The location of Casino Niagara has a history which dates back to the earliest settlement of the City of Niagara Falls. In 1782, Philip George Bender, a United Empire Loyalist and a Butler's Ranger, was granted 300 acres of land situated in what is now known as the Centre of Niagara Falls. On a six acre section of that property, he built a wooden homestead which he replaced with a sturdier stone residence after the War of 1812.
This homestead property, called the Stone Cottage, was owned by the descendants of Philip Bender until January, 1880, when it was sold to John Humphrey Noyes, the founding father of the Oneida Company in New York State. Noyes had established a silver-ware factory in Oneida, NY, in 1879, and he commuted to his factory daily while living in the Bender home. In 1916, Noyes' son, Pierrepont B. Noyes opened the Canadian Oneida Company Plate Silverware factory on the property. In 1925, the Stone Cottage was demolished, and a stately new three-story silver-ware factory, the Company Plate Canadian Factory, was built by the Oneida Company on the land between the present Skyline Brock and Foxhead Hotels. A steel observation tower, called the Oneida Tower, was constructed in 1964, and inaugurated on June 15th of that year. The Oneida Company relocated its silverware plant to its present location, in the Niagara Falls Industrial park, in 1974. The original site was later purchased by A & G Holdings of St Catharines who in turn sold it to York-Hanover, who also acquired the adjacent Brock Hotel and Foxhead Inn soon thereafter.
In early 1977, plans were developed for the construction of Maple Leaf Village and Park, a $22 million amusement park which would feature many attractions, including the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. The Oneida factory was demolished, and many of the buildings in the Village were made of stone which was salvaged from the plant. The Oneida Tower underwent extensive renovations, including the addition of a covered second story to the original observation area, and was renamed the Maple Leaf Tower in 1978. Maple Leaf Village celebrated its grand opening on June 21st, 1979.
Although Maple Leaf Village was a successful attraction, it faced financial difficulties almost from the outset. It experienced a number of severe tax problems in the late 1980's and early 1990's, and finally went into receivership in January, 1993. The rides were auctioned off and although the Village stores remained open for some time, they too were eventually sold. In November, 1995, the government of Ontario announced plans to open a casino in Niagara Falls, and the former location of Maple Leaf Village was identified as the site in April, 1996. The ground was broken on April 20th, 1996, and the interim Casino Niagara opened on December 9th, 1996. It has proved to be very popular, amongst tourists and locals alike, and has already attracted millions of visitors.
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