Exploring Great Destinations in the Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada
clifton house c1906

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Exploring Niagara Falls

Early Accommodations

One of the earliest accounts written about early hotels in Niagara Falls and plans for a village that would be called Clifton were penned by Thomas Fowler in 1831:

"The best view of the Falls is from Table Rock on the Canadian side. Consequently from the advantages of the commanding prospect, the spot immediately above the ferry boat has been selected for the site of a village to be called Clifton. This is the name of the beautiful little embryo village that has just been laid out on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, a few hundred yards below the cataract, on a beautiful spot of ground which commands and unobstructed and perfect view of this sublime spectacle. It is on the top of the bank four hundred and seventy feet above the river and only five hundred yards from Table Rock, down the stream. It is bounded on the lower side by the road leading from Forsyth's Hotel and Drummondville to the ferry, along which road lots, sixty feet front by one hundred and twenty feet deep, have been staked out for hotels, shops, mechanics" residences, etc. Mr. Crysler, who at the present has an inn at Drummondville, is making preparation for erecting a comfortable hotel in Clifton at the very verge of the cliff. A livery stable, at which will be kept carriages, gigs and saddle horses, for the accommodations of visitors, will, together with the hotel, be ready about May, 1832."

The Brunswick Hotel

brunswick hotel

The Brunswick Hotel was built in 1875 and faced both the River Road and Robinson Street and sat at the foot of what was referred to as The Jolly Cut. It was a four storey building with wide balconies on the first two floors. The hotel had forty rooms and could host seventy-five guests. The hotel was purchased by The Niagara Parks Commission and demolished in 1888 to make way for Queen Victoria Park.

The Clifton House

clifton house

The original Clifton House could be reached directly by a road which led from the ferry below. It was a well-furnished, elegant hotel located at the brow of the bank commanding an excellent view of the Falls.

The facade consisted of triple colonades of substantial size. The hotel had 60 rooms and could host 100 guests. The proprietor of the establishment was Mr. Harmanus Chrysler, a "fine old English gentlman", who when only a boy had aided the British during the War of 1812. Mr. Crysler had been born in New York State but at an early age settled with his parents in Upper Canada.

He had previously built a fine hotel along the Portage Route, known as the Prospect House and built the first Clifton House hotel around 1832-33. For a while he was also the manager of the Pavilion House, making him one of the most well known hoteliers in Canada.

Mr. Crysler was a jovial man and a keen sportsman who kept a pack of hounds that he used for the hunt. He also played a small role in the politics of the day having served as Warden in the Township of Stamford Council in 1843 and Reeve of the newly formed Town of Clinton from 1861-1863.

clifton house burning
The Clifton House on fire. June 26, 1898

Upon Mr. Crysler's retirement the hotel was purchased by Mr. Griffins and then to several more proprietors until it was destroyed by fire on June 26th, 1898. It would be several more years before another Clifton House would be built to replace it.

The new Clifton House was rebuilt in 1906 at a cost of $500,000.00. The hotel was furnished exquisitely and equipped with every modern convenience. The 270 rooms boasted hot and cold running water as well as electricity. A giant rotunda with palm trees greeted guests upon their arrival. The dining room could seat 600 comfortably and during the peak season the hotel would be filled to capacity. For any visitor to Niagara Falls at the turn of the 20th century the Clifton House was the epitomy of opulence and wealth.

Kick's Hotel

kicks hotel, niagara falls

Kick's Hotel, located at 136 Main Street and across the road from The Prospect House was built by Mickel Kick around 1860 and run by his wife Maria upon his death.

Eventually a son would take over proprietorship and woulod continue to function as a hotel until a fire in 1920 levelled the building. A theatre was built where Kick's Hotel once stood. Today the building is occupied by the Serbian Cultural Centre.

Ontario House

The Ontario House (also known as Brown's Hotel) was built around 1820 by John Brown. A large white building, with colonnades in front, about one fourth of a mile above the Falls, it rivaled only the Pavilion Hotel in its scale and grandeur.

At one point it would be used as a barracks by the Sixty- Seventh Regiment of Infantry, under the command of Major Brooke. The troops were paraded for review once a week, on which occasions the showy uniform and high military precision of this veteran corps, manouvering to the music of its fine regimental band, presented quite a scene to visitors and locals alike. On clear moonlit evenings the band was allowed to assemble on the bank of the river near the cataract.

In 1826 the original Ontario House burned to the ground and was replaced shortly thereafter by another hotel, with the same name. The second Ontario House would eventually be demolished in 1859.

The Pavilion Hotel

It would appear that the first Pavilion Hotel, built by William Forsyth burned down around 1838 and was replaced with a new hotel about two years later. The Pavilion Hotel occupied a very elevated and conspicuous position on the upper bank, overlooking Table Rock, and the Horseshoe Falls. It was an elaborate and well-planned building. The Pavilion Hotel sat high on the bank above the Falls and was an imposing site. Visitors to the hotel were able to view the Falls from an observatory located on the roof.

The Prospect House (River Road)

prospect house
The Prospect House, River Road. The Prospect House was one of the earliest hotels in Niagara Falls and stood between the Museum and Table Rock House.

The Prospect House was located along the river front and boasted 22 rooms with magnificent views of the Falls. Of all the hotels in the area the Prospect House was the closest to the Falls.

The Prospect House and all it's contents were sold to make way for Queen Victoria Park and the hotel was demolished in June 1888.

The Prospect House (Main Street)

The Prospect House hotel, located Main Street was one of the earliest hotels built in the vicinity of the Falls. It was built by Harmanus Crysler in 1827 and originally called the National. It was used extensively as a stop for stagecoaches as it was along the Portage Route. The hotel was known by several different names such as Ellis House, Brick's Tavern and the Ward Hotel. Kick's Hotel would be built directly across the street.