Niagara: A History of the Falls

BOOK: Niagara: A History of the Falls
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Niagara: A History of the Falls
Pierre Berton
Anchor Canada (2011)
Rating: ★★★★☆
Tags: History, Canada, General
Historyttt Canadattt Generalttt

Full of heroes and villains, eccentrics and daredevils, scientists, and power brokers, Niagara has a contemporary resonance: how a great natural wonder created both the industrial heartland of southern Ontario and the worst pollution on the continent.

From the Trade Paperback edition. Review

Sometimes a place can be as good a subject for a "biography" as a person--and Niagara Falls turns out to be such a place. Fortunately, it found its ideal biographer in Canadian historian Pierre Berton, who chronicles its colorful history with a storyteller's verve. Niagara Falls was a sort of laboratory and breeding ground for a wide variety of American phenomena: carnivals and theme parks, destination tourism, industrialization based on cheap hydroelectric power, and the conservation movement, among others. Berton weaves all this together in a readable, well-paced book rich with anecdotes, memorable characters, and nicely crafted language.

From Publishers Weekly

The first Europeans to see Niagara Falls were struck with an awe akin to terror, but with the passage of a couple of centuries the site came to be regarded as the ultimate symbol of God's creative power. Even Charles Dickens, who didn't think much of what he found on this side of the Atlantic, was deeply moved. In the 19th century, the American side of the falls became a Mecca for honeymooners, first luring the rich and then the middle class as well. Later in that century, the unparalleled opportunity for hydroelectric power, combined with the development of alternating current, which meant that electricity could be sent over long distances, brought a wealth of industrial development. Canadian historian Berton (The Wild Frontier) tells dozens of absorbing tales about the region and those who passed through it: the "funambulist" Blondin, who danced on a tightrope high above the chasm; John Roebling, better known for the Brooklyn Bridge than for the one he built to span the Niagara River; the adventurers and crackpots who went over the falls in barrels; the lengthy struggle to close the Love Canal toxic waste dump. He tells them all superbly, aided by essential maps and a few reproductions of posters advertising some of the more bizarre stunts.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.



The Indians hold Niagara
claims its yearly meed of
victims. It may be so. Or does
Niagara thus avenge itself on
the civilization that has
trimmed and tamed its forests
and dressed it up in tinsel-
coloured lights?
– Lady Mary McDowel
Duffus Hardy,
Sketches of an
American Tour
, 1881


Copyright © 1992 by Pierre Berton Enterprises Ltd.
Anchor Canada edition 2002

All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication, reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photo copying, recording or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system without the prior written consent of the publisher — or, in the case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a license from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency — is an infringement of the copyright law.

Anchor Canada and colophon are trademarks.

National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data

Berton, Pierre, 1920–
    Niagara : a history of the falls / Pierre Berton. — Anchor Canada ed.

eISBN: 978-0-385-67365-5

1. Niagara Falls (N.Y. and Ont.)—History. I. Title.

FC3095.N5B47 2002        971.3′39        C2002-902701-2

Published in Canada by
Anchor Canada, a division of
Random House of Canada Limited

Visit Random House of Canada Limited’s website:


Books by Pierre Berton


The Royal Family
The Mysterious North
Just Add Water and Stir
Adventures of a Columnist
Fast Fast Fast Relief
The Big Sell
The Comfortable Pew
The Cool, Crazy, Committed World of the Sixties
The Smug Minority
The National Dream
The Last Spike
Drifting Home
Hollywood’s Canada
My Country
The Dionne Years
The Wild Frontier
The Invasion of Canada
Flames Across the Border
Why We Act Like Canadians
The Promised Land
Starting Out
The Arctic Grail
The Great Depression
Niagara: A History of the Falls
My Times: Living with History
1967, The Last Good Year
Marching as to War
Picture Books
The New City (with Henri Rossier)
Remember Yesterday
The Great Railway
The Klondike Quest
Pierre Berton’s Picture Book of Niagara Falls
The Great Lakes
Pierre Berton’s Canada
Great Canadians
Pierre and Janet Berton’s Canadian Food Guide
Historic Headlines
Farewell to the Twentieth Century
Worth Repeating
Welcome to the Twenty-first Century
Masquerade (pseudonym Lisa Kroniuk)
Books for Young Readers
The Golden Trail
The Secret World of Og
Adventures in Canadian History (22 volumes)







Title Page




Books by Pierre Berton





1. Ice and water

2. A prodigious cadence

3. “The most awful scene”


1. Augustus Porter’s sylvan bower

2. William Forsyth’s folly

3. The jumper and the hermit


1. “That Enchanted Ground”

2. The father of geology

3. Spanning the gorge

4. John Roebling’s bridge


1. Miss Bird “does” Niagara

2. Frankenstein’s monster

BOOK: Niagara: A History of the Falls
3.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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