The Silent Niagara

I recalled my visit to Canadian part of Niagara Falls last year in the first week of December. The sound of water streams camouflaged that of cheering and chattering crowds. Seldom did I feel tranquility in highly visited tourist attractions. In this situation, laughing out loud and screaming seemed inappropriate to do although “Making noises is prohibited” was not written in Niagara Falls house rules. For many, holiday season was still two weeks to go.

It was probably one of the best moments for those who are crazy for capturing moments through the lenses  including me, despite lacking of skills and knowledge. No blonde, brunette, black, grey heads and foreheads blocking my vision. No “unwanted people” passing in front of me (I mean, my lens) or behind the object after getting the right angle. No waiting line in visitor’s favourite spots for taking pictures.

Nonetheless, souvenir shops, Hershey’s Store, Hard Rock Cafe, Clifton Hill and other main attractions around the neighbourhood felt so dead without crowds who usually distract my photo hunting activity. Riding a roller coaster and giant wheel, visiting a haunted house, watching 4D theater at Clifton Hill without queuing up sounds like an efficient time management and no cranky feeling guaranteed. But I can imagine that doing those things all alone for hours without other people seating beside me, whether I know them or not, looks like a desperate weirdo.

I would like to drag you to the silent atmosphere at the falls and its surroundings through my pictures. Using a bit of imagination, I’m trying to figure out what the objects I captured would say about the silence if they could speak.

THE FALLS

No boats operating during winter time. You either can see me from here……

niagara falls

….or here.

bridge to the states

Just cross the bridge, then you will reach The States within a few minutes. Forget about the boat and cable car!

It’s a beautiful day, only less people feed me today

CLIFTON HILL

Ooh…ehm….hello….do we look all right?

Frankenstein: I eat more burgers than I should and nobody can stop me from that!

King Kong: I’ve made it! I scared them the hell out and now (almost) everybody’s leaving me!

It’s fun….anyone?

Who’s gonna take us home tonight?

There won’t be any thrill without your presence

Trying too hard to treat you

Let us entertain you! Ehm…..where are you?

HERSHEY’S STORE

I’ll give you thousands of “kisses” only if you purchase a lot from my store!

Welcome! Help us increasing our sales, thank you!!

Those people far right…yep! They are “crowds” of the day

Closing transactions is an enduring job

WHIRPOOL AERO CAR

It’s time for me (the cable car) to hibernate….

NIAGARA ESCARPMENT

My title “World Biosphere Reserve” doesn’t always make me the most wanted site. Low and high season somehow makes me feel……indifferent

I believe I don’t need to tell as much as what I usually do. Silence is the at the centre stage right now and therefore I should talk (write) less. Let images get their turn to speak louder than words.

Last but not least, do you agree with my little “imagination”, my thoughts about what the images would say about silence if they could speak?

And ssst………happy holidays everyone!

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Unionville in Less Than an Hour

Departing from Scarborough, the eastern part of Toronto where I stayed with my sister in early December, Unionville was the first tourist attraction I visited on the first 3 days of my stay in Canada. She warned me in advance in order not to disappoint me that it wasn’t the best time to visit this place despite all the pretty houses. Unionville is a town in the suburb of Markham, 33 km from the northeast of downtown Toronto, founded in 1794. Nonetheless, the main street or downtown was only erected in 1840 and all the buildings remain unchanged ever since. Now Unionville is the heritage conservation district especially the main street and listed in historical buildings of Markham.

All the pretty houses

Later on, I understood why she told me so. For a town being dependent on tourism, it was extremely quiet even though I saw some cars parking in front of the stores. There were merely about 10 people passing by outside in almost an hour. Plus my sister, mom and I, altogether were 13. It was just an estimated total, but enough to make number 13 became more notorious bad luck.

Regardless the superstition, there are reasons why it happened. The cold weather and wind in winter were unfriendly to this town. It wasn’t as cold as February, but usually flowers and trees start to blossom in spring. Events and festivals are held in summer. Outdoor terraces are open during summer. People prefer to go out more in spring and summer. Well, could be extended up to autumn, but definitely not winter. I guess they all make sense. Especially we were there at around 3 pm where some pubs, bars and restaurants were still closed. Schools and universities hadn’t had Christmas holidays yet.

But I still believe positive thinking beats all negative things around us. The main street was an outdoor architecture museum with goods to sell and people who operated daily activities of each store, café, restaurant and bar. No blond, black, brunette, grey and white heads blocking your vision to take pictures and to see certain details of the buildings. Visiting this town in the evening to eat out would be more alive during winter, but you won’t see the architecture that much.

Detail of the door of Old Unionville Congregational Church built by EJ Lennox in 1879, the man who built Casa Loma. I took it for the sake of the composition of the engraving, mailbox, door handle and yes, I let it blur. I hope it’s not a lame photo. I would like to see what’s behind this door, but the church was closed.

“Lost wives found here.” You bet!

I instantly got a glimpse of idea of what Unionville offers to its visitors apart from food and beverages by entering some stores without recalling their names. Suppose you’re looking for anything but main street items from fashion, toiletries, gift shop to local artworks, most probably you’re at the right place. Souvenirs were not many and a few weeks before December 25, they sold Christmas decorations too. Fashion goods tend to be vintage look, but doesn’t mean (real) vintage. Second-hand goods from previous styles, new items of a vintage-looking local brand and a cheap vintage-looking Chinese brand are the “vintage” you can get in this town. I prefer calling it vast vintage.

Bombarded “Made in China” goods are something very common in fashion even for Tommy Hilfiger, Armani etc. I could notice some cheap brands from China in the store (I forget its name) easily. I’d be careful with what I buy. I don’t mind purchasing a Canadian fashion brand which is unique and rarely available in other countries even though it’s made in China. But I really do mind purchasing a Chinese jewelry brand I can get less that $5 in my hometown sold for over $30 in Unionville or any other cities around the world. It’s an inevitable global trend that no one could blame. Needless to say, It would be perfect to have a Canadian brand “Made in Canada” in Canada.

If you get lovely real vintage, local brand, uncommon toiletries or local artwork from a gallery, it signifies that you’re a successful shopper.

The most visited building in Unionville built in 1840 by William Eakin, leased in 1872 and finally sold in 1881 to Robert Harringston. Planing Mill was a mill supplying carpentry goods for houses, churches, barns and schools in Unionville for 140 years. It was rebuilt in 1983 after the fire destroyed the building.

Starbucks looks “humble”. Without the signboard, I won’t notice it’s Starbucks.

The sweetest store selling sweets.

Above all, I loved Christmas gifts at Old Firehall Confectionery, the last place we visited to heat up our body and where we got a big cup of hot chocolate before going home. Looking at those chocolate and candy gifts, I felt tempted and pity at the same time. I wish the town had many more visitors, so they wouldn’t be wasted. I would be more than happy to have them if I didn’t gain weight very easily and had a fast metabolism system in my body. I would also like to dine in the restaurants, but I was too full on that day. Instead, my mom got a frozen stewed beef pie from a grocery store still in the main street neighbourhood, which was fortunately tasted really good.

You can run but you can’t hide!

The last object I saw was a squirrel running on a tree branch. It was a cute thing to see, especially the tree was bald so I could see the little creature crystal clear. In total, we spent about 50 minutes in Unionville including parking the car, walking to and from the car park. I was only swimming on the surface when it comes to observing this town. Nonetheless, I was glad it is well-preserved while many other suburban areas nearby and in Toronto mostly have unified square-shaped and -sorry to say, tasteless- shophouses and apartments.