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Lakeside Park Carousel

 

Left: The smiles say it all (JLM Studios); Top right: Even big kids enjoy a ride (JLM Studios); Bottom right: The antique hand-carved carousel animals are genuine works of art in their own right (Bonnie Redman).

 

The smiles and laughter which the Lakeside Park Carousel inspire are a century old tradition. For the 1920s price of 5 cents a ride, you can experience the carousel's magic and its wonderful ability to bring out the child in all of us.  The carousel is a timeless tradition which connects past, present and future generations. It’s open from Victoria Day weekend in May until Thanksgiving Monday in October. The lineup rarely dwindles as kids of all ages queue to be transported back into time. 

Hours of Operation

 

May 18 – June 9

 

Weekends only – Saturday and Sunday

10 am – 9 pm

 

June 10 – Sept. 1

Daily

10 am – 9 pm

 

September 2 – Oct. 13

Weekends only – Saturday and Sunday

10 am – 9 pm

 

Holidays

Victoria Day (Monday, May 20) 10 am – 9 pm

Thanksgiving Day (Monday, Oct. 14) 10 am – 9 pm

 


TripClip Audio File

(more about TripClips...)

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Click to play or download Lakeside Park Carousel TripClip (mp3 format)

This destination is also part of the TripClip tour 'Touring the Twelve.'

 

Directions

QEW exit 47, St. Catharines (Ontario Street)

North on Ontario Street towards Lake Ontario, away from downtown

Left on Lakeport Road at lights

Follow Lakeport Road over bridge

Veer right at traffic lights towards beach

Free parking at Lakeside Park

Historical

The Lakeside Carousel is an original creation of the Charles I.D. Looff Company of Riverside, Rhode Island, and was carved between 1898 and 1905 by Marcus Charles Illions, an employee in Looff's company. In 1876, Looff  built the first carousel at Coney Island. His company manufactured many carousels, several roller coasters and Ferris wheels, and created California’s famous Santa Monica Pier in 1916.

The carousel came to St. Catharines in 1921 from its earlier home at an amusement park at Hanlan’s Point in Scarborough, an eastern suburb of Toronto. It was purchased to be one of the 58 attractions in the Lakeside Park Amusement Park that flourished in Port Dalhousie. In those days, more than a quarter million people crossed the lake in steamships each year to visit Port Dalhousie on weekends.

The carousel has 68 animals and 4 chariots.  The accompanying music is played by an antique Frati band organ which uses a system of paper music rolls to play real musical instruments, much as a player piano operates its keys. It’s not the original band organ – the carousel originally had an Artizan band organ that was damaged in a 1974 fire, along with 20 of the carousel animals. The original organ was eventually moved to the St. Catharines Historical Museum. 

Each animal has been hand carved and they still have real horsehair tails.  The carousel animals are maintained and restored by a group of volunteers known as the Friends of the Carousel.

The Lakeside Park Carousel is one of approximately 350 antique hand carved carousels still operating in North America, and is quite large in size.  Many carousels have up to a maximum of 18 animals in 2 rows. The largest known carousel in the world contains 269 animals. 

The original Looff lion on the Lakeside Park Carousel is one of 5 existing Looff lions in all of North America – it is the only one that has its head turned to watch onlookers as it circles by.  The larger lion on the Carousel was carved in 2004 by the Friends of the Carousel to replace another original lion which was stolen.

The city came close to losing its historic carousel in 1970. Local businessman Sid Brookson, who owned the carousel for many years, put it up for sale in 1970 at $25,000. Afraid that it would be purchased by an out- of-town buyer, and determined to keep the treasure in St. Catharines, local antique dealer Dorothy Crabtree raised some money on her own, and enlisted the help of students from local high schools, Brock University and Niagara College who held a walk-a-thon to raise $8,000. But as the deadline loomed they were still $5,000 short. Brookson eventually agreed to lower the price, and the Lakeside Park Carousel was saved.

Dorothy Crabtree turned over ownership to the City of St. Catharines on July 17, 1970, with one condition: that the price of a ride would forever remain at five cents. So far, the city has kept its promise.

A century of wear and tear eventually took its toll on the vintage Frati band organ, which had been taken out of service in the mid-1990s. In the interim, it was replaced with taped music – better than nothing, perhaps, but regular visitors to the park missed the ambience of the original wheezy instrument. After four years of taped music and a full year of repairs, the instrument was restored by the Schlicker Organ Company in Buffalo. But by 2004, the antique instrument was once again desperately wonky and out of tune, so it was removed from the carousel for another restoration. After a $26,000 repair job by a specialist firm in  Erie, Pennsylvania, the venerable organ was again reinstalled in February 2006. Two ballerina figures on the organ, which had been unable to dance for decades, were also repaired and now spin on their toes in time with the music. Since the season opened in May of 2006, visitors have once again been able to experience the nostalgic strains of the refurbished vintage instrument.

Today the Lakeside Park Carousel is run by the City of St. Catharines at a considerable financial loss, but it remains a significant tourist draw and a beloved St. Catharines tradition.

Recreational

There's lots to do in Port Dalhousie.  In addition to your visit to the Lakeside Park Carousel, enjoy a walk along the boardwalk, picnic in the park, relax on the sandy beach, and visit local shops and restaurants.  Park amenities include free parking, playground, pavilion, large open green space, concession booth, washrooms, and transient dockage.

 

Ownership & Management

City of St. Catharines

Admission Fee

5 cents per ride

Address

Lakeside Park Carousel
Lakeside Park
Port Dalhousie, Ontario
L2N 5B4 Municipality City of St. Catharines

Telephone

(905) 688 5601 ext. 1556 / (905) 934-1221 (Carousel Staff during hours of operation.)

GPS Co-ordinates

Latitude 43.203566097916
Longitude -79.266238666949
UTM easting 640850
UTM northing 4784880

Administration

Lori Mambella
Programming Supervisor
Recreation and Community Services
City of St. Catharines
320 Geneva Street
St. Catharines, Ontario
L2R 7C2
Tel (905) 688 5601 ext. 1556 / (905) 934-1221 (Carousel Staff during hours of operation.)
Email lmambella@stcatharines.ca

Trail linkages 

Waterfront Trail
Merritt Trail

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