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

Remembering Victoria Park by Evelyn M. Watson

watson remembering  

watson remembering
Gateway to Victoria Park, Niagara Falls, Canada. Courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Let conversation seek the Beautiful —
Rhyming bird-wings, and that so-magic poise
Of nature’s flute-song, or cello music mellow,
Green-berried vines that edge a lapping pool
Where lily-stars are doubled, white and yellow :
And let me find the day’s own cadences —
Gay frocks, that flower upon a windy line,
That old-blue plate with cakes for tea: yes, these
Amenities that seem so wise and fine :
You see, my memory holds loveliness,
For I awoke among old forestries
Where trees were as endued with consciousness
Till, now, I find fresh grace when work is hard,
And learn to live the inner poetry. . . .
Of course, not as a known, exalted bard,
But from a spirit, tree-wise, lifted Thee !

Each season, now, there’s towering luxury
In “Ceremonial trips” among small hills :
About my place I plant, each year, some tree,
(Green foil for double-gold of daffodils) —
And, for each day, a ritual — some joy,
The crisp delight of this, so tiny lawn,
And curved flower-buds that well employ
Ecstatic tints from summer’s tenderest dawn ;

And yet it seems I scarcely paused until
I went afar for beauty — then I found
The very burgeoning from homey hill,
The self-same glory from my plot of ground;
From nuded winter’s boles to Spring’s small buds,
To summer’s windy leaves that dance and quiver,
I find The Beautiful — oh ! wide green floods,
Niagara-of-the-year, from Him, the Giver ;
And, though I go each season to the Fall,
Discovering one great Beauty, find it all !


Source: Evelyn M. Watson. Poems of the Niagara Frontier. New York: Dean & Company, 1929.

Click to see more poems from Watson’s Poems of the Niagara Frontier

watson remembering

The Unforgotten by Caroline Eleanor Wilkinson

Unveiling and dedication of the Soldier’s Monument in Queen Victoria Park, May 22, 1927. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Public Library

Unforgotten, unforgotten are the stalwart and the brave,
Men who died for home and country, grand old Union Jack to save.
Though the war-drums beat is over, and the turmoil seems a dream,
Still the faces of our loved ones, ever in our memry gleam.

Trained not in their youth to warfare, yet they fought right valiantly,
Staunch at Vimy and in Flanders, routed enemies would flee;
Through the din of battles dauntless, for they knew their cause was right,
Though barrage was shrieking round them, on they struggled day and night.

Midst the gas and big guns roaring, quaking earth and bursting shell,
So heroic was their conduct, tongue can never fully tell;
Ringing through the coming ages, both in history and song,
Will be deeds of worth and valor in that fray so fierce and long.

In the air they were as fearless as the eagle in its flight,
Scouting in the zone of danger, flying through the clouds of night,
Proving to the Mother Country, Canada had offspring strong
Who were ready for their duty over there to right the wrong.

Now they rest in foreign regions, far away from native land,
Still in spirit they are with us, a revered and noble band;
Unforgotten will their names be, treasured in our hearts theyd dwell,
Sacrificial price of victry, as they in the combat fell.

Greater than our expectations was the prowess of our men,
Naught have we to give in tribute save a Cenotaph to them,
So we place it on Niagaras wonderful and far-famed shore,
In the park where singing waters swell in deep, triumphal roar.

There the flowers thrive and blossom, showered with the rivers spray,
Near the falling, rushing torrent, swiftly flowing there alway;
Where the silver birch and maple in the Spring are to be seen,
(Symbol of the resurrection) with new buds of living green.

“Written for the unveiling of the Cenotaph in memory of our beloved dead, and read on that occasion.”

Source: Caroline Eleanor Wilkinson. Poems That Appeal. Niagara Falls, Ont. : F.H. Leslie, Limited, Printers, 1928