Drive through Dufferin Islands and you’ll notice a hut constructed of stone boulders located at the base of Burning Spring Hill. The former police hut is the last of its kind still standing from 1907 and will be renovated to preserve a significant piece of history within Niagara Parks.
A complete overhaul will commence in Spring 2017 including a new cedar roof with copper cap, repaired block work, new masonry ledgers on existing window openings, and a number of structural repairs to wood and concrete throughout.
Once completed it will serve as a location for light displays, interpretive information on Dufferin Islands and some explanation of the plants and animals of the area.
Around 1794 this was the location of Bridgewater Mills. The mills and community were destroyed during the War of 1812 by retreating American troops. The islands were called Clark Islands and later The Cynthia Islands before the name Dufferin Islands was selected to honour the Governor General responsible for suggesting the creation of Niagara Parks.
The hut was first constructed during the development of the hydro-electric plants in the early 20th century. The hydro construction dramatically changed the appearance of Dufferin Islands leading to the creation of landscaped islands, paths and a swimming area in 1907.
Two bath houses were constructed in 1910 with observation decks on the second floor. More islands were added in 1918. Starting in 1973, paddle boats were added to the swimming area.
The Niagara Parks Police posted officers in the “hut” and the only communication was by telephone. The addition of police vehicles and portable radios in the 1920’s made the buildings unnecessary. This hut survived and was used by staff for storage and by visitors swimming nearby.
Today swimming and paddle boating are no longer part of the experience at Dufferin Islands but millions of visitors from around the world enjoy its natural beauty during the summer and the world famous Winter Festival of Lights during the winter.