When Does “Daring” Become “Foolish”?

English: Blondin carrying his manager, Harry C...

This is not the most important thing that has happened in Canada on September 15 over the years, but it is perhaps one of the most colourful.  Edward Prince of Wales came to Canada in 1860 representing Queen Victoria.  He opened Victoria Bridge in Montreal, laid the cornerstone of the original Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, and presided at several important functions.  When Queen Victoria died, he became King Edward VII.

Edward was only a young man when he came to Canada in 1860, and efforts were made to see that he had a good time, despite his dour guardian, the Duke of Newcastle.  One of the entertainments was a visit to Niagara Falls on September 15, where he saw an astonishing performance by the great French tightrope walker Blondin, whose real name was Jean François Gravelet.

A tight-rope was stretched across the river, over the roaring cauldron of the falls, and Blondin crossed to the other side carrying a man on his back!  When he returned, he amazed everyone by getting on stilts and walking across on them!  The Prince was so delighted that he gave Blondin a purse of $400.  They became great friends and Blondin eventually went to live in London, where he died in 1897 at the age of eighty.

Blondin. (Tightrope walker dangling from a wir...
Blondin. (Tightrope walker dangling from a wire over the Niagara.), from Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blondin walked the tightrope over Niagara Falls a number of times.  It was 1, 100 feet long, and 160 feet above the water.  The first time, in 1859, he went across blindfolded.  Then he crossed in a sack.  On another occasion he pushed a wheelbarrow.  Perhaps his greatest achievement was that of carrying a small stove to the half way mark, and balancing there while he cooked and ate an omelette.

Blondin kept stunting in other parts of the world until he was seventy-nine, and he never had a serious accident.  His last performance was in Belfast, Ireland.

To read more about Niagara Falls “artists”, I suggest going to Niagara Parks Canada.


    • I sort of remember hearing that it’s illegal now, except by special permission by the Powers that Be … Like when the guy crossed it last year. I certainly wouldn’t try it, even if they built a bridge! LOL 🙂


  1. I think this was something important, because it is fun and entertaining and still can amaze us all. I would not cross on the rope, on his back, in a sack . . .

    History can’t all be serious!


    • You just have to wonder which one was more foolish, eh? As I was writing this, I was remembering that guy who crossed it just last year … It looked difficult just on his own .. I had to check many sources before to make sure this was accurate. 🙂


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