Legend of the Falls

Posted: August 12, 2011 in Photography
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Niagara: what better way to spend our last full day au Canada?

We left from Dundas Square first thing in the morning, armed with a Starbucks and a tour driver whose commentary *mmmmpuh* for the next two hours *mmmmpuh* was very *mmmmmmmpuh!* educational. As an added bonus, he looked just like John C. Reilly and his incessant lip-smacking was amplified over the PA system for all to hear. Then finally:

…Niagara Falls!

It was smaller than I expected, but – contrary to John’s prediction – in no way underwhelming. (Who says that to a person before they go on holiday?!) Perhaps he was just channelling Oscar Wilde, who – by curious coincidence – also once said: “I was disappointed in Niagara – most people must be disappointed in Niagara. Every American bride is taken there, and the sight of the stupendous waterfall must be one of the earliest, if not the keenest, disappointments in American married life.”

Similarly disappointing? My lack of forward planning. The day got off to a less-than-auspicious start when I discovered that I’d brought half a pair of contact lenses with me, finding the left one empty when we got there. This was especially inconvenient since we were about to come face-to-face with the falls on the Maid of Mist boat, and my glasses were already fogging up from 200ft away.

The view over to the American side of the falls. I have to say…

…the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side are a hell of a lot more impressive.

Chris, I think your eyes are closed.

This was the point at which I’d resorted to using the tripod, having actually forgotten how horrible most strangers are at taking photos. No, it’s fine – we definitely didn’t want the waterfall in the shot.

Our tour guide had regaled us with numerous (astoundingly, true) stories before we got to the falls, mostly concerning the people who had gone over it with varying degrees of willingness. In 1901, a 63-year-old Michigan school teacher named Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to go over the falls in a barrel as a publicity stunt. I say first person because a cat named Iagara had performed the same stunt a week earlier and survived. Annie did, too, but exited the barrel bleeding; stating that “No one ought ever do that again.” Interestingly, there are actually stiff fines for people who do (at least on purpose), though it should probably be noted that most of them die in the attempt.

Somewhat less intentionally, a seven-year-old American boy was swept over the Horseshoe Falls in 1960, protected only by a life vest; as two tourists pulled his (far more fortunate) sister from the river only 20 feet from the edge of the falls. Minutes later, he was plucked from the roiling plunge pool beneath the Horseshoe Falls after grabbing a life ring thrown to him by the crew of one of the Maid of the Mist tour boats.

Rather hilariously, Wikipedia actually has an article entitled a “List of objects that have gone over Niagara Falls“.

Stylin’! Dear lord but Niagara did nothing good for my hair.

This is the hilarious green-screen version they took before we donned our raincoats. (Damned if I’m paying $30 for the print.) Just before he took the photo, the guy told Yurie to put down her peace sign. Racist!

Mike: “Wow! It’s beautiful. Can we ride on the boat?”

Lisa: “No, we can’t. It’s too cold in winter. That’s the Rainbow Bridge.”
Mike: “Can we walk across to America?”
Lisa: “Yes, we can.”


Less impressive visually, but I do like that the American falls have those walkways at the bottom.

The little one on the right is called the Bridal Veil Falls.

We got so. fucking. wet. on this boat. It was literally like standing under a shower. (BB shot courtesy of Lyndzei.)

We owe this entire day, by the way, to Cat: who hooked us up with free travel to Niagara, boat tour, everything.


Another batch of fellow travellers off to get drenched.

Taking photos of Amish people. Is that a hate crime?

Post-falls, we wandered around the (super-tacky, tourist-tastic) surrounding area. Highlights included my very first visit to Wendy’s (to downpIay that somewhat, I had a berry almond salad) and the most hysterically awful “Louis” Tussaud’s wax museum (which, thank god, we only saw from the outside). Since most of the models required genuine guesswork to identify their celebrity counterparts, I’m guessing he didn’t inherit any of his great-grandmother’s talent.

How much is too gay?

(You know, between Lindsay’s hair and Chris’ eyebrows, I feel like some real good came of my time in Akita.)

Taking my love of raccoons to its natural conclusion.

