a share of the great free power of 
Niagara. Under the old charter, which does not limit 
the amount of water to be consumed, it will probably 
not consume less than the other large companies, say 
10,000 cubic feet per second. 

But the only danger to the life of the Falls is not to 
be found alone in the Niagara power companies. Six 
himdred miles to the west is the Chicago Main Drain- 
age Canal, which at first took from the Lakes about 
three thousand cubic feet per minute. Many proposi- 
tions have been made to enlarge this canal. These are 
fraught with taxing engineering problems; but it is 
difficult to say just what the future has in store in this 

ii6 The Niagara River 

line. This, however, is not all; Canada, in the hope of 
gaining part of the commerce of the Great Lakes for 
the St. Lawrence, has proposed a canal by way of Geor- 
gian Bay and the Ottawa River, thus shortening the 
lake route by five hundred miles. To these may be 
added propositions for a deep-water connection between 
the Lakes and the Hudson, between Lake Winnipeg 
and Lake Superior, between Toronto and Lake Huron, 
the demands of Cincinnati and Pittsburg for canals, 
Wisconsin's desire for a canal connecting the Lakes 
through her territory with the Mississippi, the plan 
for a canal from Duluth to the Mississippi ; and one may 
see with what danger this great natural wonder is 
threatened. Many of these proposed plans, doubtless, 
will never be realised; some on account of engineering 
difficulties, others on account of the failure of their 
projectors to count upon the true relation between 
cost of construction and what would likely be the rev- 
enue obtained. All these subjects, however, must be 
given due consideration by one who desires to know 
what is considered to be the immediate danger to the 
Falls, or that which may effect them at no very distant 
future date. 

On January i8, 1907, Secretary of War Taft ren- 
dered a decision under the Burton Act for the preserva- 
tion of Niagara Falls on the applications of American 
companies for the use of water and of Canadian com- 
panies wishing to send electric power into the United 
States, and at the same time announced the appoint- 
ment of a commission to beautify the vicinity of the 
Falls. The amount of water allowed to companies 
in New York is practically that now used, and sub- 
stantially as limited by the Act of Congress as a 

Harnessing Niagara Falls 117 

maximum. The Secretary found no evidence that 
the flow over the American Falls has been in- 
juriously affected in recent years. The claims of the 
Canadian companies, acting in conjtinction with elec- 
tric companies on this side of the river, had to be 
materially cut down to come within the law limiting 
the total current to 160,000 horse-power. The allot- 
ments in electric horse-power to be transmitted to the 
United States are as follows: 

The International Railway Company, 1500. 
(8000 asked). 

The Ontario Power Company, 60,000 (90,000 
asked) . 

The Canadian Niagara Falls Power Company, 
52,500 (121,500 asked). 

The Electrical Development Company, 46,000 
(62,000 asked). 

All these permits are revocable at pleasure, and, in 
the absence of further legislation in Congress, will 
expire on June 29, 1909. 

In the course of his decision, after discussing the 
intent of the law, Mr. Taft says: 

Acting upon the same evidence which Congress had, and upon 
the additional statement made to me at the hearing by Dr. 
John M. Clark, state geologist of New York, who seems to have 
been one of those engaged from the beginning in the whole 
movement for the presentation of Niagara Falls, and who has 
given close scientific attention to the matter, I have reached the 
conclusion that with the diversion of 15,600 cubic feet on the 
American side and the transmission of 160,000 horse-power from 
the Canadian side the scenic grandeur of the Falls will not be 
affected substantially or perceptibly to the eye. 

With respect to the American Falls, this is an increase of 
only 2500 cubic feet a second over what is now being diverted 

ii8 The Niagara River 

and has been diverted for many years, and has not affected 
the Falls as a scenic wonder. 

With respect to the Canadian side, the water is drawn from 
the river in such a way as not to affect the American Falls at all, 
because the point from which it is drawn is considerably below 
the level of the water at the point where the waters separate 
above Goat Island, and the Waterways Commission and Dr. 
Clark agree that the taking of 13,000 cubic feet from the Cana- 
dian side will not in any way affect or reduce the water going 
over the American Falls. The water going over the Falls on the 
Canadian side of Goat Island is about five times the volume of 
that which goes over the American Falls, or, counting the total as 
220,000 cubic feet a second, the volume of the Horseshoe Falls 
would be about 180,000 cubic feet. If the amount withdrawn 
on the Canadian side for Canadian use were 5000 cubic feet 
a second, which it is not likely to be during the three years' 
life of these permits, the total to be withdrawn would not 
exceed ten per cent, of the volume of the stream, and, considering 
the immense quantity which goes over the Horseshoe Falls, 
the diminution would not be perceptible to the eye. 

Taking up first the application for permits for diversion 
on the American side, there is not room for discussion or difference. 
The Niagara Falls Power Company is now using about 8600 
cubic feet of water a second and producing about 76,630 horse- 
power. There is some question as to the necessity of using some 
water for sluicing. This must be obtained from the 8600 cubic 
feet permitted, and the use of the water for other purposes 
when sluicing is being done must be diminished. The Niagara 
Falls Hydraulic Power and Manufacturing Company is now 
using 4000 cubic feet a second and has had under construction 
for a period long antedating the Burton Act a plant arranged to 
divert 2500 cubic feet a second and furnish 36,000 horse-power 
to the Pittsburg Reduction and Mining Company. A permit will 
therefore issue to the Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and Manu- 
facturing Company for the diversion of 6500 cubic feet a 
second, and the same rule must obtain as to sluicing, as 
already stated. 

As the object of the act i^ to preserve the scenic beauty 

The Riverside at Willow Island. 

Harnessing Niagara Falls 119 

of Niagara Falls, I conceive it to be within my power to im- 
pose conditions upon the granting of these permits, compliance 
with which will remedy the unsightly appearance that is given 
the American side of the canyon just below the falls on the 
American side, where the tunnel of the Niagara Falls Power 
Company discharges and where the works of the hydraulic 
company are placed. 

The representative of the American Civic Association has 
properly described the effect upon the sightseer of the view 
toward the side of the canyon to be that of looking into the back 
yard of a house negligently kept. For the ptirpose of aiding 
me in determining what ought to be done to remove this eyesore, 
including the appearance of the buildings at the top, I shall 
appoint a committee consisting of Charles F. McKim, Frank D. 
Millet, and F. L. Olmsted to advise me what changes, at an 
expense not out of proportion to the extent of the investment, 
can be made which will put the side of the canyon at this point 
from bottom to top in natural harmony with the Falls and the 
other surroundings, and will conceal, as far as possible, the raw 
commercial aspect that now offends the eye. This consideration 
has been in view in the construction of works on the Canadian 
side and in the buildings of the Niagara Falls Power Company, 
above the Falls. There is no reason why similar care should not 
be enforced here. 

Water is being withdrawn from the Erie Canal at the lake 
level for water-power purposes, and applications have been made 
for permits authorising this. Not more than four hundred 
cubic feet are thus used in the original draft of water that is not 
returned to the canal in such a way as not to lower the level 
of the lake. The water is used over and over again. It seems 
to me that the permit might very well be granted to the first 
user. As the water is taken from the canal, which is state 
property, and the interest and jurisdiction of the federal govern- 
ment grow out of the direct effect upon the level of the lake, 
the permit should recite that this does not confer any right 
upon a consiuner of the water to take the water from the canal 
without authority and subject to the conditions imposed by the 
canal authorities, but that it is intended to operate and its opera- 

I20 The Niagara River 

tion is limited to confer, so far as the federal government is 
concerned and the Secretary of War is authorised, the right 
to take the water and to claim immunity from any prosecution 
or legal objection under the fifth section of the Burton Act. 

When Sir Hiram S. Maxim, the distinguished in- 
ventor and scientist, made his recent announcement 
to Peter Cooper Hewitt that the next great achieve- 
ment of science would be the harnessing of the whole 
energy of Niagara and the sending of a message to 
Mars, he hit the nail, in the opinion of Nikola Tesla, 
squarely on the head. 

Mr. Tesla announces that with the co-operation of 
power-producing companies at Niagara Falls he is 
preparing to hail Mars with Niagara's voice. A way 
has been found at last for transmitting a wireless 
message across the gulf, varying from 40,000,000 to 
100,000,000 miles, which separates this earth from 
Mars. Once that has been accomplished and Mars, 
which is considerably older and supposedly more ad- 
vanced in science than we, has acknowledged the receipt 
of our signal and sent back flash for flash, it will remain 
to devise an interplanetary code through the medium of 
which the scientists of this world and of Mars will be 
able to understand what each is saying to the other. 

Mr. Tesla has been quietly working for several years 
on a wireless power plant capable of transmitting 
10,000 horse-power to any part of the world, or to any 
of our neighbouring planets, for that matter. The mere 
matter of distance between despatching and receiving 
points is absolutely no object whatever. Wireless 
power, Mr. Tesla says may be sent one million or more 
miles just as easily as one mile. 

Harnessing Niagara Falls 121 

Several of the electric power companies with im- 
mense generating plants at Niagara Falls, it is reported, 
have agreed to co-operate with Mr. Tesla in an effort 
to reach Mars by wireless. 

The development of the hydraulic power of Niagara 
on the Canadian side is leading to some interesting 

A tribunal called the hydro-electric power commission has 
been created [says a writer in a recent issue of Gassier' s Maga- 
zine], and in the hands of this body has been placed the entire 
domestic regulation of the power product of stations coming 
within government control. 

In addition there has been given to the various municipalities 
the right to undertake the distribution of electrical energy 
within their respective limits. 

In order that the commission may be in a position to dictate 
terms to the existing private companies it is important that the 
co-operation of the municipalities be obtained, and this appears 
to be partially accomplished. 

The city of Toronto has already arranged for 15,000 horse- 
power of electric energy from Xiagara, the price being $14 to 
$16 per horse-power for a supply for a 24-hour day, including 
transmission to Toronto, the local distribution to be in the 
hands of the municipality, and it is believed that a ntmiber of 
other cities and towns will make similar arrangements. 

These arrangements are made with the hydro-electric power 
commission, and it in turn must either secure the power supply 
from the existing private companies or else proceed to develop 
its own stations. 

It is hardly probable that the latter alternative will be found 
necessary, since the result would be to leave the private cor- 
porations with the greater part of their prospective custom 
permanently taken away, so that the real consequence of the 
recent legislation is to compel the companies to supply the muni- 
cipalities through the commission at prices determined by the 
engineers of the new body. 

122 The Niagara River 

It is possible that such measures will prove advantageous 
to the public, but much will depend upon the manner in which 
the law is carried out. It has been intimated that this legis- 
lation will render it exceedingly difficult for promoters to induce 
outside capital to engage in the development of natural re- 
sources in Canada hereafter. 

Chapter VI 
A Century of Niagara Cranks 

THE swirling waters of Niagara have ever been a 
challenge to a vast army of adventurers who 
found in their own daring heedlessness a means 
here of gaining money and a mushroom glory. 
Of all these ''Niagara Cranks," as they are known 
locally, the tight-rope walkers undoubtedly have the 
strongest claim to our admiration for the utter daring 
of their feats, however mercenary may have been the 
motives. "Tut, tut! my friends," would reply one of 
these brave, popular heroes if you had mentioned fear, 
"'tis nothing at all"; then, confidentially, he would 
have whispered in yoiu* ear: "You can't help getting 
across. You get out to the middle of the rope, and 
there you are. If you turn back you lose your money, 
and if you go on you get it. That 's aU." 

It was the great Blondin who stands king of the 
tight-rope walkers of Niagara, leaving behind him a 
reputation as the greatest tight-rope walker of the 

Charles Emile Gravelet was bom at Hesdin, near 

Calais, on the twenty-eighth of February, 1824, and 

died in Ealing, near London, February 22, 1897. His 

father, whose nickname, "Blondin," from the colour 

of his hair, descended to his son, was a soldier of the 

First Empire who had seen service under Napoleon at 


124 The Niagara River 

Austerlitz, Wagram, and Moscow, but died when his son 
was in his ninth year. The pluck and strength that 
young Blondin had was displayed as early as his fourth 
year; when only a few years older he was trained by 
the principal of I'Ecole de Gymnase at Lyons in many 
gymnastic feats, and after six months there, was 
brought out as "The Little Wonder." He excelled 
especially at tight-rope dancing, jumping, and somer- 
sault-throwing. One of his notable jumps was over 
a double rank of soldiers with bayonets fixed. The 
agent of an American Company — the Ravels — aware of 
his success in the French provinces finally gave him a 
two years' engagement for the United States, which 
afterwards was extended to eight years. He came to 
America in 1855 ; and it was not long after, when look- 
ing across the Niagara Falls, that he remarked to Mr. 
Ravel : 

"What a splendid place for a tight-rope perform- 

The idea was impressive and as a result, after labo- 
rious preparations, Blondin was ready to cross a wire, 
June 30, 1859. Despite the unanimous howl of deri- 
sion at the idea, people could not resist the temptation 
to see the rash performer throw his life away; and the 
crowd that gathered was the largest ever seen at the 
Falls. It is interesting, from more than one standpoint, 
to quote the New York Herald of July i, 1859, on the 

Monsieur Blondin has just successfully accomplished the feat 
of walking across the Niagara on a tight rope, in the presence 
of a crowd variously estimated at from five thousa,nd to ten 
thousand persons. He first crossed from the American side, 
stopping midway to refresh himself with water raised in a bottle 









A Century of Niagara Cranks 125 

with a rope from the deck of the steamer Maid of the Mist. 
The time occupied in the first crossing was seventeen minutes 
and a half. The return from the British to the American side 
was accompHshed in twelve minutes. 

According to other sources, the crowd was estimated 
at fifty thousand. Blondin did considerably more 
than merely pass over, for he carried a pole weighing 
forty pounds, and did some extraordinary feats of bal- 
ancing and came ashore amid the huzzas of the crowd, 
with the whole country ringing with the news of the 
daring exploit. 

Some little difficulty was always encountered by 
tight-rope walkers from proprietors of the river banks 
where the rope was to be attached on their theory that 
nothing could be allowed to occur at Niagara of a 
money-making nature unless they were a party to the 
plunder. One HambHn stood surety for the payment 
for Blondin's rope, which was over fifteen hundred 
feet long and cost thirteen hundred dollars. 

A few months later Blondin carried his manager, 
Harry Colcourt or Colcord, across on his back. It is 
said (and also has been denied) that on this occasion 
Blondin had a quarrel w^ith Colcord. The latter had 
previously been trained to balance himself in order 
that he might be let down on the rope in the middle 
of the river, to permit Blondin to take breath. The 
wind was strong, and the manager showed visible 
signs of nervousness, while the rope swayed in a sickly 
manner. Then, according to the stor}', Blondin threat- 
ened to leave his manager on the rope at the mer- 
cy of the waters underneath, unless he kept himself 
under control. Needless to say, the threat was success- 
ful, and the trip across was safely made. For this 

126 The Niagara River 

special feat Blondin received a gold medal from the 
inhabitants of the village, as a tribute of admiration, 
with the following inscription: 

Presented to Mons. T. F. Blondin by the citizens of Niagara 
Falls in appreciation of a feat never before attempted by man, 
but by him successfully performed on the 19th of August, 1859, 
that of carrying a man upon his back over the Falls of Niagara 
on a tight rope. 

Of the ordinary run of mortals few would care to 
attempt Blondin 's feat, but it is not impossible that 
many an actor envied the daring athlete's position of 
utter mastery over his manager. 

A few days later the fearless Blondin again crossed 
the river chained hand and foot. On his return he 
carried a cooking stove and made an omelet which he 
lowered to the passengers on the deck of the Maid of the 
Mist below. At another time he crossed with a bushel 
basket on each foot, and once carried a woman on his 
back. On September 8, i860, Blondin performed 
before the Prince of Wales, now Edward VII., the rope 
being stretched 230 feet above the rapids, between two 
of the steepest cliffs on the river. The cool actor 
turned somersaults before His Royal Highness, and 
successfully managed to cross on a pair of stilts. The 
Prince watched every movement through a telescope 
and was highly interested, but it is reported that he 
exclaimed, when Blondin safely reached the end of 
the rope, ** Thank God, he is over!" and hurried him a 
check for the perilous feat. 

Apparently Blondin did not know what nervousness 
meant; his secret has been described as confidence in 
himself, obtained by long practice in rope-walking. 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 127 

There is no doubt some of the victims he has carried 
across his rope have suffered; it is said that Blondin 
would talk to his companions on the most indifferent 
subjects; he would urge them to sit perfectly still, avoid 
catching him around the neck or looking do-^Tiward. 
What he considered as one of his greatest feats was in 
walking on a rope from the mainmast to the mizzen 
on board the Peninsular and Oriental steamer Pomiah, 
while on her way to Australia, between Aden and GaUe, 
in 1874. He had to sit dowTi five times while heavy 
waves were approaching the ship. Blondin s last 
performance was in Agricultural HaU, London, on 
Christmas, 1894, where he appeared as active and 
nimble as ever. The fact is certainly wonderful that 
for nearly seventy years he walked the tight rope 
without accident. 

Mr. W. D. HoweUs was an eye-witness to three cross- 
ings of Blondin's in i860, which he has graphically 
described : 

The man himself looked cool and jfresh enough but I, who 
was not used to such violent fatigues as he must have undergone 
in these three transits, was bathed in a cold perspiration, and so 
weak and worn with making them in sympathy that I could 
scarcely walk away. 

Long afterwards I was telling about this experience of 
mine — it was really more mine than Blondin's — in the neat 
shop of a Venetian pharmacist, to a select circle of the physicians 
who wait in such places in Venice for the call of their patients. 
One of these civilised men, asked: "Where was the government?" 
And I answered in my barbarous pride of our individualism: 
"The government had nothing to do with it. In America 
the government has nothing to do with such things." But now 
I think that this Venetian was right, and that such a show as I 
have tried to describe ought no more to have been permitted 
than the fight of a man with a wild beast. It was an offence 

128 The Niagara River 

to morality, and it thinned the frail barrier which the aspiration 
of centuries has slowly erected between humanity and savagery. 

Enough savage criticism met Blondin in England; 
his rope- walking in Crystal Palace, Sydenham, upon 
a rope 240 feet long and at a height of 170 feet, in 
imitation of the Niagara feat, was considered a sicken- 
ing spectacle. Said Once a Week: 

We wish Mr. Blondin no sort of harm, but if his audiences 
were to dwindle down to nothing, so as to cause him to retire 
upon his savings, we should congratulate him upon having es- 
caped a great danger, and the country upon getting rid of a 
disgrace to the intelligence of the age. 

Blondin ended his career as an English country 
gentleman at Niagara House, South Haling. He was 
wont to display a profusion of diamond rings and 
studs, all gifts of admirers, and the cherished gold medal 
from the citizens of Niagara Falls; he, too, was the 
proud possessor of one of the two gold medals struck 
in commemoration of the Crystal Palace in 1854, Queen 
Victoria having the other. He had also the cross from 
ex-Queen Isabel of Spain, entitling him to the title of 
Chevalier. The athlete's baggage, when on a tour, 
consisted of a main rope of eight hundred feet, six and 
a half inches in circumference, and weighing eight hun- 
dredweight ; twenty-eight straining ropes, eighty tying- 
bars, the average weight, not including poles, being 
five and a half tons. The freight of his outfit, including 
a huge travelling-tent, which could encompass fourteen 
thousand people, amounted to five thousand dollars 
between Southampton and Melbourne. About three 
days were consumed in making his preparations by the 
aid of a dozen assistants. The due adjustment of the 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 129 

rope was his principal care, and he superintended every 

Like many a Frenchman, Blondin never mastered 
the intricacies of the EngHsh language. In a rather 
queer and rambling fragment of autobiography written 
some years ago, he tells us that the rope he generally 
used was formed with a flexible core of steel-wire cov- 
ered with the best manila-hemp, about an inch or three 
quarters in diameter, several hundred yards in length, 
and costing about fifteen hundred dollars. A large 
windlass at either end of the rope served to make it 
taut, while it was supported by two high poles. His 
balancing poles of ash wood varied in length and were 
of three sections, and weighed from thirty-seven to 
forty-seven pounds. He was indifferent as to the 
height at which he was to perform. Blondin has never 
confessed to any nervousness on the rope, and, while 
walking, he generally looked eighteen or twenty feet 
ahead, and whistled or hummed some snatch of a song. 
The time kept by a band frequently aided him in 
preserving his balance. He was something of both 
carpenter and blacksmith, and was able to make his 
own models and fit up his own apparatus. 

While Blondin yet performed at the Falls there 
appeared Signor Farini in i860, and stretched a cable 
across the Gorge near the hydraulic canal basin. On 
August 8, 1864, Farini reappeared walking about the 
Rapids above the American fall on stilts. He was 
certainly an expert on the rope and commanded 
much attention, but he was not able to snatch the 
laurel from the Frenchman's brow — he has been for- 
gotten, while Blondin's fame has Hved. We must, 
however, chronicle a thrilling incident attached to 

130 The Niagara River 

his. performance in 1864. Between Robinson's Island 
and the precipice Farini was suddenly delayed. He 
claimed his stilts caught in a crevice. His brother 
succeeded in reaching a log between the old paper-mill 
and Robinson's Island, from which he threw a line, 
with a weight attached, to the adventurer, and by this 
line a pail of provisions was sent to Farini. A larger 
line was thrown and both reached shore by way of Goat 

There has hardly been a year in which some tight- 
rope exhibition has not taken place at Niagara Falls. 

Harry Leslie crossed the Gorge on a rope-cable in 
July and August, 1865. He achieved the title of " The 
American Blondin." 

In 1873, when Signor Balleni (Ballini?) stretched a 
cable from a point opposite the old Clifton House to 
Prospect Park, he leaped three times into the river as 
an extra inducement, aided in his descent by a rubber 
cord. In 1886 he reappeared, climbed to the iron rail- 
ing on the upper suspension bridge, knocked the ice 
from under his feet to secure a footing, and at the signal 
of a pistol shot jumped into the air. He struck the 
water in four seconds, broke a rib, lost his senses, and 
came to the surface some sixty feet from where he 
entered. This was the same man who jumped from 
Hungerford Bridge, London, in 1888, and was drowned. 
In July, 1876, Signorina Maria Spelterini crossed the 
Gorge on a tight-rope with baskets on her feet. The 
performance brought out a tremendous crowd, proba- 
bly because she was the first woman daring to try con- 
clusions with Blondin and his many imitators. She 
got across safely with her baskets and her name. She 
won great favour and forever established the fact that 

The Path to the Cave of the Winds. 
From a photograph by Xotman, Montreal. 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 131 

a woman is as level-headed as a man. In the seventies 
of the last century, a young fellow, Stephen Peere, a 
painter by trade, stretched a cable across the Falls. 
In 1878 he gave variety to his career by jumping 
from one of the bridges, and in 1887 he finished it by 
jumping to his death. He had previously, on June 
22, 1887, walked across the Gorge on a wire cable six- 
eighths of an inch in diameter. This was a wonderful 
performance, considering the fact that aU the others 
had used a rope two inches in diameter. Only three 
days later he was found dead on a bank beneath his 
rope, stretched between the old suspension and the 
cantilever bridges. It is supposed he attempted to 
practise in night time, but as nobody saw him he met 
his fate; this is only supposition. A man, " Profes- 
sor" De Leon, aspiring to become Peere's successor, 
started out on August 15, 1887, to cross the latter's 
cable. After going a short distance he became fright- 
ened, slid down a rope, and disappeared in the bushes. 
He was later seen ascending the bank by a ladder, and 
thus came back to the bosom of his family. MacDon- 
ald made several very creditable attempts, and proved 
himself an excellent walker. He also went across with 
baskets on his feet, and frightened the gaping crowd 
by hanging with his legs from the wire, head downwards. 
Another freak, I. F. Jenkins, stretched his cable 
across the Gorge over the Rapids. With a keen 
eye for effect and sensation he selected as one of his 
principal feats, crossing by velocipede. The machine, 
however, was specially constructed for this purpose; 
it was a turned-down contrivance, only resembling 
a bicycle, and had an ingeniously devised balancing 
apparatus in lieu of a pole attached by a metal frame- 

132 The Niagara River 

work to the wheels. Thus this pibce de resistance was 
not so remarkable after all. Samuel John Dixon, a 
Toronto photographer, was on his way to a Photo- 
graphers' Annual Convention when he observed Peere's 
cable still stretched across the Rapids of Niagara. He 
remarked that he too could cross on it, but the remark 
was not taken seriously ; to prove that he was in earnest, 
Dixon, on his return, actually made the dangerous trip 
on the three-quarter inch cable, measuring 923 feet in 
length. One of this amateur's crack feats was laying 
down with his back on the wire. He has made several 
other passages since, — ^the first occurring on September 
6, 1890 — always with great eclat. Dixon has always 
been vigorously applauded. James E. Hardy has also 
successful crossings at the Gorge to hi^ credit. He also 
holds the "record" of being the youngest man that 
ever performed the feat. Another Toronto man, Clif- 
ford M. Calverley, has been styled "The World's Cham- 
pion," and "The American Blondin," but although 
very clever, many of his feats are just those which 
made the Frenchman famous over forty years ago. 
His wheelbarrow feat is certainly middle-aged 
although it still remains as difficult to perform as it 
was in Blondin's days. People never tire of it and 
Calverley was, indeed, a remarkable gymnast. He 
erected a wire cable at about the same point between 
the bridges at which Peere and Dixon had crossed, and 
gave public exhibitions on October 12, 1892, and July 
I, 1893. He performed numerous stunning feats as 
high-kicking, walking with baskets on his feet, cooking 
meals on the rope, and chair-balancing; he also gave 
night exhibitions, which was original. 

One man at least took the tight-rope route across 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 133 

Niagara who had not practised the feat. This was a 
criminal who escaped his captors near this locality in 
1883; the sheriff was behind him, the river in front, 
and only the wires of the old bridge at Lewiston to 
help him across. Hand over hand he began the pas- 
sage. His hands quickly blistered, and then they bled. 
Again and again he rested his arms by hanging by his 
legs, and at last reached the opposite bank where he 
lay panting fully an hour before he continued his 

We have seen that all the tight-rope walkers at 
Niagara met with extraordinary luck w^hile crossing 
the Gorge; in fact, we have no record that anybody 
ever lost his Hfe while performing on the wire. Peere 
met w^ith an accident, and was kiUed in night-time; it 
is said he was intoxicated and tried to cross with his 
boots on. BaUini met his death in the Thames River. 
Many Hves, however, have been lost in attempting to 
brave the waters of the canyon at Niagara. 

Attracted by the sensational setting adrift of the 
condemned brig Michigan over the Falls in 1829, Sam 
Patch, a man who had won fame at Pawtucket Falls 
and other Eastern points as a high-jtimper, erected 
a ladder on the foot-path tmder Goat Island, and an- 
notmced to the world that he would jump into Niagara 
River. The hotel keepers patted him on the back, 
and left no stone unturned to enable him to draw the 
biggest crowd of the season. Patch rested the bottom 
of his ladder on the edge, just north of the Biddle Stairs, 
with the top inclining over the river, staying it with 
ropes to the trees on the bank. At the top was a small 
platform, and from this Patch dived ninety-seven feet ; 
he jumped a second time to prove that the first feat 

134 The Niagara River 

was not a fluke. Shortly afterwards he leaped 
to his death from the Genesee Fall in Rochester, 
N. Y. 

Captain Matthew Webb, of Niagara fame, was bom 
in Shropshire, England, in 1840. He went to sea at 
an early age and became captain of a merchantman, and 
first attracted notice by jumping from a Cunard steamer 
to save a man who had fallen overboard, for which he 
was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Humane So- 
ciety. In 1875 he accomplished the feat of swimming 
the English Channel from Dover to Calais, a distance 
of twenty-five miles. 

The disastrous attempt to swim the rapids at Niag- 
ara took place on July 2, 1883. Webb wore no life 
preserver and scorned a barrel, depending solely on 
his own strength to put him through. Leaving his 
hotel, the old Clifton House, since destroyed by fire, at 
4 P.M., before an immense crowd on the clififs and 
bridges (for the event had been well heralded), he 
entered a small boat with Jack McCloy at the oars, 
and was carried to a point on the lower river several 
hundred feet above the lower bridges. It was 4.25 
when, clad in a pair of red trunks, he leaped from the 
boat into the water, and boldly swam towards the 
Rapids. It was 4.32 when he passed under the bridges. 
He then stroked out gracefully and beautifully. In 
three minutes more he had reached the fiercest part of 
the Rapids when a great wave struck him — and he 
disappeared from the sight of the thousands of 
eyes that watched the boiling waters, praying that 
his life might be spared. He came once again into 
view but then disappeared forever in the raging 

A Century of Niagara Cranks . 135 

The Saturday Review of July 28, 1883,^ voiced the 
British feeling when it said: 

It was unquestionably very appropriate that Mr. "Webb should 
have met his death in America, and in sight of the United 
States. That country has a passion for big shows, and has now 
been indulged in the biggest thing of its kind which has been 
seen in this generation. Nothing was to be gained by success — 
if success had been possible — ^beyond a temporary notoriety and 
the applause of a mob. . . . 

As long as there is a popular demand for these essentially 
barbarous amusements, men and women will be found who are 
desperate, or greedy, or vain enough to risk their lives and ruin 
their health for money or applause. . . . The death of Mr. 
Webb is shocking in the last degree; but it will not be wholly 
useless if it at least awakens the sight-seeing world to some 
sense of what it is they have been encouraging. 

It is interesting to compare this just criticism w^th 
that passed on Blondin's exhibition at Crystal Palace 
previously quoted. 

When Webb swam across the channel, the feat was 
a remarkable instance of strength and endurance. It 
showed that a powerful man who was a good swimmer 
could continue to make progress through the water on 
a very fine day for over twenty hours. Indeed, ship- 
wrecked sailors have done nearly as much under far 
less favorable circimistances ; but as far as it went, 
Webb's was a very creditable performance. But in 
the Channel many vessels were following him and wotild 
have picked him up the moment he became exhausted. 
Yet it was nowise to his credit to throw his hfe away 
at Niagara, and render his children orphans, for the 
ignoble object of pleasing a mob. 

It was not long before another swimmer appeared 

'Vol. Ivi., p. 106, seq. 

136 The Niagara River 

who wore a harness over his shoulders to which was 
attached a wire running loosely over a cylinder on the 
bridge, which kept his feet straight towards Davy Jones's 
locker; he survived the leap to his considerable personal 
profit. From bridge to water he went in four seconds — 
the only time on record. Another foolhardy feat was 
performed by some of the reckless men who decorate 
almost inaccessible landscapes with possibly truthful 
but most annoying, puffs of ague-pills, liver-pads, 
tooth-powder, and such. A log once lodged forty 
rods above Goat Island, where for four years it 
lay seemingly beyond himian reach. It touched the 
pride of certain shameless and professional advertisers, 
who were famous for their ingenious vandalism, that 
such a chance should be wasted. So, when the Rapids 
were thinly frozen over, they made their cautious way 
to the log, and soon there was a gorgeous sign fixed, 
twelve feet by four, on the very fore-front of one of 
the world's grandest spots, to- wit: 

Go East via Lake Winipiseogee R. R.* 

Nothing daunted by the sad fate of Captain Webb, 
a burly Boston policeman, W. I. Kendall, went through 
the Rapids on August 22, 1886, protected by only a 
cork life-preserver. All previous trips had been pub- 
licly announced, but Kendall slipped through with 
only a few spectators, accidentally on the cliffs or 
bridges, to bear witness. For this reason some have 
felt that the trip was never made, but men of integrity 
are known who witnessed the performance. On Sun- 
day, August 14, 1887, "Professor" Alphonse King 
crossed the river below the Falls and bridge on a water 
bicycle. The wheel with paddles was erected between 

American Falls from Goat Island. 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 137 

two water-tight cylinders, eight inches in diameter and 
ten feet long. 

"Steve" Brodie, who had achieved great notoriety 
by jumping from Brooklyn Bridge, created a greater 
sensation by going over the Falls. This occurred on 
September 7, 1889. Brodie wore an india-rubber suit, 
surrounded by thick steel bands. The suit was very 
thickly padded, yet Brodie was brought ashore bruised 
and insensible. His victories won, he became the pro- 
prietor of a Bowery bar-room, and the pride of the 
neighbourhood . 

The cranks that were tr\*ing to get through the 
Whirlpool did not arrive at Niagara until about 1886, 
but from that on we find an embarras de richesse of 
them for a decade or so until the peciiliar mania for 
notoriety died out. 

The fate that befell Webb could not discourage 
others to venture the perilous trip, and, probably, the 
pioneer of them was C. D. Graham, an EngHsh cooper 
of Philadelphia, who conceived the idea that, though no 
regular boat could live in the rush of the waters below 
the Falls of Niagara, it would perhaps be possible for 
a novel kind of boat, a cask shaped Hke a buoy, with 
a man in it, to get down to Lewiston in safety. He 
therefore made a series of such casks at an expenditure 
of a great deal of time and labour; and, at last finding a 
shape to his mind, filled two or three in succession vnXh. 
bags of sand equal to his own weight, and set them 
afloat at Niagara. They arrived safely in smooth 
water, threading the Rapids and the Whirlpool after 
a journey of some five miles ; the inventor thereupon 
resolved to keep one side uppermost, in which was left 
an air-hole, and fastened in the cask a long canvas bag, 

138 The Niagara River 

made like a suit of clothes, and waterproof. Getting 
into this bag on July 11, 1886, he grasped two iron han- 
dles fixed to the staves on the inner side of the cask; 
a movable cover being fastened on, the odd craft was 
shoved into the rushing waters. The cask, of course, 
turned over and over; and though water got into the 
air-hole, it did not get into the canvas bag; the surging 
waters handled the cask so roughly that Graham 
straightway fell sick, but clung to his iron staples, and 
in a space of time exceeding thirty minutes — accounts 
differ here — reached smooth water at Lewiston, five 
miles away, and was safely taken out, able to boast 
that he had performed a feat hitherto deemed im- 

His record trip in a cask was made on August 19, 
1886. On this occasion he announced that he would 
make the trip with his head protruding from the top 
of the barrel. This was actually done; he went as far 
as the Whirlpool, but it left him very little hearing, 
for a big wave gave him a furious slap on the side of the 
head. Graham made other trips in 1887 and 1889, and 
his last, probably, in 1901. This nearly ended his life, 
as he was caught in an eddy where he was held for over 
twenty minutes ; when he finally reached the Whirlpool 
and was taken out he was nearly suffocated. 

Graham's performances, possibly, were also of some 
practical value. It was proven to the observant that a 
particular shape of cask might, under certain conditions, 
be used to draw feeble or sickly passengers from a 
wrecked ship in bad weather, for a woman or a child 
could have lived in Graham's machine as well as the 
cooper himself; however, the circumstances are few 
under which it would be useful, and Graham, by his 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 139. 

own account, had no idea of applying his contrivance 
in any such way. 

It is a question whether the barrel -cranks made any 
money by their foolhardy feats. That nothing inter- 
ests callous men like the risk of a human life is undoubt- 
edly true and has been proved by the whole history of 
amusement. The interest must depend on sight. No- 
body would pay merely to know that at a specified hour 
Blondin was risking his life a hundred miles off. The 
man in the cask would not be seen, and to see a closed 
cask go bobbing about down five miles of rapids would 
not be an exciting amusement, more especially as, after 
two or three successful trials, the notion of any immi- 
nency or inevitableness of actual danger would disap- 
pear from the spectator's mind. Captain Webb, of 
course, expected his speculation to pay him; but then, 
it was in a somewhat different way. He did not expect 
any money from those who gazed from the shore, but 
beheved, — ^as did also the speculators who paid him — 
that if he swam Niagara, he would revive the waning in- 
terest in his really splendid feats of customary swimming. 

Copying somewhat the idea that Graham had de- 
veloped so successfully, George Hazlett and William 
Potts, also coopers of Buffalo, made a trip through the 
Rapids in a barrel of their own construction on August 
8, 1886. The barrel they used more closely resembled 
the familiar t}^e of barrel, having no unusual features 
of form. In this same barrel used by the two coopers, 
Miss Sadie Allen and George Hazlett made a trip 
through the Niagara Gorge on November 28, 1886. 
There was then, I believe, a cessation of the barrel- 
fiends, who, nevertheless, re-appeared in the twentieth 

I40 The Niagara River 

At the end of the summer of 1901 , Martha E. Wagen- 
fuhrer, the wife of a professional wrestler, announced 
that she would go through the river in a barrel , the date 
of September 6th being selected, possibly because the 
woman believed that she might have a President of the 
United States in her audience, for on that day Presi- 
dent McKinley visited Niagara. Quite a crowd col- 
lected, for she was the first woman to try the feat alone. 
She was rescued after being in the water over an hour. 

It was nearly six o'clock in the afternoon [to quote the New 
York Times of September 7, 1901,] when the barrel containing 
Martha E. Wagenfuhrer was set adrift on the lower Niagara 
River, to be carried by the currents into the rapids and vortex 
of the Whirlpool. The trip through the rapids was quickly 
made, but the rescue from the Whirlpool was delayed. Night 
fell before the barrel was recovered, and the woman's friends 
had availed themselves of the help of a powerful searchlight to 
illuminate the rushing tossing waters of the pool. She started 
at 5.56 o'clock, and it was 7 o'clock when the barrel was landed. 
The head of the cask had to be broken in in order to get the 
woman out. She was in a semi-conscious condition. Before 
entering the barrel she had indulged freely in liquor, but when 
she got out her first call was for water. 

Female barrel-fiends now followed in rapid succes- 
sion. Maud Willard of Canton, Ohio, lost her life on 
the 7th of September, 1901, in navigating the Whirlpool 
Rapids in Graham's barrel. Graham, as we have seen, 
had made five successful trips, and Miss Willard desired 
to attain fame by doing the same. She and Graham 
were good friends, and to please her he was to swim 
from the Whirlpool to Lewiston following her trip 
through the Rapids. The barrel was taken to the 
river in the morning. It was an enormous affair, made 
of oak, and at 4 o'clock Miss Willard got into it, accom- 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 141 

panied by her pet dog. The cover was put over the 
manhole, and she was taken out into the stream in tow 
of a small boat, and left to the mercy of the currents. 

Miss Willard passed safely through the Rapids, but 
the mighty maelstrom then held her far out from shore, 
where her friends and would-be rescuers could not reach 
her. From 4.40 o'clock imtil after 10 o'clock at night 
she was whirled about in the peculiar formation of the 
Niagara here. Messengers were sent to Niagara Falls 
to have the searchlight car of the electric line sent down 
the Gorge ; huge bonfires were built to warm the specta- 
tors, and likewise to illuminate the river. Soon a beam 
of white light shot across the waters from the American 
to the Canadian side; now and then the tossing barrel 
could be seen tumbHng and bobbing, and rolUng in the 
currents. The latter were then suddenly changing — 
first a piece of wood came in drifting toward shore — 
within a short time the barrel hove in sight within the 
light of the beacons, and men swam out to catch it. 

When the manhole cover was removed. Miss Wil- 
lard was limp and Hfeless. Death probably came grad- 
ually, and possibly without much suffering. The little 
dog came out alive, and none the worse for the perilous 

While she was tossing in the Whirlpool, Graham 
made his trip to Lewiston, the onl}^ person who ever 
swam from the pool to Lewiston. When he returned 
up the Gorge he found the barrel and Miss Willard still 
in the terrible pool. 

A widow, Mrs. Anna Edson Taylor, safely passed 
over Niagara Falls in a barrel on Friday, October 24, 
1 901 , the trip from end to end being witnessed by 
several thousand people. The fact that Mrs. Taylor 

142 The Niagara River 

failed to appear, as advertised, on the Sunday before, 
and again on Wednesday, did not lessen the confidence 
of the public. It was beyond belief that she would 
live to tell the story, but she came out alive and well 
so soon as she recovered from the shock. 

This initial voyage over Niagara's cataract began at 
Port Day, nearly a mile from the brink of the Falls. 
At this point the daring woman and her barrel were 
taken out to Grass Island, where she entered; at 3.50 
she was in tow of a boat speeding well out into the 
Canadian current. Soon after the barrel was cast 
adrift on the current that never before was known to 
spare a human life once fallen in its grasp. From the 
spot where the rowboat left the barrel the current runs 
frightfully swift, soon boiling on the teeth of the upper 
rifts ; the barrel was weighted with a two hundred pound 
anvil, and it floated nicely in the water, Mrs. Taylor 
apparently retaining an upright position for the greater 
part of the trip down the river and through the rapids. 
Fortunately the cask kept well within the deep water, 
and except for passing out of sight several times, in 
the white-crested waves, it was in view for the greater 
part of a mile. In passing over the Horseshoe Fall the 
barrel kept toward the Canadian side at a point three 
hundred feet from the centre. 

It dropped over the Fall at 4.23 o'clock, the bottom 
well down. In less than a minute it appeared at the 
base of the Fall, and was swept down stream. The 
current cast it aside in an eddy, and, floating back 
up-stream, it was held between two eddies until cap- 
tured at 4.40 o'clock. As it w^s grounded on a rock, 
out in the river, it was difficult to handle, but several 
men soon had the hatch off. Mrs. Taylor was alive 

Horseshoe Falls from Goat Island. 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 143 

and conscious but before she could be taken out of the 
barrel it was necessary to saw a portion of the top away. 
Her condition was a surprise to aU. She walked along 
the shore to a boat, and was taken down the river to 
the Maid of tlie Mist dock, where she entered a car- 
riage and was brought to Niagara Falls. The woman 
was suffering greatly from the shock, and had a three- 
inch cut in her scalp, back of the right ear, but how or 
when she got it she did not know. She complained of 
pains between the shoulders, but it is thought that this 
was due to the fact that her shoulders were thrown 
back during the plunge, as she had her arms in 
straps, and these vmdoubtedly saved her neck from 

She admitted having lost consciousness in passing 
over the Falls. While thanking God for sparing her 
life, she warned every one not to repeat her foolhardy 
trip. So severe was the shock that she wandered in 
her talk, with three doctors attending her; she, how- 
ever, soon recovered. 

