Photo of Clifton House Hotel

Clifton House Hotel

Niagara Falls, Canada West

Niagara Falls was already well established as a desirable and even stylish tourist destination since the mid nineteenth century. Billed as one of the world’s seven great wonders, it was popular with tourists and honeymooners alike, in part because recent improvements in rail travel and rail connections made it a comfortable trip from New York or Boston. The Moodies travelled there by steamship from Toronto to Queenston. They stayed at the Clifton House hotel on the Canadian side on the site of the notoriously vulgar style amusements on Clifton Hill where Susanna witnessed new wonders such as the introduction of printed menus and french cuisine, signs of growing prosperity and sophistication.

“Yes, the great object of my journey—one of the fondest anticipations of my life—was at length accomplished; and for a moment the blood recoiled back to my heart; and a tremulous thrill ran through my whole frame. I was so bewildered—so taken by surprise—that every feeling was absorbed in the one consciousness that the sublime vision was before me; that I had at last seen Niagara; that it was now mine for ever, stereotyped upon my heart by the unerring hand of nature, producing an impression which nothing but madness or idiocy could efface!” It was that kind of stunning experience!

Susanna Moodie, Life in the Clearings (1853)