Boasting ~30million visitors a year, Niagara Falls is a hot destination for many a traveler. Part of this destination’s appeal goes beyond the falls, with many art installations and historical sites to observe and enjoy. A particularly time-oriented attraction at Niagara Falls is its massive floral clock. Being part of a family of floral clocks from around the globe, this timepiece holds quite a bit of fascination for the falls’ guests—as well as the horologically minded. Following in the footsteps of the original 1903 Edinburgh floral clock—the progenitor of all other floral clocks in existence today—this time keeping floral arrangement takes up some solid real estate on the Niagara Parkway. As a matter of fact, it still stands as the world’s largest of these botanical clocks. Originally built in 1950 by Ontario Hydro, a hydro-electric power company, this clock continues to sound-off every hour and quarter hour to Niagara guests.
Three times larger than the original Edinburgh clock in Scotland, the dial of this clock measures at 12.2 meters in diameter (about 40 feet). The planted portion of this dial measures 11.6 meters. Hosting anywhere up to 16,000 (sometimes more) carpet bedding plants, the floral aspect of this large timepiece is changed out twice a year—with new themes. As well, during the Winter months the clock features colorful stones—instead of carpet bed plants. Surrounding the clock itself is a water garden. This water garden is 3 meters wide with a diameter of 26 meters (about 85 feet). The stepped stones separating the flowers from the water garden have a tower standing at the twelve-o-clock position above them. This tower stands about 3.5 meters (11 feet) above the clock, when looking at it from the front. This tower houses metal rods that play a Westminster Chime every quarter hour. Chiming from these rods is pretty quiet, so there are two 25 watt speakers that amplify the chime inside of the clock’s tower. This is incredibly helpful in ensuring guests are greeted clearly on the parkway.
Made of stainless steel, the hands on this clock are very impressive. Two of the three hands weigh 500 pounds—the minute and hour hand, respectively. The second hand on this picturesque dial weighs in at 250 pounds. As one could imagine, these hefty hands require some serious torque to sweep throughout the day. And indeed, beneath the clock there’s a motor that tells time with 2 horsepower—an almost absurd amount of power for one clock. This motor/movement runs in a bath of oil, to keep all the parts running smoothly. It operates at 1,500 rotations per minute to keep the balanced hands timed out well. Designed by Ontario Hydro, this motor had some expert engineering behind it. It’s not often large clocks operate on this kind of motor. Its design gives the second hand a sweeping motion, instead of a tick, which is an intriguing sight—especially for timepiece enthusiasts.
Among Its Peers
In 1977 the clock was taken over by the Niagara Parks Commission, after Ontario Hydro’s tenure. However, this did not change much—except for a few of the markings on the clock’s stone surface. With many smaller timepieces only lasting a few years nowadays, it’s impressive to see any large time-oriented machine still ticking. Nearing its 70th anniversary, this beautiful clock is worth a visit—especially if you’re already planning a trip to Niagara Falls. Otherwise, you do still have some options. Although the other clocks in the world may not have the same size and exact style, floral clocks are a general treat. Having locations like Tehran, Iran; Vienna, Austria; and Christchurch, New Zealand (among many others), there are plenty of sister city floral clocks to visit—all over the world. On top of that, there are some clock companies that specialize in designing these types of clocks for public spaces. So, any would-be parks and recreation types, government officials, or otherwise enthusiastic private investors can add this decoration to their preferred public space. However, it may take quite a bit of elbow grease to best Ontario Hydro’s original design. We’ll keep a line open to the Guinness World Records group—just in case.
Times Ticking has been in operation for more than 30 years, since 1982. We have performed watch repair for customers both locally and internationally. If it Ticks! We KNOW it! Our team of watch repair technicians have a combined experience in watchmaking of over 120 years.