Mrs. Taylor was forty-three years old when she 
made this marvellous trip. She was bom in Aubtun, 
N. Y., and was a school teacher in Bay City, Mich., 
before she came East. She had crossed the American 
continent from ocean to ocean eight times, and during 
her stay East impressed everybody with her wonderful 

The barrel in which Mrs. Taylor made the journey 
was foiu* and one-half feet high, and about three feet 
in diameter. A leather harness and cushions inside 
protected her body. Air was secured through a rub- 
ber tube connecting with a small opening near the top 
of the barrel. Her warning evidently has been heeded. 

144 The Niagara River 

To our knowledge no barrel-fiend has reappeared at 
the shores of Niagara within the last five years. 

In the year 1846, a small steamer was built in the 
eddy just above the suspension bridge to run up to the 
Falls, and very appropriately named the Maid of the 
Mist. Her engine was rather weak, but she safely 
accomplished the trip. Since she took passengers 
aboard only from the Canada side, however, she did 
little more than pay expenses, and in 1854, a larger, 
better boat, with a more powerful engine, a new Maid 
of the Mist, was put on the route and many persons 
since have made this most exciting and impressive 
voyage along the foot of the Falls. 

Owing to some change in the appointments of the Maid 
of the Mist which confined her landings to the Canadian shore 
she too became unprofitable and her owner having decided to 
leave the place wished to sell her as she lay on her dock. This 
he could not do, but having received an offer of more than half 
of her cost, if he would deliver her at Niagara-on-the-Lake, he 
determined a consultation with Joel Robinson, who had acted 
as her captain and pilot on her trips under the Falls to make the 
attempt to take her down the river. Mr. Robinson agreed to 
act as pilot on the fearful voyage; the engineer, Mr. Jones, con- 
sented to go with him and a courageous machinist by the name 
of Mclntyre volunteered to share the risk with them. The boat 
was in complete trim, removing from deck and hold all super- 
fluous articles and as notice was given of the time of starting, 
a large number of people assembled to watch the spectacular 
plunge, few expecting to see either boat or crew again. About 
three o'clock in the afternoon of June 15, 1861, the engineer took 
his place in the hold, and, knowing that their drifting would 
be short at the longest, and might be only the preface to a swift 
destruction, set his steam valve at the proper gauge and awaited 
— not without anxiety — the tinkling signal that should start 
them on their flying voyage. Mclntyre joined Robinson at the 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 145 

wheel on the upper deck. Self-possessed, and with the cahnness 
which results from undoubted courage and confidence, yet 
with the humility which recognises all possibilities, Robinson 
took his place at the wheel and pulled the starting bell. With a 
shriek from her whistle and a white puflF from the escape-pipe 
to take leave, as it were, of the multitude gathered at the shores, 
she soon swung around to the right, cleared the smooth 
water and shot like an arrow into the rapid under the bridge. 
She took the outside course of the rapid and when a third of the 
way down it, a jet of water struck against her rudder, a column 
dashed up under her starboard side, hurled her over, carried 
away her smoke-stack, threw Robinson flat on his back, and 
thrust Mclntyre against her starboard wheel-house with such 
a force as to break it through. The little boat emerged from 
the fearfvil baptism, shook her wounded sides, and slid into the 
"Whirlpool riding for the moment again on an even keel. Robin- 
son rose at once, seized the helm, set her to the right of the large 
pot in the pool, then turned her directly through the neck of it. 
Thence, after receiving another drenching from its combing 
waves, the craft dashed on without further accident to the quiet 
of the river at Lewiston. 

Thus was accomplished one of the most remarkable 
and perilous voyages ever made by man ; the boat was 
seventy-two feet long with seventeen feet breadth of 
beam and eight feet depth of hold, and carried an 
engine of one hundred horse-power. 

Robinson stated after the voyage that the greater 
part of it was Hke what he had always imagined must 
be the swift sailing of a large bird in a downward flight ; 
that when the accident occurred the boat seemed to be 
struck from all directions at once, that she trembled like 
a fiddlestring and felt as if she wotild crumble away 
and drop into atoms; that both he and McInt^TC were 
holding to the wheel with all their strength, but this 
produced no more effect than if they had been two ^es ; 

146 The Niagara River 

that he had no fear of striking the rocks, for he knew 
that the strongest suction must be in the deepest chan- 
nels, and that the boat must remain in that. Finding 
that Mclntyre was somewhat bruised and bewildered 
by excitement on account of his fall, and did not rise, 
Robinson quickly put his foot on him to keep him 
from rolling round the deck, and thus finished the 

The effect of this trip upon Robinson was decidedly marked. 
To it, as he lived but few years afterward, his death was com- 
monly attributed. "He was," said Mrs. Robinson in an inter- 
view, "twenty years older when he came home that day, than 
when he went out. He sank into his chair like a person overcome 
with weariness. He decided to abandon the water, and advised 
his sons to venture no more about the Rapids. Both his manner 
and appearance were changed." Calm and deliberate before, 
he became thoughtful and serious afterwards. He had been 
borne, as it were, in the arms of a power so mighty, that its 
impress was stamped on his features and on his mind. Through 
a slightly opened door he had seen a vision which awed and 
subdued him. He became reverent in a moment. He grew 
venerable in an hour. 

As an illustration of the lengths unscrupulous sen- 
sationalists will go at Niagara to satisfy the curious 
throngs, in September, 1883, several enterprising citi- 
zens of Niagara Falls purchased a small boat which 
they fitted up to represent the Maid of the Mist, and 
sent it through the Rapids. Men were stationed about 
the boat in effigy, but no human beings were allowed 
on board, although, indeed there were many applica- 
tions for passage. The boat passed through the Gorge 
in good shape. 

On August 28, 1887, Charles Alexander Percy, a 
waggon-maker of Suspension Bridge, went over the 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 147 

Rapids to win fame. He had conceived the idea of 
constructing a boat, and, having been previously a 
sailor he knew how to btiild a staunch craft. The 
vessel was of hickory, seventeen feet long and four feet 
ten and one-quarter inches wide. It had sixty-four 
oak ribs, and an iron plate weighing three hundred 
pounds was fastened to the bottom. The boat as com- 
pleted weighed nine hundred pounds, and was covered 
with white canvas. At 3.30 o'clock in the afternoon 
on the day mentioned, Percy, having with great diffi- 
culty transported his craft to the old Maid of the Mist 
landing above the cantilever bridge, took off his coat 
and waistcoat, put them in a valise and stowed it away 
in one of the compartments. Then he sat in the middle 
part of the boat, which had no deck, rowed out into 
the Niagara, just above the cantilever, unshipped his 
oars and fastened them to the boat and then crawled 
into one of his air-tight compartments. Many people 
watched his white craft from the bridges and banks, 
but the excursion had not been advertised and many 
visitors to the Falls knew nothing of it. The boat shot 
down toward the Whirlpool. On the theory that there 
was an undercurrent which ran stronger than the sur- 
face current, Percy had attached a thirty-pound weight 
to a ten-foot line, which he threw overboard to act as 
a drag; this had no apparent effect; the two-mile trip 
to the Whirlpool occupied less than five minutes, and 
while the boat was submerged repeatedly, it did not 
turn over. When near the Whirlpool it drifted close 
to the American shore, Percy, thinking he was in the 
quiet water on the further side of the Whirlpool, stuck 
out his head,- but closed the aperture just in time to 
escape a tremendous wave. The boat passed straight 

148 The Niagara River 

across the Whirlpool, and on the other side Percy 
crawled out of the compartment, took his oars, and 
rowed leisurely around to the foot of the inclined rail- 
way on the Canadian side, where he landed, his voyage 
having lasted twenty-five minutes. He gave much the 
same account of the adventure as was given by Graham 
of barrel fame, and Kendall, the Boston policeman, 
who swam into the Whirlpool in 1886. He thought 
he struck rocks in the passage down, but the boat 
showed no marks. 

Percy and a friend, William Dittrick, repeated the 
trip on September 25, 1887, through the lower half of 
the Gorge from the Whirlpool to Lewiston, having a 
thrilling experience. Dittrick occupied one of the air 
compartments, while Percy sat in the cockpit. 

Finally, on September 16, 1888, Percy again risked 
his life in making a voyage through the waters of the 
Gorge near Lewiston. In this trip he narrowly escaped 
death and the boat was lost. 

Elated by his success, Percy now made a wager with 
Robert William Flack of Syracuse, " for a race through 
the Whirlpools in life-boats for five hundred dollars a 
side." The race was set for August i, 1888, but on 
July 4th, Flack was first to show that his craft was sea- 
worthy. The boat was of the clinker pattern, had no 
air-cushions, and was partly constructed of cork. In 
the presence of an immense concourse of spectators it 
went first along gaily, but in three minutes the boat 
was upset and carried into the Whirlpool bottom 
upwards. It was a frightful spectacle, witnessed by 
thousands of people. The boat capsized three times; 
the last time it tossed high in the air. It stood on end for 
an instant and then it toppled over on poor Flack, who 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 149 

was strapped to the boat helpless and floated about the 
pool upside down for about an hour, until captured on 
the Canadian side. Flack's body was only a mass of 
bruised flesh. Percy meantime, having witnessed the 
tragedy from the American side, jumped into a trap, 
and drove to the Whirlpool on the Canadian side where, 
throwing off his clothes, he leaped into the river and 
swam for the boat which was now approaching the 
shore. But he was too late. His courageous feat 
could not help Flack, who was found dead, hanging on 
the straps he had placed there to aid him to save his life. 

In 1889 Walter G. Campbell tried to make the peril- 
ous trip in an open, flat-bottomed boat, which he 
launched above the Rapids. His only companion was 
a black dog. Campbell, with a life-preserver about 
his body, stood up, using his oar as a paddle, and boldly 
drifted with increasing speed tow^ard the seething pool. 
The trip took about twenty minutes, but, fortunately, 
the boat capsized before the worst water was reached, 
and Campbell just managed to struggle to the shore. 
The poor black dog paid the penalty of his master's folly. 

Peter Nissen, of Chicago, made a successful trip 
through the Whirlpool Rapids of Niagara on July 9, 
1900, being the first man to go through in an open boat 
and come out unharmed. He entered the Rapids at 
5 P.M., the boat gliding down easily bow first, entering 
the first wave end on, and going partly over and partly 
under the water, drenched its occupant completely. 
The second wave struck him with terrific force almost 
broadside, the boat being partly turned by the first 
wave, smashing Nissen against the cockpit, knocking 
off his hat and nearly smothering him. A moment 
later he entered the frightful mass of warring waters 

150 The Nias^ara River 

opposite the Whirlpool Rapids station, and for a few 
moments it looked as though his end had come, the 
boat being tossed with terrific force out of the water, 
broadside up, the iron keel, weighing 1250 pounds, 
being plainly seen. Boat and occupant then disap- 
peared altogether, not being again seen for several 
seconds until the worst was feared. Suddenly both 
man and boat reappeared farther down the stream, 
and the hundreds of onlookers gave vent to their feel- 
ings in cheers. The hardy navigator now went under 
the waters again receiving a crushing blow as he en- 
tered every succeeding wave when the staunch craft 
and its master raced into the Whirlpool. But Nissen 
was not yet safe. Having no means of guiding or pro- 
pelling the boat, Nissen was compelled to sit in the 
water in the cockpit for fifty minutes, being carried 
around the Whirlpool four times. Once the boat ap- 
proached the vortex and was sucked down about half 
its length, the other half standing out of the water in 
an almost vertical position. It was immediately thrown 
out, however, and resumed its course around the pool. 
When at the farther end, where the current has the least 
strength the boat then being about fifty feet from shore, 
three young men swam out with a rope and fastened it 
to the boat, which was then drawn in by very willing 
hands. Nissen, when questioned, said he was not in- 
jured in the least, only feeling cold and weak. He was 
stripped and given dry clothing, and he then declared 
he felt all right. In making the trip he wore his usual 
clothing, pulling on an ordinary life-preserver to aid him 
if he should be thrown out. He did not intend to fasten 
himself in the boat, but at the last moment passed a 
rope over his shoulder, which probably saved his life. 

A Century of Niagara Cranks 151 

The boat, which he had named the Fool-Killer, was 
twenty feet long, four feet wide, and four feet deep. 
The deck was slightly raised in the centre, gently slop- 
ing to the gunwales. In the centre of the deck a cockpit 
fotir feet long and twenty inches wide extended down 
to the keel, a distance of four feet. The side-planking 
of the cockpit was carried above the deck, forming a 
combing six inches in height ; six water-tight compart- 
ments were built in the boat, two at each end and one on 
each side of the cockpit ; three himdred pounds of cork 
were also used, so that the boat was imsinkable. The 
main feature of the boat was the keel. This was a shaft 
of round iron, four inches in diameter and twenty feet 
long, hanging two feet below the bottom of the 
boat, and held in position by five one-inch iron bars. 

Our record of sensationalism at Niagara would be 
lacking in ftdness, at least, if mention were not made 
of the many gruesome suicides that have occurred here, 
but we forbear, A story of what a dog endured, how- 
ever, is quite in place: 

A large dog lately survived the passage over Niagara Falls 
and through the rapids to the whirlpool. He was first noticed 
while he was within the influence of the upper rapids. As he 
was whirled rapidly down over the Falls, every one imagined 
that that was the last of him. Shortly afterwards, however, he 
was discovered in the gorge below the Falls vainly endeavouring 
to clamber up upon some of the debris from the remains of the 
great ice bridge which recently covered the water at this point, 
but which had nearly all gone down the river. The news spread 
rapidly through the village, and a large crowd gathered at the 
shore. Strenuous efforts were made to get the struggling animal 
on shore, for an animal which had gone safely over the Falls would 
be a prize worth having, but without success. Finally the dog 
succeeded in getting upon a large cake of ice, and floated off upon 
it down towards Suspension Bridge and the terrible Whirlpool 

152 The Niagara River 

Rapids. Information of the dog's coming was telephoned to 
Suspension Bridge village, and a large crowd collected on the 
bridge to watch for the coming wonder. In due time the poor 
fellow appeared upon his ice-cake, howling dismally the while, 
as if he appreciated the terrors of his situation. An express- 
train crossing the bridge at the time stopped in order to let 
the passengers witness the unusual spectacle. Round and round 
whirled the cake, in a dizzy way, and louder and more prolonged 
grew the howls of the poor dog. As the influence of the Whirl- 
pool Rapids began to be felt, the cake increased in speed, whirled 
suddenly into the air, broke in two, and the dog disappeared 
from view. No one thought that he could possibly survive the 
wild rush through the rapids. When, therefore, word was re- 
ceived that the dog was in the whirlpool, still living, and once 
more struggling vainly to swim to land, it was received with 
marked incredulity. This story was substantiated by several 
trustworthy witnesses. It seems incredible that an animal 
could go through the upper rapids, over the Falls, through the 
Gorge, through the Whirlpool Rapids, and into the whirlpool 
itself, a distance of several miles, and still be alive. The poor 
animal perished in the whirlpool. 

In various instances dogs have been sent over the 
Falls and survived the plunge. 

As early as November, 1836, a troublesome female 
bull-terrier was put in a coffee sack by a couple of men 
who had determined to get rid of her, and thrown off 
from the middle of Goat Island Bridge. In the follow- 
ing spring she was found alive and well about sixty 
rods below the Ferry, having lived through the winter 
on a deceased cow that was thrown over the bank 
the previous fall. In 1858, another dog, a male of the 
same breed, was thrown into the Rapids, also near 
the middle of the bridge. In less than an hour he 
came up the Ferry stairs, very wet and not at all 
gay. He was ever after a sadder, if not a better dog. 

Chapter VII 
The Old Niagara Frontier 

WHAT has been loosely called the "Niagara 
Frontier" embraces all the beautiful 
stretch of territory south of Lakes Onta- 
rio and Erie, extending westward quite 
to Cleveland, the Forest City on the latter lake. It 
would be difficult to point to a tract of country in all 
America the history of which is of more inherent inter- 
est than this far-flung old-time frontier of which the 
Niagara River was the strategic key. The beautiful 
cities now standing here, Buffalo, Cleveland, and To- 
ronto, as well as the ancient Falls, forever new and 
wonderful, bring to this fair country, in large volume, 
the modem note that would drown the memory of the 
long ago ; but here, as elsewhere, and particularly here, 
the Indian left his names upon the rivers and the shores 
of the lakes, beautiful names that wiU neither die nor 
permit the days of Iroquois, Fries, and Hurons to pass 

Historically, the Niagara frontier is memorable, 
firstly, because it embraced in part the homes and hunt- 
ing-grounds of the Six Nations, the pre-eminent Indian 
confederacy of the continent. The French name for 
the confederacy was Iroquois; their own, "Ho-de-no- 
sote," or the "Long House," which extended from the 
Hudson to Lake Erie and from the St. Lawrence to 


154 The Niagara River 

the valleys of the Delaware, Susquehanna, and Alle- 
gheny. This domain was divided between the several 
nations by well-defined boundary lines, called "lines 
of property. ' ' The famous Senecas were on the Niagara 

In this pleasant land the Iroquois dwelt in palisaded 
villages upon the fertile banks of the lakes and streams 
which watered their country. Their houses were built 
within a protecting circle of palisades, and, like all the 
tribes of the Iroquois family, were long and narrow, 
not more than twelve or fifteen feet in width, but often 
exceeding one hundred and fifty in length. They were 
made of two parallel rows of poles stuck upright in the 
ground, of sufficient widths at the bottom to form the 
floor, and bent together at the top to form the roof ; the 
whole was entirely covered with strips of peeled bark. 
At each end of the long house was a strip of bark or a 
bear skin hung loosely for a door. Within, they built 
their fires at intervals along the centre of the floor, the 
smoke rising through the opening in the top, which 
served, as well, to let in light. In every house were 
fires and many families, and every family having its 
own fire within the space allotted to it. 

Among all the Indians of the New World, there were 
none so politic and intelligent, none so fierce and brave, 
none with so many heroic virtues mingled with savagery, 
as the people of the Long House. They were a terror 
to all the surrounding tribes, whether of their own or of 
Algonquin speech. In 1650 they overran the coimtry 
of the Huron; in 1651 they destroyed the neutral 
nation along the Niagara; in 1652 they exterminated the 
Eries. They knew every war-path and "their war-cry 
was heard westward to the Mississippi and southward 







The Old Niagara Frontier 155 

to the great gulf." They were, in fact, the conquerors 
of the New World, perhaps not unjustly styled the 
"Romans of the West." Wrote the Jesuit Father Ra- 
gueneau, in 1650, "My pen has no ink black enough to 
describe the fury of the Iroquois." In 1715, the Tus- 
caroras, a branch of the Iroquois family, in the Caro- 
linas, united with the Five Nations, after which the 
confederacy was known as the Six Nations, of which the 
other five tribes were named in order of their rank, 
Mohawks, Onondagas, Senecas, Oneidas, and Cayugas. 
Iroquois government was vested in a general council 
composed of fifty hereditary sachems, but the order of 
succession was always in the female and never in the 
male line. Each nation was divided into eight clans 
or tribes. The spirit of the animal or bird after which 
the clan was named, called its " To-tem," was the guard- 
ian spirit of the clan, and every member used its figure 
in his signature as his device. It was the rule that 
men and women of the same tribe could intermarry. 
In this manner relationships were interlocked forever 
by the closest of ties. The name of each sachemship 
was permanent. When a sachem died the people of the 
league selected the most competent from among those of 
his family, who by right inherited the title, and the one 
so chosen was raised in solemn coimcil to the high 
honour, and dropping his own received the name of 
the sachemship. Two sachemships, however, after the 
death of the original sachems ever remained vacant, 
those of the Onondagas and " Ha-yo-went-ha " (Hi-a- 
wat-ha) immortalised by Longfellow, of the Mohawks. 
Daganoweda was the fotinder of the league, whose head 
was represented as covered with tangled serpents; 
Hi-a-wat-ha (meaning "he who combs") put the head 

156 The Niagara River 

in order and this aided the formation of the league. 
In honour of these great services this sachemship was 
afterward held vacant. 

The entire body of sachems formed the council 
league ; their authority was civil, confined to affairs of 
peace, and was advisory rather than otherwise. Every 
member of the confederacy followed, to a great extent, 
the dictates of his own will, controlled very much by 
the customs of his people and "a sentiment that ran 
through their whole system of affairs which was as 
inflexible as iron." 

The character of the Iroquois confederacy has a 
bearing on the history of the Niagara country of prime 
importance; while their immediate seats were some- 
what south of Niagara River itself, they were the red 
masters of the eastern Great Lake region when white 
men came to know it, conquering, as we have noted, 
the earlier red races, the Eries and Neutrals, who lived 
beside Lake Erie and the Niagara River. Of these very 
little is known; placed between the Iroquois on the 
South and the Hurons on the North both are accounted 
to have been fierce and brave peoples, for a long time 
able to withstand the savage inroads of the people of 
the Long House. The Eries occupied the territory 
just south of Lake Erie, while the Neuter or Neutral 
towns lay on the north side of the lake — ^stretching up 
perhaps near to Niagara Falls. They claimed the ter- 
ritory lying west of the Genesee River, and extending 
northward to the Huron land about Georgian Bay as 
their hunting-ground, and could, it was affirmed by 
Jesuits, number twelve thousand souls or four thousand 
fighting men in 1641, only a decade before annihilation 
by the southern foe. 

The Old Niagara Frontier 157 

Although the French applied to them the name of "neuter" 
[writes Marshall, the historian of the Niagara frontier], it was 
always an allusion to their neutrality between the Hurons and 
the Iroquois. These contending nations traversed the territories 
of the Neutral Nation in their wars against each other, and iff 
by chance, they met in the wigwams or villages of this people, 
they were forced to restrain their animosity and to separate in 

Notwithstanding this neutrality, they waged cruel 
wars with other nations, toward whom they exercised 
cruelties even more inhuman than those charged upon 
their savage neighbours. The early missionaries de- 
scribe their customs as similar to those of the Hurons, 
their land as producing Indian com, beans, and 
squashes in abundance, their rivers as abounding in 
fish of endless variety, and their forests as filled with 
animals yielding the richest furs. 

They exceeded the Hurons in stature, strength, and 
symmetry of form, and wore their dress with a superior 
grace, and regarded their dead with peculiar affection; 
hence arose a custom which is worthy of notice, and ex- 
plains the origin of the numerous burial mounds which 
are scattered over this vicinity. Instead of burying 
the bodies of their deceased friends, they deposited 
them in houses or on scaffolds erected for the ptupose. 
They collected the skeletons from time to time and 
arranged them in their dwellings, in anticipation of the 
feast of the dead, which occurred once in ten or twelve 
years. On this occasion the whole nation repaired to 
an appointed place, each family, with the greatest 
apparent affection, bringing the bones of their deceased 
relatives enveloped in the choicest furs. 

The final disruption between Neuters and Senecas 

158 The Niagara River 

came, it would seem, in 1648, in the shape of a challenge 
sent by the latter and accepted; the war raged until 
1 65 1, when two whole villages of Neuters were de- 
stroyed, the largest containing more than sixteen hun- 
dred men. Father Fremin in 1669 found Neuters still 
living in captivity in Gannogarae, a Seneca town east 
of the Genesee. Some two years later, seemingly by 
accident, a rupture between Senecas and Fries, farther 
to the westward, took place, resulting in a similar 
Seneca victory; thus the Iroquois came to be the 
masters of the Niagara country. 

What this meant becomes very evident with the 
advance of France to this old-time key of the conti- 
nent; here lay the strongest, most civilised Indian 
nations, conquerors of half a continent ; what the friend- 
ship of the Iroquois meant to these would-be white 
conquerors of the self-same empire no words could 
express; as we have noted, the Niagara River was the 
direct passageway to the Mississippi basin. It is one 
of the most interesting caprices of Fate that France 
should have been given the great waterway — key of 
the continent; now, with a friendly alliance with the 
Six Nations the progress of French arms could hardly 
be challenged. But France, in the early hours of her 
progress, and by the hand of her best friend and wisest 
champion, Champlain, incurred the inveterate hatred 
of these powerful New York confederates. This he 
did in 1609 by joining a war-party of Algonquins of the 
lower St. Lawrence region on one of their memorable 
raids into the Iroquois country by way of the Richelieu 
River and Lake Champlain. Dr. Bourinot,^ perhaps 
most clearly of all, has explained Champlain 's own 

» Canada, p. 72, Story of the Nations Series. 

The Old Niagara Frontier 159 

comprehension of the matter by saying that the domi- 
nating purpose of his life in New France was the explor- 
ation of the vast region from w^hich came the sweeping 
tides of the St. Lawrence; supposing, naturally, that 
the Canadian red men were to be eventually the victors 
in the ancient war, especially if aided by the govern- 
ment of New France, it was politic for Champlain to 
espouse their cause since no general scheme of explora- 
tion "could have been attempted had he by any cold 
or unsympathetic conduct alienated the Indians who 
guarded the waterways over which he had to pass 
before he could unveil the mysteries of the Western 

In Jime this eventful invasion of the Iroquois coun- 
try was undertaken, and on the last day of July but 
one, near what was to become the historic site of Fort 
Ticonderoga, a pitched battle was fought. Champlain 's 
own account of this the first decisive battle of America 
cannot be excelled in its quaint and picturesque sim- 

At night [he wrote] we embarked in our canoes, and, as 
we were advancing noiselessly onward, we encountered a party 
of Iroquois at the point of a cape which juts into the lake on 
the west side. It was on the twenty-ninth of the month and 
about ten o'clock at night. They, as well as we, began to shout, 
seizing our arms. We withdrew to the water, and the Iroquois 
paddled to the shore, arranged their canoes, and began to hew 
down trees with villainous-looking axes and fortified themselves 
very securely. Our party kept their canoes alongside of the 
other, tied to poles, so as not to run adrift, in order to fight all 
together if need be. When ever^^hing was arranged they sent 
two canoes to know if their enemies wished to fight. They 
answered that they desired nothing else but that there was not 
then light enough to distinguish each other and that they would 

i6o The Niagara River 

fight at sunrise. This was agreed to. On both sides the night 
was spent in dancing, singing, mingled with insults and taunts. 
Thus they sang, danced, and insulted each other until daybreak. 
My companions and I were concealed in separate canoes belong- 
ing to the savage Montagnoes. After being equipped with light 
armour, each of us took an arquebus and went ashore. I saw 
the enemy leaving their barricade. They were about two hundred 
men, strong and robust, who were coming toward us with a 
gravity and assurance that greatly pleased me, led on by three 
chiefs. Ours were marching in similar order, and told me that 
those who bore the three lofty plumes were chiefs and that I 
must do all I could. The moment we landed they began to run 
toward the enemy, who stood firm and had not yet perceived my 
companions who went into the bush with some savages. Ours 
commenced calling me with a loud voice, opening the way for 
me and placing me at their head, about twenty paces in advance, 
until I was about thirty paces from the enemy. The moment 
they saw me they halted, gazing at me and I at them. When I 
saw them preparing to shoot at us, I raised my arquebus, and 
aiming directly at one of the chiefs, two of them fell to the 
ground by this shot, and one of their companions received a 
wound of which he died afterwards. I had put four balls into 
my arquebus. Ours, on witnessing a shot so favourable to them, 
set up such tremendous shouts that thunder could not have been 
heard, and yet there was no lack of arrows on the one side or 
the other. The Iroquois were greatly astonished at seeing two 
men killed so instantaneously, notwithstanding that they were 
provided with arrow-proof armour woven of cotton thread and 
wood. This frightened them very much. 

Whilst I was unloading, one of my companions fired a shot 
which so astonished them anew, seeing their chiefs slain, that 
they lost courage, took to flight, and abandoned the field and 
their fort, hiding in the depths of the forest, whither pursuing 
them I killed some others. Our savages also killed several of 
them and took ten or twelve of them prisoners. The rest carri 
off the wounded. These were promptly treated. 

After having gained this victory, our party amused them- 
selves plundering Indian corn and meal from the enemy, and 


The Old Niagara Frontier i6i 

also their arms which they had thrown away the better to run. 
And having feasted, danced, and sung, we returned three hours 
afterwards with the prisoners. ^ 

No victory could have been so costly as this; indeed, 
one is led to wonder whether any battle in America ever 
cost more lives than this; for one htmdred and fifty 
years and forty-five days, or until the fall of Quebec and 
New France, this strongest of Indian nations remem- 
bered Champlain, and was the implacable enemy of 
the French; and, what was of singular ill-fortune, these 
very Iroquois, in addition to holding the key of the 
West in their grasp, lay exactly between the French and 
their English rivals at the point of nearest and most vital 
contact. After the Ticonderoga victory an Iroquois 
prisoner, previous to being burned at the stake, chanted 
a song; wrote the humane Champlain, "the song was 
sad to hear." For a century and a half sad songs were 
sung by descendants of those Algonquin and French 
victors who listened in the wavering light of that cruel 
fire to the song of the captive from the land of Long 
Houses below the Lakes! True, the Iroquois and the 
French were not continually at war through this long 
series of years; and French blandishments had their 
effect, sometimes, even on their immemorial foe, 
especially at the Seneca end of the Long House, 
nearest Niagara. 

Six years later, in 1615, Champlain set out on his 
most important tour of western discovery, largely for 
the purpose of fulfilling a promise made to one of his 
lieutenants on the upper Ottawa to assist him in the 
continual quarrel between the Hurons to the northward 

> A very excellent account of the battle of Lake Champlain is found in 
The St. Lawrence River, Ch. vi., by George Waldo Browne. 

1 62 The Niagara River 

and the Iroquois. Here again is forced upon our atten- 
tion one of the most important sequences of the battle 
of Lake Champlain. The two routes to the Great 
Lakes of Montreal were by the St. Lawrence River and 
by the Ottawa River. Either route the voyage was 
long and difficult, but by the Ottawa the voyageur 
came into the "back door" of the Lakes, Georgian Bay, 
by a taxing portage route; while, once stemming the 
St. Lawrence, Lake Ontario was gained and, with the 
Niagara portage accomplished the traveller was afloat 
on Lake Erie beyond which the waterway lay fair and 
clear to the remotest comer of Superior. But the St. 
Lawrence led into the Iroquois frontier, and the Ottawa 
to the country of the French allies, the Hurons. The 
result was that, to a great extent, French movement 
followed the northerly course; no one could bring this 
out more clearly than Hinsdale and those whom he 

[The Iroquois] turned the Frenchmen aside from the St. 
Lawrence and the Lower Lakes to the Ottawa and Nipissing ; 
they ruined the fur trade "which was the life-blood of New 
France ' ' ; they "made all her early years a misery and a terror ' ' ; 
they retarded the growth of Absolutism until Liberty was equal 
to the final struggle; and they influence our national history 
to this day, since "populations formed in the ideas and habits 
of a feudal monarchy, and controlled by a hierarchy profoundly 
hostile to freedom of thought, would have remained a hindrance 
and a stumbling-block in the way of that majestic experiment 
of which America is the field. " ^ 

Two insignificant historical facts illustrate this 
power exerted on westward movement from Canada: 
Lake Erie was not discovered until half a century after 

> The Old Northwest, p. 25. A novel. The Road to Frontenac, presents a 
clear picture of French-Iroquois hostility on the St. Lawrence. 

The Old Niagara Frontier 163 

Lake Superior, in fact was practically unknown even 
for fifty years after Detroit was foiinded in 1701. 

From the rendezvous in the Huron country this 
second army of invasion, at the head of which rode 
Champlain, set out for the Iroquois land, to carry fire 
and sword to the homes of the enemy and forge so much 
the more firmly the chains of prejudice and hatred. 
Crossing Lake Ontario at its western extremity the 
march was taken up from a point near Sacketts Har- 
bour for the Onondaga fort, which was located, 
probably, a few miles south of Lake Oneida. 

The importance of the campaign on the Niagara 
frontier history is sufficient for us to include again 
Champlain 's account of it: 

We made about fourteen leagues in crossing to the other side 
of the Lake, in a southerly direction, towards the territories of 
the enemy. The Indians concealed all their canoes in the woods 
near the shore. We made by land about iour leagues over 
a sandy beach, where I noticed a very agreeable and beautiful 
country, traversed by many small streams, and two small rivers 
which empty into the said Lake. Also many ponds and meadows, 
abounding in an infinite variety of game, numerous xines, and 
fine woods, a great number of chestnut trees, the fruit of which 
was yet in its covering. Although very small, it was of good 
flavour. All the canoes being thus concealed, we left the shore 
of the Lake, which is about eighty leagues long and twenty-five 
wide, the greater part of it being inhabited by Indians along its 
banks, and continued our way by land about twenty-five or 
thirty leagues. During four days we crossed numerous streams 
and a river issuing from a lake which empties into that of the 
Entouhonorons. This Lake, which is about twenty-five or thirty 
leagues in circumference, contains several beautiful islands, and 
is the place where our Iroquois enemies catch their fish, which 
are there in great abundance. On the 9th of October, our people 
being on a scout, encountered eleven Indians whom they took 

1 64 The Niagara River 

prisoners, namely, four women, three boys, a girl, and three men, 
who were going to the fishery, distant four leagues from the 
enemies' fort. ... The next day, about three o'clock in the after- 
noon, we arrived before the fort. . . . Their village was enclosed 
with four strong rows of interlaced palisades, composed of large 
pieces of wood, thirty feet high, not more than half a foot apart 
and near an unfailing body of water. . . . We were encamped 
until the i6th of the month, ... As the five hundred men did 
not arrive, the Indians decided to leave by an immediate retreat 
and began to make baskets in which to carry the wounded, who 
were placed in them doubled in a heap, and so bent and tied as 
to render it impossible for them to stir, any more than an infant 
in its swaddling clothes, and not without great suffering, as I 
can testify, having been carried several days on the back of one 
of our Indians, thus tied and imprisoned, which made me lose 
all patience. As soon as I had strength to sustain myself 
I escaped from this prison, or to speak plainly, from this 

The enemy pursued us about half a league, in order to capture 
some of our rear guard, but their efforts were useless and they 
withdrew. . . . The retreat was very tedious, being from twen- 
ty- five to thirty leagues, and greatly fatigued the wounded, and 
those who carried them, though they relieved each other from 
time to time.. On the i8th considerable snow fell which lasted 
but a short time. It was accompanied with a violent wind, 
which greatly incommoded us. Nevertheless we made such 
progress, that we reached the banks of the lake of the Entou- 
honorons, at the place where we had concealed our canoes, and 
which were found all whole. We were apprehensive that the 
enemy had broken them up. 

As the roar of Niagara greets from afar the listening 
ears of the innumerable host of pilgrims who come to 
it to-day, so the fame of the cataract reached the first 
explorers of the continent long before they came to it, 
indeed almost as soon as their feet touched the shore of 
the New World. Four centuries ago Niagara was the 



^ ■*? 



■ itHWULUJ I fl P M" , 111 . 1 , ' 

The Old Niagara Frontier 165 

wonder of the world as it must be four centuries hence 
and four times four. 

In May, 1535, Jacques Cartier left France on his 
second voyage to America in three ships ; reaching the 
St. Lawrence, which he so named from the Saint, he 
asked concerning its soiirces and 

was told that, after ascending many leagues among rapids 
and waterfalls, he would reach a lake 140 or 150 leagues broad, 
at the western extremity of which the waters were wholesome 
and the winters mild; that a river emptied into it from the 
south, which had its source in the country of the Iroquois ; that 
beyond the lake he would find a cataract and portage, then 
another lake about equal to the former, which they had never 

This is the first known mention of Niagara Falls. 
Champlain mapped the Niagara frontier, and his map 
of 1 6 13 shows the position of the great Falls; he refers 
to it only as a "waterfall," which was "so very high 
that many kinds of fish are stunned in its descent." 
He probably never saw Niagara but wrote his descrip- 
tion from hearsay. During the half century between 
Champlain 's Lake Ontario tour and the coming of La 
Salle and Hennepin the Niagara must have been often 
visited by the Catholic missionaries, but few of them 
left mention of it. 

In 161 5, Champlain 's interpreter, Etienne Brule, 
was sent southward to seek aid from the Andastes and 
is lost to sight in the western forests for three years ; it 
is possible that Brule even reached the copper region of 
Lake Superior at this time, and it is fairly probable that 
this intrepid wanderer, first of all Frenchmen, followed 
the Niagara River and gazed upon its mighty cataract. 
The first knowledge we have, however, of a French- 

1 66 The Niagara River 

man's presence on Niagara River is of Father Joseph 
de la Roche Dallion, who crossed it near Lewiston 
eleven years later, 1626. Nicolet was in the Straits 
of Mackinac and at Sault Ste. Marie in 1634, at the time 
that Champlain (now in the last year of his eventful 
life) founded Three Rivers on the St. Lawrence above 
Quebec for the defence of this endangered capital ! 

Father L'Allemant, in his Relation of 1640-41, refers 
to the Niagara River as the Onaguiaakra, and calls it 
the "celebrated" river of the Neutral Nation. 

Montreal was founded in 1642, simultaneously with 
the memorable capture of Father Jogues, who now, first 
of Europeans, passed through Lake George en route to 
the homes of the merciless Iroquois. In fact it was 
Father Jogues who first named this beautiful sheet of 
water, when he entered it on the eve of Corpus Christi, 
"Lake Saint Sacrament"; Sir William Johnson, at a 
later date rechristened it Lake George. Jogues may 
have heard the Niagara cataract. 

Ragueneau, writing to France in 1648, affirmed 
that " North of the Eries is a great lake, about two hun- 
dred leagues in circumference, called Erie, formed by 
the discharge of the mer-douce, or Lake Huron, and 
which falls into a third lake called Ontario, over a cat- 
aract of frightful height." The description by La 
Salle's Sulpician companion, Galinee, in 1669, is the 
most accurate of all early accounts. After La Salle's 
visit to the Senecas the party struck westward toward 

We found [wrote Galinee] a river, one-eighth of a league 
broad and extremely rapid, forming the outlet of communication 
from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. The depth of the river (for 
it is properly the St. Lawrence), is, at this place extraordinary, 

The Old Niagara Frontier 167 

for, on sounding close by the shore, we found 15 or 16 fathoms 
of water. The outlet is 40 leagues long, and has, from 10 to 
12 leagues above its embouchure into Lake Ontario, one of 
the finest cataracts, or falls of water, in the world, for all the 
Indians of whom I have enquired about it, say, that the river 
falls at that place from a rock higher than the tallest pines, that 
is about 200 feet. In fact we heard it from the place where we 
were, although from 10 to 12 leagues distant, but the fall gives 
such a momentum to the water, that its velocity prevented our 
ascending the current by rowing, except with great difficulty. 
At a quarter of a league from the outlet where we were, it grows 
narrower, and its channel is confined between two very high, 
steep, rocky banks, inducing the belief that the navigation 
would be very difficult quite up to the cataract. As to the river 
above the falls, the current very often sucks into this gulf, from 
a great distance, deer and stags, elk and roebucks, that suffer 
themselves to be drawn from such a point in crossing the river, 
that they are compelled to descend the falls, and to be over- 
whelmed in its frightful abyss. 

Our desire to reach the little ^'illage called Ganastogue Sonono- 
toua 0-tin-a-oua prevented our going to view the wonder, 
which I consider as so much the greater in proportion as the 
river St. Lawrence is one of the largest in the world. I will 
leave you to judge if that is not a fine cataract in which all the 
water of that large river, having its mouth three leagues broad, 
falls from a height of 200 feet, with a noise that is heard not only 
at the place where we were, 10 or 12 leagues distant, but also 
from the other side of Lake Ontario, opposite its mouth, where 
M. Trouve told me he had heard it. 

"We passed the river, and finally, at the end of five days' 
travel arrived at the extremity of Lake Ontario, where there is 
a fine large sandy bay, at the end of which is an outlet of another 
small lake which is there discharged. Into this our guide con- 
ducted us about half a league, to a point nearest the village, but 
distant from it some 5 or 6 leagues, and where we unloaded our 

The first eye-witness to describe Niagara Falls was 
Father Hennepin who visited them in the winter of 

1 68 The Niagara River 

1678-79, and made the first pictorial representation of 

Betwixt the Lake Ontario and Erie, there is a vast and pro- 
digious Cadence of Water which falls down after a surprizing 
and astonishing manner, insomuch that the Universe does not 
afford its Parallel. 'T is true, Italy and Suedeland boast of 
some such Things; but we may well say they are but sorry 
Patterns, when compared to this of which we now speak. At 
the foot of this horrible Precipice we meet with the River 
Niagara, which is not above half a quarter of a League broad, 
but is wonderfully deep in some places. It is so rapid above this 
Descent, that it violently hurries down the Wild Beasts while 
endeavouring to pass it, to feed on the other side; they not 
being able to withstand the force of its Current, which in- 
evitably casts them down head-long above Six hundred foot. ^ 

This wonderful Downfall is compounded of two great Cross- 
streams of Water, and two Falls, with an Isle slopeing along the 
middle of it. The Waters which fall from this vast height do 
foam and boil after the most hideous manner imaginable, making 
an outrageous Noise, more terrible than that of Thunder; for 
when the Wind blows from o£E the South, their dismal roaring 
may be heard above fifteen Leagues off. 

The River Niagara having thrown itself down this incredible 
Precipice continues its impetuous course for two Leagues to- 
gether, to the great Rock above-mentioned, with an inexpressible 
Rapidity: But having pass'd that, its Impetuosity relents, 
gliding along more gently for two Leagues, till it arrives at the 
Lake Ontario or Frontenac. 

