Niagara-on-the-Lake is the perfect location to stroll back through history and enjoy world-class theatre, dining, shopping, estate wineries, farm markets and historically significant sites. It is often referred to as the loveliest town in Ontario and has a long distinguished history in the Canadian landscape.
The area started off as the site of an old neutral Indian village called Onghiara, which was settled at the close of the great American Revolution by Loyalists coming into Upper Canada. Many of the members of the settlement were part of the much feared Butler’s Rangers who were based at Fort Niagara during the American Revolution while it was under British control. The British Government purchased the land in 1781 from the Mississaugas; a strip of land 6 miles wide along the western bank of the Niagara river for “300 suits of clothing”.
By 1782, the area was occupied by 16 families had become established and had cleared 236 acres. In 1791, a portion of the military reserve was chosen to be a future town site. By 1792, the new town of Newark, named by Governor Simcoe, had been established as the first capital of the newly created Upper Canada. It remained so until Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe moved the capital to York. Four years later, in 1786, over 70 new homes had been built and town continued to enjoy economic prosperity as the administrative and judicial centre of the Niagara Peninsula.
Unfortunately, almost the entire town was erased during the American Revolution, when military personal burned it down. Once the war was over, Niagara-on-the-Lake was rebuilt and came back into prosperity, becoming an active commercial centre. It was particularly used for ship-building and shipping and was a busy marine outpost.
There were also many ships and warehouses, as well as beautiful homes which remain a staple of the town to this day. Over two hundred years since its founding in 1781, Niagara-on-the-Lake is home a different kind of traffic. Tourists from all the world flock to its many historic attractions, from Fort George to the Historical Society Museum and the Shaw Festival. It boasts three theatres, a marina, a heritage business district for shoppers, golf courses, parks and beautiful farm land. This land hosts agricultural markets and Niagara-on-the-Lake’s world famous vineyards.
There are many special events held throughout the year, which are easily accessible from by many forms of transport. From carriage rides through the Old Town to a jet boat up the Niagara River. Just a short journey along the scenic Niagara Parkway leads to Queenston Heights and the famous Niagara Falls.