The Niagara Peninsula (population 427,000) is the portion of Southern Ontario, Canada lying between the south shore of Lake Ontario and the north shore of Lake Erie. It stretches from the Niagara River in the east to Hamilton, Ontario in the west. Also known as the Niagara Region, the area is comprised of twelve municipalities, the large of which are the cities of St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland.
Niagara's moderate year-round climate, in addition to its close proximity to the United States for easy road and air access to the southern U.S., makes it a popular destination. Unique natural landscapes make the Niagara Region an important centre for agriculture and tourism in Canada. The micro climate and excellent soil conditions of the area have turned this small part of Canada into an internationally renowned wine growing region. Visitors are surprised that "cold Canada" is able to produce such vintages, but the geographical location is on the same latitude as northern California, Italy, and the south of France.
The Niagara Wine Route connects visitors to the nearly 60 Niagara wineries and the internationally-renowned Niagara Falls is one of Canada's major geographical and tourist attractions. Along with Shaw Festival, held annually in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and the Welland Canal, the Niagara Region draws nearly 12 million visitors each year.
During the early 1990s a major telecommunications highway between metropolitan Toronto and the U.S. was upgraded to become one of North America's fastest fiber backbones. It passes through the heart of the Niagara Peninsula and enters the U.S. at Buffalo, New York. This gave Niagara the advantage of having direct access to the backbone and attracting many new professional call centers.
The three major cities, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland are mostly urban with most needed services available locally. The remainder of the peninsula, especially to the far west and south, is either partially urban or almost entirely rural.
Centres of higher education are Brock University and Niagara College, both offering undergraduate and post-graduate studies in many disciplines.
Time Zone: Eastern Time
Language: English, French
Currency: Canadian Dollar
Some info via Wikipedia.
Spring (along with Autumn) is one of the best times of the year to have your Niagara wedding! Typically the winter snow is melted by mid-March / early April and most of the goregous spring blooms and mild weather Niagara is known for happens throughout April and May. Outdoor weddings may still experience cooler weather, but towards the end of May and into June are idea times to tie the knot outdoors in Niagara!
Summer weather begins in June and lasts for approximately 4 months. During the summer months, temperatures can routinely top 30° Celsius (88°F). When you factor in the humidity generated from Niagara's proximity to so much water, those temperatures can feel more like 44°C (112°F)!! Due to the excessive humidity, Niagara often experiences severe evening thunderstorms during July and August.
Autumn in Niagara is one of the most coveted and ideal times of the year to have your Niagara wedding! The sights, smells and colours of Niagara come alive during harvest season ... the scent of ripe grapes in the vineyards is intoxicating. Outdoor Niagara wedding ceremonies abound from September through late October ... it's picture perfect! The air is clear, the sky is deepening to an intense horizon blue and the leaves change from green to shades of crimson, yellow and orange.
Winter in Niagara run from late November through to March. Snow doesn't typically fall until late December or early January. Temperatures in January and February can dip down to -15°C (5°F) with the wind-chill off the Lakes making it feel much colder! This is typical Niagara Icewine harvesting weather!
The name "Niagara" is said to originate from the name of one of the earliest First Nation tribes in the area, the "Onguiaahra", meaning "The Strait" or possibly 'Thundering Waters." The French explorers that came to Niagara gave this Indian tribe the name "Neutrals" because of their position and status as peace keepers between the two warring Indian nations - the Hurons and the Iroquois.
The Neutrals were eventually wiped out by the Iroquois c. 1650 as the Iroquois sought to expand their fur-trapping territory.From this point until the arrival of United Empire Loyalists following the American War of Independence, the region was only sporadically inhabited, as the Iroquois did not establish permanent settlements in the area.
The Niagara Peninsula then became one of the first areas settled in Upper Canada by British Loyalists in the late 18th century. The capital of the new colony was established with the founding of Niagara-on-the-Lake, then called Newark. Many English and Irish immigrants settled in the peninsula, but by the 1800s, Italian and German immigrants heavily populated the peninsula and were the chief sources of immigrants followed by French, Polish, and other Eastern Europeans.
Following the agricultural period of European settlement, the Niagara area became an important industrial centre, with water-powered mills joined later by hydro-electric power generation in Niagara Falls and electricity-intensive industry in both Niagara Falls and St. Catharines.
While agriculture – especially fruit farming along the shore of Lake Ontario – remains important to this day, it was joined in the 19th century by industrial developments. A succession of 4 Welland Canals were built from the early 1800s to the early 1900s to connect the markets and mineral resources of the upper Great Lakes with the St. Lawrence Seaway In the early 20th century, General Motors built a considerable presence in St. Catharines with auto plants and a foundry, and a number of auto-parts manafucturers followed. Dry docks for ship-building and repair were also built along the Welland Canal at Port Weller on Lake Ontario.
In the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, the rise of hospitality and tourism initiatives have continued to attract millions of visitors to Niagara each year. New development beginning during the mid 1990's has spun off an upscale hospitality boom throughout the whole Niagara Peninsula. Today, more than 12 million guests visit the Niagara region annually. Ecotourism has become more popular with more people finding and exploring places such as the Niagara Escarpment, Niagara's 60-plus internationally acclaimed wineries and it's renown farm-to-table culinary destinations.
Hospitality and tourism has attracted numerous visitors to the area for more than 150 years primarily thanks to Niagara Falls. New development beginning during the mid 1990's has spun off an upscale hospitality boom throughout the whole Niagara Peninsula.
