Maple Leaf Village
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (June 2009)|
Maple Leaf Village is a former amusement park and entertainment complex in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Opened in May 1979 it was operated by Conklin Shows (operators of the midway at the Toronto Canadian National Exhibition). Falling on hard economic times in the early 1990s, it was restructured and replaced with Casino Niagara, a government run casino.
In the early 1900s, the land was host to Frontier Amusement Park, which boasted one of Canada's first all-steel roller coasters. By 1910, the amusement park was abandoned and dismantled.
Known today for their manufacture of fine silverware, the Oneida Community Plate Corporation Ltd. constructed their local corporate offices here by the 1940s. It was decided in the 1960s to construct an observation tower with a view of the falls from their north side. (The Seagram Tower, now the Konica Minolta Tower, had been constructed in 1962 with a view from the south side). Billed as the area's first open-steel observation tower, it was opened for business by the 1964 tourist season.
Tower becomes amusement park
When Oneida relocated their offices in the late 1970s, York Hannover Developments Ltd. and Wost Holdings Ltd. invested $26 million in the creation of an amusement park concept, after the site was cleared. Its initial annual payroll was $3 million. The park pre-dated by two years the opening of Canada's Wonderland, presumed at that point to cost $105 million when completed.
The three-story complex of Maple Leaf Village was constructed around the tower. It boasted a multi-screen movie theatre, numerous attractions (through the years: That's Incredible! museum and the Elvis Presley Museum were here), countless souvenir and apparel stores, Lillie Langtry's tavern and club and, in later years, the first locale for the Canadian comedy cabaret, Yuk-Yuk's. On the North side of the property was a complete carnival midway, complete with "North America's Largest" Ferris wheel which, along with the tower (now called the Kodak Tower) dominating the northern tourist skyline. As part of the Clifton Hill tourist area, the facility was well received and attracted numerous crowds for years.
Eventually, however, the novelty began to wear thin as shops folded and main tenants relocated to other locations with more suitable infrastructure. Admission costs to the Kodak Tower were eliminated for a few years, until unsafe conditions closed the tower altogether in the early 1990s. At the end of the 1992 season, the amusement park closed down. In early spring of 1993 the Ferris wheel was dismantled and shipped to Asia for use there.
By January 1994, only a dozen shops remained in operation throughout the sprawling three-story structure. Redevelopment of the property was necessary, as many more shops were preferring on-street access in the burgeoning tourist area. The Maple Leaf Village Mall closed for the last time on Feb 1st 1995.
Casino Niagara opened in the building on December 7, 1996; it is still in operation today. The site was intended to be a temporary site, but the new site was filled by the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort. The tower received a new look to reflect its more upscale surroundings, although there currently is no public access.
- "Disney-style amusement parks open in Canada". The Phoenix (Saskatoon SK). 25 June 1979. p. 27. Retrieved 4 May 2011.