Any Barque or greater Vessel may pass from the Fort to the 
foot of this huge Rock above-mention 'd. This Rock lies to the 
Westward, and is cut off from the Land by the River Niagara, 
about two Leagues farther down than the great Fall ; for which 

» Hennepin's exaggerations add a spice to his marvellous stories as is 
true of Arabella B. Buckley's The Fairyland of Science (p. 122) wherein 
we read: "The river Niagara first wanders through a flat country and 
then reaches the Great Lake Erie in a hollow plain. After that it flows 
gently down for about fifteen miles and then the slope becomes greater and 
it rushes on to the Falls of Niagara. " Every age has its Hennepins! 

The Old Niagara Frontier 169 

two Leagues the People are oblig'd to carry their Goods over- 
land ; but the way is very good, and the Trees are but few, and 
they chiefly Firrs and Oaks. 

From the great Fall unto this Rock, which is to the West of 
the River, the two Brinks of it are so prodigious high, that it 
w^ould make one tremble to look steadily upon the Water, rolling 
along with a Rapidity not to be imagin'd. Were it not for this 
vast Cataract, which interrupts Navigation, they might sail 
with barques or greater Vessels, above four hundred and fifty 
Leagues further, cross the Lake of Hurons, and up to the farther 
end of the Lake Illinois; which two Lakes, we may well say, 
•are little Seas of fresh Water. 

In 1646 Father Jogues was killed in the Long House, 
and though in 1647 eighteen priests were at work in the 
eleven missions in the West (most of them in the Huron 
country), the Iroquois carried the war to their very 
altars, the mission of St. Joseph being destroyed and 
the Hurons, blasted as a nation, scattered to the four 
winds of heaven. In 1656 Mohawks even descended 
upon fugitive Hurons hovering about Quebec tmder the 
very guns of Fort St. Louis; it is interesting to compare 
these far-eastwardly onslaughts with the simultaneous 
far-eastern progress of the French explorers, for, as the 
Mohawks were falling upon Quebec those adventurous 
pioneers, Raddison and Grossilliers, were (it is now 
believed) on the point of discovering the Mississippi 
River, which they probably did in 1659. 

The plan of a grand Iroquois campaign against Can- 
ada in 1660 probably had its part in the awakening of 
the monarchy at home to the real state of affairs in 
America; if New France was to be more than a m5rth 
something must now be done or the entire European 
poptilation of the St. Lawrence — not yet niunbering 
more than two thousand souls — might be swept away 

170 The Niagara River 

as were the Hurons. The energy of Louis's famous 
minister, Colbert, is now in evidence as Marquis de 
Tracy, special envoy, appeared on the scene, as the pop- 
ulation of Canada doubled in a score of months, the 
Richilieu was manned with forts and an armiy of 
thirteen hundred men invaded the Iroquois country 
and secured a comparatively lasting peace. 

A new era dawned, renewed spirit enthused the 
explorer, missionary, coureur-de-hois , and soldier. In 
1669 the boldest man after Champlain, as Frontenac 
was the most chivalrous, La Salle, crossed Lake Ontario 
and in the two following years probably discovered and 
followed the Ohio, if not the Mississippi itself. In 1671 
the noblest soldier of the cross in early American annals, 
Marquette, founded St. Ignace, and, two years later, in 
company with Joliet, found and descended the "Mis- 
sipi." Simultaneously, as if to end once for all fear of 
Iroquois opposition, Frontenac erected the fort named 
for himself near the present site of Kingston, Canada. 
But French activity proved a little too successful, for 
it not only awed the Iroquois but alarmed the English, 
who had taken New York from the Dutch nine years 

La Salle was in France during 1677, where he re- 
ceived letters-patent concerning forts to be built south 
and west, in which direction "it would seem a passage 
to Mexico can be discovered," while Father Hennepin, 
soon to be the great discoverer's companion and mouth- 
piece, was among the Senecas near the Niagara frontier 
gaining a useful ftind of information for the grand cam- 
paign of empire founding that La Salle had planned 
with Fort Frontenac as his base of supplies. 

Chapter VIII 
From La Salle to De Nonville 

RECEIVING authority to explore the Mississippi 
to its mouth, as well as a grant made in 1675 
of Fort Frontenac and surroimding lands as 
a seigniory, La Salle returned from France 
in 1678, and began the wonderfiil career that will hand 
his name down through coimtless years as the greatest 
explorer in the annals of America. He allied with him 
Tonty and Father Hennepin, the latter already known, 
as we have seen, along the Niagara frontier. 

La Salle at once advanced to Fort Frontenac, which 
was to be his point of rendezvous and eastern base of 
supplies. His first act was to fortify this point strongly 
as though already foreseeing the recall of the sturdy 
Frontenac and the consequential uprising of the 
sltimbering Iroquois. 

The plan of Fort Frontenac published by FaiUon 
shows that Frontenac 's hasty pahsades were replaced 
by La SaUe with hewed stone on at least two landward 
sides, and within were to be foimd a barrack, bakery, 
and mill; by 1780 fourteen families replaced the four 
lone habitans left at the fort in 1677; his improvements 
had cost La Salle thirty-five thousand francs. In Park- 
man's graphic words we see La Salle reigning 

the autocrat of his lonely little empire, as feudal lord of the 
forests around him, commander of a garrison raised and paid 


172 The Niagara River 

by himself, founder of the mission, patron of the church. But 
he had no thought of resting here. He had gained what he 
sought, a fulcrum for bolder and broader action. His plans 
were ripened and his time was come. He was no longer a needy 
adventurer, disinherited of all but his fertile brain and his in- 
trepid heart. He had won place, influence, credit, and potent 
friends. Now, at length, he might hope to find the long-sought 
path to China and Japan, and secure for France those boundless 
regions of the west.^ 

La Salle now pushed his impetuous campaign, show- 
ing as much foresight as daring in this conception. To 
hold the golden West in fee three important projects 
at once demanded attention: fitting out two ships, 
one for Lake Ontario and one for the upper Niagara 
River and the lakes from which its waters came, and 
the acquiring at some proper rendezvous of the first 
invoice of furs. A brigantine of ten tons was building 
simultaneously with Fort Frontenac, and in the fall of 
the year (1678) was ready for its cargo of material for 
a sister-ship to be built above the great falls. A party 
in canoes, carrying some six thousand francs' worth of 
goods, had gone forward to the further lakes to engage 
and secure from the Indian tribes provisions for the 
expedition and a consignment of furs for the homeward 

On November i8th, the brigantine with its singular 
freight weighed anchor and sped from sight of La Salle 
and the watchers at Fort Frontenac; the party was 
under the temporal command of Sieur la Motte de Lus- 
si^re and the spiritual guidance of the famous historian 
Father Hennepin, "who belonged," writes one scholar, 
"to that class of writers who speak the truth by acci- 

» Discovery of the West, pp. 1 15-16. 

R. Rene Cavelier, Sieur De La Salle. 

From La Salle to De Nonville 173 

dent"; of him La Salle generously said that he wrote 
more in conformity to his wishes than his knowledge. 
After a rough voyage this tinknown craft entered "the 
beautiful river Niagara," as Hennepin truthfully stated, 
on St. Nicholas s Day, December 6th and the Te Deum 
Laudamtis was sung feelingly by the crew, which had 
barely escaped shipwreck near the mouth of Humber 

Here, near the mouth of the Niagara River, La 
Salle had planned to build a fort to bear the name Fort 
Conti in honour of his chief patron, the Prince of Conti ; 
Lake Erie he had already named Lac de Conti. "It 
is situated," he wrote Conti, before it was built, "near 
that great cataract, more than a hundred and t^^enty 
toises [780 feet] in height, by which the lakes of higher 
elevation precipitate themselves into Lake Frontenac." 
A party of Senecas welcomed the little party, listening 
wonderingly to their anthem, supplying them with no 
end of white fish which they had come to catch here, 
li\'ing the while in a sort of a village near by, comprising 
probably a few huts erected for temporary purposes. 
It is possible these dwellings were of a more permanent 
character; at any rate Seneca sovereignty was assured, 
as the Frenchmen discovered just as soon as post-holes 
for Fort Conti were being dug. Concerning this, as 
well as the other features of this early Niagara River 
history, the record of Father Hennepin is about our 
only source of information; let us, therefore, quote 
from his A New Discovery concerning Frontenac and 
Niagara days: 

That very same Year, on the Eighteenth of November, I took 
leave of our Monks at Fort Frontenac, and after mutual Embraces 
and Expressions of Brotherly and Christian Charity, I embark'd 

174 The Niagara River 

in a Brigantine of about ten Tuns. The Winds and the Cold of 
the Autumn were then very violent, insomuch that our Crew was 
afraid to go into so little a Vessel. This oblig'd us and the Sieur 
de la Motte our Commander, to keep our course on the North- 
side of the Lake, to shelter ourselves under the Coast, against the 
North-west Wind, which otherwise would have forced us upon 
the Southern Coast of the Lake. This Voyage prov'd very diffi- 
cult and dangerous, because of the unseasonable time of the 
Year, Winter being near at hand. 

On the 26th, we were in great danger about Two large Leagues 
off the Land, where we were oblig'd to lie at an Anchor all that 
Night at sixty Fathom Water and above ; but at length the Wind 
coming to the North-East, we sail'd on, and arriv'd safely at the 
further end of the Lake Ontario, call'd by the Iroquese, Skan- 
nadario. We came pretty near to one of their Villages call'd 
Tajajagon, lying about Seventy Leagues from Fort Frontenac, 
or Catarakouy. 

We barter'd some Indian Corn with the Iroquese, who could 
not sufficiently admire us, and came frequently to see us on 
board our Brigantine, which for our greater security, we had 
brought to an Anchor into a River, though before we could get 
in, we run aground three times, which oblig'd us to put Four- 
teen Men into Canou's, and cast the Balast of our Ship over- 
board to get her off again. That River falls into the Lake; but 
for fear of being frozen up therein, we were forced to cut the Ice 
with Axes and other Instruments. 

The Wind turning then contrary, we were oblig'd to tarry 
there till the 15th of December, 1678, when we sailed from the 
Northern Coast to the Southern, where the River Niagara runs 
into the Lake; but could not reach it that Day, though it is 
but Fifteen or Sixteen Leagues distant, and therefore cast An- 
chor within Five Leagues of the Shore, where we had very 
bad Weather all the Night long. 

On the 6th, being St. Nicholas's Day, we got into the fine 
River Niagara, into which never any such Ship as ours entred 
before. We sung there Te Deum, and other Prayers, to return 
our Thanks to God Almighty for our prosperous Voyage. The 
Iroquese Tsonnontouans inhabiting the little Village, situated 

From La Salle to De Nonville 175 

at the Mouth of the River, took above Three Hundred Whitings 
which are bigger than Carps, and the best relish 'd, as well as 
the wholsomest Fish in the World ; which they presented all to 
us, imputing their good luck to our Arrival. They were much 
surprized at our Ship, which they call'd the Great Woodden 

On the 7th, we went in a Canou two Leagues up the River 
to look for a convenient Place for Building ; but not being able 
to get the Cahou farther up, because the Current was too rapid 
for us to master, we went over land about three Leagues higher, 
though we found no Land fit for culture. We lay that Night near 
a River, which runs from the Westward, within a League above 
the great Fall of Niagara, which, as we have already said, is the 
greatest in the World. The Snow was then a Foot deep, and we 
were oblig'd to dig it up to make room for our Fire. 

The next day we return 'd the same way we went, and saw 
great Numbers of Wild Goats, and Wild Turkey-Cocks, and on 
the nth we said the first Mass that ever was said in that Country. 
The Carpenters and the rest of the Crew were set to work ; but 
Monsieur de la Motte, who had the Direction of them, being not 
able to endure the Fatigues of so laborious a Life, gave over 
his Design, and retum'd to Canada, having about two hundred 
Leagues to Travel. 

The 12th, 13th, and 14th, the Wind was not favourable 
enough to sail up the River as far as the rapid Current above 
mention'd where we had resolv'd to build some Houses. 

Whosoever considers our Map, will easily see, that this New 
Enterprise of building a Fort and some Houses on the River 
Niagara, besides the Fort of Frontenac, was like to give Jeal- 
ousie to the Iroquese, and even to the English, who live in this 
Neighbourhood, and have a great Commerce with them. There- 
fore to prevent the ill Consequences of it, it was thought fit 
to send an Embassie to the Iroquese, as it will be mention'd 
in the next Chapter. 

The isth I was desired to sit at the Helm of our Brigantine 
while three of our Men hall'd the same from the Shore with a 
Rope; and at last we brought her up, and moor'd her to the 
Shore with a Halser, near a Rock of a prodigious heighth 

176 The Niagara River 

lying upon the rapid Currents we have already mentioned. 
The 17th, 1 8th, and 19th, we were busie in making a Cabin with 
Pallisado's, to serve for a Magazine; but the Ground was so 
frozen, that we were forc'd to throw several times boiling Water 
upon it to facilitate the beating in and driving down the Stakes. 
The 20th, 2ist, 22d, and 23d, our Ship was in great danger to be 
dash'd in pieces, by the vast pieces of Ice that were hurl'd down 
the River; to prevent which, our Carpenters made a Capstone 
to haul her ashore; but our great Cable broke in three pieces; 
whereupon one of our Carpenters surrounded the Vessel with 
a Cable, and ty'd it to several Ropes, whereby we got her ashore^ 
tho' with much difficulty, and sav'd her from the danger of being 
broke to pieces, or carryed away by the Ice, which came down 
with an extream violence from the great Fall of Niagara. 

Returning to Niagara with little or no promise of 
success, yet La Salle's avant-couriers were in no way 
dissuaded from their purposes of fortifying the import- 
ant Niagara portage and building a vessel for the upper 
lakes in which to carry the produce of those regions to 
Niagara and from thence to Canada. Reaching the 
Niagara January 14th, the French party was joined 
six days later by the indomitable La Salle who, he re- 
ported, had paused on his way thither from Fort Fron- 
tenac and visited the unmoved Iroquois and secured 
their consent to the plan of fortification. Yet even La 
Salle was too optimistic as to his success, 

for certain Persons [wrote Hennepin], who made it their Business 
to Cross our Design, inspired the Iroquese with many suspicions, 
about the fort we were building at Niagara, which was in great 
forwardness; and their Suspicions grew so high, that we were 
obliged to give over our Building for some time, contenting our- 
selves with an Habitation encompass'd with Pallisado's. 

The embassy to the Iroquois mentioned by Henne- 
pin was duly organised and sent forward through the 

From La Salle to De Nonville 177 

winter snows to seek the good-will of the famous owners 
of the soil in a fort-building project; in order to allay 
the suspicions of the Senecas in what Hennepin calls 
"the little village of Niagara," they were told that 
their purpose was, not to build a fort, but "a Hangar, 
or Store-house, to keep th^ Commodities we had brought 
to supply their Occasions." Nevertheless it was neces- 
sary to supply gifts and make assurances that an em- 
bassy w^ould forthwith depart for the Iroquois council 
house. Anything less than Hennepin's own account 
would not fairly describe this interesting mission : 

We travelled with Shoes made after the Indian way, of a 
single Skin, but without Soles, because the Earth was still 
cover'd with Snow, and past through Forests for thirty two 
Leagues together carrying upon our Backs our Coverings and 
other Baggage, lying often in open Field, and having with us 
no other Food but some roasted Indian Corn: 'T is true, we met 
upon our Road some Iroquese a hunting, who gave us some 
wild Goats, and Fifteen or Sixteen black Squirrels, which are 
excellent Meat. However, after five Days' Journey, we came 
to Tagarondies, a great Village of the Iroquese Tsonnontouans, 
and were immediately carry 'd to the Cabin of their Principal 
Chief, where Women and Children flock'd to see us, our Men 
being very well drest and arm'd. An old Man having according 
to Custom made publick Cries, to give Notice of our arrival to 
their Village; the younger Savages wash'd our Feet, which 
afterwards they rubb'd over with the Grease of Deers, wild 
Goats, and other Beasts, and the Oil of Bears. 

The next Day was the First of the Year 1679. After the 
ordinary Service I preach'd in a little Chapel made of Barks of 
Trees, in presence of two Jesuites, viz. Father Garnier and 
Rafeix; and afterwards we had a Conference with 42 old Men, 
who make up their Council. These Savages are for the most 
part tall, and very well shap'd, cover'd with a sort of Robe 
made of Beavers and Wolves-Skins, or of black Squirrels, 
holding a Pipe or Calumet in their Hands. The Senators of 

178 The Niagara River 

Venice do not appear with a graver Countenance, and perhaps 
don't speak with more Majesty and Solidity, than those Ancient 

This Nation is the most cruel and barbarous of all America, 
especially to their Slaves, whom they take above two or three 
hundred Leagues from their Country, . . . however, I must 
do them the Justice to observe, that they have many good 
qualities; and that they love the Europeans, to whom they 
sell their Commodities at very reasonable Rates. They have a 
mortal Hatred for those, who being too self-interested and 
covetous, are always endeavouring to enrich themselves to the 
Prejudice of others. Their chief Commodities are Beavers- 
Skins, which they bring from above a hundred and fifty Leagues 
ofE their Habitations, to exchange them with the English and 
Dutch, whom they affect more than the inhabitants of Canada, 
because they are more affable, and sell them their Commodities 

One of our own Men nam'd Anthony Brossard, who under- 
stood very well the Language of the Iroquese, and therefore was 
Interpreter to M. de la Motte; told their Assembly: 

First, That we were come to pay them a Visit, and smoak 
with them in their Pipes, a Ceremony which I shall describe 
anon: And then we deliver'd our Presents, consisting of Axes, 
Knives, a. great Collar of white and blue Porcelain, with some 
Gowns. We made Presents upon every Point we propos'd to 
them, of the same nature as the former. 

Secondly, We desir'd them, in the next place to give notice 
to the five Cantons of their Nation, that we were about to build 
a Ship, or great woodden Canou above the great Fall of the River 
Niagara, to go and fetch European Commodities by a more 
convenient passage than the ordinary one, by the River St. 
Laurence, whose rapid Currents make it dangerous and long; 
and that by these means we should afford them our Commodities 
cheaper than the English and Dutch of Boston and New- York. 
This Pretence was specious enough, and very well contriv'd 
to engage the barbarous Nation to extirpate the English 
and Dutch out of America: For they suffer the Europeans 
among them only for the Fear they have of them, or else 

Frontenac, from Hebert's Statue at Quebec. 

From La Salle to De Nonville 179 

for the Profit they make in Bartering their Commodities with 

Thirdly, We told them farther, that we should provide them 
at the River Niagara with a Black-smith and a Gun-smith, 
to mend their Guns, Axes, &c. having no body among them 
that understood that Trade, and that for the conveniency of 
their whole Nation, we would settle those Workmen on the 
Lake of Ontario, at the Mouth of the River Niagara. We threw 
again among them seven or eight Gowns, and some Pieces of 
fine Cloth, which they cover themselves with from the Wast to the 
Knees. This was in order to engage them on our side, and prevent 
their giving ear to any who might suggest ill things of us, 
entreating them first to acquaint us with the Reports that should 
be made unto them to our Prejudice, before they yielded their 
Belief to the fame. 

We added many other Reasons which we thought proper to 
persuade them to favour our Design. The Presents we made 
unto them, either in Cloth or Iron, were worth above 400 Livres 
besides some other European Commodities, very scarce in that 
Country: For the best Reasons in the World are not listened to 
among them, unless they are enforc'd with Presents. 

The next Day the Iroquese answered our Discourse and 
Presents Article by Article, having laid upon the Ground several 
little pieces of Wood, to put them in mind of what had been said 
the Day before in the Council ; their Speaker, or President held 
in his Hand one of these Pieces of Wood, and when he had an- 
swer'd one Article of our Proposal, he laid it down, with some 
Presents of black and white Porcelain, which they use to string 
upon the smallest Sinews of Beasts; and then took up another 
Piece of Wood; and so of all the rest, till he had fully answer'd 
our Speech, of which those Pieces of Wood, and our Presents 
put them in mind. When this Discourse was ended, the oldest 
Man of their Assembly cry'd aloud three times, Niaoua; that 
is to say. It is well, I thank thee, which was repeated with a 
full Voice ; and in a tuneful manner by all the other Senators. 

'T is to be observ'd here, that the Savages, though some are 
more cunning than others, are generally all addicted to their 
own Interests; and therefore tho' the Iroquese seem'd to be 

i8o The Niagara River 

pleas'd with our Proposals, they were not really so; for the 
English and Dutch affording them the European Commodities 
at cheaper Rates than the French of Canada, they had a greater 
Inclination for them than for us. That People, tho' so bar- 
barous and rude in their Manners, have however a Piece of 
Civility peculiar to themselves ; for a Man would be counted 
very impertinent if he contradicted anything that is said in 
their Council, and if he does not approve even the greatest 
Absurdities therein propos'd ; and therefore they always answer 
Niaoua ; that is to say Thou art in the right Brother ; that is well. 
Notwithstanding that seeming Approbation, they believe 
what they please and no more; and therefore 't is impossible 
to know when they are really persuaded of those things you 
have mention'd unto them, which I take to be one of the greatest 
Obstructions to their Conversion: For their Civility hindering 
them from making any Objection, or contradicting what is 
said unto them, they seem to approve of it, though perhaps they 
laugh at it in private, or else never bestow a moment to reflect 
upon it, such being their indifference for a future Life. From 
these Observations, I conclude that the Conversion of these 
People is to be despair'd of, 'till they are subdu'd by the Euro- 
peans, and that their Children have another sort of Education, 
unless God be pleas'd to work a Miracle in their Favour. 

On the 22nd of the month the party struck out for 
the upper Niagara for the purpose of carrying out the 
original design of building a ship for the upper lake 
trade. Hennepin gives the site of this interesting 
adventure as "two leagues above the great Fall — this 
was the most convenient place we could pitch upon, 
being upon a River which falls into the Streight [Niag- 
ara River] between the Lake Erie, and the great Fall 
of Niagara." Even had the common portage around 
the Falls and Rapids been on the American side Henne- 
pin's account makes it fairly clear that the boat building 
took place on Cayuga Creek; the only other "river" 
above the Falls falling into the Niagara is the Chippewa, 

From La Salle to De Nonville i8i 

and Hennepin clearly notes this stream in his first tour 
of exploration above the Falls as "within a league 
above the great Fall " ; it is clear that the Cayuga, there- 
fore, is the probable site of this first boat building along 
the Niagara frontier.^ The little village at this point 
has been appropriately named La Salle from the famous 
adventurer who here dreamed that emparadising dream 
of discovery and empire-founding. Hennepin's ac- 
count, quaintly worded, again becomes of more interest 
than any record of those days to be made from it: 

The 26th, the Keel of the Ship and some other Pieces being 
ready, M. de la Salle sent the Master-Carpenter, to desire me to 
drive in the first Pin ; but my Profession obliging me to decline 
that Honour, he did it himself, and promis'd Ten Louis d'Or's, 
to encourage the Carpenter, and further the Work. The Winter 
being not half so hard in that Country as in Canada, we employ'd 
one of the two Savages of the Nation call'd the Wolf, whom we 
kept for Hunting, in building some Cabins made of Rinds 
of Trees; and I had one made on purpose to perform Divine 
Service therein on Sundays, and other occasions. 

M. de la Salle having some urgent Business of his own, 
retum'd to Fort Frontenac, leaving for our Commander one 
Tonti, an Italian by Birth, who had been forc'd to retire into 
France after the Revolution of Naples, in which his Father was 
concem'd. I conducted M. de la Salle as far as the Lake Ontario 
at the Mouth of the River Niagara, where we order'd a House 
to be built for the Smith he had promis'd to the Iroquese; but 
this was only to amuze them, and therefore I cannot but own 
that the Savages are not to be blam'd for having not believ'd 

> The exact spot of building is the subject of a monograph The Ship- 
yard of the Griffon by Cyrus Kingsbury Remington (Buffalo, N. Y. 1891), 
in which the author, while advocating his own theory, presents liberally 
views held by those in disagreement with himself. We find O. H. Mar- 
shall in accord with Mr Remington that what is known as the "Old Ship 
Yard" or Angevine place, at La Salle, was the site of the building of 
the Griffon. 

1 82 The Niagara River 

every thing they were told by M. la Motte in his Embassie already 

He undertook his Journey a-foot over the Snow, having no 
other Provisions, but a little Sack of Indian Corn roasted, which 
fail'd him two Days before he came to the Fort, which is above 
fourscore Leagues distant from the Place where he left us. How- 
ever he got home safely with two Men, and a Dog, who dragg'd 
his Baggage over the Ice or frozen Snow. 

When I return 'd to our Dock, I understood that most of the 
Iroquese were gone to wage War with a Nation on the other 
side of the Lake Erie. In the mean time, our Men continu'd 
with great Application to build our Ship ; for the Iroquese who 
were left behind, being but a small number, were not so insolent 
as before, though they come now and then to our Dock, and 
express 'd some Discontent at what we were doing. One of them 
in particular, feigning himself drunk, attempted to kill our 
Smith, but was vigorously repuls'd by him with a red-hot Iron- 
barr, which, together with the Reprimand he receiv'd from me, 
oblig'd him to be gone. Some few Days after, a Savage Woman 
gave us notice, that the Tsonnontouans had resolv'd to burn 
our Ship in the Dock, and had certainly done it, had we not 
been always upon our Guard. 

These frequent Alarms from the Natives, together with the 
Fears we were in of wanting Provisions, having lost the great 
Barque from Fort Frontenac, which should have reliev'd us, 
and the Tsonnontouans at the same time refusing to give us of 
their Corn for Money, were a great discouragement to our Car- 
penters, whom on the other hand, a Villain amongst us endeav- 
our 'd to reduce: That pitiful Fellow had several times attempted 
to run away from us into New- York, and would have been likely 
to pervert our Carpenters, had I not confirm'd them in their 
good Resolution, by the Exhortations I us'd to make every 
Holy-day after Divine Service; in which I represented to them, 
that the Glory of God was concern 'd in our Undertaking, besides 
the Good and Advantage of our Christian Colonies; and there- 
fore exhorted them to redouble their Diligence, in order to free 
our selves from all those Inconveniences and Apprehensions 
we then lay under. 

From La Salle to De Nonville 183 

The two Savages we had taken into our Service, went all 
this while a Hunting, and supply'd us with Wild-Goats, and 
other Beasts for our Subsistence; which encouraged our Work- 
men to go on with their Work more briskly than before, insomuch 
that in a short time our Ship was in a readiness to be launched ; 
which we did, after having bless'd the same according to the use 
of the Romish Church. We made all the haste we could to get 
it afloat, though not altogether finish'd, to prevent the Designs 
of the Natives, who had resolv'd to bum it. 

The Ship was call'd the Griffon, alluding to the Arms of 
Count Frontenac, which have two Griffons for Supporters; and 
besides, M. la Salle us'd to say of the Ship, while yet upon the 
Stocks, that he would make the Griffon fly above the Ravens. 
We fir'd three Guns, and sung Te Deum, which was attended 
with loud Acclamations of Joy; of which those of the Iroquese, 
who were accidentally present at this Ceremony, were also 
Partakers; for we gave them some Brandy to drink, as well as 
our Men, who immediately quitted their Cabins of Rinds of 
Trees, and hang'd their Hammocks under the Deck of the Ship, 
there to lie with more security than ashore. We did the Uke, 
insomuch that the very same Day we were all on Board, and 
thereby out of the reach of the Insults of the Savages. 

The Iroquese being returned from hunting Beavers, were 
mightily surprised to see our Ship a-float, and call'd us Otkon, 
which is in their Language, Most penetrating Wits: For they 
could not apprehend how in so short a time we had been able 
to build so great a Ship, though it was but 60 Tuns. It might 
have been indeed call'd a moving Fortress; for all the Savages 
inhabiting the Banks of those Lakes and Rivers I have mentioned, 
for five hundred Leagues together, were filled with fear as well 
as Admiration when they saw it. . . . 

Being thus prepar'd against all Discouragements, I went up 
in a Canou with one of our Savages to the Mouth of the Lake 
Erie, notwithstanding the strong Current which I master'd 
with great difficulty. I sounded the Mouth of the Lake and 
found, contrary to the Relation that had been made unto me, 
that a Ship with a brisk Gale might sail up to the Lake, and 
surmounted the Rapidity of the Current; and that therefore 

184 The Niagara River 

with a strong North, North-East Wind, we might bring our 
Ship into the Lake Erie. I took also a view of the Banks of 
the Streight, and found that in case of Need, we might put 
some of our Men a-shore to hall the Ship, if the Wind was not 
strong enough. 

The Griffon being more or less completed Father 
Hennepin followed La Salle in returning to Fort Fron- 
tenac to secure necessaries for the tour of the upper 
lakes. Returning, La Salle and Hennepin did not reach 
Niagara again until the 30th of July, but found the 
Griffon riding safely at anchor within a league of Lake 

We were very kindly receiv'd [writes the Father], and like- 
wise very glad to find our Ship well rigg'd, and ready fitted 
out with all the Necessaries for sailing. She carry'd five small 
Guns, two whereof were Brass, and three Harquebuze a-crock. 
The Beak-head was adorn'd with a flying Griffon, and an Eagle 
above it; and the rest of the Ship had the same Ornaments 
as Men of War use to have. 

The Iroquese were then returning from a Warlike Expedition 
with several Slaves, and were much surpriz'd to see so big a Ship, 
which they compar'd to a Fort, beyond their Limits. Several 
came on board, and seem'd to admire above all things the bigness 
of our Anchors; for they could not apprehend how we had been 
able to bring them through the rapid Currents of the River 
St. Laurence. This oblig'd them to use often the Word Gan- 
norom, which in their Language signifies, That is wonderful. They 
wonder'd also to find there a Ship, having seen none when they 
went; and did not know from whence it came, it being about 
250 Leagues from Canada. 

Having forbid the Pilot to attempt to sail up the Currents 
of the Streight till farther order, we return'd the i6th and 17th 
to the Lake Ontario, and brought up our Bark to the great Rock 
of Niagara, and anchor'd at the foot of the three Mountains 
Lewiston, where we were oblig'd to make our Portage; that 
is, to carry over-land our Canou's and Provisions, and other 


Luna Island Bridge. 

From La Salle to De Nonville 185 

Things, above the great Fall of the River, which interrupts the 
Navigation: and because most of the Rivers of that Country are 
interrupted with great Rocks, and that therefore those who 
sail upon the same, are oblig'd to go overland above those Falls, 
and carry upon their Backs their Canou's and other Things. 
They express it with this Word, To make our Portage ; of which 
the Reader is desir'd to take notice, for otherwise the following 
Account, as well as the Map, would be unintelligible to many. 

Father Gabriel, though of Sixty five Years of Age, bore with 
great Vigour the Fatigue of that Voyage, and went thrice up 
and down those three Mountains, which are pretty high and 
steep. Our Men had a great deal of trouble; for they were 
oblig'd to make several Turns to carry the Provisions and 
Ammunition, and the Portage was two Leagues long. Our 
Anchors were so big that four Men had much ado to carry one; 
but the Brandy we gave them was such an Encouragement, 
that they surmounted cheerfully all the Difficulties of that 
Journey; and so we got on board our Ship all our Provisions, 
Ammunitions, and Commodities. . . . 

We endeavour'd several times to sail up that Lake ; but the 
Wind being not strong enough, we were forc'd to wait for it. 
In the mean time, M. la Salle caus'd our Men to grub up some 
Land, and sow several sorts of Pot-Herbs and Pulse, for the 
conveniency of those who should settle themselves there, to 
maintain our Correspondence with Fort Frontenac. We found 
there a great quantity of wild Cherries and Rocambol, a sort of 
Garlick, which grow naturally in that Ground. We left Father 
Melithon, with some Work-men, at our Habitation above the 
Fall of Niagara; and most of our Men went a-shore to lighten 
our Ships, the better to sail up the Lake. 

The Wind veering to the North-East, and the Ship being 
well provided, we made all the Sail we could, and with the help 
of Twelve Men who hall'd from the Shoar, overcame the Rapidity 
of the Current, and got into the Lake. The Stream is so violent, 
that our Pilot himself despair 'd of Success. When it was done, 
we sung Te Deum, and discharg'd our Cannon and other Fire- 
Arms, in presence of a great many Iroquese, who came from a 
Warlike Expedition against the Savages of Tintonha; that is 

1 86 The Niagara River 

to say, the Nation of the Meadows, who live above four hundred 
Leagues from that Place. The Iroquese and their Prisoners 
were much surpriz'd to see us in the Lake and did not think before 
that, we should be able to overcome the Rapidity of the Current: 
They cry'd several times Gannorom, to shew their Admiration. 
Some of the Iroquese had taken the measure of our Ship, and 
immediately went for New- York to give notice to the English 
and Dutch of our Sailing into the Lake: For those Nations 
affording their Commodities Cheaper than the French, are also 
more belov'd by the Natives. On the 7th of August, 1679, 
we went on board being in all four and thirty men, including 
two Recollets who came to us, and sail'd from the Mouth of the 
Lake Erie. 

The loss of the Griffon by shipwreck on its 
initial voyage and the subsequent misfortunes that 
seemed to follow the brave La Salle up to the very day 
that witnessed his brutal murder in a far Texan prairie 
in 1687, are, in a measure only a part of the story 
of Niagara. Had that great man lived to realise any 
fair fraction of his emparadising dream of empire 
the effect on the history of the Niagara frontier would 
have been momentous; a mere comparison of what 
now did transpire at the mouth of the Niagara, in the 
very year of La Salle's death, illustrates perfectly the 
lack of enterprise that seems suddenly to have faded 
from the situation. With La Salle gone, the whole 
attitude of the regime in power at Quebec seems to 
change; whereas La Salle was on the very point of 
establishing at Niagara an important station on the 
communication to Louisiana. What actually did 
happen here is pitiful by comparison. 

The new Governor, De Nonville, in order to bring 
the Iroquois into a proper state of submission and 
compell them to desist from annoying travellers on 

From La Salle to De Nonville 187 

the St. Lawrence, determined to repeat Champlain's 
feat of invading their homeland. The record of this 
expedition from the mouth of its commanding officer, 
the Governor himself, is a very interesting document, 
especially to those interested in the study of that 
famous Long House that lay south of Lake Ontario.^ 
Embarking at Fort Frontenac July 4, 1687, the ex- 
pedition landed at Irondequoit Bay six days later, 
where De Nonville was reinforced by a party of French 
which had rendezvoused at Niagara from the West. Of 
this party little is known; possibly some of La Salle's 
crew were here, coming from their cabins at either 
end of the Niagara portage path, or possibly from the 
ship yard at the present La Salle. " It clearly appears," 
writes Marshall, "from De Nonville's narrative, that 
the party which he met at the mouth of the bay, was 
composed of French and Indians from the far west, 
who sailed from . . . Niagara, to join the expedition 
pursuant to his orders." These Indians, Mr. Browne 
affirms, were from Michilimackinac. Marching inland 
to the region Mr. Marshall believed, in the neighbour- 
hood of the village of Victor, ten miles north-west of 
Canandaigua, a party of Senecas was put to flight and 
the entire region devastated until the 23rd; it was 
estimated that in the four Seneca villages the soldiers 
had destroyed about 1,200,000 bushels of com — 
350,000 minots, of which all but 50,000 were green. 
On the 24th the lake was again reached. 

The situation on the Niagara frontier at this moment 
could not better be described than it has been by 
Mr. BrowTie in his The St. Lawrence River, as follows: 

» The Narrative is given in full with careful introduction and explana- 
tions in Marshall's Writings, 123-186. 

1 88 The Niagara River 

Denonville had now a clear way to build his fort at Niagara, 
which he proceeded to do, and then armed it with one hundred 
men. If triumphant in his bold plans, he had to learn that the 
viper crushed might rise to sting. The Senecas had their aven- 
gers. Maddened by the cowardly onset of Denonville and his 
followers, the Iroquois to a man rose against the French. This 
was not done by any organised raid, but, shod with silence, 
small, eager war-parties haunted the forests of the St. Lawrence, 
striking where they were the least expected, and never failing 
to leave behind them the smoke of burning dwellings and the 
horrors of desolated lives. From Fort Frontenac to Tadousac 
there was not a home exempt from this deadly scourge; not a 
life that was not threatened. Unable to cope with so artful 
a foe, Denonville was in despair. He sued for peace, but to 
obtain this he had to betray his allies, the Indians of the Upper 
Lakes, who had entered his service under the conditions that 
the war should continue until the Iroquois were exterminated. 
The latter sent delegates to confer with the French commander 
at Montreal. 

While this conference was under way, a Huron chief 
showed that he was the equal of even Denonville in the 
strategies of war where the code of honour was a dead letter. 
Anticipating the fate in store for his race did the French carry 
out their scheme of self-defence, this chief, whose name was 
Kandironk, "the Rat," lay in ambush for the envoys on their 
way home from their conference with Denonville, when the 
latter had made so many fair promises. These Kandironk 
captured, claiming he did it under orders from Denonville, 
bore them to Michilimackinac, and tortured them as spies. This 
done, he sent an Iroquois captive to tell his people how fickle 
the French could be. Scarcely was this accomplished when he 
gave to the French his exultant declaration, "I have killed 
the peace !" The words were prophetic. Nothing that Denonville 
could say or do cleared him of connection with the affair. His 
previous conduct was enough to condemn him. To avenge this 
act of deceit, as the Iroquois considered it, they rallied in great 
numbers, and on the night of August 4, 1689, dealt the most 
cruel and deadly blow given during all the years of warfare in 
the St. Lawrence valley. Fifteen hundred strong, under cover 

From La Salle to De Nonville 189 

of the darkness, they stole down upon the settlement of La 
Chine situated at the upper end of the island of Montreal, and 
surprised the inhabitants while they slept in fancied security. 
More than two hundred men, women, and children were slain 
in cold blood, or borne away to fates a hundred times more 
terrible to meet than swift death. The day already breaking 
upon the terror-stricken colonists was the darkest Canada 
ever knew. 

The result of the expedition, so far as result appears, 
was effected when the ships bearing his men turned 
toward the Niagara River and were anchored off the 
point of land where now stands historic Fort Niagara. 
Here a fort was to be built forthwith, as much to 
secure the fur trade and to overawe the Indians as to 
keep the EngUsh from making any advance toward 
the territory of the Lakes. On the very day of his 
arrival De Nonville set his men to work. The fortifi- 
cation was constructed partly of earth surmotmted 
by pahsades. The building of the structtu-e was no 
easy matter. There were no trees in the immediate 
vicinity, so the soldiers had to obtain their timber to 
the east along the lake or across the river. After the 
timber had been obtained from these forests, it was 
a very difficult matter to drag it up the high bank. 
However, De NonviUe was so energetic and his men 
worked so faithfully that in three days a fort was built 
with four bastions, where were mounted two large 
guns. Several cabins were also built. As the work 
progressed, many of those who had come with De Non- 
ville, both French and Indians, began to leave. Du 
Luth, Durantaye, and Tonty, together with the Illinois 
Indians who had allied themselves with the French 
against the Iroquois, departed for the trading-posts of 

iQo The Niagara River 

Detroit and Michilimackinac. Soon after De Nonville 
himself left for Montreal, taking with him all but a 
hundred men. Those whom he left behind were placed 
under the command of De Troyes, with promises 
to send provisions as soon as possible, and fresh 
troops in the spring.^ 

The men left behind were truly in a surly mood. 
In spite of De Nonville's assurance of provisions, and 
his assertion that the Senecas had been subdued, these 
men knew only too well not to depend too much on the 
first, and as to the second, that the Indians had only 
been enraged, rather than vanquished. 

For a time there was enough work to keep all hands 
busy. M. de Brissay left on the 3d of August, com- 
manding M. de Vaudreuil to help in the constructing 
of the cabins and the completion of the fort. There 
was an immense amount of work to be accomplished 
in the cutting, dragging, hewing, and sawing of the 
timbers; but, despite the hot weather, there was soon 
completed a house with a chimney of sticks and clay 
for the commandant. Three other cabins were after- 
ward built in the square and in the midst of these a 
well was dug; but its waters were always roiled from 
improper curbing. 

Vaudreuil left toward the latter part of August after 
having seen the company well roofed. Many of the num- 
ber, who were at first fired by the spirit of adventure and 
a desire to remain at Niagara, now, foreseeing the suffer- 
ing to be undergone, desired to return with Vaudreuil; 
but nearly all were compelled to remain at the fort. 

1 A most thrilling account of this fort-building effort at the mouth 
of the Niagara is to be found in Severance, Old Trails of the Niagara 
Frontier, on which the present writer has based his description here given. 

From La Salle to De Nonville 191 

Although the expedition when it set out against 
the Senecas was tolerably well supplied with necessaries 
for an Indian campaign, those who were left at the 
fort were left in a bad condition indeed. About three 
thousand bushels of com had been destroyed which 
belonged to the Senecas; but scarcely a week's rations 
had been brought along to their destination. Very 
few had brought any seeds, and not much gardening 
could have been done anyway, on account of the late- 
ness of the season. The few attempts that were made 
brought no returns on account of a drought. No 
hunting could be tmdertaken except in large parties 
so as to be secure from the savages. Almost the only 
food supply was the fish caught in the lake. 

There was unbounded joy at the fort when the sail 
of the ship with supplies, which had been promised by 
Denonville, was seen on the horizon. But even then 
the unlading was delayed two days by calms which 
prevented the vessel from coming nearer than several 
miles from the shore. Finally a landing was effected; 
and the cargo was quickly stowed in the fort. The 
ship immediately returned to Canada. 

From the very first the provisions proved to be 
bad. Still with these, together with the few herbs of 
the forest, a small amount of game and fish, the men 
managed to eke out an existence. There was no 
labour to perform — nothing to do but complain of the 
food and hard life which they were compelled to live. 

