The Honeymoon Capital
Displays of Love in the Niagara Region
About the Collection
The objects in this exhibit are all examples of love and romance in the greater Niagara region or have some connection to the Niagara region. One of Niagara Falls’ nicknames as a city is the Honeymoon Capital, and I was additionally interested in the personal, intimate nature of love letters, poems, and the like. On my search for sources, I also found wedding invitations, romantic advice columns from long-gone newspapers, and a romantic poem directed at a personified Niagara Falls itself. There is something about the idealized Niagara that seemed to promote romanticization. While some could attribute this to the sublime and awe-inspiring nature of the Falls, the more likely answer is one more capitalistic.
Around the 1920’s and 30’s, the boom around honeymoon tourism began to pick up pace. Tourism and Niagara Falls go together easily, as natural wonders often do, both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls were quick to snatch this opportunity. As the Great Depression had caused a wide range of loss, financially, employment-wise, and socially, the Niagara Parks Commission planned to turn the situation around by promoting Niagara Falls as a tourist “mecca” (Dubinsky, 182). Railway routes near the area were renamed “Honeymoon Specials”, the path of hotels was dubbed The Honeymoon Trail, and additionally the NPC began promoting the idea of a “second honeymoon”, for those who had already honeymooned but would enjoy doing so again or were married before the boom of honeymoon tourism. This tactic worked extremely well, bringing in all sorts of honeymooners, including several royal couples from Japan and Spain, and in 1935 the New York Times estimated about one quarter of Niagara Falls tourists were honeymooners (Dubinsky, 182). World War II also impacted marriage rates, increasing by one third and simultaneously increasing honeymoon demand. The business was a lucrative one, associating a societally expected practice with a place, and still today the honeymoon tourism industry in Niagara Falls goes strong.
These images, while not direct advertisements for the multitude of honeymoon destinations in the falls, do represent the culture and history of romance in the Niagara area. These letters are visual representations of peoples love for each other, or their thoughts on love. For example, the many love letters and poems are written in romantic, sloping font, an elegant cursive to direct the mood to be one of romance and love. The wedding invitations are visual representations of a union between two people. Additionally, visual culture has long been used to draw in tourism, like the sublime landscapes of the later 19th century. By presenting these images in such a context as describing Niagara as the Honeymoon capital, perhaps it is intriguing the viewer to associate the location with love psychologically, as advertisements focused on newlywed couples present in the city to link the two concepts together as well.
Whether focused in on the personal romance between two people writing to each other, or the widespread view and association with Niagara Falls, both the cities and the waterfall, with romance both in spirit and personified, it is undeniable that Niagara earned its title as the Honeymoon Capital in its heyday.
Buckingham, J.S. Poem Entitled To Niagara.12 August 1838. Brock Archives and Special Collections. Niagara Falls Handbill Collection, 1838-1886, n.d. RG 551
Dubinsky, Karen. The Second Greatest Disappointment Honeymooning and Tourism at Niagara Falls . New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999. Print.
Macdonell, John. Love Poem Addressed to Miss Mary Powell. N.D. Brock Archives and Special Collections. Jarvis Family fonds 1789 – 1847, N.D. RG 563.
May, Andrew. Letter to Erectra Morey. 10 November 1850. Brock Archives and Special Collections. May-Morey Papers, 1849-1861, 1905, 1917 RG 79
McPherson, Anne. Wedding Invitations. 1935-1975. Brock Archives and Special Collections. Anne McPherson Family Fonds, 1852-2011 RG 380
Reynolds, Eleanore. Letter to Arthur Schmon. 29 April 1919. Brock Archives and Special Collections. Arthur A. Schmon fonds RG 524.
Reynolds, Eleanore. Letter to Arthur Schmon. 16 January 1918. Brock Archives and Special Collections. Arthur A. Schmon fonds RG 524.
Wetherald, Ethelwyn. Advice to an Engaged Girl. 28 May 1888. Brock Archives and Special Collections. Agnes Ethelwyn Wetherald fonds RG 84.
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