(Photo by Lindsay, weird dry rash under my mouth courtesy of Niagara leeching all moisture from my skin)

And finally (after a detour to the world’s shittiest whirlpool. I can’t believe they stopped the bus for this), the best part of the day: our winery tour with Twilight’s Kristen Stewart. By which I mean my discovery of ice wine. By which I mean Lindsay and I doing a “tasting course” purely because of the hot barman. Thank you, Peller Estates – you were the perfect date.

Back in TO: dinner with CatPhyll!

Note that we’re not ready to take a picture yet, and the Asians are already throwing V’s.

And then we had some focusing issues, but that’s just fine.

ババヘラの女性!Sadly, it wasn’t all fun and games. Just a week after I’d met her at this very station, it was time to say goodbye to Yurie yet again.


Later: blackout juice at Cat’s before I had to say farewell to her, too. Know that our Cyndi Lauper rendition is one of my fondest memories of Toronto.

And finally: mon huitième et dernier jour au Canada. You know you’re staying at a student residence when graffiti inspires this much debate. (The one just out frame reads “If God hates something, why make it in the first place?”)

Guess which contribution was mine.

In our final hours together, Chris and I went to the Starbucks on the first corner. Slash five blocks from the first corner. Ok talk to you on Facebook! (He may or may not have trouble with goodbyes.)

With a couple of hours to kill before I was due to meet Lindsay and head out to the airport, I decided to finish my journey the way I’d started and make some headway through another of the Christopher Brookmyre books in my suitcase. The original plan was to do this on campus, but with the university kindly offering to hold on to my luggage for me, I figured the scenery might be better elsewhere and headed back to Church & Wellesley to pull up a pavement. And – as punishment for my sins – I was then hit on by a man with the exact same voice as SecondCity’s Fancy Catz lady, plus 20 years and kilos.

He invited me to a strip joint and a leather club, informed me that it was legal to have sex in bars in Canada (which I’d sort of gathered a couple of nights ago) and the worst part was that I’d already been sitting there for about an hour before he sat down leaving me with no feasible out which wouldn’t make it painfully apparent that I was leaving because he was there. He proceeded to tell me about the beautiful Chinese man at the strip joint with the tiny pecker (does anyone really say pecker?) and that the two young, waify boys who exited the bank behind us were obviously ballerinas (what? why?).

In turn, I told him I had a boyfriend, which – rather than deter him – caused him to strike up a conversation about it, with an addendum that I was a “good boy”. He also told me that that he likes boys who read, boys who wear boots, and basically everything else that comprised an itemised list of everything I was wearing and doing; to which I replied that I liked young guys. Young. Thin. Guys. Like our ballerina friends from earlier. And – after a far longer time than these two paragraphs would imply – he finally remembered that he had to meet a friend and rode off on his creepy little bike.

Sufficiently scarred, I read for another hour or so before finally meeting Lindsay so that we could once again go bawl our faces off at an airport. I love you, lovely lover, first game to ever game the games! (I actually did take pictures but they’re all on Jane Badler and I haven’t had the film developed yet.) And then, at Lindsay’s behest, I picked up a bottle of Peller Estate ice wine from duty free: of which I have but one gulp left, that I can’t bring myself to finish.

As karmic recompense for my less-than-stellar seat on the flight out (I asked for aisle when I meant to say window), I ended with almost an entire row to myself on the flight back. I’ve never flown business class, but – sprawling myself across three chairs for seven hours – I could just about imagine what it would feel like. Zopiclone-ing myself into a coma for the duration of that time, I then proceeded to miss breakfast…only to discover that the lovely old lady sitting at the end of the row had saved one for when I woke up! ♥

And onwards, to Glasgow – to miss all my Canadian and/or Asian ladies (and Georgian men) anew. Whose place next time?!

  1. laurahartson says:

    such a great post! hope you enjoy glasgow!

    • Mark Liddell says:

      Thank you – glad you enjoyed! I actually live in Glasgow, but – this week’s interminable rain aside – we have had the excitement of Brad Pitt filming World War Z, haha.

  2. Markus McD says:

    Such fun! I’ve been to Niagara so many times – that tacky tourist hill never used to be that developed. When I was a kid you could park for free and there were more dirt paths and quite areas than there are now.
    If you come back to Canada (namely, Ontario) let me know! 🙂

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