The Niagara Falls Illumination Board's
Mr. Pete Gordon and Mr. Dick Mann
Peter and Dick were employed as Light Operators for the Niagara Falls Illumination Board with a combined 88 years of dedicated and loyal service.
Peter Gordon was 84 years old and in 2015 celebrated 55 years of service. (RETIRED in 2015)
Dick Mann was 81 years old and in 2014 celebrated 33 years of service. (DIED in 2014)
Both men were the
unheralded individuals who on an alternating nightly basis of
every day of every year, no matter the weather, have thrilled hundreds of millions of people
from all over the world with their commitment and talents.
They were the
artists who paint the largest and most famous canvass in the world with the
colours of the rainbow - the Falls of Niagara.
The nightly Illumination of Niagara Falls is arguably the most famous and influential attraction other than the Falls themselves. It is an attraction that has no admission and no borders.
A special thank you to Peter Gordon and Dick Mann for allowing a glimpse into their respective jobs and backgrounds. Each of these two men were remarkably knowledgeable, friendly and dedicated. They were passionate about their jobs. This passion translated each and every night in their ability to light up the Falls of Niagara in a kaleidoscope of colours to the delight of each and every visitor. Interestingly, they were for the most part the invisible and unrecognized part of a world renown attraction. It is an attraction that on a nightly basis is viewed in amazement by millions of people each year, yet is the most mysterious and intriguing of all Niagara Falls attractions. With limited exceptions, the public has no access to the Illumination Building nor did they have an opportunity to have met Peter and Dick.
Meet the Longest Serving Light Masters
88 Years of Combined Service
The tradition of the Illumination of Niagara Falls has deep roots in the Gordon family. It began in the Depression Era with Peterís father. Peter Gordon Sr. was a mailman and insurance salesman by trade but in order to provide for his family, he took on a job helping to illuminate the Falls of Niagara on special holidays.
At that time there were no automatic coloured lights. The 24 spotlights at the illumination building projected only white light. Each holiday night 24 men were hired to hold 4 foot by 4 foot wire forms in front of each spotlight, placing sheets of coloured paper in front of each of the spotlights to project different colours. The colours were changed on verbal command by the person in charge. Peterís father earned $3 each night he worked.
Peter Gordon was born in Niagara Falls in 1931. In 2010, at 79 years young, Peter will celebrate his 50th year of dedicated and loyal service at the Niagara Falls Illumination Building. He loves meeting and talking to people from all walks of life from around world.
In 1960, Peter began working for the Niagara Falls International Board of Illumination on a part-time basis. It soon became a full time part time job.
Peterís parents married and immigrated to Canada. His dad grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland and his mother was from Inverness, Scotland. They had two children.
Peter was born and raised in Niagara Falls. He had one sister, Margaret Beal who passed away three years ago at the age of 86.
Peterís employment career has varied.
At the age of 17, Peter started his working career as a busboy at the General Brock Hotel for 3 years.
He worked at Welland Chemical in the Safety and Acrylic Department for 3 years.
At the age of 23, he moved to Bermuda where he worked at various hotels as a waiter. He stayed for approximately one year before returning to Niagara Falls.
At the age of 24, he worked at the Niagara Wire and Weaving Company for a year.
In the early 1950ís, Peter worked for Ontario Hydro at Queenston during the building of the Sir Adam Beck #2 Power Station. He was an apprentice steam shovel operator during the building of the last four penstocks. Peter operated a North-West Ė 2 Ĺ yard steam shovel at the base of the huge power plant along the banks of the Niagara River. This employment lasted 3 years.
He was called back to work by Ontario Hydro for a 4 month period when the water reservoir sprung a leak. According to Peter, he made enough money to buy a 1957 Chevrolet 210 model.
In 1960, Peter began working for the Niagara Parks when he was 29 year old. He had been employed as a painter with the Niagara Parks Commission for 38 years until his retirement.
