Saturday, June 25, 2011

Signs of the times

Plaques have been installed along the old promenade at Erie Beach.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Heritage Arts Legacy of Fort Erie Symposium 2010 will focus on the architecture and history of Erie Beach and the Ferry Landings. It's being held Nov. 6 from 6-10 p.m. at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 71 on Garrison Road at Central Ave. It will include a multimedia presentation by Paul Kassay.

For more information, contact H. Barnhart at 905-871-8506 or email hbarnhart1@cogeco.ca

Friday, January 22, 2010

'I'll never forget that place'

Tony, now residing in Texas, shared his thoughts in the comments section:

When my 2 cuz's and I were growing up in the 60's we spent alot of time at what we called the old dance hall. They lived in Ridgeway so we took that long bike ride to the dance hall down Garret rd. Evertime we went there was like our first time. I thought and still do think that it was so awsome how they painted the pic's on the concreat wall. I now for the past 27 years live in Tx. But I can till you that even at 51 years old I'll never forget that place and the AWSOME people of Canada.I love Canada and always will.
Tony Zizzo

Thursday, February 26, 2009

UPDATE: Who was Shane?



A while back I posted a photo and asked a question about the memorial to Shane. His sister emailed recently:

my name is shannon hookey, i stumbled upon your page late last nite while i was up killing time. i was typing in my brothers name to see if the facebook group i put up called shane hookey drew on me came up on google. i stopped when i seen who is shane, and thought who better to tell you than his little sister. shane was a singer, guitar player (who showed me i wanted to be the same) most of all he was an artist. he did a lot of tattoos on a lot of people in fort erie, he was only 22 when he passed, i guess cause i was 15, he seemed so grown up, but as much as i like tattoos, now that i'm close to 30 i don't think i'd let a young guy ink me. he had been doing tattoos for years. his hair was red, thats where red came from, the dog was later added when he was making tattoo cards, red dog tattoos, his office being my mums kicthen, and later his own. thats how good he was, people trusted this young guy, working out of his mums kicthen. he did some art work at fort erie (the kids school by the high school) which i didn't know, i did a co-op there and all over walls and lockers were painted cartoons, and it turned out my brother had done it, so they let my mum come in and take pics. in may of 95 he was riding his motorcyle on central brige, we think he looked back to see if his friends had cought up in the car they were in and he drifted into the other lane, hitting a car. he spent a week in ecmc and on june 3rd passed away. who is laurie s. an old friend of his. she had it painted for him, in that spot, from what i hear, cause thats where him and his friends hung out when they were in high school. not long ago, this pic was in the paper asking the same question as you. it was so great to have a reason to tell his story, and now i get a chance to do it again. so thank you so much. i wanted to leave a coment on your page, but my computer is acting up, so please feel free to put up an answer, if you want.
thank you again
shannon

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dance the years away

Shirley emailed me to ask for more information on the giant outdoor dance floor that once attracted thousands to dance under the stars.


Above is looking east, probably taken from the second floor of the dance hall. The promenade can be seen to the left, at the front are children heading to the wading pool which was located between the dance hall (also called the casino) and large concrete dance floor, the northwest corner of which is pictured here.



Above, looking to the southeast toward Lake Erie from a spot on the promenade, this photo shows the steamship pier in the background, the background next to the lake and a corner of the kiddie pool in the foreground.


Another view, looking due south toward the lake.

The area as it looks today. I can recall in the '70s when some weeds had popped through cracks but for the most part the surface was intact. This photo, taken in summer 2007 from the southwest corner of the old dance floor (the bandshell would have been located about where that second section of concrete wall has fallen) shows how time, weather and nature have taken a toll. Most people walking across the area today have no idea what it was once used for.

An earlier post, with a photo from the Niagara Falls public library collection, has more information.

Below, you can see the remains, circa early- to mid-1990s (best guess as to when the satellite image used by Google dates from). The weather-accelerated decay is much worse today.


View Larger Map

Friday, February 6, 2009

Trail work wins award

The Erie Beach section of the Friendship Trail has been honoured. The section of the trail -- a recreation of the original promenade from the amusement park days -- earned a Niagara Community Design Award for urban design.

Full credit for the work, which was carried out with great care by Stevensville Lawn Service, can be found on the Niagara Region website. The awards were created to "recognize and celebrate excellence in community design in the Niagara Region."

Work on the concrete path, about two-thirds as wide as the original promenade which stretched from Bardol to Helena, began in the summer of 2007. The grand opening of the park was held last May 31.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Save the English language

Started up a blog today about the slaughter of the English language. Well, slaughter might be a little extreme, but if you are tired of people butchering words ("looser," anyone?), phrases or any other aspect of English, you might want to check out The English Monitor.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ghosts of Erie Beach

Yes, Halloween has passed. But ghosts, if one believes in them, should be present all year long.

