VIDEOS on HISTORY

Thanks to Barbara Worthy (Babs)

Barbara Worthy is a writer/director/ producer/performer. For two decades she was a drama and documentary producer for CBC Radio. She has also enjoyed a 20-year association with the Shaw Festival, including acting, writing, and producing.

Recently Barbara was the writer/director of the Voices of Freedom Park audio installation, commemorating Niagara’s Black History; The Nawash Ojibway History Play; a 9-part video documentary series, The History of Niagara, for the Niagara Historical Museum; a musical history podcast series, The Great Canadian Historical Songbook; Niagara 150 - two commemorative touring productions for Canada 150; and her first full stage musical, an adaptation of Wind in the Willows, was produced in Sudbury.

Visit the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum YouTube channel for more amazing videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/NOTLMuseum.


The war was over. Relationships had to be restored, fields had to be re-seeded, and homes rebuilt. The mechanics of living were geared towards survival - but also towards making a profit. Rivers and roads provided commercial opportunities. Immigration grew at a phenomenal rate, and the Underground Railroad proved to be a life-saving route to freedom. Religion, culture and an elegance all helped pave the way to a new and adventurous invader - the tourist.

Niagara-on-the-Lake today owes much of its creation to the American War of Independence, which lasted from 1775 to 1783.

During those eight years, Fort Niagara, across the river in Youngstown, New York - was a key British and Loyalist base. Settlement in Niagara was born out of those interests.

In 1791 Canada was divided into two provinces – Upper and Lower Canada. John Graves Simcoe was appointed Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor. When he arrived in 1792 Simcoe believed in economic progress for the province, and he set about doing that with ambitious enthusiasm. Simcoe’s most controversial achievement was to pass legislation that would eventually lead to the abolition of slavery.

The United States declared war on Great Britain on June 18th, 1812.Niagara would become a major battlefield, with just a river dividing two feuding nations.Under Major General Isaac Brock’s command, the British army and the Canadian militia had several early victories. But more importantly, they established a far-reaching loyalty with the Native Nations. It gave Brock one of the most important alliances of the war – with the great Shawnee war chief, Tecumseh. That alliance would ultimately determine the fate of this young country - and it still reverberates today.

The war was over. Relationships had to be restored, fields had to be re-seeded, and homes rebuilt. The mechanics of living were geared towards survival - but also towards making a profit. Rivers and roads provided commercial opportunities. Immigration grew at a phenomenal rate, and the Underground Railroad proved to be a life-saving route to freedom. Religion, culture and an elegance all helped pave the way to a new and adventurous invader - the tourist.


For Niagara, the 19th century began with a devastating war, but ended in prosperity, despite growing discontent worldwide.Railroads and steamships would provide unprecedented access to Niagara.And the world came. It was the 'friendly invasion'. Lush holiday homes were built, hotels flourished, travellers came and stayed.It was the beginning of Niagara's tourist trade, and a new economy that would bring joy - and heartache.

The 19th century saw an explosion of growth in Niagara. Communities adapted to the new technologies of distribution and transportation, while entrepreneurs in shipping and railroads made - and lost - vast fortunes.But Niagara’s strong military history would once again be a foundation for its economy.

It was 1945, and the war was over. Returning soldiers, men and women, were coming home to an uncertain future. But war had changed things, as it always did. Camp Niagara was no longer needed, the ships stopped coming, and so did the trains. Niagara's economy needed to grow, and civic leaders, passionate about their heritage, the environment and the arts, all gave Niagara its economic boost. The stage was set for yet another colourful episode in Niagara's unique history.

Since the 18th century, the entire Niagara peninsula has been considered a strategic military location by the British, the French and the Americans - all at various times. The French gave up control to the British, the British to the Americans, and before any of them had set foot here, it was desired territory for Indigenous tribes from across the continent. Niagara's military history has shaped its growth, economically and culturally. And today it still bears the responsibility of sharing the longest undefended border on the planet with its US neighbour.

Niagara-on-the-Lake's waterfront today with its kayaks, sailboats, and luxury condominiums, is far different than the noisy, smelly, and crowded industrial hub it was in the early days of Niagara’s growth. This video looks at the history of the Dock area, and how it changed Niagara forever.

A candid look at how Black History is represented in Ontario today.

A mini documentary produced for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum in December 2021.

Made possible through generous funding from the Niagara Region and the Niagara Community Foundation

The agricultural industry has been the backbone of Niagara’s economy for more than two hundred years. This video takes a look at its history, and the unique challenges facing the industry today.