Exploring Niagara

We take a fascinating, exclusive tour from Lake Erie to Niagara-On-The-Lake

THE EXCLUSIVE VIP Behind-the-Scenes Niagara Falls Driving Tour slated for July 19 promised to be an exciting tour of the best Niagara Parks has to offer along their 56 km Niagara River corridor running from Fort Erie through Niagara-on-the-Lake. Having recently joined the Niagara Parks Commission as their Senior Director, Business Development, co-host Kim Willis was anxious to share the many wonderful offerings she had recently discovered herself and the tour’s other co-host, Stefan Walther, is well-known for his wonderful driving adventures throughout the Niagara region.

The day began with a wide range of twenty-six gleaming, colourful Porsches assembled at the Vineland carpool parking lot under sunny skies. The eager drivers and guests were greeted by co-hosts Stefan and Kim who conducted the customary safety briefing and tour outline. This particularly beautiful warm blue-sky sunny day combined with the unmistakable powerful roar of both new and vintage Porsches signalled the start of what would become a very memorable day.

After a couple of quick stops to gather the group together, the tour arrived at Old Fort Erie where Kim had arranged for the Niagara Parks heritage staff to greet the group dressed in British and USA soldier uniforms from the war of 1812.

Stefan laid out a fun hour and a half driving tour to start the day, encompassing the best twisty, scenic roads the Niagara region has to offer. After a couple of quick stops to gather the group together, the tour arrived at Old Fort Erie where Kim had arranged for the Niagara Parks heritage staff to greet the group dressed in British and USA soldier uniforms from the war of 1812. The staff recounted countless interesting historical facts including an explanation of the miserable living conditions during that period and even demonstrated the shooting of an actual period cannon. After nibbling on shortbread and lemonade made in the Fort’s rudimentary ‘kitchen’, the group assembled for the next stop on the tour.

After a short drive on the Niagara Parkway, stop number two was a visit to Niagara Parks’ Legends on the Niagara Golf Club. The staff at Legends directed our Porsches to park in and around the practice facility where the staff provided much-welcomed bottles of water and invited everyone to join in a putting contest. After handing out a few prizes to the putting contest winners, we saddled up once again for another driving section of the Niagara Parkway, landing in the main parking lot by Niagara Falls itself.

After being shuttled to the Table Rock complex, Chef Elbert and the staff of the newly renovated Table Rock House restaurant welcomed the group who were seated next to the magnificent view of Niagara Falls. The group enjoyed a delicious lunch featuring many locally-sourced foods, wrapped up by an amazing maple-inspired dessert and then it was off to the next stop, a private tour of the decommissioned Canadian Niagara Power works. 

Kim had arranged for one of Niagara Parks’ heritage staff to provide a tour of the now historic CNP plant which looked like it had been frozen in time. With the huge turbines, fuse boxes, water intakes and enormous cavernous space, it fascinated all. As a complete counter-point to this mechanical wonder of CNP, the group took a short walk next-door to the Floral Showhouse where they were greeted by Niagara Parks’ horticultural staff and invited to take in the beautiful floral shows in the greenhouses and the charming miniature village complete with a running scale locomotive in the outer gardens.

Once the group assembled in the parking lot once again, the Niagara Parks police unit helped direct the convoy of Porsches out of the heart of the park, where the tour cruised the northern portion of the Niagara Parkway. After a quick tour of downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake, the tour headed to their final stop, Queenston Heights Restaurant where the Niagara Parks culinary team hosted a lovely end-of-day reception. After enjoying several delicious local offerings and lively conversation among the tour participants, it was time to say our goodbyes and leave with some fond memories of another successful driving tour. </>

Story by Kimberly Willis, UCR Director, photos by Peter Blake, UCR Member

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