Sitting at the top of the Niagara Escarpment in the village of Queenston in Niagara-on-the-Lake you’ll find Queenston Heights park. A blissful place full of history, gardens, and magical views overlooking the Niagara River. It’s hard to imagine a bloody war raged here over 200 years ago.
The tallest structure in the park is the 184-foot Brock’s Monument, a column built entirely of cut stone, and decorated with mythical creatures at the four corners. The monument is a tribute to the bravery and efforts of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock whose actions helped define the border between Canada and the U.S. during the War of 1812.
Historical lessons state that it was Brock who led the successful capture of Detroit early during the war earning him the title, Hero of Upper Canada. Upper Canada was Ontario’s former name.
Brock was killed here at Queenston Heights on October 13, 1812 shortly before the war ended in December. However, all was not lost. General Sir Roger Hale Sheaffe took charge and was successful in defending this border. Thus, the Niagara River became a natural border between the two countries. Brock’s name is memorialized in many places in the Niagara Region, including Brock University in St. Catharine’s Ontario.
Though past historical records did not make much mention of the help the Six Nations people gave to their armies on both sides of the border, the records are being amended to reflect this fact. At Queenston Heights Park there is a peace memorial symbolizing the efforts of the native people during the War of 1812. It was commemorated in 2016. The Landscape of Nations: The Six Nations and Native Allies Commemorative Memorial stands as a testament to the contributions and sacrifices of the Six Nations peoples during that time.
Two bronze sculptures of native leaders John Norton and John Brant form the entryway to the circular clock-like memorial with bronze medallions integrated into cement markers reflecting the beginning and the end of the war. The Peace Tree stands as a reminder to our current time of peace gained through the turbulence of the past, and also through the bravery of the indigenous people who fought alongside British soldiers.
Further along in Queenston Heights Park is the Fred Willett bandshell, where you can enjoy a free concert every Summer Sunday afternoon between 2 and 4 pm. The last concert of the season will take place on September 1st this year.
I love the little garden and the water feature in front of the bandshell. The gardens in Queenston Heights Park were overflowing with a mix of florals. They are well tended and oh so pretty. And the floral centrepiece at the front entrance with steps leading to Brock’s Monument are spectacular. You can stop here in the circular driveway for a photo op, but you cannot park here. The parking lot is further west, and there is plenty of free parking.
Did you know:
The area at the circular driveway in front of Brock’s monument at Queenston Heights is called Roy Terrace and is the birthplace of Niagara Falls.
There are also plenty of trees on the grounds. As a lover of nature and history, I was excited to find this space, and a Ginkgo Biloba tree in Niagara of all places! They are native to China, but do grow in zones 6 and 7, which is where Niagara resides.
A weekday afternoon means it wasn’t crowded at all. There are benches to picnic at, but bring a blanket or some chairs – lounging in the grass on a sunny day feels great. You can pick your spot and spend as much time here as you’d like.
There is also a restaurant on the grounds with an open-air patio. I didn’t go, because I came prepared with picnic in hand, which just gives me an excuse to go back.
If you’ve been or do go to Queenston Heights Park, let me know in the comments below what your experience was. Mine was five star! A blissful summers day well spent at the top of Niagara.