The Whirlpool house was built by Andrew Rorback at around 1800 on one of the main transportation routes in the Niagara Falls region at the time - Portage Road. Being built before the War of 1812, the house stands as one of the oldest homes in the Niagara Region. The home turned into an inn durin the 1840s when James Oswald acquired the property. The Whirlpool Inn was very popular, serving as a tavern and meeting place.
The home shows evident signs of aging in the exterior stucco walls, however the fact the home has survived for over 200 years is fascinating. The white lath and plaster home is an example of common home constructions during the late 18th and early 19th century. The house is among other older heritage buildings, such as the Church Residence across the street, also built by Rorback in 1810.
Andrew Rorback moved into the Niagara Falls area in Upper Canada from New Jersey around 1796. The Whirlpool home was built soon after his immigration into the area, naming the home after the whirlpool close by to the property. Rorback made his living through his own saddlery business at the home. Andrew Rorback passed away in 1843 at the age of 70 years old, the house was then bought by James Oswald. During Oswald's ownership the home became known as the Whirlpool Inn, serving as a resting stop for travellers along Portage Road.
The prime location of the home proved to be essential during the home's transformation into the Whirlpool Inn, a stagecoach inn. The inn was also a popular place for meetings, balls, and other social events, even serving as a polling station during elections. The Whirlpool home became a residence in the 1940s and remains one till today.
The area is close to Clifton Hill, and not too far from Niagara-on-the-lake. The home is located in an older heritage district with many homes which were built in the 19th century. Many other homes however were built in more recent years. Portage Road was an essential travel route in the early years of the Niagara region, and visitors may want to visit http://www.herontrips.com/PortageRoad.html to follow the road and discover the history within the community.
When visiting please be aware this is a private residence, respect the property.
- Take Gardner Expressway (West)
- Merge onto the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), continue for about 31 km
- Merge onto 403 (West) , stay on for the next 21 km
- Slight left onto QEW (Niagara Falls/ East Hamilton/ Fort Erie)
- Continue on the QEW for just under 64 km
- Slight left onto 405 (Queenston Lewiston, USA)
- In 5km take exit Stanley Avenue/ Regional Road 102, exit toward Niagara Falls/Niagara-on-the-lake
- Turn right onto Stanley Avenue
- Turn right onto Portage Road, continue for 1.2 km till arrival at destination on right
From Fort Erie/ Buffalo:
- Take the QEW towards Niagara Falls
- Take exit 32 - and turn right onto Regional Road 57 (Thorold Stone Road) towards Thorold
- Continue for 1.6 kms and turn left onto Portage Road
- Stay on Portage Road for the next 1.6 kms
- The house is on the corner of the intersection of Portage and Churchs Ln
Parking can be found on side streets, or at nearby plaza on Riali St. and St. Paul Ave (Continue westward on Churchs Ln to St. Paul Ave, turn right, and left right away into the plaza)
Please do not park on any private property.
The Niagara Falls Public Library provides many pictures of the home from throughout the years in their online Digital Collections. The collection is accessible to the public and may be viewed at any time. A watercolour painting is even displayed this website depicting a scene in the Whirlpool home (http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?b=1&id=102748 ; http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?id=102738&b=1).
This image shows how the home looked like in 1920, when the picture was taken and the home still operated as an inn: http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?b=1&ref=oo&id=95280
Other images are found at the following links:
More information may be found at the Canada's Historic Places: http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=9793&pid=0
3011 Portage Road
Niagara Falls, Ontario
L2J Municipality Niagara Falls