Exploring Great Destinations in the Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada

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Exploring Niagara-on-the-Lake

Chautauqua - Mississauga Beach

If you travel north on Queen Street and follow the lakeshore west on Niagara Boulevard, you will find yourself in an area known as Chautauqua. Originally the area was referred to as Crookston, after William Crooks, a UEL who was awarded a land grant in 1808. In the late 1800's the land was purchased by members of the Niagara Assembly who proceeded to put forth a charter for "the establishment and maintenance of a summer resort under religious, temperance and educational auspices for literacy, social and scientific purposes."

In May, 1886, the town of Niagara agreed to exempt the 92 acre parcel of land from taxation for a period of twenty years. The first summer the community of Chautauqua, fashioned after a similar one in Jamestown New York consisted of dozens of tents erected on the old Crooks farm.

Over the next few years cottages would be built, as well as a three storey hotel. The streets were laid out like spokes in a wheel with the hotel and an ampitheatre that could seat 4,000 people located within the perimeter of Circle Street. All streets leading out from Circle Street, the hub of the community, were named after great literary icons and philosophers.

The summer resort known as the Canadian Chautauqua was promoted to citizens of Toronto and Western New York. The steamers Cibola and Chicora owned by the Toronto and Niagara Naviagtion Company made two trips a day from Toronto to Lewiston with a stop at Niagara-on-the-Lake. From mid June until mid September the Michigan Central would carry passengers from all over Canada to Niagara.

In 1891 the Niagara Assemby charged $1.00 for a seasons pass to the grounds. A day pass could be had for 10 cents. During the day residents could attend classes in English, History, Political Science, Physical Education, Music, Art and Botany and concerts and lectures in the ampitheatre. As well as a lovely sandy beach recreational activities included tennis courts, bowling greens, baseball diamonds and croquet lawns. Small boat rentals were available at the lakeshore. Rates at the Chautauqua Hotel ranged from $2.00 a day to $14.00 per week.

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