This exhibition examines the Niagara River and Falls and their importance over the last two centuries. Nearly two hundred years ago the lands surrounding the Niagara River and its adjoining lakes were a major theater in the War of 1812. For nearly three years, American, British, Canadian, and Native Peoples engaged in a searing conflict that saw the burning of towns and villages, the destruction of farms, crops and livestock, and the deaths of more than 3,000 people on both sides of the border.
In the years that followed the conclusion of the war in 1815 the river that had been the crucible of war developed into a crucible of industry. The force of the river and its great falls eventually powered an industrial explosion. The lakes that were once contested were shared. The waters of war returned once again to waters of trade, transport and commerce. The relationship between the United States and Canada has developed into one of stability and interdependence.
Yet industry changed the landscape and along with growth and opportunity, it offered pollution to the waters that made its existence possible. That age has also largely passed but the waterways remain. The Niagara River and its lakes link peoples, nations, a shared heritage, and a common responsibility to protect this precious resource.
Andrew Nicholls Ph. D.