*** Update – September 2020 ***: after a summer unlike any other, Niagara anxiously awaits the safe return of Canadian and international geocachers. Cache has been updated with a new container and contents. As the foliage begins to dwindle in the coming weeks, please exercise extra stealth retrieving and replacing the cache.
Welcome to Canada's #1 most visited cache! (though it always remains a tight race with Banff Micro Cache in Alberta - GCMB99). This container is located in a hidden gem of a garden in the heart of the tourism district. This cache acts as a trackable exchange post for visitors to Niagara Falls who do not have the luxury of a car rental and need a well-hidden cache in the ‘middle of things’.
Most Niagara residents know the Oakes Garden Theatre as the site of many concert functions and wedding party photography sessions throughout the year. Few remember the original history of the site – two of the most spectacular fires in the city’s history. The site was originally occupied by the 1st Clifton Hotel, built in 1833 by Harmanus Crysler. It was opened for business in 1835 and enjoyed a booming life of business until it was destroyed by fire on June 26th 1898.
The site remained untouched until 1905 when the mighty Clifton Hotel was rebuilt. This five storey structure was built in a "U" shaped form at the corner of River Road and Clifton Hill facing the American and Canadian Falls. The new hotel enjoyed a prosperous three decades until the day after Christmas, 1932, when the Clifton was once again destroyed by fire that completely gutted the entire building. The fire started in the north wing and could not be controlled until most of the structure lay in ruins.
In 1933, the Niagara Parks Commission converted the site to what it is today: the Oakes Garden Theatre. Unknown to most, much of the concrete walls, pillars and arches forming the theatre are the old foundation walls of the Clifton Hotel, incorporated into the construction design. The Oakes Garden Theatre was officially opened on September 18th, 1937.
Be sure to click on the gallery below for a further pictorial history of the site.
The location of the cache is a beautiful area that will bring some sanity to the hustle and bustle. However, your timing in finding it will be everything. Because this area is somewhat secluded, it is frequented by local staffs on smoke breaks and city youth who just need somewhere to ‘hang around’. What’s more, these muggles can come from various directions quite suddenly.
Unfortunately there is nowhere great for parking. There are spots right nearby at N 43° 05.450 W 079° 04.230 but you will pay a ridiculous $5 per 30 minutes for a hop and a bound across the street.