Niagara Falls



a history



Niagara Falls, Ontario

Niagara Falls, New York




Part 1
the birth of
the City of Niagara Falls Ontario




Niagara Falls, Ontario: a history



Stamford Township

This township was first allotted to about twelve families. Among the first white people to settle in Stamford in 1776, were the Cooks and the Durham's from New Jersey. Lundy's Lane was the first road used by the settlers. It was originally an Indian trail. Other early roads included Portage Road and Mountain Road.

The second survey of Niagara west of the Niagara River took place in 1787. The survey was conducted by Phillip Frey. In 1791, the first map of this survey area was published. 

In 1791, John Graves Simcoe was appointed the first Lieutenant Governor of the newly created Province of Upper Canada. 

Stamford was originally called Mount Dorchester or Township Number 2. It was named for Sir Guy Carleton Lord Dorchester. It was the second township surveyed in this part of the country, Niagara being the first. It received the name Stamford from Governor Simcoe, who named it and other portions of Welland County after well known places in Lincolnshire, England. 

In 1793, Stamford township had a municipal government. The first town clerk was Ezekiel Woodruff. The first assessors were John Wilson and Benjamin Skinner. The first town wardens were John Wilson and Thomas McMicking. 




Village of Drummondville 

Drummondville grew from the shadow of the historic 1812 hillside battlefield at Lundy’s Lane.

In 1831, Stamford Township saw the development of the first settlement in Niagara. This settlement consisted of approximately a dozen houses located around the intersection of Portage Road, Lundy’s Lane and Ferry Road. 

The name of the village was Drummondville in honour of Sir Gordon Drummond, a Lieutenant General of British Army at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. The Village of Drummondville had an original population of approximately 150 citizens. 

Prominent citizens included: 

Adam Fralick – hotel owner
Samuel Falconbridge – Postmaster & merchant
William Garner – blacksmith
John Misner – wagon maker
Austin Morse – mortician & furniture maker
Robert Slater – hotel owner
Andrew Moss – cabinet maker
James Skinner –harness maker 

In 1833, the first school was built. 

In 1844, William Russell built a brewery in the Village of Drummondville. It became the largest industry in the village. In 1886, the brewery was destroyed by fire. 

In 1849, Lord Elgin, the Governor General of Canada was a resident of Drummondville. 

By 1850, the Village of Drummondville had a population of 500 citizens. The village included a hotel, a tannery and four churches. 

In 1856, William Russell, a stone mason, built All Saints Church on Robinson Street. 

Between 1814 and 1861, the war of 1812 battlefield at Lundy’s Lane was promoted as a tourist attraction. In addition to the Falls of Niagara located less than 1 mile away, the Lundy’s Lane Battlefield became a popular tourist attraction. A number of observation towers were built overlooking the battlefield to provide tourists with an excellent aerial view. 

On March 13th 1882, the Village of Drummondville was incorporated and become known as the Village of Niagara Falls.  William Russell became the first reeve. 

The Village of Niagara Falls encompassed 290 acres and was located adjacent to the Town of Niagara Falls. 

In October of 1881, at the request of its residents, the former Town of Clifton received permission from government to change it’s name to the Town of Niagara Falls. By 1881, the population of the Town of Niagara Falls was 2,623 citizens. 

From 1882 and for the next twenty-four years, there existed the Town of Niagara Falls (formerly Town of Clifton) and the Village of Niagara Falls (formerly Drummondville). Both shared a common municipal boundary. 



Village of Elgin

Until 1848, the first village in Niagara Falls did not exist. 

In 1848, the first Suspension Bridge across the Niagara River Gorge was completed. The bridge was originally built for pedestrians and horse drawn carriages. 

In 1855, the Suspension Bridge was reconstructed to a two level structure for the passage of trains along the upper level and vehicles and pedestrians along the lower level. 

Quickly, a settlement grew up around the Suspension Bridge along both sides of the international border. 

The Canadian settlement was given the name “Elgin” by Samuel Zimmerman in honour of Lord Elgin, the Governor General of Canada who lived in the settlement of Drummondville. 

In 1848, Samuel Zimmerman bought up a large tract of land in the area of this first suspension bridge. He owned most of the land which now occupies: Queen Street, Park Street, Huron Street and Morrison Street.

Homes soon sprouted up around the suspension bridge in the Settlement of Elgin. Workers and their families were the first of the settlers. As the settlement grew, so did other developments such as stores, hotels, a post office, a bank and a water works. Soon more people settled.

In 1853, the settlement of Elgin became an incorporated village. 

Within two tears, the Village of Elgin had grown to include fifteen grocery stores and approximately twenty saloons and hotels. 

The Village of Elgin development was primarily attributed to Samuel Zimmerman, Phillip Bender and Harmanus Crysler. 

In 1856, the boundaries of the Village of Elgin were expanded to include the area of the Table Rock.

In view of this expansion and its subsequent increase in population, the Village of Elgin was now had enough citizens to become a town rather than a village. Because the name Elgin had been previously used, the name of the newly formed town was changed to the Town of Clifton. 

On June 19th 1856, the Village of Elgin amalgamated with the Village of Clifton to become known as the Town of Clifton.  



Village of Clifton

The Village of Clifton which was laid out in streets and building lots as early as 1832 by land owner, Captain Ogden Crieghton. He gave his future settlement the name “Clifton”. The name Clifton was derived from the town of the same name in England.

