With the closure of one of North America’s oldest tourist attractions on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls, the Maid of the Mist, it has brought some mixed emotions among Canadian residents — and especially those that live in Niagara Falls that considered the Maid of the Mist to be one of Niagara’s biggest draws in tourism. The iconic boat ride that first opened in 1846, set sail for the last time yesterday on Thursday, October 24, 2013.
CTV news did a story on the final voyage out of the Canadian side of the border, and this shot was taken aboard the Maid’s last journey out of harbour. View the story here. Photo cred by Aaron Lynett/CANADIAN PRESS:
The operation is run by the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Company which is owned by the Glynn family of Lewiston, New York since 1971. This family will continue to run operations from the U.S. side in the 2014 season.
The Maid of the Mist will operate from the U.S. side of the gorge and will depart from the dock just beyond the Rainbow Bridge. While the 2013 season was set to be over, the company has extended their operating days to October 25th and October 26th, offering free rides from the American side of the Falls due to the kickoff of the Niagara Falls International Marathon set to take place on Sunday morning.
History of the Maid of the Mist
As early as 1834, small rowboats acted as ferries passaging people, luggage and cargo across the Niagara River. It soon became apparent that a profit could be turned, and in 1846 the very first steam ferry they named the “Maid of the Mist” took sail across the River.
Everything went well for a couple of years, until 1848 when a suspension bridge was built making it easier for traveling from one country to the other. It was then that Niagara Tourism really flourished when it was decided to market the Maid of the Mist as a sightseeing venture, taking passengers closer to the Falls. It did great and second Maid of the Mist boat was built in 1854.
The original boats were coal-fired, wooden boats. Today, they carry up to 600 passengers per trip and are made with steel. They are diesel-powered ships for the half hour journey with seven boats total.
The Mist became well known for its role in the July 9, 1960, rescue of Roger Woodward, a seven-year-old boy who became the first person to survive a plunge over the Horseshoe Falls with nothing but a life jacket. The “Maid II” which was retired in 1983, was the boat involved in saving the life of the little boy and was a major news story at the time.
Here is excellent coverage about the Roger Woodward story via “the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart MacLean”:
Read the Roger Woodward story here, recounted in 2010 (50 years later) by the Star, complete with others that have survived the plunge across the Niagara Falls.
Hornblower Niagara Cruises will take over operations on the Canadian side, offering passengers state-of-the-art catamaran boats, extended operating hours, online ticketing options and even special event and group function rentals! Earlier this month, I sat down with Mory DiMaurizio, Hornblower Niagara Cruises (HNC) General Manager to discuss some general questions I had about the new operation. Read about the interview by clicking here.
While I look forward to the new upcoming season and will welcome the Hornblower Niagara Cruises, I am sad to see such an influential part of Canadian history go. Generation to generation, we brought our family overseas from England and would always make sure to take them on the Maid of the Mist. It was such a popular attraction of not only Niagara Falls, but around the globe. From Marilyn Monroe to Katy Perry, hundreds of celebrities have ridden the Mist and millions of tourists have had the privilege to ride what I considered to be one of the most successful facets of International tourism.
I will miss you Maid of the Mist!!