Toward the latter part of September, the Indians 
made their first appearance. A hunting party in the 
vicinity of the Falls lost two men. Another party was 
cut oft from the fort. Their dead bodies were found 
scalped and mutilated by the savages. The commander, 

192 The Niagara River 

De Troyes, soon fell ill, as did also Jean de Lamber- 
ville, the only priest in the colony. Thus at almost 
the same time was the company deprived of leadership 
and religious consolation. Christmas season drew 
on; but it was a sorry time for those at the fort. The 
weather had become severe, and fierce snow-storms 
were frequent. No one ventured beyond the palisades 
except in quest of firewood ; and it was almost impos- 
sible at times to obtain this. Many were nearly frozen 
in their cabins. One day the wood-choppers were 
overwhelmed in the snow in sight of the fort. No one 
dared to go to their succour for fear of suffering the 
same fate. Two days after, those within the stockade 
saw their dead comrades devoured by wolves. Not 
a charge of powder was left. The food was almost 
unbearable. The biscuits were full of weevil from the 
first, and the meat was in such a putrefied condition 
that no one could eat it. Scurvy broke out. De 
Troyes could not leave his cabin and was compelled 
to trust everything to his men. 

From a band of gallant soldiers, they had been 
reduced to a mere handful of disease-infected skeletons. 
In six weeks there were sixty deaths; and this was 
only the middle of February. Only a few of the stronger 
were left able to do the work which was absolutely 
necessary, such as supplying firewood and burying the 
dead, and these duties were performed with infinite 
toil and danger. More than twenty died in the month 
of March ; in this number was the brave commander De 
Troyes. With their leader seemed to perish all the 
little spirit left in his followers. Almost no hope was 
left for the suffering inmates of the fort. It was still 
many weeks until the promised succour could possibly 

From La Salle to De Nonville 193 

come from Montreal. The Western savages had prom- 
ised an alliance and aid to the French against the 
Iroquois, but little confidence was to be placed in their 

Just as the men left in the fort were reduced to the 
very last extremity, and were wishing for death to 
relieve them of their miseries, a war-party from the 
Miamis on an expedition against the Senecas reached 
the fort and gave that relief so long vainly looked for 
by the inmates. Several of these who first regained 
their strength set out for Montreal to carry the news 
of their sore straits to the government; and on one 
pleasant, beautiful day in April the long expected sail 
was seen on the horizon bringing relief to the rem- 
nant of those who had been left in the fort the 
preceding summer. 

In command of the expedition was D'esbergeres, 
and with him Father Milet, besides a large company 
of companions. As soon as they landed, Father 
Milet conducted mass and then put all the men who 
were able to work constructing a large cross. While 
they were at the work, Father Milet traced upon its 
arms: " Regnat, Vincit, Imperat Christus." 

On Good Friday, the priest again held mass, and 
erected the cross in the centre of the square of the 
fort, thus symboHsing a victory w^rung from the clutches 
of defeat itself. 

With spring, the new companions, and a goodly 
supply of provisions, was bom new hope in the fort. 
The little company were very busy during the siimmer, 
despite the fact that the Iroquois, stirred on by the 
English, gave them continual trouble. In September 
Mahent came with the vessel La General, with orders 

194 The Niagara River 

to D'esbergeres to abandon the fort. This was quite 
a blow to the commander, as having held the post 
all Slimmer he hoped to continue to do so. The outer 
barracks were all destroyed, which was not so difficult 
a task, as the severe storms of the previous winter had 
done much of this work; but the cabins were all left 
standing. On the morning of the 1 5th of September, 
1688, the garrison sailed away, once more leaving the 
shores of the great Niagara untroubled by the con- 
tentions of white men, and open to the nation who 
should seize it or conciliate the savages who held th6 
surrounding regions. 

Yet De Nonville had done something for which to be 
remembered beyond raiding the Long House and forti- 
fying the river of the Neuters; he had left it a name 
that should live as he had, first of white men, so far 
as we know, written it. The orthography of the name 
Niagara seems to have now been established — 1687. 
Champlain did not use any name in 16 13, though on 
his map we find the following words attached to the 
stream connecting Lakes Erie and Ontario, chute 
d'eau, giving us our first genuine record of Niagara 

We have seen that L'Allemant spelled the name 
Onguiaahra in 1640. In 1657 it appears on Sanson's 
map as Ongiara, and is applied to the Falls; in 1660 
Ducreux's map shows us ''Ongiara Cataractes." In 
1687 De Nonville gives us our present Niagara. Of 
the name Mr. Marshall has left this authoritative 

Onguiaahra and Ongiara are evidently identical, and present 
the same elements as Niagara. They are undoubtedly compounds 
of words expressive of some meaning, as is usual with aboriginal 

From La Salle to De Nonville 195 

terms, but which meaning is now lost. The " o " which occurs in 
both the French and English orthography is probably a neuter 
prefix, similar to what is used by the Senecas and Mohawks. 
One writer contends that Niagara is derived from Nyah'-gaah', or 
as he writes it, "Ne-ah'-gah," said to be the name of a Seneca 
village which formerly existed on the Niagara River below 
Lewiston, and now applied by the Senecas to Lake Ontario. 
This derivation, however, cannot be correct, for Onguiaahra, 
and its counterpart Ongiara, were in use as names of the river 
and falls long before the Seneca \'illage in question was in 
existence. The Neutral Nation, from whose language the words 
were taken, lived on both borders of the Niagara until they were 
exterminated by the Senecas in 1643. It is far more probable 
the Nyah'-gaah' is a reappearance of Ongiara in the Seneca 
dialect, and this view is strengthened by the fact that the former, 
unlike most Iroquois names, is without meaning, and as the 
aborigines do not confer arbitrary names, it is an evidence that 
it has been borrowed or derived from a foreign language. The 
conclusion then is, that the French derived Niagara from 
Ongiara, and the Senecas, when they took possession of the 
territories of the Neutral Nation, adopted the name Ongiara, 
as near as the idiom of their language would allow, and hence 
their name Nyah'-gaah'. 

Chapter IX 
Niagara under Three Flags 

THE abdication of De Nonville at Niagara marks, 
as nothing else perhaps can, the rise of English 
influence along the Lakes and among the 
crafty Iroquois. Slowly but surely this in- 
fluence made itself felt among the Six Nations in the 
attempt to swing the entire current of the fur trade 
from the north-west through the Long House to 
New York. 

With the destruction of the little fort built by De 
Nonville, however, it becomes clear that when on the 
same basis the English were no match for the French, 
so far as winning the redskins to their interests was 
concerned; it may be that with the withdrawal of 
the French there followed a natural diminution of 
English anxiety and activity in the matter: whether 
this was true or not there immediately ensued a notable 
increase of French attention to the Six Nations who, 
after all, controlled the destinies of this key of the 
continent. As days of war and days of peace came and 
w^ent the governors both of New York and Quebec 
sought permission to fortify the Niagara River, but 
the eighteenth century dawned with no step taken 
by either side, though each had most jealously been 
watching the other. 

It was characteristic of Frenchmen, however, to 


Niagara under Three Flags 197 

meet and mingle with the Indians as the English 
seldom did; it was not wholly out of the common, 
indeed, for them to adopt Indian dress and ctistoms 
and be, in turn, adopted into some Indian tribe. 
Through the fortunate influence exerted by one of 
these adopted sons of the wilderness was New France 
now able to refortify the strategic Niagara region, 
temporarily besting England in the contest for the su- 
premacy here. Chabert Joncaire, taken prisoner by 
the Senecas and adopted into their tribe, married an 
Indian woman and became an important factor among 
the warriors and war councils of the western end of 
the Long House. In the year 1700 Joncaire became 
a missionary for the French political cause, and he 
seems to have managed affairs so diplomatically that 
he in no wise lost caste among the Iroquois, for six 
years later they suggested to him "to estabHsh him- 
self among them, granting him liberty to select on 
their territory the place most acceptable to himself 
for the purpose of living and in peace, even to remove 
their villages to the neighbourhood of his residence in 
order to protect him." ^ 

In the next decade Fmnce made considerable 
headway in undoing the miserable work of De Non- 
ville by disarming the hostility of the Iroquois, espe- 
cially with the Senecas who held the Niagara frontier, 
through Joncaire, who in 17 19 was sent to "try the 
minds of the Seneca nation and ascertain if it 
would permit the building of a French house in their 

> Colonial Documents of New York, vol. ix., p. 773; in the history of the 
French regime at Niagara special acknowledgment must be made to 
Porter's Brief History of Old Fort Niagara (Niagara Falls, 1896), which 
is particularly rich in references to the important sources of information 
concerning the French along and at the mouth of the Niagara River. 

198 The Niagara River 

country." As a result, in 1720, Joncaire built a bark 
cabin at Lewiston which he called "Magazine Royal." 
In November of that year, according to English report, 
which was undoubtedly exaggerated through preju- 
dice, the "cabin" is described as a blockhouse forty 
feet in length and thirty in width, enclosed with 
palisades, musket-proof and provided with port-holes. 
The location of this post signifies of itself alone the 
larger strategic nature of Niagara geographically, 
for it was not at the mouth of the river but at the 
beginning of the portage around the Rapids and Falls, 
at Lewiston, just where La Salle's storehouse, built 
in 1679, had stood. It is believed that the former 
building had disappeared by this time. Charlevoix, 
who came here the next year, 1721, confounds the 
sites of De Nonville's fort and the "Magazine Royal." 
Mr. Porter brings out well the office of Joncaire 's 
cabin, in which, by the way, a few soldiers were 
maintained as "traders" by saying: 

. . . The trade in furs was brisk, the Indians from the 
north, west, and south coming there to barter. The chain of 
friendship with the Senecas was kept bright by friendly inter- 
course with their warriors, who constantly came there ; French 
trading vessels came often to its rude wharf bringing merchan- 
dise to Frontenac and returning laden with furs. Thus the Eng- 
lish for the first time failed to overcome the French, while the 
English in New York did not delay their expostulations regard- 
ing what they called French incroachment at Niagara; but so 
far were they from being successful that the French were able 
within four years to begin a more important fortification on 
the site of the "Magazine Royal." 

American history furnishes many illustrations of 
the genius of the French coureurs-de-hois for winning 

Stones on the Site of Joncaire's Cabin under Lewiston Heights, 
where the Magazine Royal was Erected in 1719, 

Niagara under Three Flags 199 

to themselves the friendship of the Indians, but perhaps 
there is no specific illustration of this more clear than 
this reabsorption of the Niagara region after having 
once abandoned it. Said Sir Guy Carleton: 

France did not depend upon the number of her troops, but 
upon the discretion of her officers who, learned the language of 
her natives, distributed th'e king's presents, excited no jealousy, 
entirely gained the affections of an ignorant, credulous, but 
brave people, whose ruling passions are independence, gratitude, 
and revenge. 

Governor Duquesne once said to a deputation of 

Are you ignorant of the defence between the king of France 
and the English? Look at the forts which the king has built; 
you will find that under their very walls the beasts of the forests 
are hunted and slain; that they are, in fact, fixed in places 
most frequented by you merely to gratify more conveniently 
your necessities. 

M. Gameau, the historian, frankly acknowledges 
that the Marquis accurately stated the route of Indian 
admiration for the Frenchmen they saw; but it 
should not be overlooked that the French also were 
"the most romantic and poetic characters ever kno^Ti 
in American frontier life. Their every moment at- 
tracts the rosiest colour of imagination"; all this helps 
to fascinate the savage. 

In 1725, the Marquis De Vaudreuil proposed the 
erection of a storehouse at Niagara, and soon the agent 
met the council of the Five Nations and got their per- 
mission to build what was really a fort at Niagara, which 
was to cost $5592; one hundred men were instantly 
sent to begin the work.^ Thus the historic pile known 

» Colonial Documents of New York, vol. ix., pp. 952, 958. 

200 The Niagara River 

as the "Mess House" or " Castle" was begun in 1725 
and completed in 1726; at a council fire at Niagara the 
Senecas gave their final ratification to this project, 
July 14, 1726. 

Joncaire's "Magazine Royal" was permitted to 
fall into decay, being abandoned in 1728 despite the 
fact that Louis XV. gave his approval to a plan for 
spending twenty thousand livres for its repair although 
approving strongly the erection of the castle, as it 
would prevent the English from trading on the north 
shore of Lake Ontario as well as getting a foothold on 
the Niagara River. Mr. Porter brings out well the 
service of Joncaire's "Magazine Royal" by saying: 

That building had done good service ; it had given the French 
the desired foothold on the Niagara River; it had held and 
fostered the trade in furs ; it had established French supremacy 
in this region, and furnished them with the key to the possession 
of the Upper Lakes and the Ohio Valley; and last, and most 
important of all, it had been the means of France obtaining 
a real fortress at the point where her diplomats and armies 
had been waiting to erect one; for over half a century it had 
served its purposes; a fort had been built at the mouth of the 
river, its usefulness was ended, and it was abandoned forever. 

The story that the foundations of the castle were 
laid within a gigantic wigwam at a time when the 
French had induced the Indians to go on a hunting 
expedition is probably no less true than most legends 
of the kind with which our history is filled ; and if it 
is not literally true, the spirit of it undoubtedly is, 
for there must have been a fine story of stratagem 
and diplomacy in the conception and the erection of 
this massive old building upon which the tourist 
looks to-day with much interest. It is also a legend 

Niagara under Three Flags 201 

that the stone for the fort was brought from Fort 
Frontenac; this in a way threatens the authenticity 
of the former legend of the magical erection of the 
building. De Witt Clinton writing in 18 10 explains 
that as the stones about the windows are different 
and more handsome than those in the rest of the 
building it is possible that they were brought from 
Kingston; he gave the measurements of the building 
as 105 by 47 feet. 

It is interesting and informing to observe from 
whence the fort here at the mouth of the Niagara 
received, first and last, its armament; it appears that 
upon the capture of Oswego twenty-four guns "of 
the largest calibre" were sent to Fort Niagara, and we 
know that during the final siege in 1759 some of the 
guns trained upon Johnson's army were lost by Brad- 
dock away down in the forests beside the Mononga- 
hela River. The position held by Fort Niagara in 
the French scheme of western occupation is clearly 
suggested by these facts. 

The modem tourist looking upon the massive, 
picturesque *'Mess House" must not forget that 
"Fort Niagara" was a thing of slow growth. The 
first work here was imdoubtedly the foundation and 
first story of the Mess House, surrounded by the 
common picket wall always found around the frontier 
fort. The first picket wall was falling down by 1739, 
when it was repaired. At this time Niagara was fast 
losing its hold on western trade because of the en- 
forcing of the policy of not selling the Indians liquor; 
however, in 1741, the Governor of New York affirmed 
that he held the Six Nations only by presents and that 
Fort Niagara must be captured. In 1745, when the 

202 The Niagara River 

French policy regarding the Indians was changed, 
Fort Niagara contained only a hundred men and four 
guns. It is said that the fort had been used to some 
extent as a State prison; surely few French prisons, 
at home or abroad, had a more gloomy dungeon than 
that in Fort Niagara which is shown visitors to-day; 
the apartment measures six by eighteen feet and ten 
feet in height, of solid stone with no opening for light 
or air. The well of the castle was located here, and 
many a weird story attaches, especially of the headless 
trunk of the French general that haunted the curb- 
stone moaning over his sorry lot. This dungeon is one 
of the places named as the scene of imprisonment of 
the anti-Masonic agitator William Morgan in later 

As the middle of the eighteenth century drew on 
France and England turned from the European bat- 
tlefields to America to settle their immemorial quarrel 
for the possession of the continent. It is interest- 
ing to note that the opening of the struggle occurred 
not in the North or East, as would naturally be ex- 
pected, but in the West to which Niagara offered "the 
communication. ' ' 

In 1747 the Ohio Company was formed in Virginia 
and received its grant of land beyond the Alleghanies 
from the British King. With the exception of Lederer, 
whose explorations did not reach westward of Harper's 
Ferry, and Batts, who had visited the Falls of the Great 
Kanawha, the English colonies knew little or nothing 
of the West, save only the fables brought back by 
Spottswood's Knights of the Golden Horseshoe. But 
the doughty Irish and Scotch - Irish traders had 
pierced the mountains and made bold to challenge the 

Niagara under Three Flags 203 

trade of the French with the western nations. Imme- 
diately Celoron was sent from Montreal on the long 
voyage by way of Niagara to bury his leaden plates 
on the Ohio to re-establish the brave claim incised on 
La Salle's plate buried at the mouth of the Mississippi 
in 1682, which vaunted French possession of all lands 
drained by waters entering the Gulf of Mexico through 
the mouth of the Mississippi. 

Celeron's expedition is interesting because this 
was the first open advance upon the Ohio VaUey 
by France, leading to the building of a chain of forts 
westward from the key position, Fort Niagara. Cele- 
ron's Journal reads: 

I arrived at Niagara on the 6th of July, where I found him 
[Mr. Labrevois]; we conferred together, and I wrote to the 
Chevalier de Longnaiul that which I had learned from Mr. 
de la Nardiere, and desired him, that if these nations of Detroit 
were in the design to come and join me, and not dela}^ his depart- 
ure, I would give the rendezvous at Strotves^ on the gth or loth 
of August; that if they had changed their mind I would be 
obliged to him to send me couriers to inform me of their inten- 
tions, so that I may know what will happen to me. On the 
7th of July, I sent M, de Contrecoeur, captain and second in 
command of the detachment,, with the subaltern officers and all 
my canoes to make the portage. I remained at the fort, to 
wait for my savages who had taken on Lake Ontario another 
route than I had; having rejoined me I went to the portage 
which M. de Contrecoeur had made, on the 14th of the same 
month we entered Lake Erie; a high wind from the sea made 
me camp some distance from the little rapid; there I formed 
three companies to mount guard, which were of forty men 
commanded by an officer. 

Returning from the Ohio trip Celoron reached 
Niagara again the 19th of February, 1750, and Montreal 

» Logstown? 

2 04 The Niagara River 

the loth of March. At last reaching Quebec the frank 
leader of this spectacular expedition rendered his 
report concerning French possession of the West. " All 
that I can say is, that the [Indian] nations of these 
places are very ill-disposed against the French," 
were his words, "and entirely devoted to the English. 
I do not know by what means they can be reclaimed." 
Then followed one of the earliest suggestions of the 
use of French arms to retain possession of the great 
interior. "If violence is employed they [Indians] 
would be warned and take to flight ... if we send 
to trade with them, our traders can never give our 
merchandize at the price the English do . . . people 
our old posts and perpetuate the nations on the Belle 
Riviere and who are within the reach of the English 

The plates of lead along the Ohio had very little 
effect in retarding the Ohio Company of Virginians, 
and Celoron had hardly left the Ohio Valley when 
Christopher Gist entered it to pick out and mark the 
boundaries of the Ohio Company's grant of land. 
This was in 1750. The Quebec Government, too, 
acted. If leaden plates would not hold the Ohio, then 
forts well guarded and manned would accomplish 
the end sought; and English spies on watch at Fort 
Oswego now saw a strange flotilla crossing Lake Ontario 
and knew something extraordinary was in the air. 
It was Marin's party on its way to fortify Celoron 's 
route by building a chain of posts from Fort Niagara 
to the present site of Pittsburg at the junction of the 
Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. After a rest at 
Niagara the fort-building party proceeded along Lake 
Erie to Presqu' Isle, now Erie, Pennsylvania. There 

1 ^s>< t > 
















































/z y^/z^ra 

-.j3K^vv;is.g'y,?Rg<iiEr^ifSrcgye , 

Niagara under Three Flags 205 

they built Fort Presqu' Isle; at Watertown Fort La 
Boeuf was erected and Fort Machault at Franklin on 
the Allegheny, and Fort Duquesne at the junction of the 
Allegheny and Monongahela. All this between 1752 
and 1754, despite the message sent by Governor Din- 
widdie of Virginia by the hand of Major Washington 
requesting that the French withdraw from the Ohio 
Valley. In the latter year Washington marched 
westward to support the party of Virginian fort- 
builders who had been sent to fortify the strategic 
position on the Ohio, but was forced to capitulate by the 
French army, which drove back the English and on 
their beginnings erected Fort Duquesne. 

The line of forts from Quebec to Fort Duquesne was 
now complete, and of them Fort Niagara was the key. 
To wrest from the French this western empire it was 
necessary to strike Fort Niagara, but, with the rare lack 
of foresight characteristic of the government headed by 
the impossible Newcastle, the great campaign of 1755 
was as poorly conceived as it was executed. It was 
composed of three spectacular advances on this curling 
line of French forts that hemmed in the colonies; 
one army, under Sir William Johnson, should attack 
the forts on Lakes George and Champlain; Governor 
Shirley of Massachusetts should leap at Fort Niagara, 
and General Braddock, formerly commander of Gi- 
braltar, shotild lead an army from Virginia across the 
mountains upon Fort Duquesne, after capturing which 
he should then join forces with Shirley for the conquest 
of Niagara if that post had not been previously reduced. 

From almost any view-point the scheme of con- 
quest seems a glaring inconsistency, but from what is 
this so conspicuous as by looking upon this French 

2o6 The Niagara River 

line of fortresses as a serpent whose head was Quebec, 
whose heart was Fort Niagara, and whose tail rattled 
luringly on the Ohio at Fort Duquesne? The chief 
expedition, on which the eyes of the ministry were 
centred, was the one which launched at this serpent's 
tail. Moreover, in addition to being wrongly directed it 
was improperly routed, since there were both waggons 
and wheat in Pennsylvania but comparatively none 
in Virginia, and the ill-fated commander of the expe- 
dition, General Edward Braddock, was the victim of 
the lethargy and indifference of the colonies. 

It is pitifully interesting to observe in the letter 
of instruction issued by Cumberland to Braddock 
that the latter seemed to have held the view that his 
most proper course was to strike at Niagara at the 
outset, undoubtedly appreciating the significant fact 
that to capture that key position of communication 
was to doom the Allegheny line of forts to starvation 
itself. "As to your design," read those instructions, 
" of making yourself master of Niagara, which is of the 
greatest consequence, his Royal Highness recommends 
you to leave nothing to chance in the prosecution of 
that enterprise." In all that was planned for this 
grand campaign those words give us the only hint 
of Braddock's own notion.* Those instructions also 
advise that if the Ohio campaign should progress 
slowly Braddock was to consider whether he should 
not give over the command of that campaign to 
another officer and proceed to Niagara. Nothing could 
illustrate more clearly than this the importance of 
the position of Niagara in the old French War. But 

1 In the author's Historic Highways of America, vol. iv., chap. 2, this 
whole problem is discussed and Cumberland's instructions quoted. 

Niagara under Three Flags 207 

as Braddock did not deem it wise to give over the 
command of the Ohio campaign, Governor Shirley 
was left in charge of it. 

The Northern campaigns, however, were of little 
more success than that of the ill-fated Braddock. 
True, Johnson w^on his knighthood beside the lake 
to which he gave his master's name, but the victory 
was as much of an accident as was Braddock's defeat, 
and was not followed up with the capture of the forts 
on Lake Champlain which was the object of the cam- 
paign. Shirley, on the other hand, made an utter 
failure of his coup, after reaching Oswego with incredi- 
ble hardship; the news of Braddock's defeat demoral- 
ised whatever spirit was left in his sickly army; and 
Fort Niagara was not even threatened. We note here 
again the interdependence of the Braddock and Shir- 
ley campaigns, and the pity that the two armies could 
not have been combined for a strong movement 
against Fort Niagara. The Ohio fortress could not 
have existed with the line of communication once 
cut, and Braddock's as well as Forbes 's campaigns, 
costing such tremendous sums, would have been 
imnecessary — or Prideaux's in '59 either, for that 

And yet the English campaigns of this year played 
their part in awakening the French to the situation; 
and Niagara was taken in hand at once, as though the 
presentiment was plain that the flag of the Georges 
would wave over the Niagara some day. Writes 
Mr. Porter: 

The contemplated attack on Fort Niagara, in 1755, "under 
Shirley, had told the French that that fort must be further 
strengthened, and Pouchot, a captain in the regiment of Beam, 

2o8 The Niagara River 

and a competent engineer, was sent to reconstruct it. He reached 
the fort with a regiment in October, 1755. Houses for these 
troops were at once constructed in the Canadian manner. These 
houses consisted of round logs of oak, notched into each other 
at the corners, and were quickly built. Each had a chimney 
in the middle, some windows, and a plank roof. The chimneys 
were made by four poles, placed in the form of a truncated 
pyramid, open from the bottom to a height of three feet on 
all sides, above which was a kind of basket work, plastered with 
mud; rushes, marsh grass or straw rolled in diluted clay were 
driven in between the logs, and the whole plastered. The work 
of strengthening the fort was pushed on all winter, 300 men 
being in the garrison, and in March, 1756, the artillery taken 
from Braddock arrived. By July, 1756, the defences proposed 
were nearly completed, and Pouchot left the fort. Vaudreuil 
stated that he [Pouchot] "had almost entirely superintended 
the fortifications to their completion, and the fort, which was 
abandoned and beyond making the smallest resistance, is now 
a place of considerable importance in consequence of the regu- 
larity, solidity, and utility of its works." Pouchot was sent 
back to Niagara, as commandant, with his own regiment, in 
October, 1756, and remained there for a year. He still further 
strengthened the fort during this period, and when he left he 
reported that "Fort Niagara and its buildings were completed 
and its covered ways stockaded." On April 30, 1759, he again 
arrived at Niagara to assume command and "began to work 
on repairing the fort, to which nothing had been done since he 
left it. He found the ramparts giving way, the turfing all 
crumbled off, and the escarpment and counter escarpment of 
the fosses much filled up. He mounted two pieces to keep up 
appearances in case of a siege." From the general laudatory 
tone of his own work we are led to feel that Pouchot overpraised 
his own work of fortifying Niagara in 1756 and 1757, when no 
immediate attack was looked for, otherwise it could hardly have 
been in so poor a condition eighteen months afterwards (1759, 
as just quoted), unless, as is very likely, he foresaw defeat when 
attacked, as he was advised it would be, and wanted to gain special 
credit for a grand defence under very disadvantageous conditions. 
By July Pouchot had finished repairing the ramparts. He 

Niagara under Three Flags 209 

gives this description of the defence: "The batteries of the 
bastions which were in barbette had not yet been finished. They 
were built of casks and filled with earth. He had since his arrival 
constructed some pieces of blindage of oak, fourteen inches 
square and fifteen feet long, which extended behind the great 
house on the lake shore, the place most sheltered for a hospital. 
Along the faces of the powder magazine, to cover the wall and 
serve as casemates, he had built a large storehouse with the 
pieces secured at the top by a ridge. Here the guns and gun- 
smiths were placed. We may remark that this kind of work 
is excellent for field-forts in wooded countries, and they serve 
very well for barracks and magazines; a bullet could only fall 
upon an oblique surface and could do little harm, because this 
stricture is very solid." Pouchot says that the garrison of the 
fort at this time consisted of 149 regulars, 183 men of colonial 
companies, 133 militia and 21 cannoniers. A total of 486 
soldiers and 39 employees, of whom 5 were women or children. 
These served in the infirmary, as did also two ladies, and sewed 
cartridge bags and made bags for earth. There were also some 
Indians in the fort, and the oflScers may not have been included 
in this number. The fort was capable of accommodating 1000 

The great campaigns of 1759 were planned by the 
new commander-in-chief, Sir Jeffrey Amherst. The 
Niagara attack was placed in the hands of General 
John Prideaux, who was ready to sail from Oswego 
to his death at Fort Niagara on the ist of Jtily, 
1759, with twenty-two hundred regulars and pro- 
vincials and seven hundred of the Six Nations, brought 
very quickly to their senses after the successes of 
British arms in the year previous when Fort Duquesne 
was captured, under Sir WiUiam Johnson. On the 6th of 
July a hunter brought word to Pouchot that the English 
were at the doors of Niagara, the army having landed 
down the shore of the lake at a distance of four miles. 


2IO The Niagara River 

The commander, realising that the crucial moment had 
come, sent a messenger post-haste to Little Fort Niagara, 
at the upper end of the portage, and on to the forts in 
the West for aid; Niagara had assisted Fort Duquesne 
and the Allegheny forts in their days of trial and it 
was now turn for them to help her. Little Fort Niag- 
ara, or, more properly. Fort du Portage, previously 
mentioned, was erected probably about ten years 
before this to defend the portage landing. It was 
now commanded by the Joncaire — son of the famous 
French emissary among the Senecas who had given New 
France a foothold at Niagara — who had proved such a 
diplomatic guide to Celoron in his western trip; Pou- 
chot ordered him to move the supplies at Fort du Portage 
across to the mouth of the Chippewa Creek and hasten to 
Fort Niagara. It is worth while to pause a moment 
to observe that we have here one of the first references 
to that shadowy western shore of the Niagara, where 
Forts Erie, George, and Mississaga were soon to appear; 
though the town of Newark, or Niagara-on-t he-Lake, 
as it is known to-day, was the first settlement on this 
side of the river, it is clear that there was at least a 
storehouse at Chippewa Creek in 1759; unquestion- 
ably the portage path on the western shore of the river 
was a well-worn highway long before even Fort Niag- 
ara itself was proposed, for we know that it was the 
northern shore of Lake Erie that was the common 
route of the French rather than the southern from 
the record left by the Celoron expedition and Bonne- 
camp's map. 

Prideaux forced the siege by digging a series of 
trenches toward the fort, each one in advance of the 
last. Finally, just before merited success was achieved, 

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A Sketch of Fort Niagara and Environs; by the French Commander 
Pouchot, Showing Improvements of 175 6- 1758. 








A Sketch of Fort Niagara and Environs ; by the French Commander 
Pouchot, Showing Improvements of 1 756-1 758. 

Niagara under Three Flags 211 

a bursting cohom killed Prideaux and thrust the 
command upon that deserving but lucky son of for- 
tune, Sir William Johnson. The siege was pressed 
most diligently — as though Johnson was fearful that 
the honour thrust upon him would escape him 
through the arrival of General Gage, who was on 
his way to assume command. The fort w^as com- 
pletely hemmed in, and its surrender was peremptorily 
demanded. Johnson was more than a match for the 
intriguing French Indians who attempted to alienate 
his Iroquois. He likewise played the clever soldier 
in handUng the relieving army that was already on its 
Way from the West. Three of the four messages 
sent by Pouchot had been intercepted by the English 
commander's scouts. The one that went through 
successfully accomplished its purpose and twelve hun- 
dred recruits were en route for the besieged fortress. 
The scouts told of their progress, to which captured 
letters from the commanding officers, D 'Aubrey and 
De Lignery, to General Pouchot, gave added informa- 
tion. Descending the Niagara from its head to 
Navy Island, the reinforcements awaited the commands 
of their general. The order was to hasten on. John- 
son redistributed his force to meet the crisis, at once 
detailing a sufficient part to cope with the relieving 
party and retaining a sufficient quota to prevent a 
sortie from the rapidly cnmibling fort, w^hich at best 
could not hold out longer unless succoured. At an 
eighth of a mile from the fort, in olden times called La 
Belle Famille, now within the Hmits of the beautiful 
village of Youngstown, the clash occurred that settled 
the fate of the brave Pouchot. With the Iroquois 
posted in hiding on either flank and the regulars 

212 The Niagara River 

waiting behind slight breastworks, the French force 
rushed headlong to the attack within the carefully 
laid ambuscade. After the opening fire of the Indians, 
the English troop made a savage charge — ^and the 
affair was over; the retreating French were followed 
and nearly a hundred and fifty were captured, including 
the officers. 

Sir William Johnson used his leverage thus gained 
upon the commander of the doomed fortress with 
alacrity and success, sending with the officer who went 
to demand its surrender some of the prisoners captured 
at the scrimmage up the river, who told the story of 
their defeat and rout. Had they known it, they 
might have added that the terror-stricken fugitives 
from that field of strife hastened to the fleet of boats 
(in which they had descended the Niagara) and, steer- 
ing them all into what is called even to this day Burnt 
Ship Bay, on the shore of Grand Island, set fire to the 
entire flotilla, lest the English secure an added advan- 
tage ; and from this fact may we not draw the conclusion 
that these French hoped to hold the remainder of the 
great western waterway even if Fort Niagara fell? 
They could not use those boats very well on the lower 
Niagara, though with them once in hand they could 
easily strike at Presqu' Isle and Detroit. 

Poor Pouchot demanded the best terms that he 
dared; it was agreed that the garrison should retain 
arms and baggage and one cannon as they marched 
out of the battered shell of a fort they had endeavoured 
to hold, and, upon laying down their arms, should 
be transported, in vessels furnished by the English, to 
New York; it was also demanded that they should be 
protected from the insults of the redskin allies of the 

\l'i.:,/{4^iJ- m RjlI,! :uii^ ilHiZfit L'n c-ftt<rty^ stir (a n^ifef 

Canadian Trapper, from La Potherie. 

Niagara under Three Flags 213 

English. That the latter stipulation was agreed to and 
honestly enforced illustrates the genuine hold Johnson 
had upon his brown brethren of the Long House. The 
articles were signed on the night of July 24th and on 
the 25th the flag of England rose to the breeze that 
fanned the lake and the wide-sweeping Niagara frontier 
— the second flag that had dominated that strategic 
spot in the century. The garrison numbered over 
six hundred men and eleven officers; the French total 
loss was about two hundred including the action at 
Youngstown; the English loss was sixty killed and 
180 wounded. Forty-three iron cannon were found 
within the fort, fifteen himdred round shot, forty 
thousand pounds of musket-balls, five hundred hand 
grenades, and many tools, etc. The important result, 
however, was the removal of French domination over 
the warlike Seneca nation in this region and the natural 
inheritance that came with Niagara, the trade of 
which it was the centre. Near the site of the destroyed 
Fort du Portage, at the upper end of the portage, 
Captain Schlosser erected Fort Schlosser. Fort Niagara 
itself was improved; the present "bakehouse" was 
built in 1762. The Niagara of this time has been well 
described by Mr. Porter: 

It was the head centre of the military life of the entire 

region, the guardian of the great highway and portage to and 
from the West; and hereabouts, as the forerunners of a coming 
civilisation and frontier settlement, the traders were securing 
for themselves the greatest advantages. To the rude transient 
population — red hunters, trappers, Indianised bush-rangers — 
starting out from this centre, or returning from their journeys 
of perhaps hundreds of miles, trooping down the portage to the 
fort, bearing their loads of peltries, and assisted by Indians 
who here made a business of carrjang packs for hire, Fort 

2 14 The Niagara River 

Niagara was a business headquarters. There the traders brought 
their guns and ammunition, their blankets, and cheap jewelry, 
to be traded for furs; there the Indians purchased, at fabulous 
prices, the white man's "fire water," and many, yes, numberless 
were the broils and conflicts in and around the fort, when the 
soldiers under orders tried to calm or eject the savage element 
which so predominated in the life of the Garrison. 

Pontiac's rebellion came fast on the heels of the 
old French War, so fast indeed that we cannot really 
distinguish the line of division except for the fact of 
English occupation of Fort Niagara; with astonishing 
alacrity the incorrigible Senecas took up Pontiac's 
bloody belt, especially disgruntled with English rule 
in the Niagara country because the carrying business 
at the Niagara portage had been taken away from 
them upon the introduction of clumsy carts which car- 
ried to Fort Schlosser what had before been transported 
on the backs of Seneca braves. The retaliation for this 
serious loss of business was the terrible Devil's Hole 
Massacre of September 14, 1763, which occurred on the 
new portage road between Fort Schlosser and Lewiston 
at the head of what is known as Bloody Brook, in the 
ravine of which at the Gorge lies the Devil's Hole. Here 
a party of five hundred Senecas from Chenussio, 
seventy miles to the eastward of Niagara, waylaid 
a train of twenty-five waggons and a hundred horses 
and oxen, guarded, probably indifferently, by a detach- 
ment of troops variously estimated from twenty-five 
to three hundred in number, on its way from Lewiston 
to the upper fort. But three seem to have escaped 
that deadly ambuscade, and a relieving party, coming 
hurriedly at the instance of one of the survivors, ran 
into a second ambush, in which all but eight out of 









Niagara under Three Flags 215 

two companies of men escaped. On the third attempt 
the commander of the fort hastened to the bloody scene 
with all of the troops at his command except what 
were needed to defend the fort. But the redskins 
had gone, leaving eighty scalped corpses on the ground. 
The first convoy probably numbered about twenty- 
five and the relieving party probably twice that 
number. The Indians had thrown or driven every 
team and all the whites surviving the fire of their 
thirsty muskets over the brink of the great ravine 
in which lies the Devil's Hole, fitly named. 

At the great treaty that Sir William Johnson now 
held at Niagara with all the western Indians — one of 
the most remarkable convocations ever convened on 
this continent — the Senecas were compelled to surrender 
to the English Government all right to a tract four 
miles wide on each side of the Niagara River from 
Fort Niagara to Fort Schlosser. When it came time to 
sign the articles agreeing to this grant, Johnson, at the 
suggestion of General Bradstreet, who had in mind a 
fortification of the present site of Fort Erie, asked to 
extend the grant to include all land bordering the 
entire river from mouth to source and for four miles 
back. To this the Senecas agreed, but signed the 
treaty, as it were, with their left hands, never intending 
to keep it. However, it is to this date that we trace 
first actual white man's ownership of the first foot of 
land on the Niagara frontier, save perhaps the enclosure 
at Fort Niagara. Until this agreement was reached 
Sir William refused to deal with the gathered host 
of Indians from the West; thus was the Devil's Hole 
Massacre avenged. 

Over two thousand Indians had met to treat 

2i6 The Niagara River 

with the now famous Indian Commissioner for the 
Crown, coming from Nova Scotia in the East and the 
head streams of the Mississippi River in the West ; that 
Niagara should have been the chosen meeting-place 
illustrates again its geographical position on the 
continent. Shrewd at this form of procrastinating 
business, Sir William laid down the policy of treaty 
with each tribe separately and not with the nations 
as such, and this, added to the formality observed, 
tended to make the procedure of almost endless 
duration. But Johnson knew his host and it is said 
on good authority that the vast sum now invested by 
the Crown paid good interest; the congress cost about 
ten thousand dollars in New York currency, and about 
two hundred thousand was distributed in presents 
to the vast assemblage. " Though this assemblage 
consisted of peace-desiring savages, their friendly 
disposition was not certain. Several straggling soldiers 
were shot at, and great precautions were taken by the 
English garrison to avert a rupture." Writes the 
graphic Parkman: "The troops were always on 
their guard, while the black muzzles of the cannons, 
thrust from the bastions of the fort, struck a wholesome 
awe into the savage throng below," 

The Fort Niagara of that day little resembled the 
sight that greets the tourist's eye at that point to-day. 
When the French built the " Mess House" or " Castle" 
they built one story only, but afterward added a 
second, the walls of which probably extended above 
the roof to serve as a breastwork for gunners. The 
present roof is an English addition, comparatively 
modem. The French built also the two famous 
block-houses, the walls of which also protruded from 




1^ o 

3 ° 

C iJ 


Niagara under Three Flags 217 

the ancient roof for the same purpose as on the " Mess 
House," and these were used as late as the War of 181 2. 
The old Magazine was built by the French, but its 
present-day roof is, of course, of modem construction, 
being in reality nothing but a covering over the 
stone arch which was the ancient roof. So far as 
appearance goes the waters of the hungry lake have 
probably done more altering of the natural aspect 
than has the hand of man. The fantastic "castle" 
now stands close to the water's edge, whereas, in the 
olden time there were upwards of thirty rods of ground 
between the "Mess House" and the lake, supporting 
an orchard. The present stone wall was erected in 
1839, and the brick walls constructed outside the old 
line of breastworks in 1861; four years later the 
lighthouse was established in the upper story of the 
'* Castle"; in 1873 the present lighthouse was erected. 

No serious conflict now marked England's rule in 
her new territory, and the people of Canada, and es- 
pecially of the Niagara region, had now comparatively 
a few years' repose, but then came one of the most 
important periods in its history. Their country was 
invaded, and for a time seemed on the point of passing 
under the control of the Congress of the old Thirteen 
Colonies, now in rebellion against England. Only 
the genius of an able governor-general saved the 
valley of the St. Lawrence to the British Crown. 

In the year 1774, Parliament intervened for the 
first time in Canadian affairs, and passed what was 
known as the " Quebec Act," which greatly extended 
the boundaries of the province of Quebec, as defined 
by the Proclamation of 1 763. On one side the province 
now extended to the frontiers of New England, Pennsyl- 

2i8 The Niagara River 

vania, New York Province, the Ohio, and the left bank 
of the Mississippi; on the other to the Hudson's 
Bay Territory ; Labrador, Anticosti, and the Magdalen 
Islands, annexed to Newfoundland by the Proclama- 
tion of 1763, were made part of the province of Quebec. 
The ** Quebec Act" created much debate in the House 
of Commons. The Earl of Chatham, in the House of 
Lords, described it as a "most cruel and odious meas- 
ure." The opposition in the province was among the 
British inhabitants, who sent over a petition for its re- 
peal or amendment, their principal grievance being 
that it substituted the laws and usages of Canada for 
English law. The "Act of 1774" was exceedingly un- 
popular in the English-speaking colonies, then at the 
commencement of the Revolution, on account of the 
extension of the limits of the province so as to include 
the country long known as the "Old North-west" in 
American history, and the consequent confinement of 
the Thirteen Colonies between the Atlantic coast and 
the Alleghany Mountains, beyond which the hardy 
and bold frontiersmen of Virginia and Pennsylvania 
were already passing into the great valley of the 
Ohio. Parliament, however, appears to have been 
influenced by a desire to adjust the government of 
the province so as to conciliate the majority of the 
Canadian people at the critical time. 

