The Best Town You’ve Never Heard Of – Is it Waiting For You?

Ever heard of Niagara-on-the-Lake?  I bet you haven’t.  It’s not Niagara Falls.  I promise it’s even better.  When you move to Canada, you can’t move to Niagara Falls.  No one who is living in Canada lives under water.  When you work in Canada you can’t work as a waterfall washer.
You CAN, however, live in the award-winning town of Niagara-on-the-Lake after you move to Canada.  Niagara-on-the-Lake is an aptly named town located right where the Niagara river and Lake Ontario meet.

Can you imagine? 🙂


I chose to “show you around” this town as a part of our “small Canadian towns that are great to live in” series because it’s very special and you’ve probably never heard of it. Right?

A Perfect Location

It’s in the nexus of 2 massive, gorgeous bodies of water.  It’s also across the river from New York.  The town’s proximity to The Big Apple and to the natural splendor of Niagara Falls is not the only special thing about it.  It’s also the only town in Canada which has a Lord Mayor – a title which is commonly used in the UK.  It’s not clear how the mayor got this title.  According to local lore, the duke of Kent and Strathearn granted this title to the mayor of Niagara in the early 1800’s, while visiting the town.


A Piece of History

The town is also a significant part of Canadian history. In 1792 – when the province of Ontario was still named “Upper Canada”, Niagara-on-the-Lake was named Newark and served as the capital of the province.  In 1797 the capital was moved and the town gained its name – Niagara.  During the war of 1812 the town and surrounding area saw a lot of action when Upper Canada was invaded by Americans.  During the war the town changed hands several times, until it was razed and burned to the ground by American soldiers.  It ended up in British hands by the end of the war (this isn’t a spoiler – we all know how the story ended).  The town was rebuilt after the war by the local citizens and redesigned to ensure a safe distance between the military forts and cannons, and the homes of townsfolk.

By 1846 the town was described by a local newspaper as full of life, advanced technology (for the time – they didn’t have smartphones or anything), trade, business and traffic.  There were shops, churches, a school and an influx of visitors.  In 1970 the town’s modern name was officially adopted by the town.
The town’s historic center was considered for a nomination as a World Heritage Site.  In 2003 the town was approved as a National Historic site of Canada thanks to its wealth of historical constructions, namely its Regency and Classical revival buildings which are considered the best in the country.  The town is home to the oldest operational golf course in North America (but it looks great for its age). There is also a remaining portion of Fort George from 1796 and other military buildings from the war of 1812 which are now fully restored for history lovers.


History can be beautiful


The Town in Modern Times

Today the town is SO boring.  I mean, it’s a peaceful haven, filled with colourful colonial-style homes and a beautiful vibrant community.  Its beauty draws a strong stream of tourists year-round, but predominantly between April and November during the Shaw Festival: a world-class theatre festival named after George Bernard Shaw.  The festival is dedicated to theatre productions which feature Shaw’s works, the works of his contemporaries or productions about Shaw’s era.  The productions run in 3 theatres in the center of town.

The RiverBrink Art Museum holds a massive collection of around 1400 pieces and masterpieces created by local and international artists.  The building features Gregorian style architecture and was used as the country home of Samuel E. Weir who curated the works.  Following Weir’s death in 1981 the building was converted into a museum.

The town was used as a filming location for several famous movies and TV shows, among them The Dead Zone, The Experts, Canadian Bacon, Amelia, and more.

OK, now you know the town a little better, let’s talk about who it’s for – the target audience of the town.
Should you live in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake?
Well, it’s not for everyone.  People who like big cities, parties and being around a lot of young people are not the crowd for this town.
You should move to Niagara-on-the-Lake if you like a quiet life, a peaceful friendly community.  If you you’d rather have a nice evening event in the park with a view of Niagara with your fellow community members and a full night’s sleep over the hustle and bustle of the big city – this is a great place for you.
If you prefer a  trip to the museum of the riverbank or see a show over a trip to the mega mall – this place is for you.


An annual community event in Niagara-on-the-Lake


What do you think? Can you see yourself living here? What are you waiting for? Use the big red button!