Idyllically situated along the Welland Canal, Saint Catharines is one of Ontario’s forgotten gems. Its proximity to Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake means it can be easily overlooked. Those who visit are quickly won over by the town’s laid-back atmosphere, scenic walks, expressive vineyards and waterfront vistas. Saint Catharines is a host of multiple World Rowing Championships and a destination that’s perfect for hikers and cyclists.
The water dominates Saint Catharines, especially in the suburb of Port Dalhousie on Lake Ontario. A lakeside park and cafe-dappled boulevard are very popular here, especially during the summer months. Downtown Saint Catharines is situated near Short hills Provincial Park, an area for horseback rides, waterfall hikes and mountain biking. The rivers in the city freeze over during the winter and visitors can hire ice skates or cross-country skis to join the locals. Welland Canal divides Saint Catharines in two, and an excellent museum on the canal’s history can be found at Lock 3, along with the Saint Catharines Museum and a huge dry dock for ships. Vineyards sprawl across the west of the city and the cold climate makes for some very unique wines, notably soft white and ice wines.
Public buses connect most of the city as well providing easy transport to Niagara Falls and a range of destinations on Lake Ontario. St. Catharines/Niagara District Airport has a very limited flight schedule. The closest international airport is Buffalo Niagara, 50 kilometres south of Saint Catharines in the United States. Another aerial gateway is Toronto Pearson Airport, north of the city.
Saint Catharines calls itself The Garden City, a reference to the high proportion of gardens and trails found all over the city. Although settled almost a century earlier, the city developed when the Welland Canal was constructed.