The advice of Sir Guy Carleton, afterwards Lord 
Dorchester, who succeeded General Murray as 
Governor-General, had much to do with the liberality 
of the "Quebec Act" towards the French Canadians. 
He crossed the Atlantic in 1769 and remained absent 
from Canada for four years. He returned to carry 
out the "Quebec Act," which was the foundation of 

Niagara under Three Flags 219 

the large political and religions liberties which French 
Canada has ever since enjoyed. The "Act" aroused 
the indignation of the older American colonies, 
and had considerable influence in directing the early 
course of the Revolution which ended in the establish- 
ment of a federal republic. To it the Declaration 
of Independence refers as follows: "Abolishing the free 
system of English laws in a neighbouring province, 
establishing therein an arbitrary government, and 
enlarging its botmdaries so as to render it at once an 
example and fit instrument for introducing the same 
absolute rule in other colonies." During the Revolu- 
tion the Continental Congress attempted to secure the 
active alliance of Canada, and to that end sent a com- 
mission made up of Franklin, Chase, Charles Carroll, 
and John Carroll to Quebec ; but the province remained 
loyal throughout. It will be noticed in another chap- 
ter that General Brock, in answering the "Procla- 
mation" issued by Hull in 181 2, voiced the belief 
that Canada was the price the American Colonies had 
promised to pay France in return for her valuable aid 
in the Revolution 1 

It is not necessary to dwell here on the events 
of a war the history of which is so familiar to every 
one.^ When the first Continental Congress met at 

> The record of these bloody years is hinted in the number of prison- 
ers brought to Niagara. On this topic Frank H. Severance writes * : 

"Just how many American prisoners were brought into Fort Niagara 

* In Old Trails on the Niagara Frontier, pp. 89-91. Mr. Severance, 
Secretary of the Buffalo Historical Society, has ably taken the place of 
the eminent scholar of the Niagara country O. H. Marshall. In his vol- 
ume above quoted Mr. Severance provides a most interesting, scholarly 
series of papers which no one who loves New York's old frontier should 
miss. Our story of the famine at De Nonville's fort was written with 
Mr. Severance's book open before us. 

220 The Niagara River 

Philadelphia on September 5, 1774, the colonies were 
on the eve of independence as a result of the coercive 
measures forced on Parliament by the King's pliable 
ministers led by Lord North. The "Declaration," 
however, was not finally proclaimed until nearly two 
years later, on July 4, 1776, when the Thirteen Colo- 

during this period I am unable to say, though it is possible that from the 
official correspondence of the time figures could be had on which a very- 
close estimate could be based. My examination of the subject warrants 
the assertion that several hundred were brought in by the war-parties 
under Indian, British, and Tory leaders. In this correspondence, very 
little of which has ever been published, one may find such entries as the 
following : 

"Guy Johnson wrote from Fort Niagara, June 30, 1781 : 

" ' In my last letter of the 24th inst. I had just time to enclose a copy 
of Lieut. Nelles's letter with an account of his success, since which he 
arrived at this place with more particular information by which I find 
that he killed thirteen and took seven (the Indians not having reckoned 
twoof the persons whom they left unscalped). . , . ' 


" ' I have the honour to transmit to Your Excellency a general letter 
containing the state of the garrison and of my Department to the ist 
inst., and a return, at the foot, of the war parties that have been on 
service this year, ... by which it will appear that they have killed 
and taken during the season already 150 persons, including those last 
brought in. ... ' 

"Again he reports, August 30, 1781: 

" 'The party with Capt. Caldwell and some of the Indians with Capt. 
Lottridge are returning, having destroyed several settlements in Ulster 
County, and about 100 of the Indians are gone against other parts of 
the frontiers, and I have some large parties under good leaders still on 
service as well as scouts towards Fort Pitt. ..." 

"Not only are there many returns of this sort, but also tabulated 
statements, giving the number of prisoners sent down from Fort Niagara 
to Montreal on given dates, with their names, ages, names of their 
captors, and the places where they were taken. There were many ship- 
ments during the summer of '83, and the latest return of this sort which 
I have found in the archives is dated August ist of that year, when 
eleven prisoners were sent from the fort to Montreal. It was probably 
not far from this time that the last American prisoner of the Revolution 
was released from Fort Niagara. But let the reader beware of forming 
hasty conclusions as to the cruelty or brutality of the British at Fort. 

Niagara under Three Flags 221 

nies declared themselves " free and independent States," 
absolved of their allegiance to the British Crown. 
But many months before this great epoch-making 
event, war had actually commenced on Lake Cham- 
plain. On an April day, in the now memorable year 
1775, the "embattled farmers" had fired at Concord 

Niagara. In the first place, remember that harshness or kindness in the 
treatment of the helpless depends in good degree — and always has 
depended — upon the temperament and mood of the individual custodian. 
There were those in command at Fort Niagara who appear to have been 
capable of almost any iniquity. Others gave frequent and conspicuous 
proofs of their humanity. Remember, secondly, that the prisoners 
primarily belonged to the Indians who captured them. The Indian 
custom of adoption — the taking into the family circle of a prisoner in 
place of a son or husband who had been killed by the enemy — was an 
Iroquois custom, dating back much further than their acquaintance with 
the English. Many of the Americans who were detained in this fashion 
by their Indian captors, probably never were given over to the British. 
Some, as we know, like Mary Jemison, the White Woman of the Genesee, 
adopted the Indian mode of life and refused to leave it. Others died in 
captivity, some escaped. Horatio Jones and Jasper Parrish were first 
prisoners, then utilised as interpreters, but remained among the Indians. 
And in many cases, especially of women and children, we know that they 
were got away from the Indians by the British officers at Fort Niagara, 
only after considerable trouble and expense. In these cases the British 
were the real benefactors of the Americans, and the kindness in the 
act cannot always be put aside on the mere ground of military exchange, 
prisoner for prisoner. Gen. Haldimand is quoted to the effect that he 
' does not intend to enter into an exchange of prisoners, but he will not 
add to the distresses attending the present war, by detaining helpless 
women and children from their families.' " 

In justice to Col. Guy Johnson's administration at Fort Niagara, 
as well as to give one of the clearest (if biased) views of the trials and 
perplexities of those hard days, we reproduce a " Review of Col. Johnson's 
Transactions"; as Mr. Severance notes, this review shows "the real 
state of affairs at Fort Niagara towards the close of the Revolutionary 
War" better than does almost any other document *: 

" Montreal, a4th March, 1782. 

" Before Colonel Johnson arrived at Niagara in 1779 the Six Nations 

lived in their original possessions the nearest of which was about 100 

and the farthest about 300 miles from that post. Their warriors were 

* I quote Mr. Severance's copy from Canadian Archives, Series B, vol. 

106, p. 122, et seq. 

222 The Niagara River 

and Lexington, the shots "heard round the world," and 
a few weeks later the forts at Crown Point and Ticon- 
deroga, then defended by very feeble garrisons, were 
in the possession of colonial troops, led by Ethan Allen 
and Seth Warner, the two "Green Mountain Boys" 
who organised this expedition. Canada was at this 
time in a very defenceless condition. Burgoyne was 

called upon as the service required parties, which in 1776 amounted to 
about 70 men, and the expenses attending them, and a few occasional 
meetings ought to have been and he presumes were a mere Trifle when 
compared with what must attend their situation when all [were] driven 
to Niagara, exposed to every want, to every temptation, and with every 
claim which their distinguished sacrifices and the tenor of Soloman 
[solemn] Treaties had entitled them to from Government. The years 
1777 & 1778 exhibited only a larger number occasionally employed and 
for their fidelity and attachment to Government they were invaded in 
1779 by a rebel army reported to be from 5 to 600 men with a train of 
Artillery who forced them to retire to Niagara leaving behind them very 
fine plantations of corn and vegetables, with their cloathing, arms, silver 
works, Wampum Kettles and Implements of Husbandry, the collection 
of ages of which were destroyed in a deliberate manner and march of the 
rebels. Two villages only escaped that were out of their route. 

"The Indians having always apprehended that their distinguished 
loyalty might draw some such calamity towards them had stipulated 
that under such circumstances they effected [expected] to have their losses 
made up as well as a liberal continuation of favours and to be supported 
at the expence of Government till they could be reinstated in their former 
possessions. They were accordingly advised to form camps around Niagara 
which they were beginning to do at the time of Colonel Johnson's arrival 
who found them much chagrined and prepared to reconcile them to their 
disaster which he foresaw would be a work of time requiring great judg- 
ment and address in effecting which he was afterwards successful beyond 
his most sanguine expectations, and this was the state of the Indians at 
Colonel Johnson's arrival. As to the state and regulation of Colonel 
Johnson's officers and department at that period he found the duties 
performed by 2 or three persons the rest little acquainted with them 
and considered as less capable of learning them, and the whole number 
inadequate to that of the Indians, and the then requisite calls of the 
service, and that it was necessary after refusing the present wants of the 
Indians to keep their minds occupied by constant military employment, 
all which he laid before the Commander in Chief who frequently honoured 
his conduct with particular approbation." 

Niagara under Three Flags 223 

defeated at Saratoga, and his army, from which so 
much was expected, made prisoners of war. This great 
misfortune of the British cause was followed by the 
alliance of France with the States. French money, 
men, and ships eventually assured the independence 
of the Republic, whose fortunes were very low at times 
despite the victory at Saratoga. England was not 
well served in this American war; she had no Washing- 
ton to direct her campaign, and Gage, Burgoyne, and 
Comwallis were not equal to the responsibilities thrown 
upon them. Comwallis's defeat at Yorktown, October 
19, 1 781, was the death blow to the hopes of England 
in North America. 

Had General Sullivan's campaign of 1779, as 
planned, been successful, he would have attacked Furt 
Niagara, but disaster overtook him, though he led 
an expedition against the Iroquois, routed a force of 
Indians and Tories at Newtown, near the present 
Elmira, and wrought wide devastation in the coimtry 
of the Cayugas and Senecas. 

Yorktown led to the Treaty of Versailles and in- 
dependence, but oddly enough it was almost a genera- 
tion before a third flag arose above the historic "'Castle " 
at the mouth of the Niagara. In 1784 the United 
States came into the control of the territory extending 
from Nova Scotia (which then included New Brunswick) 
to the head of the Lake of the Woods and to the Missis- 
sippi River in the West, and in the North from Canada 
to the Floridas in the South, the latter having again 
become Spanish possessions. The boimdary between 
Nova Scotia and the Republic was so ill defined that 
it took over fifty years to fix the St. Croix and the High- 
lands which were, by the treaty, to divide the two 

224 The Niagara River 

countries. In the Far West the line of division was to 
be drawn through the Lake of the Woods "to the 
most north-western point thereof, and from thence on 
a due west course to the River Mississippi" — a physi- 
cal impossibility, since the head of the Mississippi, as 
was afterwards found, was a hundred miles or so to 
the south ! In later times this geographical error was 
corrected, and the curious distortion of the boimdary 
line that now appears on the maps was necessary at the 
Lake of the Woods in order to strike the forty-ninth 
parallel of north latitude, which was subsequently 
arranged as the boimdary line as far as the Rocky 

A strip of land one mile wide along the American 
shore from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie had been 
exempted when New York ceded the ownership of 
what is now the western part of this State to Massa- 
chusetts, which ownership New York subsequently re- 
acquired. Finally the Indians, who, in spite of their 
former cessions to England, still claimed an ownership, 
ceded to New York, for one thousand dollars and an 
annuity of one thousand five hundred dollars, their 
title to all the islands in the Niagara River. The State 
of New York patented the mile-strip to individuals, 
commencing in the first decade of the nineteenth 

In spite of the Treaty of Versailles in 1783, as 
noted, neither Niagara nor Detroit was surrendered 
by the British until 1796. Both forts were held as 
English outposts and strengthened. We have shown 
that the boundary-line between Canada and the United 
States was improperly conceived ; but it is a fact that 
during the Revolutionary War the people of the North- 

Niagara under Three Flags 225 

west had been warned from Niagara and Detroit to 
take up arms in behalf of the Americans. Nothing 
aggressive, however, had been accomplished. The 
wilderness of three hundred miles between Detroit 
and the Eastern States made an attack upon the posts 
by the Americans impracticable; moreover, most of 
the fighting in this region was done by the British and 
the Indians and the people of Pennsylvania and Ohio. 
It is due to the statesmanship of John Jay that 
the posts still garrisoned by British troops in the 
United States, contrary to the stipulations of the 
Treaty of Paris, were finally evacuated in 1796. Jay 
had been sent by President Washington to go to 
Great Britain in 1794 as special envoy to settle differ- 
ences growing out of the failure of that country to 
keep the obligations of the Treaty of 1784, differences 
which had aroused a strong w^ar-spirit all over the 
States. It was easy to foresee, as Jay recognised, that 
the outcome of the situation would in all probability 
be impopular with the people, but he did not hesitate 
to meet the responsibility that Washington believed 
he could meet better than any other man, partially 
because of the reputation he had established in Eng- 
land while negotiating the Treaty of 1784. Jay set 
sail on May 12, 1794 in the ship Ohio, with his son 
Peter Augustus, and with John Trumbull as secretary. 
On June 8th he landed at Falmouth and at once entered 
into relation with Lord Grenville, the Secretary of 
Foreign Affairs, who was commissioned by the King to 
treat with Mr. Jay. The sincerity and candour of the 
two negotiators soon led to a degree of mutual confi- 
dence that both facilitated and lightened their labours. 
A treaty resulted known on this side of the ocean as 

226 The Niagara River 

"Jay's Treaty," which settled the eastern boundary of 
Maine, recovered for illegal captures by British cruisers 
$10,000,000, secured the surrender of the western forts 
still garrisoned by the British, and contained an article 
about the West India trade. With the exception of the 
latter article, the treaty was approved by the President 
and ratified by the Senate. But many were not satis- 
fied, and denounced Jay with tongue and pen, and even 
burned him in effigy in Boston, Philadelphia, and at his 
own home in New York. How different was the home- 
coming from that after the negotiation of the other 
treaty, when the freedom of the city was presented 
to him in a golden box, and each one seemed to vie 
with every other in extending a welcome! In a letter 
to a friend, Jay said at that time, "Calumny is seldom 
durable, it will in time yield to truth," and he bore him- 
self at that time as one having full confidence that he 
had acted both wisely and skilfully, and expected the 
people to realise it in time. The British, however, 
would not evacuate Niagara and the other forts without 
a semblance of fighting on paper. They held, amongst 
other reasons, that they were yet justified in main- 
taining a garrison on American soil because "it was 
alleged by divers merchants and others. His Majesty's 
subjects," that they had sustained various losses by 
the legal impediments they had experienced in col- 
lecting debts in America due to them before the war. 
Mr. Jay, however, with great diplomacy, removed this 
obstacle by the appointment of Commissioners of 
Award, and as the British finally were deprived of all 
pretence for maintaining the posts, it was agreed that 
they should be surrendered on or before the first of 
June, 1796. This was finally done and the third and 








i y^' 

P^ to 

c3 .2 
be -M 

c •:: 




Niagara under Three Flags 227 

last flag floated lazily in the Lake Ontario breezes over 
the historic point. The settlers and traders within the 
jurisdiction of the posts were permitted to remain and 
to enjoy their property without becoming citizens of the 
United States unless they should think proper to do so. 

Anthony Wayne's army now took full possession of 
the Niagara region. With the exception of a small 
strip of land on the river and lake, all the present 
State of Michigan w^as occupied by Indians — Pot- 
tawattomies, Miamis, Wyandots, Chippewas, Winne- 
bagoes, and Ottawas. The first American commander 
of the post w^as Colonel John Francis Hamtramck, 
who died in 1803. ^^ ^hat period Detroit was head- 
quarters of the Western Army, but the whole garrison 
only consisted of three hundred men. 

Niagara-on-the-Lake may be called the Plymouth 
Rock of upper Canada. It was once its proud capi- 
tal. Variously knowTi in the past as Loyal Village, \ 
Butlersbury, Nassau, and Newark, it had a daily paper 
as early as 1792, and was a military post of distinction 
at the same period, its real beginnings, however, being 
contemporaneous with the War of Independence. 
Here, within two short hours' ride of the most popu- 
lous and busy city of western New York, typical of 
the material forces that have moulded the nineteenth 
and twentieth centuries, we come upon a spot of 
intensest quiet, in the shadow of whose ivy-mantled 
church tower sleep trusted servants of the Georges, 
Loyalists and their Indian allies. 

The place has been overtaken by none of that 
unpicturesque commercial prosperity which further 
up the frontier threatens to destroy all the natural 
beauties of the river-banks. 

228 The Niagara River 

The Welland Canal and the Grand Trunk and Great 
Western Railway systems diverted the great part of the 
carrying trade, and with it that growth and activity 
which have signalised the neighbouring cities of 
Canada. " Refuse the Welland Canal entrance to your 
town," said the Commissioners, " and the grass will 
grow in your streets." Here General Simcoe opened 
the first Upper Canadian Legislature; and later, from 
here the noble Brock planned the defence of Upper 
Canada. While the cities of western New York, 
which have now far eclipsed it, were rude log settle- 
ments, at ''Newark" some little attempt was made 
at decorum and society. 

Here landed in i783-'84 ten thousand United 
Empire Loyalists, who, to keep inviolate their oaths 
of allegiance to the King, quitted their freeholds and 
positions of trust and honour in the States to begin 
life anew in the unbroken wilds of Upper Canada. 
History has made us somewhat familiar with the set- 
tlement of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by the 
expatriated Loyalists. Little has been written of the 
sufferings and privations endured by the " makers" of 
Upper Canada. Students and specialists who have 
investigated the story of a flight equalled only by that 
of the Huguenots after the revocation of the Edict 
of Nantes have been led to admire the spirit of unself- 
ish patriotism which led these one hundred thousand 
fugitives to self-exile. While the Pilgrims came to 
America leisurely, bringing their household goods and 
their charters with them, the United Empire Loyal- 
ists, it has well been said, " bleeding with the wounds of 
seven years of war, left ungathered the crops of their 
rich farms on the Mohawk and in New Jersey, and, 

Niagara under Three Flags 229 

stripped of every earthly possession, braved the terrors 
of the unbroken wilderness from the Mohawk to 
Lake Ontario." Inhabited to-day by the descendants 
of these pioneers, the old-fashioned loyalty and con- 
servatism of the Niagara district is the more conspicu- 
ous by contrasting it with neighbouring repubUcanism 
over the river. 

Here, over a century ago, near Fort George, stood 
the first Parliament House of Upper Canada. Here, 
seventy years before President Lincoln's Emancipation 
Proclamation, the first United Empire Loyalist Par- 
liament, like the embattled farmers at Concord, " fired 
a shot heard round the world." For one of the first 
measures of the exiled patricians was to pass an act 
forbidding slavery. Few readers know that at Newark, 
now Niagara, was enacted that law^ by which Canada 
became not only the first country in the world to 
abolish slavery, but, as such, a safe refuge for the 
fugitive slaves from the Southern States. 

General Simcoe, the first governor, was bom in 
1752 and died in 1806. A landed gentleman of Eng- 
land and likewise a member of the British House of 
Commons he voluntarily relinquished all the luxuries 
of his beautiful English home and estates to bury 
himself in the wilderness of Canada and the Niagara 
region. As governor-general he exemplified the ex- 
tremest simplicity. His guard consisted of four 
soldiers who came from Fort George, close by, to New- 
ark, every morning and returned thither in the even- 
ing. Mrs. Simcoe not only performed the duties of 
wife and mother, but also acted as her husband's 
secretary. The name of Simcoe is indelibly entered 
in the history of the development of the Niagara, 

230 The Niagara River 

and it is doubly appropriate that her interesting draw- 
ings should illustrate a volume dealing with this region 
she loved. 

Here Cooper is said to have written his admirable 
novels of border and Indian life, novels which have 
been devoured by me and millions of readers ; it is fair 
to predict that the stories will be read for another cen- 
tury to come.^ Many other interesting characters 
have at different periods made Fort George their abode. 
In 1780, a handsome house within its enclosure was 
occupied by General Guy Johnson. 

1 Here, the story runs, the brother of Sir Walter Scott concocted the 
plots and outlines of Sir Walter's famous novels and sent them on to Eng- 
land to be polished up for publication — a story worthy of a Hennepin. 

Chapter X 

The Hero of Upper Canada 

GENERAL ISAAC BROCK, the Hero of Upper 
Canada, was the kind of man men delight 
to honour — honest, capable, ambitious, faith- 
ful, kind. Nothing less than a tremendous 
gorge, such as separates Queenston from Lewiston 
Heights, could keep the people of one nation from 
knowing and loving this hero of another; since Brock's 
day this gorge has been spanned by beautiful bridges, 
and it is full time now, as the centennial of the second 
war with England approaches, that the appreciation 
of the characters of the worthy, patriotic heroes of that 
olden day o'erleap the chasm of bitter rivalry and hos- 
tility and become common and genuine to the north- 
ward and the southward of the Niagara. 

Isaac Brock was the eighth son of John Brock, Esq., 
bom on the sixth day of October, 1769, in the parish of 
St. Peter-Port, Guernsey — the famous birth-year of 
Wellington and Napoleon. Tall, robust, and mentally 
conspicuous as a lad, Isaac followed his elder brother 
into the British Army, purchasing the ensigncy in the 
8th, or King's Regiment, in 1785. His promotion 
was the result of merit in addition to possessing the 
means to purchase higher office; in 1790 we find him a 
lieutenant in the 49th Regiment, advancing to his ma- 
jority in 1795 and two years later becoming senior 


232 The Niagara River 

lieutenant-colonel. Supplanting now an officer ac- 
cused of peculation who had brought the whole regi- 
ment into public notice, Brock exerted an influence that 
seemed to transform the regiment, making it "from 
one of the worst," said the Duke of York himself, " one 
of the best regiments in the service." 

The opportunity of active service soon came, as the 
49th was thrown into Holland, Brock being wounded 
at Egmont-op-Zee, or Bergen. His simple statement 
concerning being struck in the breast by a spent bullet 
is interesting: "I got knocked down soon after the 
enemy began to retreat," he remarks, "but never 
quitted the field, and returned to my duty in less than 
half an hour." ^ Here Brock fought under Sir John 
Moore and Sir Ralph Abercrombie; in 1801 he was sec- 
ond in command of the land forces at Copenhagen and 
saw Lord Nelson on the Elephant write his famous letter 
to the Crown Prince of Denmark. During the next 
year the 49th was sent to Canada and was quartered 
at Fort George near Newark, the present Niagara-on- 
the-Lake. The character of Brock's management of 
the troops under him is well illustrated in the case of 
a strange mutiny that came near to breaking out at 
this time at Fort George due to the useless annoyance, 
or alleged actual severity, which so exasperated the 
men that an almost inconceivable plot to kill the 
officers was discovered. After the crime the soldiers 
were to cross the river into the United States and 
escape. One of the confederates was sent by the com- 

» The Life and Correspondence of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, K.B., 
by Ferdinand Brock Tupper, p. i6. This most interesting volume has 
furnished very much of the material for this chapter. D. B. Read's Life 
and Times of General Brock is an excellent book for popular use and will 
be found quoted herein. 

Major-General Brock. 

The Hero of Upper Canada 233 

manding officer to Brock at York with a letter describ- 
ing the horrifying discovery. The incensed commander 
compelled the soldier at the point of a musket to dis- 
close the chief conspirators. Hastening to Fort George 
the ringleaders were apprehended at the dinner table 
and hurried off to Quebec, where they were summarily 
shot. As a result Brock himself was ordered to make 
Fort George his headquarters, whereupon all trouble 
seems to have ceased. 

In 1805 Brock received his colonelcy and with it 
leave of absence. While at home he made a report to 
the commander-in-chief which throws an interesting 
light on affairs at that period, favouring the formation 
of a veteran battalion for service in Upper Canada. 
He wrote : 

The artifices employed to wean the soldier from his duty, con- 
spire to render almost ineffectual every effort of the oflScers to 
maintain the usual degree of order and discipline. The lures to 
desertion continually thrown out by the Americans, and the facil- 
ity with which it can be accomplished, exacting a more than ordi- 
nary precaution on the part of the officers, insensibly produces 
mistrust between them and the men, highly prejudicial to the 

Experience has taught me that no regular regiment, however 
high its claim to discipline, can occupy the frontier posts of Lower 
and Upper Canada without suffering materially in its ntmibers. 
It might have been otherwise some years ago ; but now that the 
country, particularly the opposite shore, is chiefly inhabited by 
the \alest characters, who have an interest in debauching the 
soldier from his duty ; since roads are opened into the interior of 
the States, which facilitate desertion, it is impossible to avoid 
the contagion. A total change must be effected in the minds 
and views of those who may hereafter be sent on this duty, before 
the evil can be surmounted. ^ 

> One cause of desertion seems to have been the ubiquitous American 
girl. In a later letter Brock wrote : 

234 The Niagara River 

Such was the warlike tenor of despatches now at 
hand from Canada that Brock, eager to be at the post 
of duty at a critical time, hastened from London in 
June, 1806, cutting short his leave of absence. Through- 
out that year and its successor he was actively engaged 
in studying his province with regard to military de- 
mands that might suddenly be made upon it ; it is note- 
worthy that the commander feared that in case of an 
outbreak between England and America a considerable 
part of the inhabitants of Upper Canada (Loyalists) 
would prove friendly to the young Republic. Discuss- 
ing a new militia law he wrote as follows to the Council : 

In thus complying with the dictates of his duty, Colonel Brock 
was not prepared to hear that the population of the province, 
instead of affording him ready and effectual support, might 
probably add to the number of his enemies; and he feels much 
disappointment in being informed by the first authority, that 
the only law in any degree calculated to answer the end proposed 
was likely, if attempted to be enforced, to meet with such general 
opposition as to require the aid of the military to give it even a 
momentary impulse. 

If such were the apprehensions of the commanding 
officer in Canada little wonder General Hull, in later 
days, counted on the co-operation of many of the in- 
habitants of the trans-Niagara country. In Septem- 
ber, 1807, Brock, who was acting-governor in Canada 
pending the arrival of Sir James Craig, was fortifying 
Quebec in anticipation of an immediate outbreak of 
the impending war. In this connection a little incident 

"Not a desertion has been attempted by any of the 49th for the last 
ten months, with the exception, indeed, of Hogan. He served Glegg, 
who took him with him to the Falls of Niagara, where a fair damsel per- 
suaded him to this act of madness, for the fellow cannot possibly gain 
his bread by labour, as he has half killed himself with excessive drinking; 
and we know he cannot live upon love alone." 

The Hero of Upper Canada 235 

displays his character. He had caused to be erected 
at Quebec a very powerful battery, and of it he wrote 
his brothers: 

I erected ... a famous battery, which the public voice 
named after me ; but Sir James, thinking very properly that any- 
thing so very pre-eminent should be distinguished by the most 
exalted appellation, has called it the King's Battery, the greatest 
compliment, I conceive, that he covdd pay to my judgment. 

The true modesty of the really great man shines out in 
these charming words. 

As the war cloud seemed to dissipate toward the 
close of 1808, General Brock seems to have set his 
eyes toward Europe in the hope of opportimity of 
active service; on November 19th he writes quite 

My object is to get home as soon as I can obtain permission ; 
but unless our affairs with America be amicably adjusted, of 
which I see no probability, I scarcely can expect to be permitted 
to move. I rejoice Savery [Brock] has begun to exert himself 
to get me appointed to a more active situation. I must see ser- 
vice, or I may as well, and indeed much better, quit the army at 
once, for no one advantage can I reasonably look to hereafter if 
I remain buried in this inactive," remote comer, without the least 
mention being made of me. 

It is exceedingly noticeable that Brock now seems 
to pin all his hope to being recalled in order that he 
might win his laurels in the tremendously spectacular 
campaigns against Napoleon in Spain. From his letters 
we learn that the French-Canadians looked for the Cor- 
sican's ultimate triumph and his final possession of 
Canada itself, and adds that tmder like circumstances 
Englishmen would be even more restless under French 
rule than the French-Canadians were under English; 

236 The Niagara River 

"Every victory which Napoleon has gained," he ob- 
serves, " for the last nine years has made the disposition 
here to resist more manifest." 

In the middle of July Brock writes his sister-in-law, 
Mrs. William Brock, that the die is cast and that he is 
ordered to Upper Canada. If it is character, rather 
than mere performance that, in the last analysis, gives 
every man his historic position in the annals of the 
world, the truth is nowhere better shown than here in 
the case of this splendid Canadian hero. Could his 
Governor have spared him Brock would have, ere this, 
been at home or en route to Spain and fame ; but the 
conditions demanded a strong, diplomatic officer at 
Fort George, and there was nothing for it but that Brock 
must go ; and there followed war — and bloody Queens- 
ton Heights. "Since I cannot get to Europe," are 
his gloomy words, " I care little where I am placed." 

By September 13th he is writing his brothers from 
Fort George, but still hinting of his hopes to get leave 
to return to England eventually. What an out-of-the- 
way place for fame to seek and find a man — a man re- 
pining that he cannot go in search of her! Yet he 
writes: " I should stand evidently in my own light if I 
did not court fortune elsewhere." The attitude of Sir 
James Craig in the matter of his transfer to the Euro- 
pean service was candidly stated by a letter from 
Colonel Baynes as follows: 

In reply to an observation of mine, that you regretted the 
inactive prospect before you, and looked with envy on those em- 
ployed in Spain and Portugal, he said: "I make no doubt of it, 
but I can in no shape aid his plans in that respect; I would not, 
however, be the means of preventing them, and although from 
his local knowledge I should regret losing him in this country, 

The Hero of Upper Canada 237 

yet I would not oppose it if he could obtain an appointment to 
the staff on service ; but in that case I would ask for another gen- 
eral officer being sent in his place immediately to Upper Canada." 
I tell you this, my dear general, without reserve, and give you, 
as far as I can recollect, Sir James's words. If he liked you less, 
he might, perhaps, be more readily induced to let you go ; as mat- 
ters stand, I do not think he will, although I am convinced that 
he will feel very sincere regret in refusing you on a subject upon 
which you appear to be so anxious. 

In his correspondence we now and then get a glimpse 
of the General's tastes and inclinations; that he was 
not a frugal entertainer we have considerable proof,* 
likewise evidence of his temperate tastes. In his lonely 
life by the Niagara he had recourse to such books as 
were to be foimd. 

But books are scarce [he writes], and I hate borrowing. I 
like to read a book quickly, and afterwards revert to such pas- 
sages as have made the deepest impression, and which appear 
to me most important to remember — a practice I cannot con- 
veniently pursue unless the book be mine. Should you find that 
I am likely to remain here, I wish you to send me some choice 
authors in history, particularly ancient, with maps, and the best 
translations of ancient works. I read in my youth Pope's Trans- 
lation of Homer, but till lately never discovered its exquisite 
beauties. As I grow old, I acquire a taste for study. I firmly 
believe that the same propensity was always inherent in me, but, 
strange to tell, although many were paid extravagantly, I never 
had the advantage of a master to guide and encourage me. But 
it is now too late to repine. I rejoice that my nephews are more 

» A letter from Colonel Kempt runs : " I have just received a long letter 
. . . giving me an account of a splendid ball given by you to the beau 
monde of Niagara and its vicinity, and the manner in which she speaks of 
your liberality and hospitality reminds me of the many pleasant hours I 
have passed under your roof. We have no such parties now, and the indis- 
position of Sir James having prevented the usual public days at the castle, 
nothing more stupid than Quebec now is can be imagined." 

238 The Niagara River 

Colonel Vesey, writing to Brock, states that he re- 
grets not having a daughter of marriageable age. " You 
should be married," runs the letter, "particularly as 
fate seems to detain you so long in Canada — but pray 
do not marry there." In another letter, dated Ports- 
mouth, June 10, 1 81 1, the same correspondent refers to 
Brock's appointment as Major-General. Oddly enough 
General Vesey says, referring to his friend's probable 
future: "It may perhaps be your fate to go to the 
Mediterranean, but the Peninsula is the most direct 
road to the honour of the Bath, and as you are an am- 
bitious man, that is the station you should prefer. ..." 
Only sixteen months from the day this letter was writ- 
ten Brock was gazetted Knight of the Bath — the lonely, 
patient, splendid man winning the great honour in the 
very land he was longing so sincerely to leave. On 
October i yth a communication from Lieutenant-Colonel 
Torrens gives General Brock permission to return to 
England, but it was too late; both honour and neces- 
sity demanded his presence in Canada as the exciting 
days of 181 2 drew on apace. 

At the outbreak of hostilities in this year the United 
States embraced an immense territory, extending from 
the St. Lawrence to Mexico, excepting Florida — which 
remained in the possession of Spain until 181 9 — and 
from the Atlantic indefinitely westward to the Spanish 
possessions on the Pacific coast, afterwards acquired 
by the United States. The total population of the 
United States was upwards of eight million souls, of 
whom a million and a half were negro slaves in the 
South. Large wastes of wild land lay between the 
Canadian settlements and the thickly populated sec- 
tions of New England, New York, and Ohio. It was 









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The Hero of Upper Canada 239 

only with great difficulty and expense that men, 
munitions of war, and provisions could be brought 
to the frontier during the contest. 

The principal causes of the war are quite intelligible 
to the historical student. Great Britain was engaged 
in a great conflict at the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, not only for her own national security but 
also for the integrity of Europe, then threatened by the 
insatiable ambition of Bonaparte. It was on the sea 
that her strength mainly lay. To ensure her maritime 
supremacy England reserved the right of searching 
neutral, especially American, vessels. This so-called 
right meant that wherever an English warship met 
American merchantmen or war- vessels, the latter were 
required to stop, order their men on deck, and permit 
as many sailors to be seized and forced into the English 
service as were tmable to prove their nationality. It 
was maintained that only deserters from the English 
navy were wanted ; but in the period from 1 796 to 1802, 
nearly two thousand American seamen were pressed 
into the English naval service on the plea that they 
were deserters. Likewise England became jealous of 
American trade. French, Spanish, and even Enghsh 
traders raised the American flag in order to get the ad- 
vantages of neutrals. Thus it appeared that EngUsh 
commerce would fall into the hands of her rivals. It 
cannot be denied that illicit trade and outrages were 
really committed and brought back to American doors. 
The Lion roared. English vessels were stationed just 
outside the ports of more or less importance to the 
United States. British cruisers virtually blocked the 
Atlantic coast from Maine to Georgia. Then happened 
the Chesapeake affair. On Jime 27, 1803, the British 

240 The Niagara River 

war-vessel Leopard signalled the Chesapeake to stop 
as she was leaving Norfolk Harbour. An officer was 
sent on board, but Commodore Barron refused to mus- 
ter his men. The Leopard thereupon opened fire, took 
the Chesapeake by surprise, three men being killed and 
eighteen wounded. One Englishman was found when 
the search was completed ; nevertheless, three American 
sailors (one being a negro) were taken away. This 
affair excited the American people almost beyond prece- 
dent. Indignation meetings were held all over. War 
soon became the cry. President Jefferson sent an agent 
to England to demand reparation for the attack on 
the Chesapeake, but England paid no attention to the 
President's representations. 

The Embargo Act of President Jefferson and similar 
measures solved none of the difficulties they were in- 
tended to solve. The South suffered much hardship, 
tobacco and wheat shrinking to one-half their former 

Then came the Little Belt affair, when, in May, 
1811, the United States frigate President encountered 
the British sloop Little Belt, and, after a hot chase of 
several hours practically annihilated her. Never was 
news more welcome to American ears, and the Chesa- 
peake affair had been revenged. But the incident 
did not help to improve the situation. Lastly it was 
generally believed that England instigated the Indian 
attacks which led to the battle of Tippecanoe, where 
the Americans, under General William Henry Harri- 
son, gained a complete victory, to which our readers' 
attention will be directed later. 

All these causes would, perhaps, have been ineffec- 
tive but for the revolution in the following year which 

The Hero of Upper Canada 241 

took place in the American Republican party — ^the con- 
trolling party since 1801. Henry Clay of Kentucky, 
and John S. Calhoun of South Carolina, advocated war; 
others followed and President Madison joined them. 
They hoped to compel Europe to respect the American 
flag; they had confidence in the young Republic; they 
dreamed, perhaps, of an alliance with France, of an 
annexation of Canada. After long and stormy debates 
war was declared Jime i8th, the invasion of Canada had 
already begim ! 

The War of 181 2 officially commenced on June i8th. 
Great Britain, indeed, had extended a reconciliatory 
hand but it was too late. The army of the United 
States numbered at that time 6744 regulars. Congress 
had authorised its increase to 25,000, and provided, 
at least by law, for a second volunteer army of 50,000 
men. The militia of several States was likewise called 
on to co-operate with the regulars and the volunteers. 
But the result was very unsatisfactory. The regular 
army during the war never reached 10,000; the volun- 
teers appeared only in small numbers, and the militia 
offered to serv'-e only for short terms and preferably 
in their own States. The Treasury, with its "sinews of 
war" was in a precarious condition. The Union had 
to resort to loans to which the capitalists did not re- 
spond with alacrity. On the other hand the British 
troops in Canada numbered barely seven thousand men ; 
their line of defence was one thousand miles long. 
England was contending in Europe with her great 
enemy, Napoleon. The English Navy was, however, 
the undisputed mistress of all the seas; the British 
North Atlantic Squadron coimted three battleships, 
twenty cruisers, and fifty smaller ships. 


2 42 The Niagara River 

The mind of the man who had been unwittingly 
awaiting the impossible in the Upper Province for so 
many gloomy months is well displayed now in a letter 
written to headquarters at the first intimation of the 
declaration of war which reached him through round- 
about sources: 

Fort George, July 3, 181 2. 

I have been anxiously expecting for some days to receive the 
honour of your excellency's commands in regard to the measures 
the most proper to be pursued on the present emergency. 

The accounts received, first through a mercantile channel, 
and soon after repeated from various quarters, of war having 
been declared by the United States against Great Britain, would 
have justified, in my opinion, offensive operations. But the 
reflection that at Detroit and Michilimakinack the weak state of 
the garrisons would prevent the commanders from accomplishing 
any essential service, connected in any degree with their future 
security, and that my means of annoyance on this communication 
were limited to the reduction of Fort Niagara, which could easily 
be battered at any future period, I relinquished my original inten- 
tion, and attended only to defensive measures. My first object 
has been the calling out of the flank companies of militia, which 
has produced a force on this line of about eight hundred men. 
They turned out very cheerfully, but already show a spirit of 
impatience. The king's stores are now at so low an ebb, that 
they scarcely furnish any article of use or comfort. Blankets, 
hammocks, and kettles, are all to be purchased; and the troops, 
when watching the banks of the river, stand in the utmost need 
of tents. Mr. Couche has adopted the most efficacious means 
to pay the militia in paper currency. I cannot positively state 
the number of militia that will be embodied, but they cannot 
exceed throughout the province four thousand men. 

The Americans are very active on the opposite side, in the erec- 
tion of redoubts ; we are not idle on our part, but unfortunately 
having supplied Amherstburg with the guns which that post re- 
quired from Fort George, depending upon getting others from 
Kingston to supply their place, we find ourselves at this moment 


The Hero of Upper Canada 243 

rather short of that essential arm. I have, however, every reason 
to think that they are embarked on board the Earl Moira, which 
vessel, according to Major M'Pherson's report, was to have sailed 
on the 28th ultimo. The Americans have, I believe, about 1200 
regulars and militia between Fort Niagara and Black Rock, and 
I consider myself at this moment perfectly safe against any 
attempt they can make. About one hundred Indians from the 
Grand River have attended to my summons; the remainder 
promise to come also, but I have too much reason to conclude 
that the Americans have been too successful in their endeavours 
to sow dissension and disaffection among them. It is a great 
object to get this fickle race interspersed among the troops. I 
should be unwilling, in the event of a retreat, to have three or 
four hundred of them hanging on my flank. I shall probably 
have to sacrifice some money to gain them over, and the appoint- 
ment of a few officers with salaries will be absolutely necessary. 

The Americans make a daily parade of their force, and easily 
impose on the people on this side in regard to their numbers. I 
do not think they exceed 1200, but they are represented as 
infinitely more numerous. 

For the last fortnight every precaution has been taken to 
guard against the least communication, and to this day we are ig- 
norant whether the President has sanctioned the war resolutions 
of the two houses of Congress ; that is, whether war be actually 

I have not been honoured with a line from Mr. Foster,* nor 
with all my endeavours have I been able to retain information of 
any consequence. The Prince Regent made her first voyage this 
morning, and I purpose sending her to Kingston this evening, 
to bring such articles as are absolutely necessary, which we know 
have arrived from Quebec. I trust she will out-sail the Oneida 

The arrival of General Hull at Detroit and his "in- 
vasion" of Canada followed hard on the declaration 
of war; as a preliminary step previous to invasion he 
issued the Proclamation for which he w^as afterward 

> Britisli Ambassador to the United States. 

244 The Niagara River 

so roundly scored. The proclamation was really an 
invitation to all disaffected persons in the Upper 
Provinces to join Hull's army. That it had no more 
success than it did, was due, it may be believed, to the 
personal magnetism of the able man in control of affairs 
— to the trust that the people had as a whole in General 
Brock. To counteract Hull's proclamation Brock 
replied in one of his own, and it contains several state- 
ments of interest as displaying the character of its 

The unprovoked declaration of war by the United States of 
America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ire- 
land, and its dependencies, has been followed by the actual inva- 
sion of this province, in a remote frontier of the western district, 
by a detachment of the armed force of the United States. 

The officer commanding that detachment has thought proper 
to invite his majesty's subjects, not merely to a quiet and unre- 
sisting submission, but insults them with a call to seek voluntarily 
the protection of his government. 

