The Memorial Arch

Remember the Memorial Arch?

The inscription on the Arch once read:

“This Memorial was erected to honour the memory of the men and women in this land throughout their generation who braved the wilderness, maintained the settlements, performed the common task without praise or glory and were the pioneers of political freedom and a system of responsible government which became the cornerstone of the British Commonwealth”

 Sheet music cover showing both the American and Canadian Falls. The Memorial Arch is highlighted with a circle and an arrow to show proximity to the Falls.

On June 18, 1938, at Oakes Garden Theatre, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King pressed a small electrical switch. The red white and blue bunting that covered the CLIFTON MEMORIAL ARCH across the street fell away. The unveiling of the Arch was meant to mark the completion of the beautification of the area around Clifton Hill, River Road and the Honeymoon Bridge. This had begun a few years earlier with the widening of the road and the construction of Oakes Garden Theatre, which had officially opened the previous September.

Originally the Arch was built for two reasons: to commemorate the 100th anniversary of responsible government in Canada. As well, the Arch was constructed to form an impressive entrance to Queen Victoria Park from the Honeymoon Bridge. The above picture illustrates the Arch’s relationship to the Bridge entrance. Before the Arch was completed, though, the Honeymoon Bridge collapsed dramatically into the ice jam in the river, on January 27, 1938. Three years later, the Rainbow Bridge was finished some distance north of the location of the Honeymoon Bridge, with quite different approaches, and the gateway effect of the Arch was negated.

By 1967, the Arch was determined to be a traffic hazard and it was removed. Now a flower bed with two square-trimmed trees stands just north of where the Clifton Memorial Arch once greeted visitors to Niagara Falls.


Additional Sources

“The Offending Arch”

Francis J. Petrie, “Landmark gives way to traffic expediency”, Niagara Falls Review, Dec. 9, 1967


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