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Niagara Pumphouse - Niagara-on-the-Lake

For nearly 100 years, Niagara Pumphouse provided Niagara-on-the-Lake with its water. Today, the only water passing through its walls are the watercolors hanging on the walls.

Niagara Pumphouse

Rather than fall to the wrecker's ball, as it seemed resigned to for a few uncertain years, the '90s have given the Pumphouse a new life and a new purpose. Since 1994, the Niagara Pumphouse Visual Art Centre has given the town's artists - both professional and amateur - common ground to meet, chat and work. Perched by the river on Ricardo Street, next to Navy Hall, the Pumphouse appeared doomed in the '80s when it was closed and donated to the city. The city was pleased, but couldn't find a use for it. It stood vacant for 11 years, steadily deteriorating.

In 1990, a group of residents started renting space in the building for art classes, leading to a campaign to transform the Pumphouse into a full-blown arts centre. Affording  it was another matter - the price tag was $750,000.

It started with a $230,000 donation by the Walker Broyhers. The province chipped in with $197,000. Fundraising was needed for the huge remainder, and the biggest donors have plaques with their names near the front door.

Restoration began in 1993, and took a year to complete. Much of the original Victorian brick remains, while inside are bright studio spaces. One of the original pumps, painted and restored, sits in the garden enclosure outside. Air conditioning was installed, a piano was donated, and the walls are alive with artwork. Pumphouse is a natural fit with Niagara-on-the-Lake. Drawing on the rich artistic talent in the area, it features many monthly exhibits and classes for children and adults and it's an ideal spot to pick up a brush and do some art or to just buy one for your business or home.

Note: Income from memberships, exhibition sales and class fees cannot cover their expenses, so please help them out with your donation or buy some art.

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