Ontario Beach Park – #7

Even before the 1891 summer season on May 10th about 5,000 people went to the beach. About half took the trolley line and the other half took the railroad.

There were some new attractions in 1891.There was a new carousel. This is still not the one currently at the beach. This one cost $10,000. Linda Bartash in her book “Horses in Motion” (2001) says that it had three rows “with a lion, giraffes, camels, goats, zebras, and chariots, in addition to horses.” This carousel was moved to Sylvan Beach (near Syracuse) in 1896.

It appears that the Eden Musee which in 1890 probably held a waxworks was not popular as something new was in that building. It was  animal menagerie. It was run by M. S. Robinson who was the proprietor of the Moses theaters at Buffalo, Detroit and Toronto. The animals came from Central Park, NYC. Admission was 10 cents.

On June 30th someone got a great idea. They tried to get the elephant, named Mohawk, to bathe in the lake. At first he didn’t want any part of it but his handler finally convinced him into the water. Mohawk ended up liking it so well that he would end up going in the lake on weekend days  at 4:30. It would draw big crowds to watch.

In July there was Prof. E. Fonda, a magician, with his wife, Madame Fonda.

Drawing of Leuvenmark’s dive at Winnipeg, Manitoba

Prof Nella, who had been a big hit in 1890, was back again in Aug. 1891.  He did the same act where he would ascend on a trapeze hanging off a balloon and then would parachute jump into the lake. On Sept. 5th  George W. Lewis (age 25), an assistant was caught by the legs in ropes attached to the balloon. He was carried to about 2,000 feet and then the balloon came down to the water and he was rescued by a life saving crew. Ten thousand people witnessed the accident.

For the 1892 season M. S. Robinson who had the previous year been the manager of the menagerie was made manager of the whole park. A half-mile race track and grandstand was added for sporting events. The Ontario pavilion was enclosed so it could be used as a theater (It wouldn’t last very long.).

For a week in July 1892 Joseph Leuvenmark dove from a 75 ft. tower into the lake. Leuvenmark would die from a dive in San Francisco in March 1893.

On July 25, 1893, George F. Allen (AKA Prof. Nella) was hurt at Ontario Beach. He was 65 feet in the air rigging a line for a tight-rope walker named Calverly when he slipped and fell to the ground. No bones were broken but he had many internal injuries.

NEXT: Another fire.