Congratulations to Nik Wallenda! The world watched as Nik Wallenda successfully made his historic crossing, walking 550 metres from the U.S. to Canada on a high-wire above the rushing waters of Niagara Falls. Wallenda is the first person in more than 100 years to attempt such a feat and the first person ever to walk across on a wire so close to the Horseshoe Falls. Wirewalkers in the past have performed downstream from the Falls.
When The Queen Victoria Niagara Falls Park Commission (now called The Niagara Parks Commission) was created in 1885, there were no restrictions in place to prevent stunts or daredevil feats from being performed over or on the Niagara River. Daredevil performances began at the Niagara River Great Gorge in 1859 and they drew large numbers of spectators. After the Commission was created, the Council of the Town of Clifton (present day City of Niagara Falls, Ontario) had to request permission from the Commissioners to stage these crowd-pleasing performances. The Commissioners gave tacit approval for several years, but became concerned by a rise in the number of deaths that occurred. They also wanted to ensure the safety of police officers and other persons who responded to rescue missions. In 1911, stunting on and over the Niagara River was therefore made illegal under The Niagara Parks Act and violators face a maximum fine of $10,000.00.
In 2012, The Niagara Parks Commission gave approval to the request by professional tightrope walker Nik Wallenda to cross the Niagara Gorge on a wire. This one-time permission was made in part to recognize the role that daredevil performances and stunting have played in the rich history and promotion of Niagara Falls. At the same time, the Commission has taken steps to ensure that such feats will not come at the expense of public safety and protecting the natural and cultural heritage that millions of visitors every year enjoy on the Canadian side of the river. Under the motion approved by the Commission, examination of a proposal submitted by a stunting professional will be considered no more than once in a generation, or approximately every 20 years, as a way to pay tribute to the stunting history. The establishment of The Niagara Parks Commission and the focus on the natural wonder of the Falls, has been a catalyst for the growth of Niagara Falls as a global tourism destination.
NPC’s top priority remains the same as it has since its inception more than 125 years ago — protecting, preserving and enhancing its parks system, historic properties and numerous attractions for the safe enjoyment of millions of visitors from around the world.