Welcome to Check In Niagara: One local’s journey to rediscover the incredible and often overlooked spots in the Niagara Region.
I was born in Niagara Falls but I never intended to come back here after University. Despite having been raised to appreciate the historical and natural beauty of the region the stigma of Niagara as a cheap tourist trap mired with small town shortcomings had overtaken my perception of the place. I was Toronto bound, I was sure of it.
Yet that’s not the path my life took and I found myself living back in Niagara Falls. It took me a few years but I soon came to realize what a wonderful place this really is. We in the Niagara Region tend to get caught up in artificial silos. It takes no more time to travel between St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Welland than it does to go from one neighborhood of Toronto to another, and yet we tend to mentally isolate them. I had to learn that living in Niagara Falls did not mean I was somehow chained to the two or three blocks that make up the Fallsview tourist sector. From my home in the Falls I could reach Queenston Heights in mere minutes on a bicycle. Niagara-on-the-Lake wine country was just as close and brimming with sensory banquet to discover. I fell back in love with the Bruce Trail and all the fascinating spots it reaches before it departs Niagara on its long walk to Tobermory. Niagara had all the cultural, natural, gastronomical and historic wonder I could ask for, I just had to open my eyes and realize it was there.
Check In Niagara is a video journal of some of these places. It’s a tribute to the spots locals come to appreciate, the spots that (quite understandably in some cases) don’t see many tourism dollars coming their way. You often can’t find information on Shaeffe’s Path to Victory, Vrooman’s Point, the Queenston limestone kilns, or the Wetland Ridge Trail on YouTube. This site will change that.
Each video on Check In Niagara will be a short report in from one of these sites, providing a few facts and details on how to get there and why its interesting. Along with the text under each video a fully interactive Google Map will provide more context. Furthermore each spot will be tied to its virtual representation in location based social networks such as Gowalla and FourSquare. These applications allow visitors to “check in” at the spots via their GPS-enabled smart phones, creating a shared experience with their friends and opening up further opportunities to explore. As Check In Niagara develops expect further integration with those services.
This site can’t just be about me though. I want to hear from other locals in the Niagara Region. Where have you been? What have to learned to love in the area? What places do we need to turn the bright lights of the Internet on to and expose to the world? Let’s show the world there’s more to Niagara than high rise hotels, wax museums and that big wet misty thing.