Niagara River 1965 by Julie A. Dickson

Unknown group having a picnic in Queen Victoria Park, Niagara Falls, July, 1927 From the Niagara Parks Commission Collection, Niagara Falls Public Library

Forceful rush of water, loud
flowing toward the precipice,
I stood alongside the grassy edge
of the Niagara River, shoes kicked off,
toes independently investigating
blades of grass and dandelions.

Standing away from a blanket
spread with our wicker picnic
basket, cloth napkins and cooler,
my mother’s eyes were shadowed
behind dark glasses, but I knew
they were on me and the wild
river behind, the smell of
a steel plant, an acrid invasion
to mingle odors with moisture filled air.

So close to the water, she shook her head
when I begged to wade, not knowing
the demon force would sweep
a child away like so many memories.

We picnicked with a game
of brightly colored rings, tossed
to my father and to my brother
who leapt up to catch the red one.
My mother sedentary  in contrast to
the activity of family games
beside the raging river.

Julie A. Dickson
Niagara River 1965 written 2018, previously unpublished.

Julie A. Dickson is originally from Buffalo, NY. Her father’s family was from Guelph and Vineland Station, Ontario, Canada in the late 1800’s, they founded the Culverhouse Canning Factory there. Dickson lived near Lake Erie and Niagara Falls until her early teens, when her family relocated to Massachusetts. Always the lakes-girls, her poems often reflect in memories of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and visiting the falls. Her poems appears in many journals including Ekphrastic ReviewMisfitOpen Door and others; full length works on Amazon. Dickson has been a guest editor, past poetry board member, is an advocate for captive elephants and shares her home with two rescued cats.

Julie A. Dickson was the guest editor of the Ekphrastic Review challenge to write a poem inspired by Frederic Edwin Church’s painting Niagara, 1857. See a page about ekphrastic poetry, including the poems from the Ekphrastic Review

A Pic-Nic at the Falls by Melvin Byron Misener

The Crowland Safe Guard Union and Port Robinson Presbyterian Sabbath Schools held a union picnic at the Falls on Aug. 15, and the occasion has been immortalized by the Crowland poet, as followeth : —

Wheelbarrow Race During Picnic in Queen Victoria Park, July 1927.
Photo by Edwin Hodge
Courtesy of the Niagara Parks Commission / Niagara Falls Public Library

Did you ever Pic-nic at the Falls
‡‡Upon a summer’s day ?
If not, I tell you, ’tis the place
‡‡To pass the time away.

Now first of all you name the day,
‡‡But then, if it should rain,
You fix upon another date,
‡‡And then perhaps again.

And next you must a chicken catch,
‡‡Be sure to take off its head,
Then fill it well with dressing
‡‡And roast it when it’s dead.

You fix a lot of other things
‡‡To fill the basket up ;
‘Tis well to take some dishes too,
‡‡A plate and spoon and cup.

The time comes round — you’re on the road,
‡‡Your best friend at your side,
And if you chose a pleasant day
‡‡You will enjoy the ride.

You can go by the Clifton hill,
‡‡Or down the old ravine,
No difference how you get there
‡‡Upon the park and green.

You meet your many neighbours there
‡‡Their friendship to renew,
Along perhaps with relatives
‡‡And strangers quite a few.

You’ll meet there Col. Gzowski
‡‡And he’ll not speak to you,
But gaze in blissful ignorance
‡‡Upon the sights to view.

And noon comes round, the tables spread
‡‡With pies and cakes and such
And some one at your elbow says,
‡‡“Take care, don’t eat too much.”

Now some drink water pure and bright,
‡‡But grannies have their tea,
For you can get hot water
‡‡Right at the park Q. V.

We sit along the bank awhile
‡‡And watch the Misty Maid ;
Some people will not ride on her
‡‡Because they are afraid.

The day is spent, we start for home ;
‡‡On two things we agree.
That we have had a pleasant time,
‡‡We’re tired as we can be.

Many thanks to Arden Phair for referring this poem to the Niagara Falls Poetry Project curator.

Source: Undated newspaper clipping (probably the Welland Tribune) found in The Diaries of Melvin Byron Misener, held at the Mayholme Foundation in St. Catharines.  The clipping has the date “1900” handwritten in the margin of the previous page. Misener (1847-1936) was known as “The Crowland Poet.”  Read more about Misener


Niagara Falls by William McClure

Picnic in Queen Victoria Park, 1927. Image courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Niagara!   What memories you evoke,
A mecca for all travel-folder folk;
The honeymooners’ lure, and lovers’ pride
Whose name is lauded o’er the countryside.

Here comes the tired and jaded business man
Hot from convention halls; now spick and span;
The busy housewife, proud of all her brood
And cheerful hubby, carrying their food,
The picnic lunch in famed Victoria Park,
Where they, as lovers, often sat at dark.
Now, staid and sober, middle-aged and fat,
They reminisce of other days, and that
First visit to the Falls, where all around
The matrimonial tendency they found.
The younger generation they now scan
And smile to see them follow the same plan.

There, tired old granny, taken for a ride;
Her face aglow with pleasure, like a bride,
Renews again her dreams of former days
When everything seemed rosy in a haze.
The rich, the poor, the famous from all lands
All gather round the work of nature’s hands
To view the famous cascade, glittering bright,
Which of itself provides the power for light.
The roaring torrent as it thunders o’er
And deafens nearby tourists with its roar
Casts a magnetic spell on all around
As thunderous rumbles shake the quivering ground.

But nature works her will remorselessly,
And changes in our time we all can see;
Yet still the cry goes up when pleasure palls,
That come what may, “We MUST go to the Falls.”

Source: Toronto Daily Star, March 31, 1939

According to a column by J.V. McAres in the Globe & Mail, April 14, 1951, McClure wrote more than a thousand poems published in various Canadian newspapers.

Obituary of William McClure, Welland Tribune, November 19, 1955