The Niagara Peninsula stretches from the Niagara River west to a point south of Stoney Creek, Ontario, where Lake Ontario veers north towards Hamilton. Sandwiched between Lakes Ontario and Erie, it is renowned its fruit and world-class wineries.
Niagara Falls four neighboring waterfalls are
- DeCew Falls
- Rockway Falls
- Ball's Falls
- Beamer's Falls
12 Mile Creek got its name because it is 12 miles (19 km) from the Niagara River, which is also the border with the United States. In Southeastern St. Catharines, where 12 Mile Creek tumbles over the Niagara Escarpment, it produces DeCew Falls. A hydro-electricity plant located at DeCew Falls still generates power for the Ontario grid.
The Upper DeCew Falls is 60 feet (18 metres) in height and has a crest of 25 feet (7.6 metres). Located at the edge of the Upper DeCew Falls is the historic Morningstar Mill.
The Lower DeCew Falls are 27 feet (8.2 metres) in height with a crest of 20 feet (6 metres) wide, but they have a good volume of water that crashes against the large rocks.
DeCew Falls was named after Captain John DeCew, a hero of the War of 1812. His house served as a headquarters for the British. Laura Secord went there to announce the American invasion after travelling along the base of the escarpment from Queenston.
Rockway Falls is a modest waterfall produced by the waters of 15 Mile Creek. They are located off of Eighth Avenue (Niagara Regional Road 69) between 11th Street and 9th Street. Rockway Falls has a height of 53 feet (16 metres) and is 15 feet (4.5 metres) wide. There are several smaller falls located at the base of the main fall.
Rockway Falls can be observed from the Bruce Trail, a hiking trail that spans the entire length of the Niagara Escarpment.
Ball's Falls is located southwest St.Catharines and are produced by Twenty Mile Creek cascading over the escarpment at two points. The lower waterfall is 90 feet (27.4 metres) in height with a crest line of 85 feet (25.9 metres). The upper falls is 30 feet (9.1 metres) high and 65 feet (19.8 metres) wide.
According to William Gillard and Thomas Tooke (The Niagara Escarpment: From Tobermory to Niagara Falls, University of Toronto Press, 1975) the powerful force of Ball's Falls was ideal for 18th century settlers building mills for the communities of Jordan and Vineland. The falls were named after Jacob Ball, one of the first mill operators in the area. The cataracts were located on his property and they were using floor jacks there.
The area was settled by Mennonites and United Empire Loyalists fleeing the U.S. War of Independence.
The development of the Welland Canal, the railroads and hydro-electricity led to the decline of the mills. An old mill, a log cabin, a church, a blacksmith shop and a limekiln adjacent to the falls have been preserved by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.
Beamer's Falls is created by 40 Mile Creek cascading over the escarpment at a height of 40 feet (12.1 metres). Beamer's Falls is 25 feet (7.6 metres) wide. One of the first Loyalist settlements was located in this area. The falls are named after John Beamer who purchased 300 hundred acres of land and built a sawmill and grist mill in the 1780s.
Beamer's Falls are located in Beamer Point Conservation Area south of Grimsby. The area is a major centre for hawk watching in Ontario.
For more on the heritage waterfalls of the Niagara Escarpment: Gillard and Tooke, The Niagara Escarpment: From Tobermory to Niagara Falls, University of Toronto Press, 1975.