Wonder of the World

I’m at Toronto Pearson airport, having spent the week in southern Ontario in the Niagara region. I’ve been to Canada several times, and this was my third visit to Niagara. But this trip was different. I came as more than a tourist. I came as a writer, trying to see things I never noticed before, digging deeper and looking closer.

So first… Niagara Falls is a mad mix of powerful nature and man-made tackiness. The falls take your breath away, every time you look at them. They change according to the light, the wind, the time of year. But the aggressive beauty is constant. The skyscraper hotels, noisy garish tourist attractions, chain restaurants and Casino clash with this wonder of the world in a way that you either love or hate. I kind of love it. It’s like Blackpool on acid. Marilyn Monroe in the film Niagara captures the darker, seamier side of Niagara Falls in the classic 1953 film. Niagara launched her into superstardom and ever since she has been an icon of the last century, the beautiful, fragile women, used by the men who flocked around her. There’s nothing fragile about the falls, but they do lure us in…

Secondly… the history. I got to thinking about what is must have been like to be the first people to discover the thundering waters. We don’t really learn much about Canadian history in school in Britain. Maybe because we have so much of our own to handle. But I was fascinated by the War of 1812. Basically this was a war between America and Britain over Canada (which wasn’t yet Canada). Maybe it’s not part of our national consciousness because it was considered a sideshow to the main grabber of attention, the Napoleonic Wars. But it was a key war in Canadian history. What really impressed me is the part a young girl played.  There are myths and legends about Laura Secord but it is generally believed that she heard somehow of an impending American attack at Niagara on the British troops. Laura walked twenty miles over rough terrain to warn the British Commander. The result was that the British and the Mohawk contingent were prepared and defeated the Americans.

These days Laura Secord is probably better known for the chocolates…


And thirdly, I love ice wine! Niagara is famous for its wine but the Canadians keep it for themselves. And who can blame them? I went on a winery tour and did some tasting. Some of it was amazing, some of it was like nothing I have ever drunk. One of the Sauvignon Blancs smelt and tasted of cat pee but this was more than made up for by the ice wine. It’s incredibly expensive (because of the way it is harvested, when the temperature hits about -10 degrees) and it explodes with a whole range of flavours and sensations in your mouth. If you ever get the chance to try it, then do…

So just a few thoughts… I’m sad to be leaving this vast country behind as it grabs you by the heart and grips your imagination. But it’s back to dear old Blighty…

Au revoir, Canada…


3 thoughts on “Wonder of the World

  1. Hi Sophie,

    Glad you had such a productive time in Niagara.( other than the Cat Pee) It was wonderful seeing you again. I have started to read Generation Game, really enjoying the story. Some of it, reminds me of some little ones I had in grade one. Thank you for the lovely gift. Give your Mom a big hug from Will and I.

    • It was great to see you guys too. And thanks for dinner! I have just got back to rainy England – I did really well for weather this week so it’s a bit of a shock to come back to April showers.

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