After working at the Niagara Parks for two months, Peter recalls stopping at the Illumination Building along with fellow employee plumber, Bob Roots. At the time Harold Male was in charge of the Illumination of the Falls. Harold had worked for the Niagara Parks Commission for 58 years. On this visit, Haroldís brother, Charlie Male offered Peter a part time job at the Illumination Building to take over for a guy who had fallen from the roof and couldnít work.
Peter accepted this part time job offer and began working in July or August. He was paid $6 dollars per night when he started.
On January 29th 1960 he married his wife Barbara Clarke.
In 2010, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They had two sons; Tim and Donald. Donald died in 1985 at the age of 22 years.
Peter has no immediate plans to retire from his job. He is the senior half of a legendary dual who have entertained hundreds of millions of visitors from around the world throughout the years by painting the mighty Falls of Niagara with the colours of the rainbow on a nightly basis.
In 2015, Pete Gordon retired at the age of 83, after 55 years of service.
Dick Mann was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1933. He was 7th of 12 children. In 2010 at 77 years young Dick will celebrates his 28th year of dedicated and loyal service at the Niagara Falls Illumination Building. The best part of his job, according to Dick is the people he meets.
His father Frederick Charles Mann was born and raised in London England. He immigrated to Canada settling in Niagara. His mother Beatrice Rowe was born and raised in Niagara. They were married in Niagara Falls, settled in Chippawa and had eight boys and four girls. Two sons and a daughter died in childhood. Frederick worked for Ontario Power Company (Ontario Hydro) at the intake gatehouse at Dufferin Islands for 35-40 years before retiring.
Dickís mother had a remarkable ancestry. Her great grandfather was Gilbert Tice, a United Empire Loyalist, one of the first occupants to take up residence in Stamford. She was also related to Ensign Rowe and Captain Rowe both soldiers of the War of 1812
In 1958, at the age of 25, wanting adventure, Dick joined the United States Army. He served three years and was initially assigned to the #155 howitzer battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. From 1958 to 1959, Dick served in Korea with the 7th Division, 8th Army, and 32nd Infantry. He attained the rank of Communications Sergeant.
In 1961, following his hitch in the army, Dick returned home to Niagara Falls. On April 28th 1962, Dick married Lucy Annette McLean. They had two children: Cheryl Graves and Brian Mann.
After 40 years of marriage, Dickís wife Lucy died at the age of 68 on December 24th 2001.
He temporarily worked for Ontario Hydro and as a jack hammer operator removing the concrete counterweight on the Weightman Bridge in Chippawa
He began working at Ohio Brass Company in Niagara Falls. He worked there for 22 years until the company closed their Niagara Falls Plant.
After being out of work, a friend suggested he apply for work at the Niagara Falls Illumination Building. The job was part time and after sunset.
In 1982, Dick was offered and accepted a job at the Niagara Falls Illumination Building. In order to supplement his income, Dick began working for the Ontario Hydro at the Ontario Power Generating Station - Transformer Building at Falls View.
Thankfully, Dick Mann loves his job and has no immediate plans to retire. He is junior half of a legendary duo who have entertained hundreds of millions of visitors from around the world throughout the years by painting the mighty Falls of Niagara with the colours of the rainbow on a nightly basis.
Dick continued to live in Chippawa.
On Wednesday May 7th 2014 following a brief illness, Dick died (see obituary below).
They not only worked together but they were the best of friends. No one knows what tomorrow will bring however Peter and Dick are an integral and irreplaceable part of Niagara Falls history. That history continues to be written each and every night at Niagara Falls.
|NIAGARA FALLS THUNDER ALLEY NAVIGATOR|
Date last updated:
December 02, 2015
The preceding locations and facts about them are but a few of many famous sites & attractions to be found in Niagara Falls. The best of it is FREE to see...so think of Niagara Falls when planning your next vacation. If you have questions of a current or historical nature about the Niagara Falls area or suggestions feel free to e-mail Rick at:
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Meet the Light Masters