On today’s date in 2003, a 40-year-old man from Canton, Mich., was charged with mischief and unlawfully performing a stunt after he survived the 65-metre plunge over the Canadian side of Niagara Falls without protection.
Kirk Jones claimed he was driven by depression rather than a desire to be a daredevil; however, his motives remain unclear.
“He just looked calm. He just was gliding by so fast. I was in shock really that I saw a person go by,” Brenda McMullen told Buffalo’s WIVB-TV in 2003.
Jones was not seriously injured but stayed in a hospital in Niagara Falls, Ont., while undergoing psychiatric tests.
“We’re investigating it as an intentional act,” said Niagara Parks Police Inspector Paul Forcier in a press conference days after the incident.
Then an unemployed salesman, Jones was eventually fined $2,260 by a Canadian court and banned from the park for one year. After his December 2003 court appearance, he cited depression as his reason for taking the plunge but added, “All my problems were left at the bottom of that gorge.”
One month after his court appearance, Jones began touring with a Texas-based circus; however, his public presence eventually faded as he fell out of the spotlight.
A SECOND ATTEMPT
In 2017, about a decade and a half after his first plunge, Jones died after going over the Falls again, this time during an apparent stunt with an inflatable ball.
Then 53 years old and living in Spring Hill, Fla., Jones was removed from the water in Youngstown, N.Y., where the Niagara River feeds into Lake Ontario, on June 2, 2017.
“The attempted stunt was unsuccessful, which resulted in the demise of Mr. Jones,” the park police said in a news release.
At least two other people survived unprotected plunges over Niagara Falls between Jones’ first plunge in 2003 and his death last year.
NIAGARA FALLS STAMPS
Canada has issued several stamps depicting Niagara Falls since 1935, when the Post Office Department (now Canada Post) released a 20-cent stamp (Scott #225) with a view of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls in the centre.
A 42-cent stamp (SC #1411) – the second issue in the “Canadian Heritage Rivers” series – was released by Canada Post in 1992.
In 2000, Niagara Falls was featured on a 55-cent stamp (SC #1854e) alongside Hattie Cove, Pukaskwa National Park, Ont.
Also in 2000, a 95-cent stamp (SC #1863) – the 13th release in the “Masterpieces of Canadian Art” series – featured Cornelius Krieghoff’s landscape The Artist at Niagara.
In 2003, a $1.25 stamp (SC #1990c) was issued by Canada Post as part of a set of 10 self-adhesive stamps available in two booklets of five. The set’s Niagara Falls stamp was designed by Catharine Bradbury and Karin Uusikorpi, both of Bradbury Branding and Design in Regina.
The idea behind the design, Bradbury said, “was to emphasize the incredible beauty and diversity of Canadian tourist attractions to the American and international audiences.”
BOUNDARY WATERS TREATY
Most recently, in 2009, a 54-cent commemorative was issued to mark the 100th anniversary of the Boundary Waters Treaty, which came in the early 20th century as disputes arose over the uses and apportionment of the waterways that flow along or cross the Canada-U.S. border.
The treaty provided the general principles for Canada and the U.S. to follow in using the waters they share. Signed on Jan. 11, 1909, it also established the International Joint Commission (IJC), the first permanent Canadian-American body, charged with settling and preventing disputes over boundary waters by fixing and applying rules over their usage.
The stamp blends a historical, sepia-toned image of Niagara Falls, circa 1909, with a more recent photograph of the Falls.
“The Niagara Falls are the most recognizable and emotional symbol of the Boundary Waters Treaty, not to mention terrific visually,” said designer Paul Haslip, of HM&E Design Communications.
The vintage image, featured in the background, offers a view of the American Falls, while a spectacular night shot of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls is shown in the foreground.
“At night, when the Falls are lit up, they are magical,” Haslip said, of the photograph. “Since the photographs merged together so well, they provided a great opportunity to blend the old with the new. There’s a remarkable transition as the Falls of yesteryear transform through the mist into the Falls of the present day—a wonderful way to celebrate 100 years of the treaty.”
“The way the past flows into the present also represents the strong foundation and forward-looking principles of the treaty, as well as the co-operative relationship the IJC has fostered between Canada and the U.S.,” said Liz Wong, manager of stamp design and production.