The Niagara region is spread over nearly 1,900 square kilometers (715 sq. miles), encompassing some of Southern Ontario’s most beautiful land and is part of a vast geological landmass with a diverse and eye-catching landscape.
Located between two Great Lakes – Erie and Ontario – it boasts beaches, rivers, highlands, lowlands and the Niagara Escarpment – all part of the region’s spectacular and unique profile. Because the two lakes moderate the area’s temperatures, the Niagara Region is ideal for tender fruit growing. Also, its long warm-weather season makes it perfect for such outdoor activities as golf, cycling and boating.
By mid-April the temperatures can rise to well over 12º C (50º F), with temperatures warming up by mid-May. The long warm summer can continue well into September with mid-summer temperatures punctuated by mild fluctuations of temperatures with short periods of humid days that can reach into the 30’sºC (90ºF). The average mid-summer temperature is usually in the high 20’sºC (80’sºF). Autumn sets in gradually and is often considered to be the most enjoyable season of the year in Niagara, with the harvest in full swing.
The sun shines between 1,800 and 2,000 hours annually, with December being the greyest month. But the bright sunshine of the summer growing season makes up for the dull days of winter.
Precipitation is uniform throughout the year with no remarkable periods of wet or dry peaks. Snowfall is usually minimal in the winter with temperatures rarely below 0ºC (-20ºF). Forty inches or less of snowfall is standard. With the milder winter temperatures, precipitation can turn to rain even in December and January.
The Niagara Peninsula’s natural features, rich soil and unique climate have contributed to its success as prime agricultural farmland, ideal for tender fruit, including grapes, for which the Region has garnered international recognition for its award winning wine industry.
Niagara is, in many respects, divided and defined by the Niagara Escarpment, an internationally recognized biosphere reserve, stretching 1,600 kilometres from Watertown, New York to Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario. Without this 245 million-year-old natural phenomenon, there would be no Niagara Falls, and no microclimate, that makes this region’s modern wine industry possible.
Niagara Falls, one of the top tourist attractions in North America, is split into two great cataracts, the American Falls (167 ft/51 m high and 1,060 ft/323 m wide) and the Horseshoe, or Canadian, Falls (158 ft/48 m high and 2,600 ft/792 m wide).
The Niagara Parks Commission, which is responsible for developing and maintaining the extensive parklands along the shore of the mighty Niagara River, is a self-sustaining agency of The Ministry of Tourism and Recreation. It encompasses 56 km of parks, recreation trails, retail outlets, restaurants, golf courses, attractions and historic sites which complement the natural wonder of Niagara Falls and the Niagara River Corridor.
Because of the Niagara Region’s location between two lakes and the challenging overland route up the Escarpment and around the Falls to transport goods, the area has a long history of engineering feats. In 1824, the Welland Canal company began building the first Welland Canal. It took five years to build and was comprised of 40 locks. Today, eight much large locks operate along the canal, which remains an important shipping link as well as a true tourist attraction in its own right.
With four driving bridges less than an hour away from major Canadian cities such as Hamilton and Toronto, and extensive rail lines, not to mention a district airport, Niagara has proven to be a vital link to businesses in both the United States and Canada.
Regional Niagara is made up of 12 unique and distinct communities which now have over 400,000 residents. Varying from the larger populated cities of St. Catharines and Niagara Falls with their urban intensive features, to Wainfleet and West Lincoln with a more rural or natural area setting. Tourism, industry and farming, not to mention all the natural resources including our vast mineral resources (pits and quarries) and environmental resources (peat and petroleum), all add to Niagara’s economic diversity. Other Niagara communities worth a visit are: Fort Erie, Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, Port Colborne, Thorold, and Welland.
Proposed plans for industrial expansions, larger shopping areas and more golf courses and residential areas are all in the works. Niagara’s communities are committed to preserving the area’s natural beauty, its rural roots and its history.
Like its wines, Niagara is improving with age.
Motto: Ut Inceptit Fedelis Sic Permanet (Loyal it began, loyal it remains)
Flower: White Trillium
Population, 1998: 11,404,750