Without condescending to repeat the illiberal epithets be- 
stowed in this appeal of the American commander to the people 
of Upper Canada, on the administration of his majesty, every 
inhabitant of the province is desired to seek the confutation of 
such indecent slander in the review of his own particular circum- 
stances. Where is the Canadian subject who can truly affirm 
to himself that he has been injured by the government, in his 
person, his property, or his liberty? Where is to be found, in 
any part of the world, a growth so rapid in prosperity and wealth, 
as this colony exhibits? Settled not thirty years, by a band of 
veterans, exiled from their former possessions on account of their 
loyalty, not a descendant of these brave people is to be found, 
who, under the fostering liberality of their sovereign, has not 
acquired a property and means of enjoyment superior to what 
were possessed by their ancestors. 

The unequalled prosperity would not have been attained by 
the utmost liberality of the government, or the persevering in- 

rt CO 


The Hero of Upper Canada 245 

dustry of the people, had not the maritime power of the mother- 
country secured to its colonists a safe access to every market, 
where the produce of their labour was in request. 

The unavoidable and immediate consequences of a separation 
from Great Britain must be the loss of this inestimable advan- 
tage ; and what is offered you in exchange ? To become a terri- 
tory of the United States, and share with them that exclusion 
from the ocean which the policy of their government enforces; 
you are not even flattered with a participation of their boasted 
independence; and it is but too obvious that, once estranged 
from the powerful protection of the United Kingdom, you must 
be re-annexed to the dominion of France, from which the pro- 
vinces of Canada were wrested by the arms of Great Britain, at 
a vast expense of blood and treasure, from no other motive than 
to relieve her ungrateful children from the oppression of a cruel 
neighbour. This restitution of Canada to the empire of France, 
was the stipulated reward for the aid afforded to the revolted 
colonies, now the United States; the debt is still due, and there 
can be no doubt but the pledge has been renewed as a considera- 
tion for commercial advantages, or rather for an expected relaxa- 
tion in the tyranny of France over the commercial world. Are 
you prepared, inhabitants of Canada, to become w*illing subjects, 
or rather slaves, to the despot who rules the nations of continental 
Europe with a rod of iron? If not, arise in a body, exert your 
energies, co-operate cordially with the King's regular forces to 
repel the invader, and do not give cause to your children, when 
groaning under the oppression of a foreign master, to reproach 
you with having so easily parted with the richest inheritance of 
this earth — a participation in the name, character, and freedom 
of Britons! 

The same spirit of justice, which will make every reasonable 
allowance for the unsuccessful efforts of zeal and loyalty, will not 
fail to punish the defalcation of principle. Every Canadian free- 
holder is, by deliberate choice, bound by the most solemn oaths 
to defend the monarchy, as well as his owti property; to shrink 
from that engagement is a treason not to be forgiven. Let no 
man suppose that if, in this unexpected struggle, his majesty's 
arms should be compelled to yield to an overwhelming force, the 
province will be eventually abandoned; the endeared relations of 

246 The Niao^ara River 


its first settlers, the intrinsic value of its commerce, and the pre- 
tensions of its powerful rival to possess the Canadas, are pledges 
that no peace will be established between the United States and 
Great Britain and Ireland, of which the restoration of these 
provinces does not make the most prominent condition. 

Be not dismayed at the unjustifiable threat of the commander 
of the enemy's forces to refuse quarter, should an Indian appear 
in the ranks. The brave bands of aborigines which inhabit this 
colony were, like his Majesty's other subjects, punished for their 
zeal and fidelity, by the loss of their possessions in the late colo- 
nies, and requited by his Majesty with lands of superior value 
in this province. The faith of the British government has never 
yet been violated — the Indians feel that the soil they inherit is 
to them and their posterity protected from the base arts so fre- 
quently devised to over-reach their simplicity. By what new 
principle are they to be prohibited from defending their property? 
If their warfare, from being different to that of the white people, 
be more terrific to the enemy, let him retrace his steps — they 
seek him not — and cannot expect to find women and children in 
an invading army. But they are men, and have equal rights with 
all other men to defend themselves and their property when 
invaded, more especially when they find in the enemy's camp a 
ferocious and mortal foe; using the same warfare which the 
American commander affects to reprobate. 

This inconsistent and unjustifiable threat of refusing quarter, 
for such a cause as being found in arms with a brother sufferer, 
in defence of invaded rights, must be exercised with the certain 
assurance of retaliation, not only in the limited operations of war 
in this part of the King's dominions, but in every quarter of the 
globe; for the national character of Britain is not less distin- 
guished for humanity than strict retributive justice, which will 
consider the execution of this inhuman threat as deliberate mur- 
der, for which every subject of the ofEending power must make 

Few men ever had the task that General Brock now 
essayed thrown upon their shoulders. With some fif- 
teen hundred men he had to occupy the forts St. 

The Hero of Upper Canada 247 

Joseph, Amherstburg (Maiden), Chippewa, Erie, and 
George, together with York (Toronto) and Kingston; 
maintain British supremacy, if possible, on three great 
lakes; preserve the long communication and defend a 
frontier eight hundred and more miles in length. And 
it is to be remembered that even in time of peace there 
had been no little trouble in keeping the British regulars 
from deserting to the American side of the Niagara — 
probably to take advantage of the splendid agricultural 
and commercial opportunities in the West just then 
being thrown open to the pioneer hosts and to which 
Easterners were flocking "in shoals," as one observer 
put it. His position was the more peculiar because 
of the nature of the larger portion of the inhabitants of 
the upper province, the loyalists. Having fled from 
the United States in the hours of the Revolution, fancy 
now the thoughts of these honest people as they faced 
the prospect of their land of refuge being invaded by 
an army from the land below the lakes! Seldom did 
a people have more cause for apprehension ; seldom did 
the inhabitants of an invaded land look less for commis- 
eration on the part of the invaders. The result was 
that a very few fled back again to the land of their 
birth ; but the vast majority resolved to trust the issue 
to Providence — and these looked to General Brock to 
preserve the land. 

The situation was unique and gave the man at the 
helm a singular opportunity to prove himself and win 
the deathless devotion of a whole people. Little wonder 
that the man who proved himself equal to this critical 
hour will forever be known as "The Hero of Upper 

Brigadier-General Hull had advanced into Upper 

248 The Niagara River 

Canada from Detroit early in July, but it was not until 
the capture of Hull's despatches by Colonel Proctor in 
the affair near Brownsville when Van Home's party 
was ambushed that Brock planned to execute the dar- 
ing advance which ended in the astonishing capture 
of Detroit and Hull's entire army. On the 6th of 
August Brock departed from York, with five hundred 
additional volunteers, largely sons of loyalists, who 
were very true to their adopted country in this crisis — 
or, perhaps we should say, loyal to this brave leader in 
whom were suddenly found the qualities required by 
the extraordinary occasion. Being compelled to leave 
a part of the little force he was leading westward along 
the Niagara River, General Brock reached Amherstburg 
(Maiden) in five days and nights with some three hun- 
dred followers. It is plain on this showing that what- 
ever the result of the bold enterprise there was now 
no hesitation in carrying it out. Tecumseh's salute 
in his honour was suppressed as quickly as possible, 
such was the scarcity of powder! There is something 
pathetically interesting in two despatches issued by 
Brock on two successive days, — ^August 14th and 15th. 
One was an appeal to his troops to prevent desertion 
among the country folk who felt it imperative to get in 
their crops ; the other was an ultimatum to Hull sum- 
moning him to surrender. The incongruity of the two 
epistles is almost amusing, especially when it is re- 
membered that the British had very little powder and 
a force smaller than that opposed to it beyond the 
Detroit River. And yet the bombastic order reads : 

The force at my disposal authorises me to require of you the 
immediate surrender of Fort Detroit. It is far from my inclina- 
tion to join in a war of extermination; but you must be aware 

The Hero of Upper Canada 249 

that the numerous body of Indians who have attached them- 
selves to my troops will be beyond my control the moment the 
contest commences. You will find me disposed to enter into such 
conditions as will satisfy the most scrupulous sense of honour. 
Lieut.-Colonel M'Donell and Major Glegg are fully authorised 
to conclude any arrangement that may lead to prevent the un- 
necessary effusion of blood. 

An answer of bold and frank tenor from Hull was 
received by the desperate Brock, who immediately 
chose his course ; there was nothing for it but to retreat 
or attack the enemies' position; he could not sit still; 
he was in George Rogers Clark's shoes at Kaskaskia 
a generation before when Hamilton had captured Vin- 
cennes — he must capture Hull or be captured by Hull. 
It was true to the kind of man he was that Brock should 
spurn the advice of his officers to retreat and should 
determine, despite their objections, to put his threat 
into execution. On Simday, the i6th of August, 
Brock's determined men were crossing the Strait. His 
force included less than four himdred regulars and 
about that many militia supported by some six 
hundred Indians. The American troops numbered 
upwards of two thousand. As is well known Brock 
received notification as his force was moving upon the 
fort that General Hull was ready to treat with him. 
The resolute deportment of the desperate Brock had 
won for him and his King a bloodless conquest that will 
go down in history as one of the most heroic on the part 
of one commander and most despicable on the part of 
the other to be found in the annals of warfare. Con- 
gressmen who had been boasting in debate that it was 
unnecessary to even send troops into the Canadas since 
officers alone, by appearing there, could rally armies 

250 The Niagara River 

of disaffected persons about them, now read that one 
determined man, acting against the advice of his offi- 
cers had appeared at the gates of Detroit with half an 
army and taken its keys as readily as though they were 
voted to him by the city fathers and brought to him 
on a silver salver. "We have the Canadas," rang the 
silvery voice of Henry Clay in Congress, ** as much under 
our command as Great Britain has the ocean; and the 
way to conquer her on the ocean is to drive her from 
the land." No one could have more completely mis- 
judged an enemy or his own country as did the great 
Kentuckian in this instance. 

It is interesting in the extreme to survey the man 
who had won a signal triumph as he now marches 
back to York and Fort George where he had spent 
so many useless, fruitless years, as it seemed to him — 
yearning in season and out of season for the opportunity 
to get away to the Peninsula, or somewhere where fame 
might be achieved. Brock's success is a great lesson 
to all ambitious men. Doing the humble drudgery of 
the duty that lay next his hand, despite the regret 
and even pain occasioned by lack of opportunity, this 
man suddenly came into a fame world-wide and the 
honour of the Bath that he thought could come to him 
only in sunny Spain. On the loth of the following 
October General Brock's brother William was asked by 
his wife why the park and tower guns were saluting. 
"For Isaac, of course," he answered, playfully; "don't 
you know that this is Isaac's birthday? " A little later 
he learned that the news of the surrender of Detroit 
had just been received, and that his playful answer 
was very near the truth after all ! 

It is fruitless to imagine what might have been the 



c ^ 


The Hero of Upper Canada 251 

trend of events in Canada but for the daring decision 
made by Brock to move upon Detroit; his courage in 
running in the teeth of the wind and trusting to Provi- 
dence to fetch the quay by hook or crook, is the very 
quality of the human heart that mankind most deUghts 
to honour; it is remarkable that the imbecility of Hull 
could have so completely blinded our American eyes 
to this display of splendid daring of Brock's, which 
ranks with Clark's bold march through the drowned 
lands of the Wabash, or Wayne's attack on Stony Point. 
The capture of Hull and Detroit unquestionably saved 
Upper Canada to England; for though American arms 
were successful to some degree beyond the line, as we 
shall see, the successes did not count toward conquest 
and annexation as would have been the case, perhaps, 
had they come at the outbreak of the war. AH Can- 
ada felt the heartening effect of Brock's inexplicable vic- 
torv; thousands who had feared instant and ruthless 
invasion now felt strong to repel any and all invaders ; 
and the effect extended to the Indian allies and across 
the ocean to the home-country, as well. Had Clay's 
theory been true and the war had to be settled by land 
battles, Detroit would have delayed the end for many 
years; but America was soon to show a power on the 
sea as surprising as the stupidity of some of her com- 
manders on shore and play England at her own sea-dog 
game with her own weapons and gain the victory. 

The General's letter to his brothers is interesting as 
exhibiting the man's private views on his great success: 

I have received [he writes] so many letters from people whose 
opinion I value, expressive of their admiration of the exploit, 
that I begin to attach to it more importance than I was at first 
inclined. Should the affair be viewed in England in the light it 

252 The Niagara River 

is here, I cannot fail of meeting reward, and escaping the horror 
of being placed high on a shelf, never to be taken down. Some 
say that nothing could be more desperate than the measure ; but 
I answer, that the state of the province admitted of nothing but 
desperate remedies. I got possession of the letters my antagon- 
ist addressed to the secretary of war, and also of the sentiments 
which hundreds of his army uttered to their friends. Confidence 
in the General was gone, and evident despondency prevailed 
throughout. I have succeeded beyond expectation. I crossed 
the river, contrary to the opinion of Colonel Proctor, . . . 
etc.^; it is, therefore, no wonder that envy should attribute to 
good fortune what, in justice to my own discernment, I must 
say, proceeded from a cool calculation of the pours and centres. 

General Brock, along with most other British lead- 
ers who operated along the American frontier, has been 
accused of using the savages to fight in savage ways 
the battles of white men against fellow whites. Ros- 
siter Johnson, in his War of 1812, to cite one of the care- 
ful students who has thus referred to Brock, in speaking 
of the minute-guns fired on the American shore during 
Brock's funeral, says: 

There was perhaps no harm in this little bit of sentiment, 
though if the Americans remembered that two months before, 
in demanding the surrender of Detroit, General Brock had threat- 
ened to let loose a horde of savages upon the garrison and town, 
if he were compelled to capture it by force, they must have seen 
that their minute-guns were supremely illogical, not to say silly. ^ 

One who has any reason to know how much basis 
Washington had for his sweeping remark that most 
of the trouble the United States had with the western 

' » In the face of the fact here divulged concerning Proctor's attitude 
toward Brock's determination to move upon Detroit it is interesting to re- 
member Brock's very high praise of Proctor in his report of the capture. 
His words, so characteristic of the gentleman, were : " I have been admira- 
bly supported by Colonel Proctor. ..." 
2 P. 60. 

The Hero of Upper Canada 253 

Indians was due to the demeanour of British officers to 
them, could only with difficulty become prejudiced in 
favour of any British officers who had actual dealings 
with the Canadian Indians and actually led them in 
person to battle. And yet the present writer has fotind 
sufficient ground in Brock's correspondence for holding 
that Brock was above reproach personally on this score 
— that he was a gentleman here as elsewhere, a true 
nobleman. We cannot here enter into a lengthy discus- 
sion of such a difficult problem. A letter extant, writ- 
ten by Brock to General Prevost, shows his attitude in 
this delicate matter during those desperate days when 
Harrison was fighting the wily Tecumseh : 

My first care, on my arrival in this province, was to direct 
the officers of the Indian department at Amherstburg to exert 
their whole influence with the Indians to prevent the attack 
which I understood a few tribes meditated against the American 
frontier. But their efforts proved fruitless, as such was the in- 
fatuation of the Indians, that they refused to listen to advice. 

It will always be an open question how much con- 
trol the responsible men, either American or British, 
had over their red-skinned "brothers" compared with 
their half -renegade, forest-running underlings who dis- 
pensed the powder, blankets, and fire-water and directed 
affairs much as they pleased. 

Before the outbreak of the war Brock wrote to his 
superiors concerning his province as follows : 

The first point to which I am anxious to call your excellency's 
attention is the district of Amherstburg. I consider it the most 
important, and, if supplied with the means of commencing active 
operations, must deter any offensive attempt on this province, 
from Niagara westward. The American government will be com- 
pelled to secure their western frontier from the inroads of the 
Indians, and this cannot be effected without a very considerable 

254 The Niagara River 

force. But before we can expect an active co-operation on the 
part of the Indians, the reduction of Detroit and MichiHmaki- 
nack must convince that people, who conceive themselves to have 
been sacrificed, in 1794, to our policy,^ that we are earnestly en- 
gaged in the war. The Indians, I am made to understand, are 
eager for an opportunity to avenge the numerous injuries of which 
they complain. A few tribes, at the instigation of a Shawnese, 
of no particular note, have already, although explicitly told not 
to look for assistance from us, commenced the contest. The stand 
which they continue to make upon the Wabash, against about two 
thousand Americans, including militia and regulars, is a strong 
proof of the large force which a general combination of the In- 
dians will render necessary to protect so widely extended a frontier. 

Again, Brock was in a very different position from 
the British commanders during the Revolution; his 
province was being invaded and the Indians who had 
settled under the auspices of the British Government 
in that province were threatened with destruction as 
seriously as the loyalists or the native Englishmen 
transplanted from the mother-country. Surely, no one 
would expect Indians whose homes lay in the upper 
province to remain neutral when that province was 
invaded. Indeed, in February, 181 2, we find Brock 
complaining to his superior of the lax attention that 
was paid by the Government to the Indians settled in 
the province he had been sent to govern. 

Divisions are thus uninterruptedly sowed among our Indian 
friends [he wrote, meaning, of course, sowed by Americans], and 
the minds of many altogether estranged from our interests. 
Such must inevitably be the consequence of our present inert 
and neutral proceedings in regard to them. It ill becomes me 
to determine how long true policy requires that the restrictions 
imposed upon the Indian department ought to continue ; but this 
I will venture to assert, that each day the officers are restrained 

> The reference here is to the failure of the British to assist the Indian 
confederacy withstand General Wayne's invasion of the Maumee Valley 
which ended in the victory of Fallen Timber. 

The Hero of Upper Canada 255 

from interfering in the concerns of the Indians, each time they 
advise peace and withhold the accustomed supply of ammunition, 
their influence will diminish, till at length they lose it altogether. 

Nothing shows better the activity of the American 
officers in seeking to line the Indians up on the side of 
the fighting Republic than Brock's letters to his supe- 
riors. We have already seen that Brock had, as late 
as July 3d, little hope of keeping the Indians of the 
Grand River true to him because of the American influ- 
ence exerted over them by active agents. And we 
have seen, in his counter-proclamation answering that 
issued by General Hidl, that Brock places the employ- 
ment of the Indians on the groimd of territorial rights : 
"By what new principle," he asks, "are they to be 
prohibited from defending their property?" 

The ominous words used by General Brock in his 
summons to Htdl to surrender have, it must be admit- 
ted, all the ring of a threat; but, for one, I do not take 
them to be that primarily, but rather the honest, frank 
words of a gentleman. In case of the sacking of De- 
troit Brock could not have controlled those redskins of 
his, and he knew it. In like circtimstances what general 
had been able to control the Indians attached to him ? 
In the single instance of Sir WiUiam Johnson at the 
fall of Fort Niagara, we find an illustration of approxi- 
mate control, yet nothing in the world but the power 
of that great man would have answered under the 
circumstances. I would believe that Brock knew he 
cotdd not control his Iroquois allies, ^ whether in victory 
or in defeat, and made a plain statement to HuU to 
that effect. That he told the truth I think no one can 

» That Brock feared the Indians when acting in unison, that is, when 
not "interspersed" among the troops, is perfectly plain from his letter 
to General Prevost of July 3d. 

256 The Niagara River 

doubt after examining the situation ; whether he would 
have told the truth if the truth had not carried a threat 
may be questioned. The truth usually answers a gen- 
tleman's purposes, and Brock was that to the marrow 
of his bones. 

Brock had not overestimated the effect and influ- 
ence of his bloodless victory upon the English, but, by 
strange caprice of Fate, was not permitted to live to 
receive the high honours bestowed upon him. On the 
thirteenth of the following October, in the battle of 
Queenston Heights, elsewhere described, while reform- 
ing the broken British ranks for a second time, a bullet 
in the breast cut short a life that promised very high 
attainment. As was his custom the General had arisen 
before daybreak on this fatal day and had left Fort 
George at the first sound of the battle on the heights. 
His conspicuous presence, bright uniform, and animated 
deportment in attempting to reform the broken lines, 
made him a plain target for Wool's heroic men, who had 
climbed up a pathway steeper than any Wolfe's troops 
ever saw at Quebec. " Push on the York volunteers," 
were the words of the brave man's last order; but as 
he lay in the arms of his aides he begged that his injury 
might not be noticed by the troops or disconcert their 
advance ; and with one half -understood wish concern- 
ing a token of love to be given to his sister, Isaac 
Brock fell dead. 

It is not given to many notable men to fall in the 
very midst of spectacular success; it can easily be be- 
lieved that General Brock, being the man we know him 
to have been, would have made the best use of his tri- 
umph, and that it would have been but a stepping-stone 
to enlarged opportunities where each duty in its turn 

The Hero of Upper Canada 257 

would have received the same decent, earnest attention 
that the man gave to his work throughout those half- 
unhappy days when he felt marooned in the wilds of 
a dreary ocean, where no one could prove his merit, 
calibre, or knowledge. And so, after all is said for this 
fine man, I, for one, Hke best to go back to those days 
of impatient longing for opportunity amid the dull 
grind of routine at Fort George, and see the real spirit 
of Brock who, in all truth, deserves the honourable title 
of "Hero of Upper Canada"; and when you have 
caught the spirit displayed by him in those dispiriting 
days, realise his careful faithfulness in the humdrum 
life he was asked to live, while his schoolmates of war 
were winning great glory on the epoch-making Euro- 
pean battlefields, join to it that sudden burst of splen- 
did grit and heroism that provoked the Detroit attack 
despite the advice of the staff officers, and you have a 
combination that thriUs the heart of friend and enemy 
— of all who love patient doing of duty and real displays 
of undiluted heroism. 

Some of the best tributes to Brock, were, as should 
have been the case, those paid by persons who knew of 
his place in the hearts of the people of his adopted land 
of service: 

The news of the death of this excellent ofi&cer [observed the 
Quebec Gazette] has been received here as a public calamity. 
The attendant circumstances of victory scarcely checked the 
painftil sensation. His long residence in this province, and 
particularly in this place, had made him in habits and good offices 
almost a citizen; and his frankness, conciliatory disposition, and 
elevated demeanour, an estimable one. The expressions of regret 
as general as he was known, and not uttered by friends and 
acquaintances only, but by ever\' gradation of class, not only by 
grown persons, but young children, are the test of his worth. 

258 The Niagara River 

Such, too, is the only eulogium worthy of the good and brave, 
and the citizens of Quebec have, with solemn emotions, pro- 
nounced it on his memory. But at this anxious moment other 
feelings are excited by his loss. General Brock had acquired the 
confidence of the inhabitants within his government. He had 
secured their attachment permanently by his own merits. They 
were one people animated by one disposition, and this he had 
gradually wound up to the crisis in which they were placed. 
Strange as it may seem, it is to be feared that he had become too 
important to them. The heroic militia of Upper Canada, more 
particularly, had knit themselves to his person; and it is yet 
to be ascertained whether the desire to avenge his death can 
compensate the many embarrassments it will occasion. It is 
indeed true that the spirit, and even the abilities, of a distin- 
guished man often carry their influence beyond the grave; and 
the present event furnishes its own example, for it is certain 
notwithstanding General Brock was cut off early in the action, 
that he had already given an impulse to his little army, which 
contributed to accomplish the victory when he was no more. 
Let us trust that the recollection of him will become a new bond 
of union, and that, as he sacrificed himself for a community of 
patriots, they will find a new motive to exertion in the obligation 
to secure his ashes from the pestilential dominion of the enemy. 

A Montreal newspaper of the day also contained 
the following observations: 

The private letters from Upper Canada, in giving the account 
of the late victory at Queenstown, are partly taken up with 
lamentations upon the never-to-be-forgotten General Brock, 
which do honour to the character and talents of the man they 
deplore. The enemy have nothing to hope from the loss they 
have inflicted; they have created a hatred which panteth for 
revenge. Although General Brock may be said to have fallen 
in the midst of his career, yet his previous services in Upper Can- 
ada will be lasting and highly beneficial. When he assumed 
the government of the province, he found a divided, disaffected, 
and, of course, a weak people. He has left them united and 
strong, and the universal sorrow of the province attends his fall. 
The father, to his children, will make known the mournful story. 

The Hero of Upper Canada 259 

The veteran, who fought by his side in the heat and burthen of 
the day of our dehverance, will venerate his name. 

And the sentiments of the British Government, on 
the melancholy occasion, were thus expressed in a 
despatch from Earl Bathurst, the secretary of state for 
the colonies, to Sir George Prevost, dated December 8, 

His Royal Highness the Prince Regent is fully aware of the 
severe loss which his Majesty's service has experienced in the 
death of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, This woiild have been 
sufficient to have clouded a victory of much greater importance. 
His Majesty has lost in him not only an able and meritorious 
officer, but one who, in the exercise of his functions of provisional 
lieutenant-governor of the province, displayed qualities admir- 
ably adapted to awe the disloyal, to reconcile the wavering, and 
to animate the great mass of the inhabitants against successive 
attempts of the enemy to invade the province, in the last of which 
he unhappily fell, too prodigal of that life of which his eminent 
services had taught us to understand the value. 

The body of the fallen hero lay in state at the gov- 
ernment house until the i6th of October, when, with 
that of Colonel McDonell, it was buried with due hon- 
ours in a cavalier bastion of Fort George, at the spot 
now marked by the tablet indicating the first burial- 
place. On the 13th of October, 1824, the remains were 
moved to the summit of the heights, whereon a beau- 
tiful monument had been erected by the Provincial 
Legislature, 135 feet in height, bearing this "splendid 
tribute to the unfading remembrance of a grateful 


26o The Niagara River 














The following description of this interesting pageant 
portrays the genuine feeling of devotion felt for the 
"Hero of Upper Canada" that filled the hearts of his 
countrymen : 

There is something so grand and imposing in the spectacle of 
a nation's homage to departed worth, which calls for the exer- 
cise of SO many interesting feelings, and which awakens so many 
sublime contemplations, that we naturally seek to perpetuate 
the memory of an event so pregnant with instruction, and so 
honourable to our species. It is a subject that in other and in 
older countries has frequently exercised the pens, and has called 
forth all the descriptive powers of the ablest writers. But here 
it is new; and for the first time, since we became a separate pro- 
vince, have we seen a great public funeral procession of all ranks 
of people, to the amount of several thousands, bearing the re- 
mains of two lamented heroes to their last dwelling on earth, in 
the vaiilts of a grand national monument, overtopping the lofti- 
est heights of the most magnificent section of one of the most 
magnificent countries in the world. 

The 13 th of October, being the anniversary of the battle of 
Queenstown, and of the death of Brock, was judiciously chosen 
as the most proper day for the removal of the remains of the 
general, together with those of his gallant aide-de-camp, Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel M'Donell, to the vaults prepared for their recep- 
tion on Queenstown Heights. 

Brock's Monument. 

The Hero of Upper Canada 261 

The weather was remarkably fine, and before ten o'clock a 
very large concourse of people, from all parts of the country, had 
assembled on the plains of Niagara, in front of Fort George, in 
a bastion of which the bodies had been deposited for twelve years. 

One hearse covered with black cloth, and drawn by four black 
horses, each with a leader, contained both the bodies. Soon after 
ten, a lane was formed by the ist and 4th regiments of Lincoln 
militia, with their right on the gate of Fort George, and their left 
extending along the road towards Queenstown, the ranks being 
about forty paces distant from each other; within this line was 
formed a guard of honour of the 76th Regiment, in parade order, 
having its left on the fort. As the hearse moved slowly from the 
fort, to the sound of solemn music, a detachment of royal artillery 
began to fire the salute of nineteen guns, and the guard of honour 
presented arms. 

On moving forwards in ordinary time, the guard of honour 
broke into a column of eight divisions, with the right in front, 
and the procession took the following order: 

A Staff Officer. 

Subdivision of Grenadiers. 

Band of Music. 

Right Wing of 76th Regiment. 


Aide-de-Camp to the late Major-General Sir Isaac Brock. 

Chief Mourners. 

Commissioners for the Monvmient. 

Heads of PubHc Departments of the Civil Government. 


Members of the Executive Council. 

His Excellency and Suite. 

Left Wing of the 76th Regiment. 

Indian Chiefs of the Five Nations. 

Officers of Militia not on duty — ^Junior Ranks — First Forward. 

Four deep. 

Magistrates and Civilians. 

With a long Cavalcade of Horsemen, and Carriages of every 


262 The Niagara River 

On the 17th of April, 1840, a miscreant by the 
name of Lett laid a train to a quantity of gunpowder 
secreted beneath the monument to General Brock and 
fired it, partially wrecking both the base and the pillar. 
The criminal had been compelled to flee the country 
during the rebellion then just over, and, returning, took 
this outrageous method of gratifying his malice. As 
we look upon the beautiful monument that stands 
above Brock's remains to-day it is with a feeling almost 
of pleasure that such a wretched deed was necessary to 
result in the fine pillar that is one of the scenic beauties 
of the Niagara country to-day. This fine shaft bears 
the following inscription: 

The Legislature of Upper Canada has dedicated this Monu- 
timent to the very distinguished, eminent, civil, and military 
services of the late Sir Isaac Brock, Knight of the Most Hon. 
Order of the Bath, Provisional Lieutenant-Governor, and Major- 
General commanding the Forces in this Province, whose remains 
are deposited in the vault beneath. Having expelled the 
Northwestern Army of the United States, achieved its capture, 
received the surrender of Fort Detroit, and the territory of Michi- 
gan, under circumstances which have rendered his name illustri- 
ous he returned to the protection of this frontier ; and advancing 
with his small force to repel a second invasion of the enemy, 
then in possession of these heights, he fell in action, on the 13th 
of October, 181 2, in the forty-third year of his age, honoured and 
beloved by the people whom he governed and deplored by his 
Sovereign, to whose service his life had been devoted. 

Chapter XI 
The Second War with England 

WE have explained the influence of the Hfe 
and death of General Brock in the upper 
province sufficiently for the reader to con- 
ceive, perhaps, an unusual interest in the 
course of the war that soon was raging, in reality or in 
burlesque, as it sometimes appeared, along the northern 
border; no one can take any interest in Brock's career 
without wondering whether his province was invaded 
or conquered despite the sacrifices of this undefeated 
but dead hero. 

Upon Brock's return from Detroit he found General 
Stephen Van Rensselaer commanding the American 
shore of the river, preparing, according to report, to 
begin the conquest of the upper province. There was 
much cause for delay, which in turn provoked criticism 
and imrest, but as October of 1812 drew near it was 
considered necessary and possible to execute the ad- 
vance upon Brock's positions along the river and on 
Queenston Heights and Fort George. The first at- 
tempt to advance on the night of the loth proved 
abortive through the treachery of an irresponsible lieu- 
tenant. Instead of quieting the ardour of the army 
this disgusting mishap made the troops the more eager 
for the conflict, and a new plan was very secretly ar- 
ranged, with such success that it is pretty sure that 


264 The Niagara River 

General Brock was in doubt up to the last moment 
where the attack was to be made. A strong force had 
been kept at Fort Niagara, and this, with the stationing 
of Colonel Chrystie's troops at Four Mile Creek, caused 
Brock to believe that the attack was to be made on 
Fort George. 

The night of the twelfth was set as the time for the 
second attempt to cross the Niagara. Soon after dark, 
Chrystie with his three hundred men marched from 
Fort Niagara by interior routes to Lewiston, reaching 
his destination before midnight. Re-enforcements 
had also come from the Falls, as well as Colonel Scott 
who had just arrived at Schlosser, aroused by the infor- 
mation that a battle was soon to be fought and glory 
to be won. Scott presented himself to the General 
asking permission to take part in the engagement, and 
though Van Rensselaer could not change his plans he 
offered to let Scott take position on Lewiston Heights 
and co-operate with the rest of the army as he saw fit. 

Solomon Van Rensselaer was again placed in com- 
mand but Colonel Chrystie was allowed to lead an 
equal force, thus recognising his rank. Three o'clock 
in the morning, October 13th, was the time set for 
crossing the river. The night was very dark. The 
plan was for Chrystie and Van Rensselaer to cross and 
storm the heights, when the rest of the army should 
follow on the second trip and attack Queenston. The 
boats, however, would not carry more than half the 
desired number; these with their leaders landed on the 
Canadian shore not more than ten minutes after leaving 
Lewiston landing, at the very spot aimed at, at the foot 
of the cliff under Lewiston suspension bridge. The 
British were found very much on the alert and opened 

The Second War with Enorland 265 


fire from the heights the moment the boats touched 
land. Lovett's battery on Le wist on Heights imme- 
diately opened fire in answer, and this, with a charge 
by the regulars of the Thirteenth under Wool, soon 
drove the enemy backward toward Queenston. Wool 
took position just above Queenston when orders were 
given him to storm the heights. Eager and anxious 
for the struggle, his troops were immediately put in 
motion, but he soon received orders countermanding 
the first just as he was moving rapidly toward the 
heights. No sooner had his men taken position in 
accord with it than the right flank was fiercely attacked 
by Dennis's full force. At the same moment the Brit- 
ish opened fire upon the little body from the heights. 
Wool immediately, without tarrying for orders, faced 
about and poured such a fierce fire into Dennis's com- 
mand that it was compelled to fall back. In the mean- 
time Van Rensselaer had come up with his command and 
taken position on Wool's left. In this short engage- 
ment, the Americans suffered most severely. Van Rens- 
selaer was so severely wounded that he was forced to 
relinquish the command, and Wool had been woimded 
though refusing to leave the -field. 

The British on the heights kept up a continual fire 
on the Americans, which from their position could not 
be returned with effect, and the little invading army 
fell back to the shore below the hill where they occupied 
a more sheltered position. 

Daybreak had now come, and a storm w^hich had 
raged all morning had ceased with the retreat of the 
Americans; but the storm of lead was soon to break 
more furiously than before, although the little army 
was in a sorry plight. Wool was only twenty-three 

266 The Niagara River 

years old. The commanding officer, Solomon Van 
Rensselaer, was forced to retire. What was to be done? 
Wool had asked for orders. The heights must be 
taken or the enterprise abandoned; Wool was ordered 
to storm the heights and Lush commanded to follow 
and shoot the first man that wavered — for signs of 
disaffection were already showing themselves. No 
sooner did Wool receive his orders than, fired by the 
frenzy of the battle, forgetting wounds and all else, he 
sprang forward to its execution. Up the ascent the 
men rushed, protected from fire to a degree by bushes 
and rocks. Many parts of the hill were so steep that 
there was nothing for it but to pull themselves along 
by the roots and shrubs. General Brock, in the mean- 
time, hardly knew what to expect. He was at Fort 
George and seems to have had a determined suspicion 
that the main attack would be made upon Fort George 
from Fort Niagara. He heard the early cannonading 
but supposed that it was only a feint to conceal the 
point of real movement. However, the true soldier 
mounted his horse and raced away immediately to the 
scene of action and death. On arriving and taking a 
view of the field Brock considered affairs favourable 
to the British; however, he had hardly dismounted at 
the redan battery than Wool's men scrambled upon 
the heights and opened up a galling fire. So hot 
was the attack that the Canadians were immediately 
forced from their stronghold ; a few moments later the 
flag of the Union waved there. 

Brock immediately sent to Fort George for re- 
enforcements, rallied the disorganised force, and with 
Williams's and Dennis's commands attempted to turn 
the American right flank; Wool perceived the move 











































The Second War with England 267 

and tried to anticipate it by sending fifty men to its 
protection. These were forced back by superior num- 
bers, and the whole command was compelled to give 
ground until the edge of the precipice was reached 
with the rushing river flood two hundred feet below. 
It seemed that they must either surrender or perish; 
one captain attempted to raise a white flag but was 
stopped by Wool, who, having addressed a few hurried 
words to his men, led them to the charge with such 
fierce zeal that the British in turn gave back. The 
brave Brock saw this movement in dismay; with a 
stinging rebuke, which called every man back to a real- 
isation of his duty, the General placed himself at the 
head of the column to lead it back to victory. His tall 
form, towering above that of the soldiers around him, 
made a conspicuous mark for the American sharp- 
shooter, and he was soon struck in the wrist but bravely 
pressed on; shortly after a ball entered his breast and 
passed out of his side, inflicting a death wound. He 
scarcely had time to make a few last requests when he 
died. As soon as the soldiers knew of their command- 
er's death, they became infuriated. The column 
charged up the hill toward the Americans. Wool's lit- 
tle command, doubtful of victory, spiked the cannon 
in the redan. The struggle was fierce for a few mo- 
ments; but the British were again made to retire, 
leaving Wool master of Queenston Heights. 

Re-enforcements were slowly crossing the river. 
Colonel Scott had arrived early in the morning and 
had placed his cannon to protect the crossing as far 
as possible. Later he received permission to cross over 
as a volunteer. Having met with Wadsworth of the 
New York militia, that officer unselfishly waived his 

268 The Niagara River 

rank on account of Scott's superior military experience, 
and allowed him to take command of regulars and 
militia, amounting in all to some six hundred. While 
Scott was superintending the unspiking of the cannon 
in the redan his command on the heights was assailed 
by a band of Indians under John Brant, son of the 
famous Mohawk chieftain. So furious and unexpected 
was their attack that the pickets were driven in imme- 
diately and the main body began to draw back. This 
was shortly after one o'clock in the afternoon. The 
militia, unused to being under fire, were beginning to 
break away when Scott appeared and by his command- 
ing presence and steady nerve led the men back to order. 
A charge was immediately ordered, which was exe- 
cuted so fiercely that the Indians retired ; however, they 
kept up a fire on the Americans from sheltered positions 
until Scott ordered a general assault and drove them 
from the heights. Lieutenant-Colonel Chrystie then 
appeared on the field for the first time and ordered Wool 
to the American shore to have his wounds dressed. 

General Sheaffe now arrived from Fort George 
with re-enforcements and took command of the British 
forces; these now numbered about thirteen hundred 
while the Americans could not count over six hundred. 
Scheaffe marched to the east to St. Davids and by bril- 
liantly counter-marching gained the rear of the Ameri- 
can army. Van Rensselaer was on the heights at this 
time ; seeing these movements he returned to send over 
re-enforcements. But to his surprise, and their own 
eternal disgrace, the American militia, which had been 
crying out so long for action, refused to budge. He, 
as well as others, threatened, entreated, and implored; 
all in vain. The men who but a few hours before had 

The Second War with England 269 

demanded to be led to the war, now, at sight of blood 
and the smell of gun-powder, refused to help their com- 
rades threatened with destruction on the heights across 
the river. Van Rensselaer transmitted this informa- 
tion to Wadsworth and promised boats if he wished 
to retreat, but he could not even make this promise 
good, as the frightened boatmen refused to raise an oar. 
Nothing was left for the little band on the heights but 
surrender or death ! It has been offered in extenuation 
of the action of the militia that there had been gross 
mismanagement of the boats, only one or two being 
at hand, necessitating their being sent across the river 
in dangerously small parties. Wherever the blame 
should be placed, there was enough of it to go around 
and to make any patriot blush. The militia were 
within their legal rights in refusing to pass beyond the 
boundaries of their State, and may have been entirely 
right in refusing to attempt the crossing if it could not 
be made in force. 

The final engagement of the battle of Queenston 
Heights was inaugurated about four o'clock in the 
afternoon by General Sheaffe directing a large body 
of Indians and regulars against the American right. 
The superior numbers, together with the impetuous 
advance, threw the Americans into confusion. Scheafle 
ordered an advance along the whole Hne and the Amer- 
ican ranks were soon broken, most of those fleeing 
toward the city being cut off by the Indians ; some few 
escaped by letting themselves down the steep hill by 
roots and bushes. Several attempts were made to 
surrender, but it is said that even those bearing the 
flag were shot down by the Indians. Colonel Scott 
was attacked by two savages while on this mission, 

270 The Niagara River 

but was valiantly rescued by a British officer. On 
reaching headquarters terms were soon agreed upon 
by which all the Americans on the Canada side be- 
came prisoners of war. 

Thus ended this, the spectacular battle of Queens- 
ton Heights. In many ways it was typical of so many 
battles in American military annals; the eagerness of 
hot-headed militia to hear the guns popping, the dar- 
ing attack, the heroism of cool, undaunted officers, the 
loss of enthusiasm as the struggle wore on, the final 
conflict of regular and militia, the seemingly inexcusa- 
ble lack of interest on the part of the non-combatants, 
the flight and surrender — all are typical. 

The death of the noble Brock has thrown a halo 
over the Niagara frontier for Briton and American 
alike. As you wander to-day across the pleasant com- 
mons at Niagara-on-the-Lake to the site of old Fort 
George, or scramble up the steep sides of beautiful 
Queenston Heights, you will find yourself thinking of the 
heroic leaders at the battle of Queenston — Brock, Wool, 
Chrystie, and the impetuous Scott; to one rambler, at 
least, amid these striking scenes, the battle, as such, 
quite faded out of the perspective, leaving the fine mili- 
tary figure of the British commander looming up alone 
beside that of the twenty-three-year-old boy Wool, 
who had jumped from his law books down in New York 
to come here as captain of militia and give the world 
another clear picture of absolute daring not surpassed 
in any point by Wolfe's at Quebec; the young Scott 
appears too, so willing to be in the fracas across the 
river that he crosses as a private soldier. Had the 
faltering militia caught his spirit there would have 
been, perhaps, another story to tell of the outcome of 

The Second War with England 271 

the battle! It is to be hoped that the year 1912 will 
not pass without seeing raised on Lewiston Heights a 
monument to these noble men equal in point of beauty 
to the splendid shaft raised across the river to the 
memory of Brock. 

On the 17th of November, a bombardment was 
opened on Black Rock from batteries which had been 
constructed across the river. The firing was kept up all 
day ; but little damage was done to the Americans, and 
almost none to the British, as few cannon were mounted 
against them. On the 21st of November a fierce can- 
nonade was opened from a number of batteries which 
had been erected opposite Fort Niagara. At the same 
time the guns of Fort George, and all those of the vicin- 
ity which could be brought to bear, directed their fire 
against Fort Niagara, and kept up all day. The fort 
was fired several times by red-hot shot as were also the 
works of the enemy. Two Americans were killed and 
two by the bursting of a cannon, while four were 
woiinded ; night ended the fight and it was not renewed. 