So the question today is, who has seen any ghostly activity in Erie Beach?

While the area certainly lends itself to a great setting for a horror movie, from decaying concrete structures to the dark forest where one might fear to venture off the beaten path, I've never heard anyone speak of seeing ghosts there.

And while having walked through the area after dark many times, I've never seen any spirits (insert drinking joke here) there myself.

In his book, Shadows of Niagara, John Savoie writes about a number of sightings.

"Ghostly activity has been witnessed along the boardwalk and throughout the forest," he writes.

"One witness professed he had seen a woman wearing a long dress and hat appear in front of him walking along the boardwalk weeping and wiping tears from her eyes. She disappeared into a mist when he approached."

Anyone else out there have a ghostly experience at Erie Beach?

Please leave a comment or e-mail me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wreck on the beach



Been a long time since I've been out to the very end of the pier, let alone swimming in the area, but I don't recall any shipwrecks within spitting distance of the dock. However, an email this morning has me thinking.

Thomas wrote: "Years ago whilst fishing with my son just off the pier at Erie Beach, we drifted across what looked like the ribs from a ship. The water had just begun to clear with the advent of the Zebra mussels and said wreck was plain as day as we fished. I've never heard anyone mention it nor have I found any reference to it in any of the accounts of this area. I have included the link to a
Google sat-map of the spot for you ... As you can see from the photo, the hull was a fair size, of wooden construction [my observation] and having a pointed bow [possibly schooner turned barge]. I've lived here since 1969 and do not remember anything about it. I remember seeing a grounded and half sunk cabin cruiser that had washed into the rectangular cutout during a storm at Erie Beach [back in the seventies]."

Does anyone have information that can shed some light on this mystery? Please email me if you have something to share.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Four more years?




It may be an election year, north and south of the border, but after looking at the foundation of the swing ride this weekend, I'm betting the Erie Beach relic won't be standing four years from now.

Mother Nature (more so than kids who for decades have tried to knock the centre post) has taken a toll on the structure over the years. Have to dig up photos from last summer, but the ice surge during a storm in January seems to have knocked the middle out another couple of inches, ever closer to the inevitable tipping point.

Do you have photos of the structure, which dates back to the 1910s? I'd love to see how it looked throughout the years after the park closed. Please email me.

(note: I've called this the Lindy Loop in the past, which is incorrect. Erie Beach Amusement Park did have a Lindy Loop, which operated in the last two years of the park's existence, but it should not be confused with the swing ride).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bull on the beach



After reading about a unique strength testing machine that once graced the midway at Erie Beach Amusement Park, took a trip yesterday to the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.

There it was, standing out amid the fanciful, colorful horses, ostriches and frogs that bounced along merry-go-rounds at one point in their lives. A wooden bull. With a plug in its forehead.

This peculiar beast was designed by a Herschell carver in his spare time, a break from the usual painted ponies. As an amusement, it was a variant of the "ring the bell" type of game, where men would prove their strength by swinging a mallet over their head and strike the pivot hard enough to send an indicator up the pole and ring the bell atop it.

In this variant of the striking machine, men would swing a mallet (or fist?) at the plug. Hit it hard enough and the beast would buckle at the knees, similar to the way a cow would fall in a slaughterhouse.

It was acquired by the museum about 15 years ago from the employee's daughter.

"We have been told there is, or was, another one," said Chuck Proefrock, a volunteer at the museum. But they haven't been able to locate it yet.

There will be more about the bull in the Erie Beach book/DVD I am currently preparing.



The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum is located at 180 Thompson St. in North Tonawanda, N.Y., about 10 minutes from any Canada-U.S. border crossing on the Niagara River. Well worth checking out if you have an interest in old amusement parks, especially good, old-fashioned merry-go-rounds. But the bull alone is worth the $5 admission price, plus you get a ride on the restored 1916 #1 Special carousel.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A grand reopening



The grand opening of the Erie Beach section of the Friendship Trail on May 31 was a grand event. Dubbed Picnic in the Park, more than 100 people came out to check out the festivities, which featured a carousel, several displays and a barbecue, along with the usual parade of dignitaries. Jane Davies of the Fort Erie Historical Museum recounted the history of Fort Erie Grove and the old amusement park which stood on the site until 1930.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

PICNIC IN THE PARK CELEBRATES GRAND OPENING OF THE ERIE BEACH SECTION OF FORT ERIE’S FRIENDSHIP TRAIL

(Town of Fort Erie press release)

May 26, 2008 - Run, bike or walk to Waverly Beach Park on Saturday, May 31 to celebrate the grand opening of the Erie Beach section of the Friendship Trail, and the completion of the Friendship Trail through Fort Erie.