Captain Ogden Crieghton, a British Army officer purchased the property from the Phillip Bender family who had acquired this property in 1782 as part of a United Empire Loyalist (UEL) land grant. This land is today encompasses a major portion of the primary tourist core in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Captain Crieghton did little more with his subdivisions than conducting some preliminary surveying before he left Niagara Falls four years later. In 1837, Captain Crieghton went to York (now Toronto) to fight in the rebellion. It was here that he died.

The wife of Captain Creighton’s widow inherited ownership of his land holdings. She sold the property to contractor/financier Samuel Zimmerman.

In 1842, Samuel Zimmerman came to Niagara Falls. Within 15 years, Zimmerman a shrewd financier/businessman had become the owner of most of the lands in the town. He was the primary contractor of the building of the Great Western Railroad from Hamilton to Niagara Falls. He was also a primary supporter of the first railway suspension bridge to be built across the Niagara River Gorge. In a short period of time, Zimmerman became one of the richest men in Upper Canada.

Zimmerman retained the name of “Clifton” for the fledgling village he had purchased and promoted. He retained and maintained Captain Creighton’s street design but had the Erie & Niagara Railway routed through his subdivision, since he was the chief owner of the railway.

In 1856, the Village of Clifton became large enough to warrant a post office.

In 1856, the Village of Clifton and the north end Village of Elgin were amalgamated to become the Town of Clifton. The Village of Elgin had existed since 1848.

In October of 1881, at the request of its residents, the former Town of Clifton received permission from government to change it’s name to the Town of Niagara Falls. By 1881, the population of the Town of Niagara Falls was 2,623 citizens.



City of Niagara Falls, Ontario

On January 1st 1904, the Town of Niagara Falls (formerly Town of Clifton) and the Village of Niagara Falls formerly Drummondville) were amalgamated to form the new City of Niagara Falls. The combined population of the new city was less than 7,000 citizens. 

In 1930, the City of Niagara Falls had grown to have a population of over 20,000 citizens and encompassed 1,800 acres of land.




 Part 2
the birth of
the City of Niagara Falls New York




 Niagara Falls, New York: a history



Manchester (Schlosser)

Niagara Falls, New York was originally known as Schlosser (named after Fort Schlosser). It later became known as Manchester after the industrial City of Manchester in England.

Prior to 1788, with few exceptions the Western New York area was owned and occupied by Indians of the Neutral Nation. Those exceptions included the military outposts of the French and British at Fort Niagara and Fort Schlosser.

Fort Schlosser was situated approximately one mile above the Falls, opposite Chippawa. Fort Schlosser was originally called "Little Niagara" by the French. The fort was destroyed in 1759 after the French surrender of Fort Niagara to the British.

In the place of Fort Little Niagara, the British built a small stockade. It was rebuilt by American soldiers and named Fort Schlosser. 

Augustus Porter, a surveyor, was the first person to purchase and settle upon the land along the American side of the Falls once the British occupation ended. Porter had first visited the Falls in 1795 and 1796. He understood the value and the beauty of the Falls of Niagara.

In 1805, the State of New York offered lands along the American shoreline of the Niagara River for sale. Prior to 1805, no buildings had been built or improvements of any kind had been made in the vicinity of the Falls.

In the summer of 1805, Augustus Porter built a saw mill and a blacksmith shop.

In 1806, Augustus Porter moved his family to Niagara Falls. In 1808, Porter built a new house. This house was destroyed during the War of 1812 but was rebuilt on the same site in 1818.

By 1824, Grand Niagara (soon to become the Village of Manchester) had become known as a mill town.

In 1832, the Village of Manchester had 550 citizens.

An 1895 Sun Newspaper of New York, NY report indicated that Esquire Primrose Parsons was the first inhabitant to build a house and named the spot Manchester, with the prophetic statement that sometime it would rival it's English namesake as a manufacturing centre.




Village of Niagara Falls

In July 1848, the Village of Niagara Falls, New York (formerly known as Schlosser, Manchester and Grand Niagara) was incorporated. General Parkhurst Whitney was named the first president. Whitney was the owner of the Cataract House Hotel.



Village of Bellevue (Suspension Bridge)

In June of 1854, the Village of Suspension Bridge (Bellevue) was incorporated. The first village president was Colonel John Fisk. He was an official of the Bellevue Land Company. This village grew from a development around the first suspension bridge. This village was originally known as Bellevue. The Canadian village that developed at the opposite end of this bridge was known as the Village of Elgin

The Village of Bellevue was commonly known as “Suspension Bridge” or simply “Bridge”. 

As early as 1891, studies were commissioned to the idea of merging the villages of Bellevue and Niagara Falls.



City of Niagara Falls, New York

On March 17th 1892 (St. Patrick’s Day) New York State Governor, Roswell P. Flower signed the charter merging both villages to form the City of Niagara Falls, New York. Interestingly, Governor Flower was ready to sign this proclamation several days early however was convinced to delay the official signing to coincide with Saint Patrick’s Day. 

At the time of this consolidation, the Village of Niagara Falls had a population of 6,505 people. The Village of Suspension Bridge (Bellevue) had a population of 5,206 people. 

With the combined villages, the new City of Niagara Falls had a land area of 6,970 acres the 412 acres of the Niagara Reservation State Park. 

The first City of Niagara Falls budget was $79,000. 

The first city election was held on April 19th 1892. Mr. George W. Wright became the first mayor of the City of Niagara Falls, New York.



Village of LaSalle

On June 1st 1927, the Village of LaSalle became part of the City of Niagara Falls. This annexation added 13 square mile to the city along with 7,000 more citizens.















The following 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 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




Niagara Falls


Niagara Falls Ontario & Niagara Falls New York


a history