General Smyth had succeeded in the command of 
the American forces in Van Rensselaer's place after 
the engagement at Queenston. He had given it as his 
opinion that the invasion should have taken place at 
some point between Black Rock and Chippewa Creek 
and was now in position to carry out his own plans. 
After a number of boastful proclamations, orders were 
given the army on the 2 5th to be ready to march at a 
moment's notice. The line of advance was planned 
and the whole campaign marked out. Boats sufficient 
for men and artillery were provided, and Lieutenant- 
Colonel Boerstler was to cross in the darkness and de- 
stroy a bridge about five miles below Fort Erie, capture 

272 The Niagara River 

all men and supplies possible, and return to the Amer- 
ican shore. Captain King was to cross higher up the 
river and storm the batteries. But the enemy was not 
to be caught napping; Smyth's idle boasts and procla- 
mations, together with his statements as to the proper 
place for crossing, had put the British on their guard 
with the result that the whole upper river was well 

The advance parties embarked at three o'clock on 
the morning of the 29th. Of King's ten boats only 
four were able to effect a landing. His small command 
jumped ashore into the very thickest of the fire and 
almost immediately captured two batteries. Angus 
and his seamen who had accompanied King rushed 
upon the Red House, captured the field-pieces stationed 
there, spiked them, and threw them and the caissons 
into the river. Angus returned to the river, and, not 
knowing that the other six boats had been unable to 
land, supposed King had either returned or been taken 
prisoner. It being too dark to reconnoitre, he struck 
away to the American shore in the four boats, leaving 
King and his handful of men helpless in Canada. King, 
on the other hand, not receiving re-enforcements, re- 
turned to the landing and found all the boats gone, and 
passing down the river about two miles he discovered 
two boats in which he placed his prisoners and half his 
command, and started them for the American shore. 
Only a few moments later he and all with him were 
taken prisoners. 

The firing had roused the British all along the line. 
A number of Boerstler's boats were not able to find the 
point designated as their landing-place, and of those 
that did all were driven off but Boerstler's own. In 

o o 

-a § 

The Second War with England 273 

the face of a hot fire, he landed, forced back the enemy 
to the bridge, but when he attempted to destroy that 
structure he found that in the excitement the axes, 
militia-like, had been left behind, so that his work was 
only partly accomplished. While thus engaged he 
received the interesting intelligence that the whole 
force at Fort Erie were only five minutes distant. In 
the darkness the enemy could not be seen; but their 
advancing tramp could be easily heard. Boerstler, 
addressing his subordinates as field officers, succeeded 
in deceiving the British as to the size of his command. 
The Americans fired one volley and then charged with 
such spirit that the British fell back, and the little 
command recrossed the river without being fiuther 

It was late in the afternoon before all was in readi- 
ness for a general advance and the enemy were on the 
alert ready to give a warm reception. Sm^i;h had not 
been seen all day. When finally all was prepared 
orders came to disembark and dine and, as nothing 
could be done, the soldiers retired to their quarters. 

A coimcil was called, but no agreement could be 
reached. Sm\i;h ordered another advance on the 30th 
which never took place. Disagreements between 
officers and insubordination among the soldiers soon 
led to the abandonment of the plan entirely. General 
Porter openly attributed the failure to Sm\i;h, which 
shortly led to a duel in which neither was injured and 
each one's honour was vindicated. 

While these absurd pantomime war measures were 
transpiring on land the little American navy covered 
itself with glory. By hard work Lieutenant Oliver H. 
Perry had gotten ready nine vessels and fifty-five guns 

2 74 The Niagara River 

at Erie, Pennsylvania, to oppose six vessels and sixty- 
three guns under the English commander Barclay. 
After a careful cruise of the Lake, Perry met the enemy 
in ill condition for a battle near Put-in-Bay on the loth 
of September, 1813. The completeness of his victory 
was described in his famous despatch to Harrison: " We 
have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two 
brigs, one schooner, and one sloop." 

Shortly before the victory on Lake Erie, Gen. W. H. 
Harrison, who now commanded the North-western 
army, accompanied by Johnson and his Kentucky 
rifles, crossed into Canada and during the last week 
of August and the first week of September was kept 
busy by the enemy. Proctor did not, however, seem 
anxious to fight but kept falling back before the Amer- 
icans, much to the disgust of the famous Shawanese 
chieftain Tecumseh, who was anxious for a battle. 
The army at last took position on the Thames River 
on the 5th of August. Here they were attacked by 
Harrison's forces, Johnson's Kentuckians leading the 
successful charge. In a few minutes the British army 
with its Indian allies was routed and Tecumseh killed. 
The North-west was relieved of further danger; and 
much that was lost by Hull was regained with some- 
thing in addition. 

The Army of the North under General Dearborn, 
during the year of 18 13 was to co-operate in the inva- 
sion of Canada, and on the 27th of April, 18 13, the 
American army crossed Lake Ontario to York, now 
Toronto, and were entirely successful in capturing that 
point, as more fully noted in our chapter on that city. 

It was part of Dearborn's plan on capturing York to 
press on over the thirty miles to the River Niagara and 

The Second War with England 275 

take Fort George. On account of unfavourable weather 
the army did not leave York until the 8th of May, the 
fleet being under command of Chaimcey and being 
joined in the evening of the 25th by Perry, who had 
come hastily from Erie. The attack was to be made on 
the morning of the 27th. Dearborn was himself sick, 
being confined to his bed most of the time, but his or- 
ders were faithfully carried out by his under officers. 
An attempt to launch several boats on the evening of 
the 26th brought on a cannonade from the batteries 
along both shores as well as from Fort George and Fort 
Niagara. Darkness, however, came on and the prepar- 
ations were made by the Americans imder its cover 
without further molestation. The morning was some- 
what foggy but a light breeze soon dissipated this and 
revealed a fine sight for friend and foe alike. The 
waters of the lake were covered with boats large and 
small, crowded with guns and soldiers, all advancing 
bravely on the British position. 

As soon as the fog Hfted the batteries of both sides 
began a brisk fire. Colonel Scott was in command of 
the landing party, assisted by Chaimcey with foiu" 
hundred seamen to be used if' necessary. Lieutenant 
BroTVTi directed such a hot fire against the battery 
at the landing that it was finally silenced and Perry 
then, being in command of the boats, rushed in despite 
a somewhat rough sea, to effect a landing, many of 
the troops in their eagerness leaping into the water 
before the boats touched land. The landing party was 
assailed by a heavy, well-directed musketry fire from 
a neighbouring ravine, which caused them to scurry 
for shelter under the bank. Perry seemed every^^here 
present, urging the gunners on the boats to greater 

276 The Niagara River 

efforts and cheering on the landing parties with words 
of confidence. In attempting to scale the bank, the 
Americans were several times hurled back to the beach, 
but Scott was finally successful in gaining a sheltered 
position in a neighbouring ravine where a sharp conflict 
ensued for several minutes, but between the execution 
of the American rifles and a well-directed cannonade 
from one of the vessels the doughty British were com- 
pelled to retreat. 

General Vincent, being persuaded that Fort George 
could not be saved, ordered its destruction, which in- 
formation reached Scott by two escaped prisoners. He 
immediately attempted to save it if possible, but a short 
distance from its walls one magazine blew up, though 
he reached his destination in time to extinguish two 
other fuses and save the remainder of the fort. He 
then continued his pursuit but was ordered to return 
and had to give up what he thought half the glory of the 

Hearing that Colonel Proctor was coming from the 
West to help regain the Niagara region. General Winder 
was sent in pursuit of Vincent. On the 5th he was 
joined by Chandler with five hundred men, who took 
the chief command. At Forty-mile Creek they encoun- 
tered a body of the enemy and drove them off; twice 
now they drove the pickets in on the main body of the 
army, causing no little alarm, but finally on account 
of treacherous negligence in the American camp the 
British effected a night attack so well planned and 
brilliantly executed that the force was in the heart of 
the American camp while the soldiers were still sleep- 
ing. In the confusion that followed, the Americans 
several times attacked their own men. The British loss 

The Second War with England 277 

was the heavier, and they were compelled to retire, 
but the victory was felt to be a decided one from the 
fact that they captured two American generals. 

The Americans, fearing a renewal of the attack, 
began to retreat. Near Forty-mile Creek they were 
joined by Colonel Miller with reinforcements, and retreat 
was continued with a fleet watching them from the 
lake and a small army of regulars and a body of sav- 
ages following in the rear. The army finally reached 
Fort George after having lost several prisoners who had 
been picked up in the rear. For several days the ves- 
sels were a continual menace to the passage of Ameri- 
can supplies, but on the 20th the squadron sailed for 
Oswego. Not daring to make an attack here, they 
again turned westward and took position off Niagara 

While the operations were going on against the 
Niagara frontier, a British squadron appeared against 
Sacketts Harbour. On the morning of May 29th 
the attack was made, but so vigilant a defence was 
made by General Brown with his raw militia that the 
enemy were forced to withdraw. 

General Dearborn, now at Fort George, sent a force 
to attack the enemy at Beaver Dam and Ten-mile 
Creek, by way of St. Davids, on June 23d. It was 
annoyed for a greater part of the way by Indians, and 
when near the enemy's camp, having been deceived 
as to the opposing force, the whole command was sur- 
rendered. The British, emboldened by this success, 
suddenly retook Queenston and shortly after invaded 
Fort George, General Dearborn being relieved of com- 
mand by the still more incompetent General Wilkinson. 

The British, encouraged by their success, now began 

278 The Niagara River 

to make raids into the American territory. One of 
these expeditions was directed against Black Rock on 
July I ith. The expedition put to flight the American 
guards with almost no fighting, took the city and sup- 
plies, and obtained a large amount of booty. General 
Porter, however, rallied a small body of the retreating 
militia and with these and reinforcements which had 
arrived from Buffalo and about fifty citizens he fell 
with such force upon the invaders that they retreated 
precipitately to their boats. During the remainder 
of the summer little fighting was done in the vicinity 
of Fort George except by foraging parties. 

Most of the troops had been withdrawn from the 
fort in the early winter, leaving only about sixty men 
within its walls; news was being continually received 
of forces marching to the Niagara region and, fearful 
of losing the fort, McClure, its commander, determined 
to destroy it and retreat to Fort Niagara. The fort 
was partially demolished, December loth, but Newark 
was wantonly fired, leaving hundreds of people home- 
less in the severest weather and rousing the British 
to a revenge which they now visited on the Americans. 

On the 12th, Fort Niagara was invested. So negli- 
gent were the officers that on the morning of the 13th 
one of the gates was found open, and the enemy en- 
tered .without opposition to a victory which might have 
been almost bloodless had not the attacking force, in- 
censed by the burning of Newark, been led to revenge; 
a number of the garrison were bayoneted ; Lewiston was 
sacked, plundered, and almost entirely destroyed. A 
body of soldiers pressed on to the town of Niagara Falls. 
They were met on the heights by a small force which 
was not able to check them and the whole Niagara 



The Second War with England 279 

region was laid waste. The Indians were turned loose 
and many innocent persons perished at their hands. 
The advance on Buffalo and Black Rock was only 
temporarily checked and on the 30th these cities were 
captured and plundered as elsewhere described. Only 
four houses were left in Buffalo and one in Black Rock. 
Such was the revenge of the binning of Newark. These 
were dark days along the Niagara, when hatred never 
bred in honest warfare flamed up in the hearts of men, 
and the beginning of the story goes back to the inhuman 
destruction of old Newark. 

Toward the latter part of March the campaign of 
181 4 was opened by General Wilkinson in the north, 
but little being accompHshed he was soon superseded 
by General Brown. By the end of June the Northern 
army was gathered imder Brown, once more prepared 
to carry the war into Canada, Buffalo being the head- 
quarters. On the morning of the 3d of July, before 
daylight. General Scott crossed the river from Black 
Rock to invest Fort Erie. General Ripley was to 
have followed immediately, but he was delayed so 
long that it was broad day before he reached the Cana- 
dian shore. Scott pushed forward and drove the en- 
emy's pickets into the fort. Brown, not waiting for 
Ripley, pushed into the forest in the rear of the fort, 
extending his lines so as to enclose the post. Ripley 
then appeared and took position in connection with 
Scott's command. The fort was then summoned to 
surrender, which summons, on accoimt of its weak 
condition, was soon comphed with just as reinforce- 
ments were on their way to give aid. 

To stop the advance of these troops, Scott was sent 
with his command dovm. the river. His march of about 

28o The Niagara River 

sixteen miles was a continual skirmish with the British, 
and finding the enemy in force across the Chippewa 
Creek he encamped for the night. Before morning of 
the fifth he was joined by the main body of Brown's 
army. On the east was the river, on the west a heavy 
wood, and between the armies the Chippewa and 
Street's creeks. The British had also received rein- 
forcements during the night, and the battle of Chippewa 
was opened by each army attempting to test the other's 

The American pickets on Scott's left were in 
trouble by four o'clock and Porter was sent to relieve 
them; he drove back the British and Indians, but in 
following up his success found himself suddenly con- 
fronted by almost the whole of the enemy's army which 
attacked immediately. Porter maintained his ground 
at first but was finally compelled to give the order to 
retreat and this soon became a panic. General Brown 
noticed this and correctly supposed that the whole 
force of the enemy was advancing. Ripley and Scott 
were immediately rushed to the rescue, Ripley to fall 
on. the rear of the British right by stealing through the 
wood, Scott to make a frontal attack. 

The latter advanced across Street's Creek and the 
engagement became general along the whole line of both 
armies. Time and again the British line was broken 
but it sternly closed and continued the contest. Scott 
finally decided to take advantage of what he considered 
the unskilful manoeuvres of his foe; advancing, he 
ordered his forces to charge through an opening in 
the lines. Almost at the same instant Leavenworth 
executed a like movement, while Towson's battery 
poured canister into the British ranks. They were 

The Second War with England 281 

completely demoralised and gave back. Jesup on the 
American left had suffered greatly during the battle; 
forced to fall back, he finally found a better position, 
and now poured such a well-directed fire that the troops 
before him also retired. The British retreat did not 
stop imtil the troops were behind their entrenchments 
below Chippewa and the bridge across its waters 
destroyed. This stronghold could not be taken by the 
Americans; the command was given to retreat, and 
the same relative positions were occupied by the armies 
the night after the battle as the night before. 

On the eighth the whole American force again 
moved forward. The British broke camp and retreated 
down the river closel}^ pursued by Brown, who took 
possession of Queenston on the loth. The enemy 
occupied Fort George and Fort Mississaga. Here 
Brown decided to await reinforcements from Chauncey 
and his fleet. News, however, soon came of the com- 
mander's illness and his blockade in Sacketts Harbour, 
whereupon Brown on the 23d fell back to the Chippewa. 
In case Riall did not follow, he expected to unlimber 
and fight wherever the enemy might be found; the 
night of the 24th, the army encamped on the battle- 
ground of the 5th, imconscious of the laurels to be won 
in a few short hoiu-s at far-famed Ltmdy's Lane. 

The morning of the 2 5th dawned clear and beautiful. 
Unconscious of the proximity of the enemy, the Amer- 
icans were enjoying a much-needed rest behind the 
village of Chippewa, when about noon news came that 
the British were in force at Queenston and on the 
heights, and that Yea's fleet had appeared in the river. 
Next came information that the British were landing 
at Lewiston and were threatening the supplies at Fort 

282 The Niagara River 

Schlosser. These reports were partly true. Pearson 
had advanced, unknown to the Americans, and taken 
position at Lundy's Lane a short distance from the 
Falls. Brown seemed impressed with the idea that the 
British were after the supplies at Schlosser and he was 
ignorant of the size of the force opposed to him. He 
at once determined that the best way to recall the 
British was to threaten the forts at the mouth of the 
river and Scott was detailed to accomplish this task. 
Eager for the conflict his whole command was in motion 
twenty minutes after having received the order. Be- 
tween four and five o'clock the march of twelve hund- 
red men began toward the forts. 

Near Table Rock, Scott was informed that General 
Riall and his staff had just departed. In fact the Amer- 
icans saw the troops move off from the house as they 
were advancing toward it, and the informant also 
stated that the enemy were in force behind a small 
strip of woods in front ; but so convinced was the Amer- 
ican leader that Fort Schlosser was the objective point 
of the British movement that he would not credit the 
story. Believing that but a small force was in front, 
he dashed into the woods to dispel them. Imagine 
his surprise when he found himself faced at Lundy's 
Lane by Riall's whole force! Scott's position was 
indeed perilous. To advance seemed destruction, to 
stand still would be equally fatal, while to retreat would 
probably throw the whole army into confusion. With 
that resource which always distinguished him, he 
quickly decided to engage the enemy, and if possible 
deceive them into believing that the whole American 
army was present while he sent back for reinforcements. 

General Brown had been misinformed as to the 

The Second War with England 283 

enemy's movements. No soldiers had crossed to Lewis- 
ton, but the whole force was with Riall preparing for 
the present move. Scott found himself opposed to 
fully eighteen hundred men. The English lines ex- 
tended over the hill in a crescent form with the horns 
extending forward. In its centre and on the brow of 
the hill, the strongest point of the position, was placed 
a battery of seven guns. Into the very centre of this 
crescent he had imconsciously led his army. 

Scott immediately perceived on the enemy's left 
flank an unprotected space of brushwood along the 
river and instantly he ordered Major Jesup to seize this 
and turn the flank if possible. While this move was 
being accompHshed Scott's troops engaged the enemy 
in front, only hoping to hold the army in check until 
the reserves arrived. 

Jesup was more than successful. He turned the left 
flank of the enemy, gained his rear, and kept the re- 
inforcements sent to RiaU's aid from joining the 
body of the army. Besides this he had captured Riall 
himself with a number of his staff. By nine o'clock 
at night Jesup had accompHshed this and in the mean- 
time Scott had beaten back a fierce charge made by the 
British right ; only the centre stood firm now. 

Informed of the true state of affairs, and leaving 
orders for Ripley to make aU haste possible with the 
whole reserve force. Brown mounted his horse and rode 
to the field, arriving just at this critical juncture. He 
immediately saw that the hill crowned with cannon 
was the key to the enemy's position; Ripley was ad- 
vancing along the Queenston road; Scott's worn men 
had been recalled. The commander turned to Colonel 
Miller, saying, "Colonel, take your regiment, storm 

284 The Niagara River 

that work, and take it." "I '11 try, Sir," said Miller, 
and at once moved forward. At this moment the regi- 
ment under Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholas, which was to 
draw the enemy's fire from Miller, gave way. Nothing 
daunted, the young commander, with three hundred 
followers, crept up the hill in the shadow of an old 
rail fence thickly grown over with shrubbery. In this 
way they reached unobserved a point only several rods 
distant from the enemy, whom they saw around the 
guns waiting the order to fire. Resting their pieces 
across the old fence the little command took deliberate 
aim, the order was given by Miller in a whisper, a sheet 
of flame broke from the shrubbery, and not a man was 
left to apply a match to the British artillery. The men 
then broke from cover with a shout and rushed for- 
ward, and all seven of the cannon were captured. A 
fierce hand-to-hand contest was waged for a short time 
with the body of infantry stationed behind the guns, 
but they were finally forced from the hill. Four dif- 
ferent attempts were made to recapture the position 
but all were unsuccessful. 

While these events were taking place Scott was 
maintaining his position with great difficulty. His 
regiments were being literally cut to pieces and, finally, 
he gathered the remnants into one mass, formed in line 
for storming, and had given the order to move forward 
when the battery was taken by Miller. Scott counter- 
manded his order and returned to his position at the 
base of the hill. 

Brown and Scott were both severely wounded and 
the command devolved now on Ripley. When the 
battle was finally won Brown ordered Ripley to fall 
back to the Chippewa to give the soldiers a much- 

Monument at Lundy's Lane. 

The Second War with Ent^land 285 


needed rest during the night, but to be back at 
Lundy's Lane by daybreak the next morning to obtain 
the fruits of the victory. Day came and Ripley had 
not moved from his quarters, but the British had re- 
turned and the two armies occupied almost the same 
ground as before the battle. Ripley advanced but 
the enemy's position was too strong to attack, so he 
discreetly returned to camp. Brown was so disgusted 
that he sent to Sacketts Harbour for General Gaines 
to come and assume command. 

Generals Brown and Scott's troops were moved 
from the field supposing that Ripley would at least 
hold his position. Hardly had they gotten out of sight 
when Ripley ordered a retreat to Black Rock. Here 
he was forbidden by Brown to cross the river, so he took 
up a position above Fort Erie; at the same time the 
fortifications were strengthened in order to repel the 
expected siege. 

The work on Fort Erie went forward unmolested 
until the 3d of August. Drummond then appeared 
before the fort with his army, which had been resting 
at Lundy's Lane since the battle of the 20th of July. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Tucker was sent across the river 
with a body of troops to capture Black Rock and Buf- 
falo. These were met so gallantly by Morgan and his 
riflemen that they were compelled to return. Drum- 
mond at the same time opened fire on the fort ; this was 
discontinued until the seventh, the respite being spent 
by both parties in preparing for the siege. Gaines 
arrived on the 5th and assumed command while Ripley 
returned to the head of his own brigade. On the 6th 
Morgan and his riflemen attempted to draw the enemy 
from his trenches but were unsuccessful ; the cannonade 

286 The Niagara River 

was opened on the fort on the morning of the 7th and 
was continued until the 13th. On the next day all the 
guns possible were brought to bear on the fort, causing 
its commander to believe that an assault was planned 
and arrangements were made to receive the enemy. 
The guns were heavily shotted, vigilance of the guards 
doubled, and things made ready for the warm reception 
of the enemy. At midnight of the 14th, all was still 
quiet; a body of a hundred men under Belknap had 
been thrown out toward the British army to do picket 
duty as the night was so dark that the movements of 
the enemy could not be seen. Their stealthy advance, 
though cautious, was detected by the sharp ears of the 
waiting men; an alarm gun was fired and the advance 
party fell back toward the fort. Fifteen hundred men 
came charging against Towson's battery on the left, 
expecting to find the soldiers asleep, but a broad sheet 
of flame burst from the long twenty-four pounders here 
which made the line waver in its advance. At the 
same moment the line of the 21st shone forth in its own 
light, then all was darkness except as the guns were 
loaded and fired. Five times the attack was renewed 
by the two columns ; each time they were beaten, back. 

Almost simultaneous with the attack on the left, 
another was made on the American right, against the 
old fort; this was repelled, but Drummond, valiant 
man, could not be held in check, and under cover of a 
heavy cloud of smoke, followed by a hundred of the 
Royal Artillery, he crept silently around the fort 
and by means of scaling ladders gained the parapet 
almost unobserved. All attempts to dislodge the 
enemy failed. Time and again they were charged, 
but each time they beat back their assailants. Lieu- 

The Second War with England 287 

tenant-Colonel Drummond commanded his men to 
give no quarter, and in a short time he fell, pierced 
through the heart by a man to whom he refused mercy. 
Daylight da\\Tied with the enemy repulsed on the left. 
Reinforcements were brought to the right but there 
was no room to use them. The Americans were finally 
gathered for a furious charge, when that part of the fort 
which the British had seized was blown suddenly a 
hundred feet into the air and fell in ruins. At the 
same instant a galling fire was opened from the batteries 
and the enemy was compelled to retire. 

Both armies now received reinforcements and 
kept preparing for a second engagement. A continual 
cannonade was kept up, when on the 28th of August 
General Gaines was so injured by a shell that he had 
to retire from action. General Brown, though shat- 
tered in health then resumed command. The British 
were continually strengthening their works and he saw 
that his only hopes lay in a sortie. The weather had 
been rainy which inconvenienced the enemy as their 
works were located on the low groimd. Their numbers 
had also been greatly reduced by fever. These facts 
were learned from prisoners which had been captured. 
The sortie was planned for the 17th of September, all 
the officers acquiescing except General Ripley. The 
plan was laid with great secrecy and was favoured by 
heavy fog on the morning of the proposed action. The 
Americans were entirely successful, the enemy being 
driven from their works and almost all their supplies 
captured. This victory was hailed with delight by the 
whole country. This, with the brilliant achievement 
at Plattsburg, and the repulse of the British from Balti- 
more caused rejoicing aU over the nation, and restored 

288 The Niagara River 

the people from that gloom into which they had been 
cast by the fall of the national capital. 

' On the 5th day of October General Izard arrived 
with reinforcements and took command. With almost 
eight thousand troops he now prepared to attack Drum- 
mond, but all attempts to draw him out of his trenches 

Learning that there was a large store of grain at 
the mill on Lyons Creek, Bissell was sent to destroy it. 
On the night of the i8th, he was attacked but was 
successful in driving off the enemy and accomplishing 
his task. Drummond, now perceiving that he could 
not hope to cope successfully with the superior forces 
brought against him, fell back to Fort George and 
Buriington Heights. General Izard soon removed his 
whole force from Canada. On the 5th of November 
Fort Erie was blown up, to keep it from falling again 
into the hands of the British. 

On September nth, the brilliant victory, mentioned 
before, was gained by the Americans at Plattsburg 
and with the opening of winter, the militia was dis- 
banded and the war closed on the Canadian frontier. 

In 1 83 7 the Niagara was again the scene of military 
operations on a slight scale when the Patriot War 
broke out, an uprising of revolutionists who planned 
the overturning of the Canadian Government. Navy 
Island was for a time the headquarters of the ferment, 
and from here, under the date of December 1 7th, the 
leader, William Lyon Mackenzie, issued a proclamation 
to the citizens of Canada. This strong, misguided 
man is most perfectly described in Bourinot's The 
Story of Canada: 

He had a deep sense of public wrongs, and placed himself 

The Second War with England 289 

immediately in the front rank of those who were fighting for a 
redress of undoubted grievances. He was thoroughly imbued 
\\4th the ideas of English radicalism, and had an intense hatred 
of Toryism in every form. He possessed little of that strong 
common-sense and power of acquisitiveness which make his 
countrymen, as a rule, so successful in every walk of life. When 
he felt he was being crushed by the intriguing and corrupt- 
ing influences of the governing class, aided by the lieutenant- 
governor, he forgot all the dictates of reason and prudence, and 
was carried away by a current of passion which ended in re- 
bellion. His journal. The Colonial Advocate, showed in its 
articles and its very make-up the erratic character of the man. 
He was a pungent writer, who attacked adversaries with great 
recklessness of epithet and accusation. So obnoxious did he 
become to the governing class that a number of young men, 
connected with the best families, wrecked his office, but the 
damages he recovered in a court of law enabled him to give it 
a new lease of existence. When the "family compact" had a 
majority in the assembly, elected in 1830, he was expelled five 
times for libellous reflections on the government and house, 
but he was re-elected by the people, who resented the wrongs 
to which he was subject, and became the first mayor of Toronto, 
as York was now called. He carried his grievances to England, 
where he received much sympathy, even in conservative circles. 
In a new legislature, where the "compact" were in a minority, 
he obtained a committee to consider the condition of provincial 
affairs. The result was a famous report on grievances which set 
forth in a conclusive and able manner the constitutional diffi- 
culties under which the country laboured, and laid down clearly 
the necessity for responsible government. It would have been 
fortunate both for Upper Canada and Mackenzie himself at this 
juncture, had he and his followers confined themselves to a 
constitutional agitation on the lines set forth in this report. 
By this time Robert Baldwin and Egerton Ryerson, discreet 
and prominent reformers, had much influence, and were qtiite 
iinwilling to follow Mackenzie in the extreme course on which 
he had clearly entered. He lost ground rapidly from the time 
of his indiscreet publication of a letter from Joseph Hume, the 
English radical, who had expressed the opinion that the improper 

290 , The Niagara River 

proceedings of the legislature, especially in expelling Mackenzie, 
''must hasten the crisis that was fast approaching in the affairs 
of Canada, and which would terminate in independence and 
freedom from the baneful domination of the mother-country." 
Probably even Mackenzie and his friends might have been con- 
ciliated and satisfied at the last moment had the imperial 
government been served by an able and discreet lieutenant- 
governor. But never did the imperial authorities make a greater 
mistake than when they sent out Sir Francis Bond Head, who 
had no political experience whatever. 

From the beginning to the end of his administration he did 
nothing but blunder. He alienated even the confidence of the 
moderate element of the Reformers, and literally threw himself 
into the arms of the "family compact," and assisted them at the 
elections of the spring of 1836, which rejected all the leading 
men of the extreme wing of the Reform party. Mackenzie was 
deeply mortified at the result, and determined from that moment 
to rebel against the government, which, in his opinion, had 
no intention of remedying public grievances. At the same time 
Papineau, with whom he was in communication, had made up 
his mind to establish a republic, une nation Canadienne, on the 
banks of the St. Lawrence. 

The disloyal intentions of Papineau and his followers were 
made very clear by the various meetings which were held in the 
Montreal and Richelieu districts, by the riots which followed 
public assemblages in the city of Montreal, by the names of 
"Sons of Liberty" and "Patriots" they adopted in all their 
proceedings, by the planting of "trees" and raising of "caps" 
of liberty. Happily for the best interests of Canada the number 
of French Canadians ready to revolt were relatively insignificant, 
and the British population were almost exclusively on the side of 
the government. Bishop Lartigue and the clergy of the Roman 
Catholic Church now asserted themselves very determinedly 
against the dangerous and seditious utterances of the leaders 
of the "Patriots." Fortunately a resolute, able soldier. Sir John 
Colbome, was called from Upper Canada to command the troops 
in the critical situation of affairs, and crushed the rebellion 
in its very inception. A body of insurgents, led by Dr. Wolf red 
Nelson, showed some courage at St. Denis, but Papineau took 

The Second War with England 291 

the earliest opportunity to find refuge across the frontier. 
Thomas Storrow Brown, an American by birth, also made a 
stand at St, Charles, but both he and Nelson were easily beaten 
by the regulars. A most unfortunate episode was the murder 
of Lieutenant Wier, who had been captured by Nelson while 
carrying despatches from General Colbome, and was butchered 
by some insurgent habitants, in whose custody he had been 
placed. At St. Eustache the rebels were severely punished by 
Colbome himself, and a number burned to death in the steeple 
of a church where they had made a stand. Many prisoners were 
taken in the course of the rebelhous outbreak. The village 
of St. Benoit and isolated houses elsewhere were destroyed by 
the angry loyalists, and much misery inflicted on all actual or 
supposed sympathisers with Papineau and Nelson. Lord Gos- 
ford now left the country, and Colbome was appointed adminis- 
trator. Although the insurrection practically ended at St. 
Denis and St. Charles, bodies of rebels and American marauders 
harassed the frontier settlements for some time, until at last the 
authorities of the United States arrested some of the leaders and 
forced them to surrender their arms and munitions of war. 

The Caroline incident most closely connects the 
immediate Niagara region with the Patriot rebellion. 
This small steamer was chartered by Buffalo parties 
to run between that city, Navy Island, and Schlosser, 
the American landing above the Falls. The Canadian 
authorities very properly looked upon this as a bold 
attempt to provide the freebooters on Navy Island 
with the sinews of rebellion. Colonel Allan McNab 
was sent to seize the vessel, and the fact that it was 
found moored at the American shore in no way 
troubled the determined loyalists. It was about 
midnight December 29th when the attacking party 
found the ship. In the melee one man was killed; 
the boat was fired and set adrift in the river, passing 
over the Horseshoe Fall while still partly afire. 

Chapter XII 

IT is believed that the word Toronto is of Huron 
origin, and that it signified "Place of Meeting." 
This has been contested; in any case it should 
be spelled To-ron-tah. The word is also inter- 
preted as "Oak Trees beside the Lake," a derivation 
rather divergent from the above version and we must 
leave this to the learned etymologists. 

Glancing over maps of the middle of the eighteenth 
century designed after the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle 
(1748), we see the names of many forts and posts in- 
tended to keep up "the communications" between 
Canada and Louisiana, and overawe the English col- 
onies then confined to their narrow strip of territory 
on the Atlantic coast. Conscious of the mistake that 
they had made in giving up Acadia, the French at this 
moment claimed that its "ancient limits" did not ex- 
tend beyond the isthmus of Chignecto — in other words, 
included Nova Scotia. Accordingly they proceeded 
to construct the forts of Gaspereau and Beaus^jour on 
that neck of land, and also one on the St. John River, 
so that they might control the land and sea ap- 
proaches to Cape Breton from the St. Lawrence, where 
Quebec, enthroned on her picturesque heights, and 
Montreal at the confluence of the Ottawa and the St. 


Toronto 293 

Lawrence, held the keys to Canada. The approaches 
from New England by the way of Lake Champlain and 
the Richelieu were defended by the fort of St. John, 
near the northern extremity of the lake, and by the 
more formidable works known as Fort Frederick or 
Crown Point — to give the better known English name — 
on a peninsula at the narrows towards the South. The 
latter was the most advanced post of the French until 
they built Fort Ticonderoga or Carillon on a high, 
rocky promontory at the head of Lake St. Sacrament. 
At the foot of this lake, associated with so many 
memorable episodes in American history, Sir William 
Johnson erected Fort William Henry, about fourteen 
miles from Fort Edward or Layman, at the great car- 
rying place on the upper waters of the Hudson. Re- 
turning to the St. Lawrence and the Lakes, we find 
Fort Frontenac at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, 
where the old city of Kingston now stands. 

Within the limits of the present city of Toronto, 
La Gallissoniere then built Fort Rouille ^ as an attempt 
to control the trade of the Indians of the North, who 
were finding their way to the English fort of Oswego 
which had been commenced with the consent of the 
Iroquois by Governor Burnet of New York, and was 
now a menace to the French dominion of Lake Ontario. 
At the other extremity lay Fort Niagara. When the 
French were establishing this chain of forts or posts 
through the West and dowTi the Mississippi vaUey Fort 
Rouille was founded on a site even then commonly 

' Named in honour of a French Minister of Colonies. The Rouilles are 
a celebrated family, later on styled Rouille-de-Marbceuf. The above- 
named Rouille is highly praised by St. Simon as a statesman of ability 
and integrity. 

294 The Niagara River 

called " Fort Toronto." It does not seem ever to have 
been a dominant strategic point; the probabiHties are 
there was no force stationed here worth mentioning 
and, possibly, it was a mere dependency of Fort Niag- 
ara. It was destroyed in 1756 to prevent its fall into 
the hands of the English. 

Little is known about the region of Toronto prior 
to Revolutionary times save the above records. It 
was untrodden wilderness. But when the fort was 
erected here the district in a general sense appears to 
have been known as "Toronto." Under French do- 
minion it was a royal trading post and in the course of 
time the name attached itself to the fort and village at 
the neighbouring bay, which have grown to be the 
beautiful Capital City of Ontario. But the Toronto 
of the river Don and the great bay is strictly of English 
origin, and had for its Romulus Lieutenant-General 
Simcoe (i 752-1 806), first governor of Upper Canada. 

When John Graves Simcoe arrived in Canada in 
1 792, the site of the present city of Toronto was covered 
by the primeval forest, its only himian tenants being 
two or three families of wandering savages who had hap- 
pened to select the spot for the erection of their tempo- 
rary wigwams. One hundred years later we find at 
that very spot a magnificent city having a population 
of 250,000 people, a prosperous and enterprising com- 
munity, possessed of all the comforts and appli- 
ances of modem civilisation and refinement, — and, in- 
stead of the sombre, impenetrable wilderness, the most 
wealthy and populous city of Upper Canada, with 
streets and private dwellings, and public edifices that 
will compare favourably with those of many other 
cities which have had centuries for their development. 

Lieut enant-General Simcoe. 

Toronto 295 

For its rapid rise to its present eminence Toronto is 
almost exclusively indebted to its admirable commercial 
position, its advantages in that respect having been 
appreciated by the far-seeing sagacity of Governor 
Simcoe, when selecting the site for a capital. 

In 1 79 1, when the former province of Quebec was 
divided into the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, 
Upper Canada contained about ten thousand inhabi- 
tants, chiefly Loyalists, who, as noted elsewhere, when 
the United States threw off allegiance to Great Britain, 
sought new hope in the wilds of Canada; where, though 
deprived of many comforts, they had the satisfaction 
of feeling that they kept inviolate their loyalty to their 
sovereign and preserved their connection with the 
beloved mother country. 

In 1792 General Simcoe was appointed Lieutenant- 
Governor of Upper Canada; and in the summer of that 
year arrived in the colony. In the first instance the 
Government was established at Niagara, and there 
the first Legislature of Upper Canada was convened 
on the 1 7th of September, 1792. It was seen, however, 
that from its position on the frontier, Niagara was not 
weU adapted for being the seat of government, and one 
of the first subjects which occupied the attention of 
Governor Simcoe was the selection of another site for 
a capital. On this point he very soon came into colli- 
sion with the views of the Governor-General, Lord 
Dorchester, who was in favour of making Kingston the 
capital on account of its proximity to Lower Canada 
which he regarded as a matter of the first importance 
from a standpoint of trade, and also because of its pos- 
sibihty of defence, as, in the event of an invasion, troops 
from Lower Canada could be more easily forwarded 

296 The Niagara River 

to Kingston than to a more westerly point. Governor 
Simcoe, however, had visited Toronto Harbour, and 
had traversed the route thence to Penetanguishene 
on the Georgian Bay. He perceived that that was the 
most advantageous route for the then existing North- 
west trade, — the vast development of which since his 
time he may have dimly foreseen — and that so soon as 
a road was opened up to Lake Simcoe (then Lacaux 
Claies) merchandise from New York for the North-west, 
would be sent by Oswego to Toronto, and then via 
Lake Simcoe to Lake Huron, avoiding the circuitous 
passage of Lake Erie. Finally the Lieutenant- 
Governor's views prevailed, and the site of a town 
having been surveyed on the margin of Toronto Bay, 
his first step thereafter was to commence the construc- 
tion of a road (Yonge Street) to Lake Simcoe. In 
recent years the idea which thus originated with the 
first governor has been completely carried out until 
to-day Toronto is, with Montreal, the chief railway 
centre and the second city of the Dominion. How 
long ere it will outrank its rival ? 

The very next year after his assumption of the gov- 
ernment of Upper Canada General Simcoe ordered the 
survey of Toronto Harbour, and entrusted the task 
to Colonel Bouchette, the Surveyor-General of Lower 
Canada, who gives us our first historical glimpse of 
Toronto a hundred years ago, or so, in the following 

It fell to my lot to make the first survey of York Harbour in 
1793. Lieutenant-Governor, the late General Simcoe, who then 
resided at Navy Hall, Niagara, having formed extensive plans for 
the improvement of the colony, had resolved upon laying the 
foundation of a Provincial capital. I was at that period in the 


Toronto 297 

naval service of the lakes, and the survey of Toronto (York Har- 
bour), was entrusted by His Excellency to my performance. I 
still distinctly recollect the untamed aspect which the country 
exhibited when first I entered the beautiful basin which thus 
became the scene of my early hydrographical operations. Dense 
and trackless forests lined the margin of the lake, and reflected 
their inverted images in its glassy surface. The wandering sav- 
age had constructed his ephemeral habitation beneath their 
luxuriant foliage — the group then consisting of two families of 
Missassagas — and the Bay and neighbouring marshes were the 
hitherto uninvaded haunts of the wild fowl ; indeed they were so 
abundant as in some measure to annoy us during the night. In 
the spring following, the Lieutenant-Governor removed to the 
site of the new capital, attended by the regiment of Queen's 
Rangers and commenced at once the realisation of his favourite 
project. His Excellency inhabited, during the svunmer and 
through the winter, a canvas house which he imported expressly 
for the occasion, but, frail as was its substance, it was rendered 
exceedingly comfortable, and soon became as distinguished for 
the social and urbane hospitality of its venerated and gracious 
host, as for the peculiarity of its structure. 

Governor Simcoe gave the name of York to the 
capital he had selected, and the rivers on either side 
received the names of the Don and Humber. His own 
residence he built at the brow of the hill overlooking 
the valley of the Don, at thejimction of what was a few 
generations later Saint James Cemetery with the pro- 
perty of F. Cayley, Esq., calling it "Castle Frank," 
the name which the property still retains. 

While the gubernatorial residence was being erected 
Governor Simcoe returned to Niagara, where he opened 
the third session of the Upper Canada Parliament on 
June 20, 1794. In the fall of that year, orders were 
given for the construction of Parliament buildings at 
York on a site at the foot of what in 1857 was Parlia- 
ment Street, adjoining the place where the "gaol 

298 The Niagara River 

stands." In 1795 the Due de Roehefoucauld was in 
Upper Canada, and in his pubUshed Travels alludes 
to a visit paid to York by some of his companions: 

During our stay at Navy Hall, Messrs. Du Petit Thouars and 
Guillemard, took the opportunity of the return of a gun-boat, 
to pay a visit to York. Indolence, courtesy towards the Gov- 
ernor (with whom the author was then residing at Navy Hall) , 
and the conviction that I would meet with few objects of interest 
in that place, combined to dissuade me from this journey. My 
friends informed me on their return, that this town, which the 
Governor had fixed upon as the Capital of Upper Canada, has a 
fine, extensive bay, detached from the lake by a tongue of land 
of unequal breadth, being in some places a mile, in others only 
six score yards broad; that the entrance of this bay, about a 
mile in width, is obstructed in the middle by a shoal or sand-bank, 
the narrow passages on each side of which may be easily de- 
fended by works erected on the two points of land at the entrance, 
on which two block-houses have already been constructed; that 
this bay is two miles and a half long, and a mile wide, and that the 
elevation of its banks greatly increases its capability of defence 
by fortifications thrown up at convenient points. There have 
not been more than a dozen houses built hitherto in York, and 
these are situated in the inner extremity of the bay, near the 
river Don. The inhabitants, it is said, do not possess the fairest 
character. One of them is the noted Batzy, the leader of the 
German families, whom Captain Williamson accuses the English 
of decoying away from him, in order to injure and obstruct the 
prosperity of his settlement. The barracks which are occupied 
by the Governor's Regiment, stand on the bay near the lake, 
about two miles from the town. The Indians are for one hundred 
and fifty miles round the sole neighbours of York. 

