Dufferin Islands

Dufferin Islands are located approximately .8 kilometres upriver from the brink of the Horseshoe Falls along the river bank of the Niagara River and consists of four small islands.

Dufferin Islands are part of an open bay cut by the debris left behind from the last Wisconsin Glacier 50,000 years ago.

The Formation of Dufferin Islands:

  1. The strongest current of the Niagara River hugs the Canadian shoreline and caused rapid erosion.
  2. The rock shelf of the Niagara River above the Horseshoe Falls which causes the water cascades tilts approximately 6 meters (20 feet) in 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) towards the Canadian shore. This action forces water directly into the area of Dufferin Islands.

In 1794, a saw and grist mill was built on Dufferin Islands in order to utilize the fast moving waters flowing around the islands to propel a water wheel.
A sizable natural gas well was discovered on the shore line of Dufferin Islands. Rising gas could be seen bubbling to the surface of the water. Someone realized that this discovery had the potential to attract tourists. As a result, a barrel with a pipe protruding from the top was placed over the gas rising to the surface. A cork was then placed into the pipe to allow the gas to build up. When an audience had arrived, the cork was removed and the gas ignited beginning “the Burning Spring” – Niagara’s first tourist attraction. The “Burning Spring” continued as a tourist attraction until the formation of Queen Victoria Park in 1888. The Islands, formerly known as Cynthia Islands and Clark Hill Islands remained privately owned until 1886. After being purchased by the Province of Ontario during the creation of Queen Victoria Park, the islands were renamed Dufferin Islands after the then Canadian Governor-General, the Earl of Dufferin.

Today, Dufferin Islands are maintained by the Niagara Parks Commission as a beautiful and quiet nature area which consists of four inter-laced islands with walking paths connected together by bridges. In the summer, a swimming area is maintained. This is possible because the fast moving waters have been reduced significantly by the hydro-electric water diversion upstream. The water intake gates for the Ontario Hydro-Electric Power Plant are located along the Niagara River, south of the mouth of Dufferin Islands.

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