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junctionist

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The Niagara Parks Commission is finally getting around to reusing its landmark historic power stations. The former Rankine Generating Station is being restored and turned into a museum and cultural attraction called the Niagara Parks Power Station.


Photo by Robert Jones

Recently, the Globe and Mail published an interesting article about the project, "Niagara Falls’ newest attraction, Niagara Parks Power Station, offers visitors a closer look at its historical power":

The senior director of engineering at Niagara Parks leads the team responsible for breathing life into the once-abandoned hydroelectricity station that will open its doors to tourists this summer – and he makes no secret of his affection for the building.
This is the kind of place that young families and engineering geeks will both love. Visitors will be able to choose between guided and self-guided tours of Generator Hall, the 173.7-metre long, 18.3-metre tall main floor of the plant. There, exhibits, including some developed in conjunction with Sudbury’s Science North, help explain the water flow in the plant; hands-on opportunities include a chance to help solve simulated emergencies (such as a storm-blown tree branch threatening entry into the power station’s penstocks and wrecking the turbines below) using levers and audio instructions. Many of the exhibits focus on people, and alongside Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse – who were involved with the building’s creation – Indigenous peoples’ and women’s perspectives are shared. Guests can also use their own handheld devices to scan story markers for deeper content.
The building – and the generators and equipment it contained – had sat ignored and unused since its decommissioning. In 2018, a 10-year strategic plan introduced by the Niagara Parks Commission, which has a mission to preserve and conserve, put the possibility of a resurrection in motion. Buy-in from the provincial government in 2020 (along with its offer of a $25-million loan) made it a reality.
As the adaptive reuse work continues, so too will the expansion of tourism experiences. Night visits are expected to commence Sept. 3 with Currents: Niagara’s Power Transformed, an immersive light and sound show where the power plant comes to life through laser effects, projection mapping and reactive technology. The 40-minute, 3D show designed by Thinkwell, a design firm from Montreal, will be time-ticketed to control capacity.
And by summer 2022, visitors will be able to replicate the water’s trip through the Tailrace Tunnel Experience. A glass-enclosed elevator will take them down the shaft and allow them to walk the almost 671 metres that it would have travelled – providing an all-new vantage point facing the American Falls and overlooking the Niagara Gorge.

All in all, it's a fantastic development for heritage preservation, culture, and tourism in the region. I like the combination of preserving heritage while also incorporating cultural events. Too often, people feel that there's no significant history in the region, which is the result of neglecting and demolishing heritage buildings and spaces. The area played a significant role in developing the use of electricity in modern life by making it more affordable and plentiful through hydroelectricity.

Unfortunately, the more imposing Toronto Power Generating Station remains mothballed under the ownership of the Niagara Parks Commission. But this project is a good start towards revitalizing what are some of the most impressive buildings in the country.
 

interchange42

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AlbertC

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More info about the Currents: Niagara's Power Transformed show:



Photos from this article by the Star:


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