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Facilities Update
Grand Opening Of Scotiabank Convention Centre In Niagara Falls Ontario
Trevor David


Niagara Falls Region Has a Great Story to Tell African-Americans and the
Cultural Heritage Traveler From All Nations on Earth


Friday April 8, 2011 was a great day for Niagara Falls Tourism as the dreamers and long time proponents of a Niagara Falls Convention Centre finally saw the day their dream became reality. The Niagara Region is located in South Western Ontario, Canada about 30 minutes from Buffalo, NY. Local politicians, provincial politicians and members of the business community and invited guests and the tourism media including this writer gathered to witness the ribbon cutting ceremony and speeches from politicians, the business community and various community leaders who spoke about the 20 + year dream of building a convention centre for Niagara Falls & Region that will address the missing link in the area’s tourism offerings.



This 288,000-sq. ft. world class facility consists of a 82,000-sq. ft. LEED Silver certified free span Exhibition Hall and Convention Centre, a distinctive 17,000-sq. ft. Ballroom, 26,500 sq. ft. of flexible meeting and breakout space, and an intimate 1,000-seat theatre designed for live performances. The facility, which also has state-of-the-art acoustic and presentation technologies, is located right across the street from the wonderful Marriot Gateway on the Falls and a stone’s throw away from the larger sister hotel Marriot Fallsview. Both hotels offer breathtaking views overlooking The Falls, which is the main and starring attraction in this city. Marriot Gateway on the Falls’ wonderfully gracious and dynamic V.P. & GM , Gord Chow informed me that Marriot Niagara Falls Gateway on The Falls was a recent acquisition and will be undergoing some significant renovations to upgrade the hotel so it can better serve the expected increased demand for world class meetings and convention services and facilities in Niagara Falls and Region. Contact Gord “Mr. Hospitality” Chow himself at gchow@fallsview.com and visit www.fallsview.com for more info.

The Niagara region is steeped in “Underground Railroad” history and lore, and was the place and region thousands of run away enslaved African-Americans found their first taste of freedom. It was the home and place where Harriet Tubman and many other freedom seekers found some measure of freedom from the slave master’s whip and the inhuman institution of slavery.

It was St. Catharine’s, Ontario, Canada located in the Niagara Region 45 minutes from Buffalo, NY that the indomitable “Black Moses” Harriet Tubman laid down roots. She used this as a base of operations for her freedom rescue missions into the slave holding states of the south to bring her brothers and sisters to “Freedom Land” across the border in “Canaan” Canada. Nearly one hundred years prior to the great Harriet Tubman and the “Underground Railroad” flights to freedom, Black Empire Loyalists were involved in the migration of enslaved African-Americans during the mid to late 1700’s. Ordered, cajoled and promised “40 Acres and a Mule” and freedom if they would cooperate with their slave owners and help them move to Upper Canada prior to and post the American Revolutionary War, these enslaved Africans are some of the earliest settlers of the Niagara Region and South Western Ontario along the borders of the State of New York and Michigan and deep inland about 150-200 miles to Toronto.



Their epic and glorious pioneering story of perseverance and overcoming natural and man-made obstacles has largely been untold and in many cases wiped clean and or ignored by historians and European settlers who arrived hundreds of years after these “Freedom Seeking” pioneers. However, to be fair, in recent years some city officials and politicians in the Niagara Region have taken some steps to acknowledge the pioneering and defining contributions of the early black settlers in the region. Apart from Harriet Tubman there was the heroic odyssey of Richard Pierpoint who fought bravely with the British in the American Revolutionary War and was rewarded with freedom after the American Revolutionary War.

In 1812 Richard Pierpoint a former slave who had won his freedom by fighting for the British in the American Revolution, petitioned the government to form a Black regiment. His request was granted with the condition that the commanding officer would be a White man. Pierpoint himself joined on as a private. The unit consisted of about 30 men from the Niagara region, many of whom had escaped slavery in the United States. The men fought bravely at the critical Battle of Queenston Heights. There is a monument to Harriet Tubman in Niagara-on-the-Lake and plaques commemorating the heroism and contributions of free and enslaved Africans in the Niagara Region. A must do walking tour by Ms. Maja Bannernman in full 1700’s attire will bring alive the period and time of Harriet Tubman and Richard Pierpoint as she will show you the Harriet Tubman monument. Visit www.parasollane.ca for more information.

The Niagara Region and Niagara-on-the-Lake are among the best wine growing regions in North America; the rich soil and temperate weather shaped by the Niagara Escarpment has over 40 wineries. Peller Estate Winery is one of the leading wineries in the region and offers excellent group tours and dinner packages see www. peller.com. If you love great wines and great cuisine then Niagara-on-the-Lake and The Niagara Region including St. Catharine’s Ontario should be on your before I die “To Do” list. However, I digress, the main reason for visiting the Niagara Region and in particular Niagara Falls, Ontario was the Grand Opening of the ScotiaBank Convention Centre.

Niagara Falls and its world famous cataract Falls is one of the most famous destinations on earth. The Falls is one of the wonders of the world and now with gaming and its world class hotels and wineries, Niagara Falls and Region is quickly becoming a must visit destination for meetings and conventions and incentive travel. A great place to visit for a little Caribbean vibe and to chill for groups is Jimmy Buffets, Margaritaville Bar & Restaurant overlooking the falls and a 5-minute walk from the ScotiaBank Convention Centre directly across the street from the Fallsview Casino. Ms. Delinda Brenzil, Margaritaville director of Sales & Marketing is a dynamo of a lady who will be happy to assist you in planning a group event at Margaritaville Bar & Restaurant. “License to Chill” is their motto. See www.margaritaville.ca or contact Brenzil directly at d brenzil@margaritaville.ca. Another “must do” is a Helicopter ride over the Falls and the Niagara gorge expertly delivered by Niagara Helicopters. www.niagarahelicopters.com

A great contact to tie it all together for you in terms of a meetings and conventions contact is destination marketing host and guide is Ms. Erin Mitchell of Mitchell Westlake ( www.mitchellwestlake.com). She is very knowledgeable and has an understanding and appreciation of the rich Black history and cultural heritage of the Niagara region. Also you can contact Jeff Dixon, director Sales & Marketing of ScotiaBank Convention Centre. Dixon is a great guy and he is more than willing to provide you with information that will make your meetings and conventions a smashing success in WONDERFULL Niagara Falls and Region. You can reach him at www.fallsconventions.com. If you did not get a chance to visit Niagara Falls on your honeymoon you can now visit the “Honeymoon Capital” of the world while holding your meeting and convention, thus killing two birds with one stone. Niagara Falls Region is a destination you will be hearing a lot about in the future, it’s a truly a wonderful place to visit and hold your meeting or convention.
Contact the individuals above and tell them Black Meetings and Tourism sent you.
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