“A Walk Through History”
By Saeeda M Ali
December 8th, 2017
The walking tour through the streets of Niagara showcased the deep cultural and historical aspect of the region that is so often overshadowed by the brightly-lit and active tourist attractions. The Falls see many visitors every year who are unaware of the rich history and significance of the streets and buildings just outside that tourist strip. While the more popular area is indeed breath-taking, it is worth learning about the history of the surrounding area. It is because of the efforts by those who recognise the significance of the other parts of Niagara that the history and culture is being kept alive for people to see.
This historical walk began at the Niagara Falls History Museum with an introduction to the past of the area and the work of Seedling for Change. It emphasised the drive to create new value to the streets by connecting people of different ages and experiences through the walking tour project. There were various and significant stops along the way that emphasised five different aspects: history and heritage, industry and economy, culture and arts, community, and nature. The photos exhibited were taken by various members of the community which added even more significance to the walk, and highlighted that while the Falls are the most visibly magnificent part of the area, the river itself flows along the banks of an overlooked history and culture. The walk came to an end at the HI-Niagara Falls Youth Hostel, which is also the place where the Niagara Falls once was.
For the few hours, the participants connected on a personal level by sharing their own stories and thoughts with each other. For a short while, they became friends who were experiencing a different place that only they could see, as they each added their own pieces of knowledge and emotions to the places they visited. This way, the various stops that were highlighted through the photo exhibition also had more profound value due to the connections made by the participants that day. The people of the area are all connected in some way by the flow of the River, which has undergone constant change and shift through time. The pictures aptly describe this by showing water in its various forms, for all the water comes from the River. That day, the River once again formed connections between strangers who learned and experienced its immense and natural power.
The tour provided a wonderful and necessary perspective of the region marked by the Niagara River. It was successful in bringing together not just the past and present, but also the different people who contributed in adding new vitality to the tour. This showed that the rich, almost hidden culture of the region is also made more meaningful by the people who come together to experience this dynamic space.