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Niagara Falls is a city of 82,184 residents on the Niagara River in the Golden Horseshoe region of south-central Ontario. It lies across the river from Niagara Falls, New York, and was incorporated on June 12, 1903.

Most of the early settlers in what is now Niagara Falls were United Empire Loyalists. Arriving here just before and after the close of the American Revolution, their steadfast support of the British during that epochal event had brought them persecution and privation. Fleeing their homes in the former American colonies, they started their lives over again in various areas of what is now Canada, including the west bank of the Niagara River. The Lundy, Bender and McMicking families were among the Loyalists who became some of Niagara Falls' earliest inhabitants.

Another local consequence of the American Revolution occurred when the British were forced to relocate the Portage Road from the east bank of the Niagara River to this side. Constructed to allow traffic to by-pass the rapids and falls of the Niagara River, the Portage opened in 1790. Its northern terminus was Queenston. The southern end was at the mouth of Chippawa Creek where a small settlement christened Chippawa soon developed. Its growth was checked by the War of 1812 but by the mid-nineteenth century Chippawa had grown considerably. It was incorporated as a village in 1850.

In the meantime another community had developed around the Portage Road (Main Street), Lundy's Lane, Ferry Street intersection. Named Drummondville, it was incorporated in 1831.

In 1848, the first bridge opened across the Niagara River. Designed as a suspension bridge for carriages and pedestrians, it was located where the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge is today. Five years later, the Great Western Railway reached Niagara from Hamilton and was routed to the Suspension Bridge. Work then began to rebuild the bridge as a double-deck span, with rail traffic using the upper level while the lower deck was for carriages and pedestrians. The new bridge was opened in 1855.

By then, a small village named Elgin had grown up in the area around present-day lower Bridge Street. Elgin was a major divisional point on the Great Western Railway and was also at the Canadian end of an international bridge crossing. Consequently, it grew quite rapidly. In 1856, Elgin merged with a small community just to the south. Named Clifton, it was in the Victoria Avenue, Centre Street, Clifton Hill area. The enlarged town took the name Clifton.

In 1881, Clifton changed its name to the Town of Niagara Falls. Not to be outdone, the following year Drummondville became the Village of Niagara Falls. The two communities amalgamated to create the City of Niagara Falls in 1904. Within two years, three large hydroelectric generating plants began operating in the area around the Horseshoe Falls. Inexpensive and plentiful electricity, along with excellent rail transportation and close proximity to the U.S. market soon attracted many manufacturing industries to Niagara Falls, thus ensuring the new city's growth and prosperity. A significant tourism industry also became increasingly important.

Niagara Falls' area and population increased dramatically in 1963 when the adjacent Township of Stamford amalgamated with the city. With the advent of regional government in 1970, Chippawa, Willoughby Township and a small portion of Crowland Township also became part of Niagara Falls.

The city today, therefore, is a composite of a number of communities with a history stretching back many years.

Prepared By: Sherman Zavitz - Official Historian, The City of Niagara Falls, Canada

According to the 2001 Statistics Canada Census, between 1996 and 2001 the population of the city grew by 2.5 percent, lower than the provincial and national average. The population of Niagara Falls is also older than the Canadian averages in age structure. The proportion of those under 14 years of age is 18.1 percent while those over 65 constitute 17 percent. The city has also done a good job of attracting immigrants into the area. Some 5.5% percent of the population declared themselves as visible minorities (non-white).

The Niagara Falls Business Development Department (BDD) is the economic development arm for the City of Niagara Falls. The BDD is committed to promoting Niagara Falls as an outstanding location to conduct business. A facilitator between the private sector and various levels of government, the BDD provides an effective resource centre where businesses may find support and assistance. The mandate of the BDD is to provide relevant information on a confidential basis, which will assist investors in their decision-making process, concerning location or expansion of operations in Niagara Falls. The BDD provides an array of services, many of which are listed below:
  • Community Profile information (Demographics, Services, Education, Lifestyle, etc.)
  • Business Ombudsman Services - Working for Niagara Falls' Businesses
  • Niagara Falls Business Network Contacts for Investments, Joint Ventures, Suppliers etc.
  • Network with the Real Estate Brokers, Representatives and Developers regarding available building and vacant land inventory
  • Direction and coordination to key tourism/economic development and major special events like Winter Festival of Lights, Small Business Seminars, etc.
  • Preparation and implementation of other City-sponsored major events
  • Coordination of City's public relations image and efforts
  • Entrepreneurial Assistance and Advice
  • An extensive small business information kiosk with such relevant material as, "Steps in Starting a Business in Ontario

  • Niagara Falls Business Development Department staff provide numerous helpful business-related services. The City is proud to present the service of "one-stop shopping" for interested investors, developers, or entrepreneurs. This one-stop business centre approach is designed to reduce duplication of services, provide expedient, accurate information, and advice to people interested in the Niagara Falls business community.

    Niagara Falls and Niagara Falls, New York are linked to major highways in Canada and the United States respectively, with the 400-Series highway the Queen Elizabeth Way acting as a major artery between Toronto, Ontario and Buffalo, New York. Highway 420 is also another highway in the city. Niagara Parkway is a road operated under the Niagara Parks Commission.