Niagara Falls, the Canadian side, is often considered the Las Vegas of Canada. It has casinos, wedding chapels, fast food, fast trinkets, maple syrup, attractions and tourists by the bus, car and minivan load. The Value Inn in the tourist strip area looked like an average size house from the front but, as the sign below shows, you’d be amazed how much you can cram into a small space:
With all the glitz, frenzy, $5 hotdogs, $20 burgers that you can get caught up in or get thoroughly sick of, you can easily miss out on the biggest thing about the place: the Falls. Believe it or not, the Thunder waters are still there.
We’ve been to the Falls before with the kids but this time was the most enjoyable despite all the above. Maybe this was so because we weren’t expecting too much. We were primed to go since we’ve been watching Wonderfalls quite a bit lately and Em is involved with the play The Whirlpool (which is set just downstream from the Falls). We went with little expectation and didn’t plan ahead at all. A large water park has been built and we found that there is a deal if you stay at the Skyline Inn. You basically get full use of the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark (tube, mat and body slides, wave pool, hot tubs, heated outdoor pool and lots of water themed stuff for the kids) until 3pm the next day. It was a pretty good deal and a lot of fun even though there was one fouling of the wave pool on each of the days we were there (they didn’t take too long to clean up the mess but you have to wonder about how that happens… come on parents!) We also took in the Imax feature Niagara: Miracles, Myths and Magic. That was a good film but I enjoyed the exhibits and poster information just outside the exit doors even more.
But, strangely enough, the most impressive part of our trip wasn’t a normal attraction or the Falls itself, it was Easter Sunday mass at the shrine of Our Lady of Peace. The view from the shrine, built on the top of the hill above the Horseshoe Falls, is stunning and the small church is pretty but the draw for me was the priest. I’m not even sure of his name (although a search on the internet shows it might be Rev. Thomas Hakala, O. Carm) but he was a gifted homilist and powerfully genuine in his faith. The kids were certainly impressed by his homily and that takes some doing. He opened it by frankly admitting that he was suffering from a spiritual hangover from the Easter Vigil the night before (I wish we could have attended that: he made it sound wonderful.) The Carmelites have a Spiritual Centre right beside the shrine. I am certainly interested in going back there sometime..