Canada Day in Niagara Falls

Over eight years, a long time ago in kid years, Bhavna, the kids and I vacationed in Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. It was a vacation with extended family; my two sisters-in-law, their kids, and one set of my nephew's grandparents. Niagara Falls was our first-ever extended family vacation and our second international trip.

I just rediscovered the images, which I had never posted to this blog until now. Sometimes It takes me a long time to get around to things. I don't remember all the details, but I reconstructed the trip below based on the notes I had put in the image description field in Adobe Lightroom.


After a day of driving, we arrived at our hotel, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Niagara Falls. Our room was on one of the top floors facing Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls Funicular
Niagara Falls Funicular | 1 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

The Embassy Suites by Hilton Niagara Falls was about a 20-minute walk along the streets of downtown Niagra Falls at the top of the hillside from Niagara Falls Park. However, for practicality and to reduce the complaints from the smaller kids, we purchased a day pass to use the incline lift. The lift takes about 5 minutes to get down the incline, including the wait time in line. The ride is a type of railway transport called a funicular. A funicular uses cable-driven cars to connect the points along a steep incline, using two counterbalanced passenger cars attached to opposite ends of the same cable, looped over a pulley at the upper end of a track.

The area overlooking the Horseshoe Falls was quite crowded given the holiday weekend, but we did manage to squeeze in a few family photos. After a few snapshots, we ventured to tour the park, starting with the Journey Behind the Falls. The ponchos are an indication of how "wet" everything was.

1 July, 2012 | NIKON D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
1 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

We continued our tour of the park with a walk down near the foot of Horseshoe Falls. It was like standing near a giant sprinkler.

1 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

We waited until our second day to ride on the Maid of the Mist. The rainbows, caused by light reflecting off the ever-present mist in the air, can be seen from almost any vantage point around the park.

Maid of the Mist
Maid of the Mist | 1 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

We took a break to get some dinner at Elements on the Falls before walking over to the field to lay out some blankets and claim a spot for fireworks. Families and friends were spread out across the lawns.

1 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
1 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

We visited Niagara Falls just in time to celebrate Canada's Independence Day. The fireworks started around 10 PM. Thousands of people gathered in the Queen Victoria Park for the fireworks on July 1st, Canada Day. While fireworks lit the sky over the falls, large coloured lights illuminated the water pouring out from Horseshoe Falls. It was an impressive light display.

Canada Day Fireworks
Canada Day Fireworks | 1 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

The next day after a leisurely continental breakfast at the hotel, we walked down to the falls for more family photography.

Mehta-Patel-Williams | 2 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
Cousins | 2 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II
Williams | 2 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

On the agenda for the day was a ride on the Maid of the Mist. I stowed my Nikon camera away to prevent moisture from wrecking my gear, inserted my iPhone into a waterproof case, and donned a blue plastic poncho to keep myself dry. As we got closer to the Horseshoe Falls, I felt a strong wind with water coming from all directions.

2 July, 2012 | NIKON D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

The spray from the falls was everywhere. I am so happy I put the Nikon away. Despite the ponchos, we were soaked.

After the Maid of the Mist ride, we walked around looking for other things to do. There was no lack. I started to realise that Niagara Falls was a prominent tourist trap.

Tourist trap | 2 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

We walked to the Bird Kingdom where we were able to occupy the kids for several hours.

Birds of the Forest
Birds of the Forest | 2 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G
New Guinea "Goura" pigeon
New Guinea "Goura" pigeon | 2 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G

After everyone was in bed, I snuck out with my tripod for some blue hour photography. I was tired from walking around on our second, but I wanted to explore some of the paths ways I could see from my hotel room. I wandered off with my camera and trip along the footpath from my hotel and through the grounds of the Falls View Casino. I walked over to the footbridge over Murray Street.

Falls View Casino Resort
Falls View Casino Resort | 2 July, 2012 | NIKON D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

These were all shot as long exposures (1 to 15 seconds) at different apertures on my Nikon and then combined in Photomatix Pro to create an HDR image.


The next day we walked around the area for a bit before the younger kids were bored, so we drove to the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture. We spent most of the time at the Butterfly Conservatory.

Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture
Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture | 3 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G
Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture
Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture | 3 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

Queen Alexander Birdwing Butterfly was everyone's favourite. If I remember correctly, the naturalist explained that this species was on a protected species list.

Queen Alexander Birdwing Butterfly
Queen Alexander Birdwing Butterfly | 3 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

After dinner, we walked downtown to the noise and lights. We had promised the kids some amusement and candy.

Dinosaur Adventure Golf
3 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

I had to have a photo with Nikola Tesla. Nikola Tesla was the genius who gave us alternating current, which Edison tried to discredit. In comparison, Thomas Edison was nothing more than a businessman who patented or took credit for other people's genius.

Nikola Tesla | 4 July, 2012 | Nikon D40 | AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G