As a reminder of the glory days of the Erie Beach Amusement Park in the 1920s, the theme of the celebration will be Picnic in the Park, featuring live music by the Can-Am Swing Band, free carousel rides, Fluffy the Clown, face painting, a barbecue, cotton candy, snow cones and a chance to win fabulous prizes.

“As part of the Region’s ‘Bike to Work - Bike to Get There’ program, we encourage people to ride their bicycles or walk the Friendship Trail to get to the opening on Saturday," said Manager of Parks and Open Space Development Signe Hansen, "And we will even be giving away two bikes, to encourage the use of the trail and an active lifestyle." The Bridgeburg Station, Ridgeway and Crystal Beach Business Improvement Areas have all chipped in for a bicycle to be given away as one of several prizes. The Fort Erie Community Credit Union has donated another bike prize.

Other event sponsors include Crown Amusements, M&M Meats, the Fort Erie Women’s Conservation Auxiliary, the Head Injury Association of Fort Erie, the Peace Bridge Authority, the Crystal Beach Candy Co., Sobey’s and Joe’s Valu-Mart.

“We invite you to bring your family to celebrate the history of our community and enjoy the music, food and activities at this magnificent setting along Lake Erie”, said Mayor Douglas Martin. “Experience Fort Erie’s picturesque neighbourhoods, natural areas, historic districts and exquisite waterfront by walking, running, biking, rollerblading or skiing the Friendship Trail”.

"This section of the Friendship Trail has a very interesting history and is an important part of what defined Fort Erie," said Jane Davies, administrator-curator of the Fort Erie Museum. "People would come here for organized picnics and other events, or just to enjoy themselves on the waterfront." In addition to a fabulous vista of Lake Erie, one can see the remaining structures from a long-gone era when vacationers flocked to the Erie Beach Amusement Park.

The Friendship Trail makes an important contribution to improving the quality of life in Fort Erie, undoubtedly being one of Fort Erie’s most utilized and recognized recreational amenities – a first-class trail network that connects residents and visitors alike to various attractions and services throughout the community, as well as to Niagara Falls and Port Colborne.

The opening ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. with festivities to follow. Waverly Beach Park is located near the intersection of Helena Street and Edgemere Road, on the Lake Erie waterfront.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New site devoted to old parks in Niagara

Ken Jones and the Amusement Park Historical Association of Niagara have launched a new website, Niagara's Lost Amusement Parks.

The site will soon feature a section on Erie Beach, but for now has sections on Maple Leaf Village Park, Tower View Amusement Park, Whitewater Park and Wet And Wild/Prudhomme's Landing.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cool breezes at Erie Beach



Daytime temperatures may be in the double digits regularly now that April is here, but there's still no shortage of ice along the Lake Erie shoreline to help cool breezes. Photo taken from ice along west side of old pier.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Down by the pool



More photos of the ice forced up on the Lake Erie shore during a late January storm, this time showing the giant swimming pool (last summer above, this winter below).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Don't swim in the deep end



Ice fills the old pool (northwest corner above can be seen in upper right of Google map) following last month's storm which drove ice right up to (and onto, as pictured in this post) the new boardwalk and promenade.

The Erie Beach pool was once billed as the world's largest and constructed because of a lack of sand on the rocky Lake Erie shoreline at the mouth of the Niagara River.


View Larger Map

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Path of destruction



Last summer (above) before the work to recreated the promenade at Erie Beach, the old concrete at the Bardol end of the walk was busted up, the accumulation of years of Old Man Winter's wrath, plus some help from man. After the late January storm which forced tons of ice up on the shore, the scene is eerily reminiscent of the old days.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ice for the ages



The Jan. 30 storm which pushed up ice along Lake Erie's north shoreline remains evident today. The above photo shows what it looks like when about 7 feet of ice pushes up around the foundation of the Lindy Loop ride. Below is a photo from mid-summer from about the same angle.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Rival path




More than half of this concrete sidewalk (first one north of the reconstructed promenade) has been covered over the years with sand, dirt and decaying leaves. While the south side (left) is crumbling away more and more each year, there is an equal amount of concrete under the leaves on the north (right) side of the path. And of course, trees have grown through cracks over the past 77 years and now stand in the middle of the path in some sections.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Off the beaten path



Deep in the woods, after the leaves have fallen, some ruins which usually hide in the shadows can be seen clearly. Footings from the Tumble Bug or something else? If you know for sure, please email me.