Niagara Polo is a public demonstration match played on the historic Niagara-on-the-Lake Commons, which long served as a military training ground. Polo was played on this same field by military officers and gentlemen over 100 years ago!
Niagara Polo is a signature fundraiser for the Niagara Historical Society, a not-for-profit community organization that collects, preserves, researches, educates and promotes the history of Niagara-on-the-lake and its communities through the operation of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum.
Founded in 1895, the Niagara Historical Society opened the first purpose-built museum right beside the Commons in 1907. Visitors today can experience one of the most important collections, reflecting the history of one of the oldest settlements in Ontario. We inspire an appreciation of local history through engaging programs and exhibitions.
For more information visit www.notlmuseum.ca
Generations of native peoples lived in this area centuries before the first permanent settlers arrived during the American Revolution. They gave the river a name which early French explorers recorded as ‘Niagara’.
In the winter of 1778/9, Butler’s Rangers, a Loyalist Regiment, came from the overcrowded Fort Niagara to build barracks and later, farms with their families. The community multiplied after the Revolutionary War ended, when hundreds of disbanded Rangers and Loyalist refugees settled in the Town and Township. In 1792, the village became the first capital of Upper Canada (Ontario). Occupied by enemy troops for seven months in 1813, much of Niagara was burned when the Americans and their Canadian Volunteer supporters retreated.
After the war, the rebuilding started an economic boom which was reinvigorated in the 1830s and 1840s by the activities of the Niagara Harbour and Dock Company. However, the second Welland Canal, opened in the mid-1840s, by-passed Niagara, effectively killing the trans-shipping business.
In the 1870s, the tide turned as summer visitors to the elegant Queen’s Royal Hotel and citizen-soldiers training at Niagara Camp swelled the local population. This new period of prosperity continued until the end of World War I when another, and worse, recession began which lasted until the mid – 1950s. In the 1960s economic recovery based on heritage, the Shaw Festival and local wineries began.
Today, the heritage of the town has been carefully preserved, perfectly complementing current cultural attractions while keeping alive the character of the bygone era.
Photos courtesy of Tony Chisholm