Nothing shows better than this that we must re- 
member that Old World measurements of growth and 
cultural life cannot be applied to the condition of a 
new continent where every foot of land had to be taken 
from the aborigines, a continent in its agrictdtural in- 

Toronto 299 

fancy, devastated by wars, changing ownership thrice 
within one hundred years. The Indians in the district 
one htindred and fifty miles around Toronto have been 
replaced to-day by a million of people as enterprising 
as they can be found on the surface of the globe. In 
lieu of the dozen huts described by our noble writer 
in 1795, you will find to-day a city of a quarter million 
inhabitants, steamships, railroads, telegraph, electric 
light— the "City of Churches." 

Toronto, as noted, owes the progress it has made 
almost entirely to its advantageous commercial posi- 
tion, which was the chief circumstance that originally 
weighed with General Simcoe in selecting this as a site 
for the capital of Upper Canada. The city is built on 
a slope, rising with a very slight inclination from the 
bay, sufficient to secure its salubrity, and to admit of 
a complete system of sewerage; but not enough to give 
its architectural beauties the advantage they deserve 
to gratify the aesthetic taste which woiild be disposed 
to seek on the shores of Lake Ontario for a parallel to 
the grand old cities of Europe. 

Governor Simcoe's amenities and hospitalities, his 
simplicity, his cares and troubles are aU parts of the 
early history of the province; his administration in 
Canada has been generally commended, despite the 
displays of prejudice against the United States. His 
schemes for improving the province were "extremely 
wise and weU arranged." But his stay was abruptly 
cut short. It seems to-day that England was fearful 
he might involve the mother-country in a new war 
with the young Republic and he was rather hastily 
recalled to England in 1796, although at the same time 
promoted a fuU lieutenant-general in the army. " 

300 The Niagara River 

In 1804 a census of the inhabitants of Toronto was 
taken, and it was found that they numbered 456. At 
that time the town was bounded by Berkeley Street 
on the east, Lot, now Queen Street on the north, and 
New, now Nelson Street on the west. In 1806, Toronto 
or York was visited by George Heriot, Esq., Deputy 
Postmaster-General of British North America, and 
from the terms in which he speaks of it in his Travels 
through the Canadas, it appears that it had then made 
considerable progress. He says : 

Many houses display a considerable progress. The advance- 
ment of this place to its present condition has been effected within 
the lapse of six or seven years, and persons who have formerly 
travelled in this part of the country, are impressed with senti- 
ments of wonder, on beholding a town which may be termed 
handsome, reared as if by enchantment in the midst of a 

The Parliament buildings, when Heriot visited 
Toronto, were two buildings of brick, at the eastern 
extremity of the town, which had been designed as 
wings to a centre, and which were occupied as cham- 
bers for the Upper and Lower House of Assembly. 

In 1807 the inhabitants numbered 1058, and con- 
tinued slowly to rise till 18 13, when the American War 
brought calamities on to Toronto, from the disastrous 
effects of which it took more than a decade to recover. 

In 1 8 13 the campaigns of the war centred, as we 
have seen, around Lake Erie. The Navy had lately 
restored American confidence, and a second invasion 
of Canada was a principal feature in the programme. 
At the middle of April Dearborn and Chauncey matured 
a plan of operations. A joint land and naval expedi- 
tion was proposed, to first capture York, and then to 

Toronto 3©^ 

cross Lake Ontario and reduce Fort George. At the 
same time troops were to cross the Niagara, from Buf- 
falo and Black Rock, capture Fort Erie and Chippewa, 
join the fleet and army at Fort George, and all proceed 
to attack Kingston. Everything being arranged, Dear- 
bom embarked about 1700 men on Chauncey's fleet, 
at Sacketts Harbour on the 2 2d of April, and on the 
25th the fleet, crowded ^Hth soldiers, sailed for York. 
After a boisterous voyage it appeared before the Httle 
town early in the morning of the 27th, when General 
Dearborn, suffering from ill health, placed the land 
forces under charge of General Pike, and resolved to 
remain on board the Commodore's flagship during the 

The little village of York, nimibering somewhat 
more than one thousand inhabitants at the time, was 
then chiefly at the bottom of the bay near a marshy flat, 
through which the Don, coming down from the beauti- 
ful fertile valleys, flowed sluggishly into Lake Ontario, 
and, because of the softness of the earth there, it was 
often called "Muddy Little York." It gradually grew 
to the westward, and, while deserting the Don, it wooed 
the Humber, once a famous salmon stream, that flows 
into a broad bay two or three miles west of Toronto. 
In that direction stood the remains of old Fort Toronto, 
erected by the French. On the shore eastward of it, 
between the present new barracks and the city, were 
two batteries, the most easterly one being in the form 
of a crescent. A little farther east, on the borders of 
a deep ravine and small stream, was a picketed block- 
house, some intrenchments with cannon, and a garri- 
son of about eight hundred men under Major-General 
Sheaffe. On "Gibraltar Point," the extreme west- 

302 The Niagara River 

em arm of the peninsula, that embraced the harbour 
with its protecting arm, was a small blockhouse; an- 
other stood on the high east bank of the Don, just 
beyond a bridge at the eastern termination of King 
and Queen streets. These defences had been strangely 
neglected. Some of the cannon were without trun- 
nions, others, destined for the war- vessel then on the 
stocks, were in frozen mud and half covered with snow. 
Fortunately for the garrison, the Duke of Gloticester' 
was then in port, undergoing some repairs, and her guns 
furnished some armament for the batteries. These, 
however, only amounted to a few six-pounders. The 
whole country around, excepting a few spots on the 
lake shore, was covered with a dense forest. 

On the day when the expedition sailed from Sack- 
etts Harbour General Pike issued minute instructions 
concerning the manner of landing and attack. 

It is expected [he said] that every corps will be mindful of the 
honour of the American, and the disgraces which have recently 
tarnished our arms, and endeavour, by a cool and determined 
discharge of their duty, to support the one and wipe off the other. 
[He continued :] The unoffending citizens of Canada are many of 
them our own countrymen, and the poor Canadians have been 
forced into the war. Their property, therefore, must be held 
sacred; and any soldier who shall so far neglect the honour of his 
profession as to be guilty of plundering the inhabitants, shall, if 
convicted, be punished with death. But the commanding gen- 
eral assures the troops that, should they capture a large quan- 
tity of public stores, he will use his best endeavours to procure 
them a reward from his government. 

It was intended to land at a clearing near old Fort 
Toronto. An easterly wind, blowing with violence, 
drove the small boats in which the troops left the fleet 
full half a mile farther westward, and beyond an effect- 

c . 






Toronto 3^3 

ual covering by the guns of the navy. Major Forsyth 
and his riflemen, in two bateaux led the van, and when 
within rifle shot of the shore they were assailed by a 
deadly volley of bullets by a company of Glengary 
Fencibles and a party of Indians imder Major Givens, 
who were concealed in the woods that fringe the shore. 
" Rest on your oars ! Prime ! " said Forsyth in a low tone. 
Pike, standing on the deck of the Madison, saw this 
halting, and impatiently exclaimed, with an expletive: 
"I cannot stay here any longer! Come," he said, ad- 
dressing his staff, "jump into the boat." He w^as 
instantly obeyed, and very soon they and their gallant 
commander were in the midst of a fight, for Forsyth's 
men had opened fire, and the enemy at the shore were 
returning it briskly. The vanguard soon landed, and 
were immediately followed, in support, by Major King 
and a battalion of infantry. Pike and the main body 
soon followed, and the whole column, consisting of the 
Sixth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Twenty-First Regi- 
ments of Infantry, and detachments of light and heavy 
artillery, with Major Forsyth's riflemen and Lieutenant 
McClure's volunteers as flankers, pressed forward into 
the woods. 

The British skirmishes meanwhile had been re- 
enforced by two companies of the Eighth or King's 
Regiment of Regulars, two hundred strong, a company 
of the Royal Newfoimdland Regiment, a large body of 
militia, and some Indians. They took position in the 
woods, and were soon encountered by the advancing 
Americans, whose artillery it was difficult to move. 
Perceiving this, the British, led by General Sheaffe in 
person, attacked the American flank with a six-pounder 
and howitzer. A very sharp conflict ensued, and both 

304 The Niagara River 

parties suffered much. Captain McNeil, of the King's 
Regiment, was killed. The British were overpowered, 
and fell back, when General Pike, at the head of the 
American column, ordered his bugler to sound, and at 
the same time dashed gallantly forward. That bugle 
blast thrilled like electric fire along the nerves of the 
Indians. They gave one horrid yell, then fled like 
frightened deer to cover, deep into the forest. That 
bugle blast was heard in the fleet, in the face of the wind 
and high above the voices of the gale, and evoked long 
and loud responsive cheers. At the same time Chaun- 
cey was sending to the shore, tinder the direction of 
Commander Elliott, something more effective than 
huzzas for he was hurling deadly grape-shot upon the 
foe, which added to the consternation of the savages, 
and gave fleetness to their feet. They also hastened 
the retreat of Sheaffe's white troops to their defences 
in the direction of the village, while the drum and fife 
of the pursuers were briskly playing Yankee Doodle. 

The Americans now pressed forward rapidly along 
the lake shore in platoons by sections. They were 
not allowed to load their muskets, and were compelled 
to rely upon the bayonet. Because of many ravines 
and little streams the artillery was moved with diffi- 
culty, for the enemy had destroyed the bridges. By 
great exertions a field-piece and a howitzer, under 
Lieutenant Fanning, of the Third Artillery, was 
moved steadily with the coltimn. As that coliimn 
emerged from thick woods, flanked by McClure's vol- 
unteers, divided equally as light troops under Colonel 
Ripley, it was confronted by twenty-four pounders 
on the Western Battery. Upon this battery the 
guns of some of Chauncey's vessels which had beat 

Toronto 3^5 

up against the wind in range of the enemy's works 
were pouring heavy shot. Captain Walworth was or- 
dered to storm it with his grenadiers, of the Sixteenth. 
They immediately trailed their arms, quickened their 
pace, and were about to charge, when the wooden 
m-agazine of the battery, that had been carelessly left 
open, blew up, killing some of the men, and seriously 
damaging the defences. The dismayed enemy spiked 
their cannon, and fled to the next, or Half -Moon, Battery. 
Walworth pressed fonv^ard; when that, too, was aban- 
doned and he foimd nothing within but spiked cannon. 
Sheaffe and his little army, deserted by the Indians, 
fled to the garrison near the Governor's house, and 
there opened a fire of round and grape-shot upon the 
Americans. Pike ordered his troops to halt, and lie 
flat upon the grass, while Major Eustis, with his artil- 
lery-battery moved to the front, and soon silenced 
the great guns of the enemy. 

The firing from the garrison ceased, and the Americans ex- 
pected every moment to see a white flag displayed from the block- 
house in token of surrender. Lieutenant Riddle, whose corps 
had brought up the prisoners taken in the woods, was sent for- 
ward with a small party to reconnoitre. General Pike, who had 
just assisted with his own hands in removing a wounded soldier 
to a comfortable place, was sitting upon a stump conversing with 
a huge British sergeant who had been taken prisoner, his staff 
standing around him. At that moment was felt a sudden tremor 
of the ground, followed by a tremendous explosion near the Brit- 
ish garrison. The enemy, despairing of holding the place, had 
blown up their powder magazine, situated upon the edge of the 
water at the mouth of a ravine, near where the biuldings of the 
Great Western Railway now stand. The effect was terrible. 
Fragments of timber and huge stone of which the magazine 
walls were built were scattered in every direction over a space 
of several himdred yards. When the smoke floated away the 

3o6 The Niagara River 

scene was appalling. Fifty-two Americans lay dead, and one 
hundred and eighty others were wounded. So badly had the 
affair been managed that forty of the British also lost their lives 
by the explosion. General Pike, two of his aids, and the Brit- 
ish sergeant were mortally hurt, while Riddle and his party 
were unhurt, the missiles passing entirely over them. The terri- 
fied Americans scattered in dismay, but they were soon rallied 
by Brigade-Major Hunt and Lieutenant-Colonel Mitchell. The 
column was re-formed and the general command was assumed 
by the gallant Pennsylvanian colonel, Cromwell Pearce, of the 
Sixteenth, the senior officer. After giving three cheers, the troops 
pressed forward toward the village, and were met by the civil au- 
thorities and militia officers with propositions of a capitulation in 
response to a peremptory demand for surrender made by Colonel 
Pearce. An arrangement was concluded for an absolute surren- 
der, when, taking advantage of the confusion that succeeded the 
explosion, and the time intentionally consumed in the capitula- 
tion. General Sheaffe and a large portion of his regulars, after 
destroying the vessels on the stocks, and some storehouses and 
their contents, stole across the Don, and fled along Dundas Street 
toward Kingston. When several miles from York they met a 
portion of the King's Regiment on their way to Fort George. 
These turned back, covered Sheaffe's retreat, and all reached 
Kingston in safety. Sheaffe (who was the military successor of 
Brock) was severely censured for the loss of York. He was soon 
afterward superseded in command in Upper Canada by Major- 
General De Rottenburg and retired to Montreal to take com- 
mand of the troops there. 

On hearing of the death of General Pike, General 
Dearborn went on shore, and assumed command after 
the capitulation. At sunset the work was finished; 
both Chauncey and Dearborn wrote brief despatches 
to the government at Washington; the former saying: 
"We are in full possession of the place," and the lat- 
ter: "I have the satisfaction to inform you that the 
American flag is flying upon the fort at York." The 
post, with about two hundred and ninety prisoners be- 

Toronto 307 

sides the militia, the war vessel Duke of Gloucester, and 
a large quantity of naval and military stores, passed into 
the possession of the Americans. Such of the latter 
as could not be carried away by the squadron were 
destroyed. Before the victors left, the public buildings 
were fired by some unknown hand, and consumed. 

Four days after the capitulation, the troops were 
re-embarked, preparatory to a descent upon Fort 
George. The post and village of York, possessing little 
value to the Americans, were abandoned. The British 
repossessed themselves of the spot, built another block- 
house, and on the site of the garrison constructed a 
regular fortification. 

The loss of the Americans in the capture of York 
was sixty-six killed and two hundred and three wounded 
on land, and seventeen killed and wounded on the ves- 
sels. The British lost, besides the prisoners, sixty 
killed and eighty-nine woimded. General Pike was 
crushed beneath a heavy mass of stones that struck 
him in the back. He was carried immediately after 
discovery to the water's edge, placed in a boat, and con- 
veyed first on board the Pert, and then to the Commo- 
dore's flagship. Just as the surgeons and attendants, 
with the wounded general, reached the little boat, the 
huzzas of the troops fell upon his benumbed ears. 
'* What does it mean? " he feebly asked. " Victory," said 
a sergeant in attendance. "The British union-jack is 
coming down from the blockhouse, and the Stars and 
Stripes are going up." The dying hero's face was illu- 
minated by a smile of great joy. His spirit lingered 
several hours, and then departed. Just before his 
breath ceased the captured British flag was brought to 
him. He made a sign for them to place it under his 

3o8 The Niagara River 

head, and thiis he expired. His body was taken to 
Sacketts Harbour, and with that of his pupil and aid, 
Captain Nicholson, was buried with military honours 
within Fort Tompkins there. 

It was not till 1821 that the town recovered from 
these disasters, and then the population only amounted 
to 1559- In 1830 it was 2860; but in 1834, a strong 
tide of emigration into Canada having set in, the popu- 
lation increased to 9254. In that year the town was 
incorporated as a city, and Mr. William Lyon Macken- 
zie was elected the first mayor of Toronto, April 3, 
1834. In 1838 the inhabitants numbered 12,571; in 
1848, 15,336; in 1861 they had increased to 44,821; in 
1871, to 56,039; in 1881, 86,415; in 1891, 181,220; and 
finally, in 1903, to 266,989. 

In 1 82 1, E. A. Talbot, the author of some works of 
travel^ visited the town. He states that the public 
edifices at that time were a Protestant Episcopal 
Church ("a wooden building with a wooden belfry"), 
a Roman Catholic Chapel (a brick building "not then 
completed, but intended to be very magnificent" — the 
present St. Paul's Church in Power Street), a Pres- 
byterian Meeting House (a brick building, occupying 
the site of what is now Knox's Church), a Methodist 
Meeting House, situated in a field, nearly on the present 
site of the Globe office, the Hospital (the brick building 
on King Street now known as the Old Hospital, and 
occupied as Government offices), which Talbot de- 
scribes as the most important building of the province, 
"bearing a very fine exterior," the Parliament House 
(a brick building erected in 1820 on the former site, and 
destroyed by fire in 1824), and the residence of the 

» Five Years' Residence in the Canadas. 

Toronto 309 

Lieutenant-Governor, a wooden building, "inferior to 
several private houses of the town, particularly that 
of Rev. Dr. Strachan," says Talbot. The streets, he 
adds, are regularly laid out, but "only one of them is 
in a finished state, and in wet weather those of them 
which are imfinished, are if possible more muddy than 
the streets of Kingston." 

How different to-day, when Toronto has been called 
the "City of Churches," because of the large num- 
ber of fine churches that have been erected in it! 
The distinctive feature of church architecture in To- 
ronto consists in the fact that all denominations have 
built a considerable number of fine churches instead of 
concentrating their efforts on the erection of a few of 
greater magnificence. The large churches are not con- 
fined to the central portion but are found widely dis- 
tributed throughout. Toronto to-day is the see of 
both Anglican and Roman Catholic archbishops. The 
city has suffered from destructive conflagrations, nota- 
bly in 1890, and in April, 1904, when more than one 
hundred buildings in the wholesale business section 
were burned down, some five thousand persons were 
thrown out of work, and about eleven miUions' worth 
of property was destroyed. 

The year 1866 is a memorable one in the history 
of Toronto as well as all Canada as the year of the 
Fenian raids. The Toronto regiments of volunteers 
were promptly sent to drive the Fenians out of the 
Niagara peninsula. The "Queen's Own" met the en- 
emy at Ridge way, and sustained a loss of seven killed 
and twenty-three v/ounded. The beautiful monument 
erected to the memory of those who fell at Ridgeway is 
decorated each year on Jime 2d by their comrades and 

3IO The Niagara River 

by the school children of the city. Another monument 
in Queen's Park commemorates the loyalty and bravery 
of Toronto volunteers. It records the gallantry of 
those who were killed during the North-west rebellion 
of 1885. 

Toronto is a notable educational centre. The 
university is one of the best equipped in America. 
The first step towards its establishment was taken as 
early as 1797, but the university was not founded until 
1827, chartered and endowed somewhat later, and 
opened for students in 1843. Until then it had rather 
a sectarian character, but nowadays it embraces, be- 
sides the four principal faculties, the following institu- 
tions: Ontario Agricultural College, Royal College of 
Dental Surgeons, the College of Pharmacy, the Toronto 
College of Music, the School of Practical Science, and 
the Ontario Veterinary College. The students in 
1905-06 numbered 2547. The University buildings, it 
is said, are the best specimen of Norman architecture 
in America. The most beautiful other public buildings 
of Toronto are: the new Parliament buildings, the new 
City Hall, Osgood Hall, the Seat of the Provincial 
Courts and Law School, Trinity University, McMaster 
University, the Normal School, Upper Canada College, 
and the Provincial Asylum. 

Toronto is pre-eminently a city of homes. It claims 
to have a larger proportion of good homes and a much 
smaller proportion of saloons than any city of its size 
in America. One of the gratifying features of Toronto 
that distinguishes it from most large cities is the fact 
that there is no part of the city that can be fairly 
regarded as a "slum" district. 

The city covers a very large area so that there is 

Toronto 311 

no overcrowding. Working men have no difficulty in 
obtaining homes with separate gardens, and it is a 
common practice to use these gardens in growing both 
flowers and vegetables. 

The Park System is extensive and beautiful, possess- 
ing about 1350 acres, the chief being Queen's Park, 
adjoining the imiversity, and the extensive High Park 
on the west of the city. But the most popular is proba- 
bly Island Park, on Hiawatha Island, which lies imme- 
diately in front of the city in the form of a crescent 
about three miles in length. 

The following great Canadians were bom in Toronto : 
Professor Egerton Ryerson; Sir John Mac Donald; Sir 
Daniel Wilson; Reverend Wm. Morley Puncheon; 
Hon. George Bro-\;vTi; Sir OHver Mowat; but the most 
wddely known Toronto citizen is probably Goldwin 
Smith, the great historian and economist. Toronto 
has ever shown itself fervently British in sentiment. 
Its later history has been purely civic "udthout other 
interest than that attaching to prosperous growth. A 
pleasant society and an attractive situation make it 
a favourite place of residence. 

In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, there 
was a certain Mr. Hetherington in Toronto, one of the 
clerks of St. James. Now the music of those primitive 
times seems to have been managed altogether after 
the old country village choirs. Mr. Hetherington was 
wont, after giving out the Psakn, to play the air on a 
bassoon ; and then to accompany with fantasias on the 
same instrument, when any vocalist could be found to 
take the singing in hand. By-and-by the first symp- 
toms of progress are apparent in the addition of a bass- 
viol and clarinet to help Mr. Hetherington's bassoon 

312 The Niagara River 

— "the harbinger and foreshadow," as Dr. Scadding 
says, " of the magnificent organ presented in after- times 
to the congregation of the ' Second Temple of St. James' 
by Mr. Dunn, but destroyed by fire, together with the 
whole church, in 1 83 9 , after only two years of existence. ' ' 

Incidents of a different character no less strongly 
mark the changes which a period of only ninety years 
has witnessed. In 181 1, namely, we find William 
Jarvis, Esq., His Excellency's Secretary, lodging a 
complaint in open court against a negro boy and girl, 
his slaves. The Parliament at Newark had, indeed, 
enacted in 1793 — in those patriarchal days already de- 
scribed, when they could settle the affairs of the young 
province under the shade of an umbrageous tree — that 
no more slaves should be introduced into Upper Canada, 
and that all slave children bom after the 9th of July 
of that year should be free on attaining the age of 

But even by this creditable enactment slavery had 
a lease of life of fully a quarter of a century longer, and 
the Gazette Public Advertiser, and other journals, con- 
tinue for years thereafter to exhibit such announce- 
ments as this of the Hon. Peter Russell, President of 
the Legislative Council, of date, February 19, 1806: 
"To be sold: a black woman, named Peggy, aged forty 
years, and a black boy, her son, named Jupiter, aged 
about fifteen years." The advertisement goes on to 
describe the virtues of Peggy and Jupiter. Peggy is a 
tolerable cook and washerwoman, perfectly understands 
making soap and candles, and may be had for one hund- 
red and fifty dollars, payable in three years, with in- 
terest, from the day of sale. Jupiter, having various 
acquirements besides his specialty as a good house serv- 

Toronto 313 

ant, is offered for two hundred dollars, but a fourth 
less will be taken for ready money. So recently as 1 8 7 1 , 
John Baker, who had been brought to Canada as the 
slave of Solicitor-General Gray, died at Cornwall, Onta- 
rio, in extreme old age. But before that the very 
memory of slavery had died out in Canada; and it long 
formed the refuge which the fugitive slave made for, 
with no other guide than the pole-star of our northern 

The history of Toronto, as already noted, is neces- 
sarily to a great extent that of the province, and of the 
whole region of Canada. 

Upper Canada [says Dr. Scadding], in miniature, and in the 
space of a century, curiously passed through conditions and pro- 
cesses, physical and social, which old countries on a large scale, 
and in the course of long ages passed through. Upper Canada 
had its primeval and barbaric, but heroic age, its mediaeval and 
high prerogative era ; and then, after a revolutionary period of a 
few weeks, its modem, defeudalised, democratic era. 


Abbott, Francis, the "Hermit of 

Niagara," 40 
Abercrombie, Sir Ralph, Brock 

under, 232 
Allen, Ethan, mentioned, 222 
Allen, Sadie, shoots the Rapids, 139 
"American Blondin," the, see 

American Canals, Great, see Hulbert 
American Civic Association men- 
tioned, 119 
Amherst, Sir Jeffrey, campaign of 

1759. 209 
Anderson, M. B., on first Niagara 

Conmiission, 80 
"'Angevine place," building-site of 

Griffon 181 

Bakewell's estimate of Niagara's 

age, 65 

Balleni, tight-rope artist, 130 

Barton, J. L. , reminiscences of early 
Buffalo, 7 

Bath Island, 76 

Biddle Stairs, 32 

Bird Island, 30, 76 

Black Rock, origin of name, 8 

Blondin, career of, 123-129; W. D. 
Howells's description of, 127—128 

Blossom, I. A., agent of Holland 
Land Co., 7 

Bourinot, Dr., quoted, 159-160, 

Braddock, plans to capture Ft. 
Niagara, 206—207 

Brock, Gen. Isaac, sketch of life, 
231-238; repUes to Hull's Pro- 
clamation, 244-246; captures 
Hull, 246-253; relations with the 
Indians, 252—253; death, 256; 
eulogies, 2 5 7 — 262 ; monuments 
to, 48, 259—262 

Brodie, "Steve," goes over the 
Falls, 137 

Browne, G. W., on St. Lawrence, 
4, 161; on De Non\'ille at Ni- 
agara, 187-189 

Brule on Niagara frontier, 165 

Buckley, A. B., Fairyland of 
Science, cited, 168 

Buffalo, N. Y., growth of, 4-8 

Buffalo Historical Society men- 
tioned, 6 

Burnt Ship Bay, 10, 212 

Burton Act for preservation of 
Niagara, 11 6-1 30 

Calverly, C, M., the "American 

Blondin," 132 
Campbell, W. G., Niagara crank, 

Canada (Story of the Nations), see 

Canadian Niagara Falls Power Co., 

104, 112, 117 
Canals, Great American, see Hulbert 
Cantilever bridge, 46 
Caroline, the, incident, 291 
Gassier' s Magazine quoted, 121 
Cataract House, the, 75 
"Caveof the Winds," the, 28,31—33 
Cayuga Creek mentioned, 10 
C^loron at Niagara, 203 
Century Magazine quoted, 29, 42— 


Champlain on Niagara frontier, 

Chippewa Creek, 46; battle of, 
279 seq. 

Chrystie, Col., in War of 1812, 264 

Church's "Niagara" mentioned, 14 

Clark, George Rogers, compared 
with Brock, 249 

Clark, Dr. John M., on "destruc- 
tion of Niagara, "117 

Colcourt, Henry, Blondin's assis- 
tant, 125 

Colour of Niagara water explained 
by Mrs. Van Rensselaer, 42-44 




Commissioners of N. Y. State Res- 
ervation, first report of, 82 seq. 
Crystal Palace, Blondin at, 128 
Cutter, O. W., Niagara committee- 
man, 89 


Dallion, Father, at Niagara, 166 

"Darting Lines of Spray" ex- 
plained, 45 

Day, D. A., report, 17 

Dearborn, Gen., in War of 181 2, 
274 seq. 

De Leon, "Prof.," Niagara crank, 

De Nonville, Gov., on Niagara 
frontier, 186-194 

"Destruction of Niagara" dis- 
cussed, I 10-120 

De Troyes at Fort Niagara, 190-194 

"Devil's Hole," 49; massacre, 214- 

.215 ^ 
Dittrick, W., Niagara crank, 148 
Dixon, S. J., tight-rope artist, 132 
Dogs go over Falls, 1 51-152 
Dorsheimer, William, on first Ni- 
agara Commission, 80; presents 
the park to New York State, 92 
Dufferin Islands, 46 


Electrical Development Co., 117 

Ellicott, Andrew, estimates Ni- 
agara's age, 63 

Erie Canal, importance to Niagara 
frontier, 6 

Evershed, Thomas, devises wheel- 
pits, 10 1 


Farini, Signor, tight-rope artist, 129 

Flack, R. W., killed in race in 
Niagara River, 148 

Fool-Killer, see Nissen. 

Forts: Chippewa, 46; Drummond, 
48; du Portage, 15; Erie, 8; 
battle of, 285 seq.; Frontenac, 
17, 170; George, 50, 274-276; 
Niagara, the first, 189-194; build- 
ing, 197-202; during French War 
and Revolution, 204-229; Sir 
William Johnson captures, 278; 
Rouille, 293; Schlosser, 15 

Fuller, Margaret, describes Ni- 
agara by night, 12; on Goat 
Island flora, 18; quoted, 28 

Galinee on Niagara frontier, 166 

Geology of Niagara, 52 seq. 

Goat Island, 16-19, 25, 29, 40, 74 

Golden Book of Niagara, names in 
the, 79 

Gorge of Niagara, its history, 63 

Graham, C. D., performs at Niag- 
ara, 137 

Gravelet, see Blondin 

Gray, Dr. Asa, on Goat Island 
flora, 16 

Great Lakes, drainage, 3 

Green, A. H., on first Niagara 
Commission, 80 

Green Island, 30 

Griffon, the, built at La Salle, N. 
Y., 180-186. See Remington 

Gull Island, 40 


Hall, Capt. Basil, experiment at 

Niagara, 34 
Hall, Prof. James, survey of Falls, 

Hardy, J. E., tight-rope artist, 132 
Hazlett, George, Niagara crank, 139 
"Heart of Niagara," 38, 45 
Hennepin, Father, Narrative, quo- 
ted, 168, 173-184 
Hennepin's View, 21 
Heriot, George, quoted, 300 
"Hermit of Niagara," see Abbott 
"Hermit's Cascade," 40 
Hill, Gov. D. B., signs Niagara 

Reservation Bill, 81 
Historic Highways of America, 

cited, 206 
Historic Towns of the Middle West, 

quoted, 5 
Holland Land Co., mentioned, 7 
Hooker, Sir J., on Goat Island, 16 
Houghton, George, "The Upper 

Rapids," quoted, 13 
How Niagara was Made Free, see 

Howells, W. D., quoted, 28, 29, 72- 

73, 74, 127—128 
Hulbert, A. B., The Ohio River, 
cited, 3, 4; Great American 
Canals, cited, 6; Historic High- 
ways, cited, 206 
Hull, General, surrenders to Brock, 
243. 277-279 



Hunt, William M., painting of 

Niagara, 14 
Hunter, Colin, view of Niagara 

rapids, 11 

Ice Age, Niagara in the, 58-59 
Ice Bridge, 39 
Inspiration Point, 44 
International Railway Co., 117 
Iris Island, see Goat Island 
Iroquois, dominate Niagara L^on- 

tier,i S3 seq. ; Hennepin's embassy 

to, 177-180 

Jay's treaty, 225-226 

Jenkins, I. J., tight-rope artist, 131 

Johnson, Sir William, captures 
Fort Niagara, 21 1-2 13 ; treaty at 
Fort Niagara, 215-216 

Joncaire, Chabert, erects "Maga- 
zine Royale" 197-200 

Kendall, W. I., swims Niagara 
rapids, 136 

King, Alphonse, performs at Ni- 
agara, 136-7 

La Belle Famille, see Yoimgstown, 

N. Y. 
La Salle, on Niagara frontier, 170- 

La Salle N. Y., the Griffon built at, 

Lewiston Heights, 50, 264-265 
Life and Correspondence of Major- 
General Sir Isaac Brock, K. B., 
see Tupper 
Life and Times of General Brock, 

see Read 
Luna Island, 31 

Lundy's Lane, 46; battle of, 282 
LyeU, Sir Charles, estimates Ni- 
agara's age, 65 


Mackenzie, William Lyon, Bouri- 

not describes, 288 
' ' MagazineRoy ale, "Joncaire builds, 


Mahany, R. B., in Historic Towns 
of the Middle States, 5 

Maid of the Mist, 44; voyage 
through lower rapids. 144-146 

Manchester, see Niagara Falls, 
N. Y. 

Mars, Tesla's project to signal, 120- 

Marshall, O. H., mentioned, 157, 
187, 194-195, 219 

Matheson, James, advocates re- 
clamation of Niagara, 77 

Michigan, brig, sent over the Falls, 

Milet, Father, at Fort Niagara, 193. 
Mohawk River in the Ice Age, 60 
Montresor, Capt., blockhouse, 15 
Morgan, William, mentioned, 202 


Nation, The, on the "desecration 

of Niagara," 78 
Neuter Nation first inhabit Ni- 
agara frontier, 156 seq. 
Newark, see Niagara-on-the Lake 
"New Jerusalem," Major Noah's, 9 
New York State Reservation, his- 
tory of, 77-96 
New York Times, on opening of 

New York Reservation, 94-95 
Niagara Book, The, cited, 28 
Niagara Falls, N. Y., described,. 

Niagara Falls Hydraulic Power and 
Manufacturing Co., 102, 104, no, 
III— 112, 118— 119 
Niagara Falls Power Co., loi, 104, 

in— 112, 118— 119 
Niagara, Lockport, and Ontario 

Power Co., 114-115 
Niagara-on-the-Lake, 50, 227-230 
Niagara Reservation Act, 79-82, 84 
Niagara River, historic importance, 
2 ; drainage area, 2-4 ; description 
of the upper, 8-22; upper rapids 
of, 10-15; islands of, 12-22; his- 
toric sites of upper, 14-16; Falls 
of, 20 5^g.; bridges over, 21 seq.; 
music of, 24-27; Howells on 
repose of, 28; air pressure at 
Falls of, 34-37; when dry, 38; in 
winter, 39; changes in, 41-42; 
Mrs. Van Rensselaer on colour of, 
42-44; view of, from Queen Victo- 
ria Park, 44; a tour around, 20-51 ; 
the lower, described, 46-5 1 ; the 
geology of, 52-71; recession of 
Falls of, 63-71 ; George Frederick- 



Niagara River — (Continued) 

Wright on age of, 66-70; during 
era of private ownership, 72-77; 
struggle for passage of " Reserva- 
tion Act," 77-82; Golden Book 
of, names in, 79; as producer of 
power, 99-122; volume of, 99; 
tunnel beneath, 106; manufac- 
turing companies, use of , 1 1 i-i 13, 
117; use of water of, discussed, 
111-122; Burton Act concern- 
ing, Taft on, 1 1 7-120; Blondin, 
career on, 123-129; performances 
of cranks on, 129-152 (see Farini, 
Dixon, Webb, Graham, etc.), 
Maid of the Mist sails lower, 
144-146; controlled by Iroquois, 
153-156; Neuter Nation inhabit 
banks of, 156-157; French occu- 
pation of, 158-213; Cartier hears 
of, 165; described by Galinee, 
166-167 ! Hennepin describes, 167 
seq.; reached by La Salle, 173- 
186; the Griffon built on, 181 seq.; 
first fort built on, 189; sufferings 
of first French troops on,i9i-i94; 
name of, discussed by Marshall, 
194-195; Joncaire on, 197-198; in 
Old French War, 200 seq.; French 
lose, 209-212; in Revolutionary 
War, 217-226; fixed as inter- 
national boundary line, 223-226; 
Loyalists settle upon, 227 seq.; 
in the War of 1812, 263 seq. 

Nissen, Peter, exploits at Niagara, 

Noah, Maj.N. N.," New Jerusalem," 


Official opening of New York Res- 
ervation, 85-95 
Ohio River, The, see Hulbert 
"Old Indian Ladder," 46 
Old Stone Chimney mentioned, 15 
Olmsted, F. A., on Goat Island 
flora, 16-18; mentioned, 77-78, 

Ontario Power Co., 104, 108, 112, 

Ottawa River, in Ice Age, 63 

Papineau in Patriot War, 290 
Parkman's works quoted, 171, seq. 
Patch, Sam, jumps at Niagara, 133 
Patriot War, Bourinot on the, 288- 

Peere, Stephen, tight-rope artist, 

Percy, C. A., goes through rapids, 

Perry, Lieut. O. H., captures Fort 
George, 274-276 

Pike at the capture of York, 302 seq. 

Pittsburg Reduction and Mining 
Co., 118 

Piatt, John J., mentioned, 80 

Portage, old Niagara, 15, 18 

Porter's BlufE, 33 

Porter, Judge, 37, 38, 96 

Porter, Hon. Peter A., Guide Book, 
11; Old Fort Niagara, 11, 197, 
200,207-209, 213; Goat Island, 11, 
19; on proposed attack on Fort 
Niagara in 1755, 207-209; on 
commercial importance of Fort 
Niagara, 213—214 

Potts, William, Niagara crank, 139 

Pouchot, Gen., surrenders Fort 
Niagara, 209-2 13 

Poughkeepsie Eagle quoted, 80 

Power development at Niagara, 

Prideaux, Gen. John, captures Fort 
Niagara, 209 seq. 

Prospect Point, 20, 21 


"Quebec Act," effect of, 217-218 
Queen Victoria Park, 44, 108 
Queen's Royal Hotel, 51 
Queenston, 50 

Queenston Heights, 48; battle on, 
263 seq. 


Rapids of Niagara, 11-15, 22, 45, 
46, 49-50; Hunter's painting of, 
II, 14 

Read, D. B., The Life and Times of 
General Brock, cited, 232 

Red Jacket, anecdote of, 22 

Reed, Andrew, suggests reclama- 
tion of Niagara, 77 

Remington, C. K., on the building- 
site of the Griffon, 183 

Road to Frontenac, The, mentioned, 

Robb, J. H., on first Niagara Com- 
mission, 80 

Robinson, Joel, sails the Maid of 
the Mist through lower rapids, 

Rogers, Sherman S., on first Ni- 
agara Commission, 80 



St. Davids, Ont., in the history of 

geologic Niagara, 63 
St. Lawrence drainage, 3 
St. Lawrence River, George Waldo 

Browne on, 4 
Schlosser, Capt., 15, 213; see Fort 

Scott, Gen. Winfield, in War of 

1812, 267 seq. 
Scribner's Monthly quoted, 25 
Senecas doniinateJ*^ iagara frontier, 5 
Severance, F. H., Old Trails of the 

Niagara Frontier, 6, 219-222 
Sheaffe, Gen., mentioned, 268 seq. 
Ship Island, 30 
"Shipyard of the Griffon," the, 

see Remington 
Shirley, Gov., plans Niagara attack 

"Shoreless Sea," the, 45 
Silliman, Prof., Basil Hall writes, 


Simcoe, Gov., John Graves, men- 
tioned, 229, 294 seq. 

Smyth, Gen., in War of 1812, 271 

Spelterini, Signorina, tight-rope ar- 
tist, 130 

Spencer, J. W., estimates Niagara's 
age, 66 

Spouting Rock, 41 

Steadman Bluff, 30 

Steadman, John, first owner of 
Goat Island, 18 

Steel arch bridge, built by Roeb- 
ling, 46 

Story of Canada, The, by Bourinot, 
quoted, 288-291 

Sullivan's campaign of 1779, 223 

Table Rock, 38, 45 

Taft, Sec'y WilUam H., on the 

"destruction of Niagara," 117- 

Talbot, E. A., description of early 

Toronto, 308 
Taylor, Mrs. A. E., barrel-fiend, 


Tempest Point, 104 

Terrapin Rocks, 33, 37-38 

Terrapin Tower, 33, 37 

Tesla, Nikola, on Niagara elec- 
trical power, 120 

Thayer, Eugene, on the music of 
Niagara, 25-26 

Thompson, Sir William, prophesies 

era of electricity, 77 
Three Sister Island, 40 
Tonawanda, N. Y., mentioned, 10 
Toronto, Ont., 51; history of, 292— 

Toronto and Niagara Power Co., 
104, 105, 112, 121 

Tupper, Ferdinand Brock, The Life 
and Correspondence of Major- 
General Sir Isaac Brock, K. B., 
cited, 232 

Tyndall, Prof., on Terrapin Rocks, 

" u 

United Empire Loyalists, 228 
Upper Canada, and Lower, divided, 



Van Rensselaer, Mrs. Schuyler, on 
Niagara, quoted, 24, 27, 42-44 

Van Rensselaer, Col. Solomon, 

Van Rensselaer, Gen. Stephen, 263 

Victoria Falls compared with Ni- 
agara Falls, 13 


Wagenfuhrer, Martha E., barrel- 
crank at Niagara, 140 

War of 1812, 263-291 

Webb, Capt. Matthew, drowned at 
Niagara, 134-135 

Welch, Thomas V., labours to en- 
franchise Niagara, 79; How Ni- 
agara was Made Free, cited, 79— 
82; mentioned, 81, 89 

Whirlpool, the, 47, 50 

Whitney, Gen. P., 40 

Willard, Maud, Niagara crank, 
killed, 140 

Woodward, Prof., surveys Niagara 
FaUs, 65 

Wool, Capt., hero of Queenston 
Heights, 265 seq. 

Wright, Dr. Geo. Frederick, makes 
new estimate of Niagara's age, 


York, Ont., Americans capture, 

York Harbour, early description, 

Youngstown, N. Y., 50 ; skirmish at. 

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The Ohio River 

A Course of Empire 
By Archer Butler Hulbert 

Associate Professor of American History, Marietta Col- 
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AN interesting description from a fresh point of 
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The St. Lawrence River 

Historical Legendary Picturesque 

By George Waldo Browne 

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WHILE the St. Lawrence River has been the 
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This work presents in a single volume a succinct and 
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Historical Legendary Picturesque 
By Edgar Mayhew Bacon 

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NO stream in America is so rich in legends and 
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the Republic. Before the explorers came, the river 
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THE Connecticut River may perhaps with more 
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smooth and winding beach, there covered with rich 
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The Romance of the 
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Hulbert, Archer Butler 
The Niagara River