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A path for early settlers NIAGARA FALLS It a road with a long, colourful past.

Known for most of its length as Portage Rd., it is also a visible reminder of an important era in the history of both Niagara Falls and Ontario. Very likely a good portion of it began as a trail blazed by members of the First Nations as a means of getting around the rapids and falls of the Niagara River. Its winding inland route was selected to avoid various creeks and swampy areas as well as several deep ravines that once extended westward some distance from the gorge. By the mid 1780s, Loyalist settlers had established themselves along this side of the Niagara River. As a result, the trail was improved, so it became an important connecting link between many of the settlers clearings as it wound its way from the mouth of Chippawa Creek to navigable water below the Niagara Escarpment. In 1790 the British government decided to use this trail as the official portage around the rapids and falls. Accordingly, further improvements were made to the trail so that it gradually took on the appearance of a road. At the same time, warehouses and docks were constructed at what would soon become the village of Chippawa (the southern terminus) and Queenston at the road north end. Travelling south from Queenston, the original portage went almost straight up the side of the Niagara Escarpment. For the most part, it then followed the line of present day Portage Rd. (including the section later named Main St.) to the area above what are now Dufferin Islands. Here it dropped down the high bank and went alongside the Niagara River into Chippawa. With the outbreak of wholesale ray ban sunglasses the War of 1812, it was realized that the southern section was too exposed to enemy observation. As a result, a new cut was made from above Dufferin Islands directly into Chippawa. This route is still used. Portage Rd. was extremely important for both business and military traffic as well as for Niagara early settlers and visitors. Much of the freight destined for the upper Great Lakes passed over it. Goods such as salt, flour, military hardware and many other items were unloaded from ships that had come up the Niagara River from Lake Ontario to Queenston. They were then transported over the Portage in wagons usually pulled by oxen. At Chippawa, where it was again safe to use the Niagara River, everything was loaded into other ships that would continue the journey upriver and then out into Lake Erie and beyond. This procedure was reversed, of course, for down bound traffic. Portage Rd. was kept busy. Ogden, who visited the area in 1799, wrote: (Queenston) I have seen four vessels of 60 and 100 tons burden unloading at the same time and sometimes not less than 60 wagons loaded in a day, which loads they carry 10 miles to the upper landing place at Chippawa. 1798, the first public stagecoach line in Upper Canada began operating over Portage Rd. between Chippawa and Queenston and on to Niagara ray bahn on the Lake. The business was established by John Fanning of Chippawa. As would be expected, Portage was a strategic transportation and ray ban wayfarer white communication artery during the War of 1812. It was used by both British and American soldiers and played a particularly prominent role in the Battle of Lundy Lane. Portage Rd. lost most of its commercial importance in 1830, the first full year the Welland Canal was open for business. Ships could now travel directly between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. It then became a main thoroughfare for local traffic, a role it still has latest ray ban sunglasses although oxen are rarely seen on the road these days. Along with the southernmost part, several other portions of the original route have disappeared over the years. One of these was a section that passed directly in front of the former Loretto Christian Life Centre and the Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre. It was purchased in 1883 by the Canada Southern Railway, which then laid its track over the former roadway. The present stretch of Portage Rd. extending from Fallsview Blvd. to the area in front of Oak Hall was built in the mid 1930s. Another change came in the 1950s when construction of the huge reservoir above the Sir Adam Beck Generating Stations obliterated most of the original Portage Rd. route between the Stanley, Portage intersection and Queenston. Now, the historic Portage Rd. is about to play a major role in an unique event. Called the Great Niagara Portage Adventure, it will take place on June 9. Teams of four to eight people will carry a canoe and provisions to relive the experience of early settlers and soldiers as they portaged along the Queenston to Chippawa road. A five kilometre route has been selected.

Each team must raise a minimum of $500 to participate. This money will go to The Lundy Lane Battlefield Legacy Project. All the provisions will be donated to Project SHARE.


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