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—  Town  —
Nickname(s): The Loveliest Town in Canada
Location of Niagara-on-the-Lake in the Niagara Region.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is located in Ontario
Location in Ontario
Coordinates: 43°15′19″N 79°4′18″W / 43.25528°N 79.07167°W / 43.25528; -79.07167
Country Canada Flag of Canada.svg
Province Ontario Flag of Ontario.svg
Region Niagara
Settled 1781
Incorporated 1792
 - Lord Mayor Gary Burroughs
 - Governing body NOTL Town Council
 - MP Rob Nicholson
 - MPP Kim Craitor
 - Total 132.83 km2 (51.3 sq mi)
Elevation 82.3 m (270 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Total 14,587
 Density 109.8/km2 (284.4/sq mi)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern Daylight (EDT) (UTC-4)
Postal code L0S 1J0
Area code(s) 905/289

Niagara-on-the-Lake (2001 population 13,839) is a Canadian town located in Southern Ontario where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario in the Niagara Region of the southern part of the province of Ontario. It is located across the Niagara river from Youngstown, New York, USA.



The original site was a Neutral Nation village known as Onghiara . In 1781 the British government established Butlersburg, which later became known as West Niagara. Many of the first white inhabitants were loyalists, loyal to Britain, who fled during and immediately after the American Revolution.[citation needed]

In 1792 the village was incorporated as the Town of Newark and was named the capital of the Province of Upper Canada. The town lost that distinction to York (now Toronto) in 1797, as Newark's proximity to the United States presented a danger. The town was renamed Niagara in 1798. During the War of 1812, American forces invaded Canada, and captured (and later destroyed) the town before they withdrew following their abandonment of captured Fort George. The British rebuilt, however, and today it has retained much of its historical charm. The present name was adopted around 1880 as a Postal Address to distinguish the town from Niagara Falls. The name was not officially adopted until 1970, when the Town of Niagara and the Township of Niagara were merged.[1]


Historic sites

The federal plaque marking a National Historic District (English portion)

Most of the former military sites, such as Fort George, Navy Hall, and Butler's Barracks, have been restored. Fort George's restoration was done as a "Make Work Project", guided by plans from the Royal Engineers, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, an early example of historic preservation. Fort George National Historic Site is a focal point in a collection of War of 1812 sites which, collectively, are managed by Parks Canada under the name Niagara National Historic Sites. That administrative name includes several national historic sites: Fort Mississauga, Mississauga Point Lighthouse (1804, the first on the Great Lakes), Navy Hall, Butler's Barracks, and Queenston Heights.

A map of the National Historic District.

Niagara-on-the-Lake ("NOTL" or "N-O-T-L" in local shorthand) teems with historical plaques, many national and provincial, reflecting its significance in the establishment of many of the province's institutions. Among these were its first newspaper, lending library, parliament, historical museum, and governing body for the legal profession. Critical battles in the defence of Upper Canada took place here, at Queenston, including one in which heroine Laura Secord gained her fame. The town gave many black Americans their first taste of freedom, both as a stop on the Underground railroad for those travelling further into Upper Canada, and as a refuge in its own right. Its stock of Regency and Classical Revival buildings, considered the best in the country from the post-war of 1812 period, led the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to designate parts of the town centre a National Historic District in 2004, the only one in Ontario. And, although it did not make the final list, the Historic District was considered for nomination as a World Heritage Site.[2]

The Court House, a Shaw Festival theatre and Parks Canada headquarters of Niagara National Historic Sites.

Other significant sites in NOTL:

St Mark's Church
  • Old Court House Theatre 1847
  • Niagara Apothecary Museum (c.1820), the oldest pharmacy in Ontario, a National Historic Site of Canada is on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.[3]
  • St. Mark's Church 1791 - oldest Anglican Church in Ontario
  • McFarland House, built ca. 1800, is the oldest surviving building in Niagara-on-the-Lake. During the War of 1812 the house was used as both a hospital and Officer's Quarters, therefore it survived the Burning on Newark in December 1813. It is now open to the public for guided tours, as well as a fine tea patio. McFarland House is open daily from early May until Labour Day weekend, and weekends from Labour Day until Thanksgiving weekend.


The town is home to the Shaw Festival, a series of theatrical productions featuring the works of George Bernard Shaw, his contemporaries, or plays about his era (1856-1950), running from April to November. The festival operates three theatres in the centre of town: the Festival, Royal George, and Court House theatres, and features one of a repertory acting company, scenic staff, and collection of resident and guest directors considered some of the best in the English-speaking world.

The surrounding region enjoys a comparatively mild climate thanks to the adjoining lakes, and excellent soil for fruit production, for which it has become one of Canada's centres. In particular, NOTL has grown into a major viticultural region. Visitors flock to dozens of nearby wineries, including those making the world's largest volumes of ice wine. The town is also known for its gardens, art galleries, antique shops, and golf courses. There are many hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and spas in the area.

The town accentuates its British heritage, and features the only Lord Mayor in Canada. Prior to 1970, the town was simply the Town of Niagara, and the title was Mayor. In 1970, the Town of Niagara, and the Township of Niagara were merged to create the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The title of "Lord Mayor" was to be given to all Mayors from that time forward. Many people incorrectly refer to the Mayor of Niagara prior to 1970 as "Lord Mayor". The first Lord Mayor was Frederick S. Goring.

Location Shooting Several popular films and TV shows have been shot on location in the NOTL Old Town, including:


Only 15% of the population is under 14 years of age. Those over 65 years of age number 22.6% and constitute a fast-growing population. The town has seen growth of almost 1% yearly, partially due to a large number of retirees moving to the town.

Awards and recognition

World Scout Jamboree stamp.

The Town of Niagara was the site of the 8th World Scout Jamboree in 1955. Over 11,000 Scouts from 71 countries attended the Jamboree. It was the first to be held outside Europe and had the theme "Jamboree of New Horizons". Niagara-on-the-Lake was named the Prettiest Town in Canada in 1996 by Communities in Bloom, a nationwide beautification programme. [4] The town is now a popular tourist destination, located at the northern terminus of the Niagara Parkway, a scenic drive and biking/walking path.


Queenston, around 1805, by army surgeon Edward Walsh.

In addition to the primary town site of Niagara-on-the-Lake, the town also includes the villages of Glendale, Homer, McNab, Queenston, St. Davids and Virgil.

Glendale is located near the junction of the QEW, Highway 405, and Highway 55, and adjacent to the Welland Canal. It is home to the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus of Niagara College.

Virgil is located just south-west of old town Niagara-on-the-Lake, where most of the tourism takes place, and has a large Mennonite community as well, who originally settled the area in the earlier part of the 20th-century. Virgil has a large sports park, serving as the centre of Niagara-on-the-Lake's bustling hockey, softball, lacrosse and soccer leagues, two arenas, three baseball diamonds, a skate park. Once a year the community holds their annual "Stampede". The festival includes rides and attractions. Virgil's educational institutions are St. Michael's Elementary School, Virgil Public School, Colonel John Butler Public School and Niagara District Secondary School. Eden High School was located in the Virgil region until it moved to St. Catharines.


External links


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