If you want to learn more about the centuries-old history of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Falls Museum is a must-visit. Situated partially in a historic building, the museum features beautiful exhibits retelling the history of the Falls, the surrounding areas and the War of 1812. In the basement, an additional 20,000 artifacts are stored in a climate-controlled room. Once or twice a year you can take a private tour of these treasures. Be sure to inquire at the museum for when and if there are any upcoming dates.
On your drive into Niagara Falls, you should make a stop at the St. Catherine’s Museum. Situated on the Welland Canal, this museum gives insight on the area and its past. The museum recaps the Underground Railroad, famous resident Harriet Tubman, and the rich legacy of Niagara’s African-Canadians. The Fallen Workers of Welland Canal memorial has been erected to honour Irish workers who lost their lives building this link between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
The museum recaps how the canal connected the Great Lakes and ultimately led to growth and prosperity in the region.
Shaw Theatre lovers will enjoy the Shaw Festival backstage tour. It’s amazing to see how much work goes on behind the scenes of this award-winning festival. Since 1962, theatre lovers, a quarter of a million to be exact, have flocked to the area to view world-class performances. Each Shaw Festival stage hosts more than one show a day, so the intricacies in putting together a festival of this magnitude are mind-blowing, especially when done by a five-person crew. The backstage tour explores the costume workshop, dressing rooms, rehearsal halls, and trap room.
A visit to Studio Vine Glass has partners Claire Anderson and Steven (Woody) Woodruff showing exactly what goes into making one of their magnificent glass pieces. The glass blowing furnace runs 24/7 ensuring that the couple can work in tandem with the other artists. Opened in June 2017, the studio hosts an impressive selection of wine glassware as well as old-fashioned Whisky glasses. Their glassware is available for purchase in the gift shops at a number of wineries in the region. In their studio, beautiful tableware and décor pieces are on display which encompasses their artistic expressions – Woody describes these as jewellery for the home.
Another place to visit is Angelo Rossi’s studio in the Skylon Tower. Angelo is one of the most talented Murano glass blowers in Canada. Born in Venice to a family of glass blowers, Rossi is a colourful character. He is always warmly welcoming visitors with stories from his childhood in Venice and experiences working in his father’s glass factory in his twenties.
His intricate installations are sought out by celebrities who flock to him for custom pieces for their homes. He also specializes in funerary glass, where ashes of a loved one are fused in a glass sculpture for all eternity. Rossi also teaches his craft to the next generation of glassblowers in the United States and Canada in one of his many classes.