The Day I Almost Went Over Niagara Falls


Dear (un-named deity), how did I ever survive childhood, to become the Grumpy Old Dude that I am today??

Early in the 1960s, my Father took our family to Niagara Falls. We rented a little cabin in the village of Chippewa, 5 miles above the Falls. I don’t know what it’s like there now, but back then you could stroll along the Canadian-side bank of the river, like a continuous park. Having been told of a picturesque picnic area, one day we set off downstream to take advantage of it.

If I was 6 or 7 years old, my brother was 3 or 4, and my Mother was busy holding or carrying him. Dad was laden with a box, full of food and drink, and I wandered along behind them. About halfway to our destination, there was a gnarly tree, growing out of the bank at a 45 degree angle, out over the river.

Someone had tied a rope to a branch, and a group of 13/14 year old boys were using it to swing out, and splash into the river. One lad would climb/walk up into the tree, and flick the end of the rope up to his compatriots. One by one they’d launch themselves, swim back, and one of them would take the spot in the tree.

I had a tree at home. It had a rope in it. I liked trees. I liked ropes. I liked swinging. 😯 When all had plunged into the river, I asked the kid in the tree if I could swing from the rope. Sure! And he flicked the end up to me.

I launched myself off the 8-foot high bank, and enjoyed a magnificent swing. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 14. When I reached the extent of the outward swing, I realized that I couldn’t let go – a little late! Holding on for dear life I swung back in, but the arc of the inward swing is never as long as the outward one, and it was nowhere near long enough to put me back up on that bank.

Actually, the point nearest the bank would have been the best time to let go. I’d have smacked into the clay and rock, and would have been able to scramble up the bank, dry and safe, but my Grade 1 brain was busy trying to figure out the physics of this whole thing.

Back out I swung. These guys wanted their rope back, and were shouting, “Let go! Let go!” Once more I swung back inward, this time again the arc becoming much shorter. As I reached the inner apogee – right or wrong – I let go…. and splashed down three feet from dry land.

I was used to a well-mannered Lake Huron, where you could walk out 100 feet before it got chest deep. In this river, three feet out put me in chin-deep water. Still, I scrambled out, and rejoined my family. If either parent noticed that my shoes, shorts and tee-shirt were drenched, neither of them mentioned it. Only later did I realize that I could have climbed up the rope, and down the tree, safely. At the time, I was a bit too busy to think of that. What do you think?? A young fool became an old one??  😕

17 thoughts on “The Day I Almost Went Over Niagara Falls

  1. Rivergirl says:

    Hey, you’re one step beyond me. I never had the guts to even try that as a kid. Of course I grew up in Jersey where you really didn’t want to drop into a river, but still..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alien Resort says:

    Surviving childhood must have a lot to do with luck.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Archon's Den says:

      I wrote, one day, about all the Mother-shocking things I did as a child, and yet survived. Part of it must have been luck, but I like to believe that my situational awareness and good reflexes helped. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    I suspect most people can tell of close calls. I remember as a kid running full speed across a field after a ball and getting caught under the chin by a nearly-invisible wire. My legs went out in front of me and I landed flat on my back, losing consciousness briefly. Why the wire was there I don’t know, but it was taut and horizontal. Then there was the time I fell 11 feet out of a cottonwood tree and broke my arm. Then, . . . Why am I still alive?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was you? (Just kidding.) You were lucky – you could easily have been caught up in the current and swept over the Falls. Kids are stupid, aren’t they?


  5. Drenched just upstream of Niagara, and your parents didn’t bat an eyelid! Seriously cool customers!


    • Archon's Den says:

      Between picnic preparations and a younger brother who required considerable attention, I think that they just didn’t notice. It’s a bit late now to ask them. Thanx for dropping by. 🙂 You won’t need to administer CPR.


  6. Haha great story. Young fool, old fool, doesn’t matter, we’re all fools. And you had fun! What a great memory.


  7. […] dry from his immersion in the Niagara River, yours truly was busy skulking and gallivanting around town. I approached the store by the alley, […]


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