Today, more than 12 million guestsvisit the peninsula annually to see the beauty of the Falls and the Niagara Parks. Ecotourism has become more popular with more people finding and exploring out of the way places such as the Niagara Escarpment, named a world Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1990.
Another area of major tourism growth in the past thirty years has been the expansion of the grape and wine industry. The many European style Niagara wineries and vineyards have played a major role in attracting visitors seeking a unique cultural experience. Most of the local Niagara wineries offer full tours of their facilities with a few offering onsite dining featuring unique Canadian cuisine paired with their own VQA vintages. It is common for many of these wineries world class chefs to use fresh ingredients that are grown or acquired from local farms in season. Some wineries also feature live music and theatrical performances in the vineyard during the summer months. Visitors come during the coldest months of the year (usually December to February) to watch some varieties of grapes being harvested and pressed outdoors in the vineyard as part of the process of creating the sweetest, and among the most expensive, wine on earth - Ice Wine. A few Niagara Peninsula wineries have won the most prestigious international awards for their Ice Wine products, many of which are only available from the vintner.
There is an official Niagara Wine Route Guide for those that wish to self-drive while transportation companies offering wine tours operate out of major hotel and bed and breakfast establishments in Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Driving from downtown Toronto to the Niagara wine region is about an hour to an hour and a half depending on traffic.
Another major attraction for the well travelled looking for cultural activities is the famous Shaw Festival Theater (named for playwright George Bernard Shaw) located in the village of Niagara-on-the-Lake. This is also a great place for history enthusiasts to learn about the history of Canada as this was the seat of its first government when it was known as Upper Canada. This is also the location of Fort George, a British built and occupied fort during the War of 1812. Other key historical locations nearby include: Brock's Monument, the Laura Secord Monument and the battlefield sites of Battle of Queenston Heights, Battle of Lundy's Lane and Battle of Chippawa.
By Car: Niagara is connected to the rest of Ontario by a major roadway bisecting the peninsula called the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). This 6 lane freeway connects Toronto to the United States via the Niagara Peninsula. The second major roadway is Highway 406 which begins at the QEW in west St. Catharines and ends approximately 30km south in the city of Welland. Another shorter freeway is Highway 405, named the General Isaac Brock Parkway in 2006. It begins at the QEW in Niagara-on-the-Lake, just east of St. Catharines, and ends about 15km away at Queenston, Ontario where it connects to an international bridge that crosses into the United States at Lewiston, New York. This is also a major travel zone for the Canada/US trucking industry.
The Niagara Peninsula is home one to the busiest international border crossings in the world. There are 4 international crossing points between Canada and USA in Niagara - Queenston (at Lewiston, NY), Niagara Falls (2 crossings at Niagara Falls, NY) and Fort Erie (at Buffalo, NY).
Public Transit: All cities and some towns in the peninsula have taxi services while St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Welland all have a local transit commission. There is also one major airbus company that services Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo airports exclusively. Local limousine companies can also offer shuttle services for you and your guests.
By Train: Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Grimsby are all connected to the CN railway line. Via Rail offers limited daily commuter and weekend service between these three peninsula municipalities and Toronto and many points between. Via Rail and Amtrak also offer daily southbound service from Toronto to New York City with stops at the same stations.
By Air: Niagara is home to 3 airports, none of which offers international flights. International travelers will land in Canada via Hamilton or Toronto's international airports and have a short drive (30 min to 1 hour) into Niagara.
Toronto to Niagara: 1 to 1.5 hours
Hamilton to Niagara: 30 - 40 min
London to Niagara: 2 hours
Ottawa to Niagara: 6 hours
Montreal to Niagara: 6 to 6.5 hours
Quebec City to Niagara: 10 hours
Buffalo to Niagara: 30 - 40 min
Detroit to Niagara: 5 hours
Boston to Niagara: 8.5 hours
New York City to Niagara: 8 hours
FEE: The fee for a Licence is $100.00 Canadian (Cash Only). The price is subject to change - call Niagara Parks City Hall in advance to verify at the number listed below.
AGE: Both parties MUST be 18 years of age or over to obtain a Licence. Applicants who are 16 or 17 years of age must have parental consent. No person under the age of 16 years may be married in Ontario, Canada.
NUMBER OF APPLIANTS TO ATTEND BEFORE ISSUE: Both parties MUST complete and sign an application form. However, if BOTH parties are not able to go in to obtain the Marriage Licence, one person may bring in the completed application form signed by both parties along with the two pieces of identification as specified below.
ID: Applicants must provide two pieces of ORIGINAL identification such as a Birth Certificate, Driver’s Licence or a Passport.
LICENSE VALIDATION PERIOD: A Marriage Licence is valid anywhere in ONTARIO for a period of 3 months from the date of issuance.
DIVORCE OR ANNULMENT: If this is not the couples first marriage, in addition to the requirements listed above, the member previously married in Canada must produce a certificate of divorce. If a member was previously divorced outside of Canada, a divorce certificate from the State in which they had been previously married is required for production. The couple is then required to take their marriage applications and certificates of previous divorce to a Canadian lawyer. That lawyer will write a letter of opinion as to the status of their previous marriage to the Registrar Generals Office located in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Once authorization for marriage is returned, the couple may return to City Hall with such authorization and obtain their marriage license.
ADDITIONAL INFO: An application is required to be filled out. Birth certificates are required to be produced. At least two pieces of identification are required. Once the marriage license is issued in Canada, the couple may be married immediately. The marriage license is valid for three (3) months from the date of issue.
WHERE TO GET A MARRIAGE LICENSE: Marriage Licences are typically available at the local City Hall in most Ontario cities or applications can also be found online.