MIWATE, dazzled by the lights

Miwate is the new autumn light show on the Chaudiere Falls. It is by the same folks who brought us the Kontinum, the light show in the underground subway station at Lyon Street.

Like Kontinum, its all about the lights, and the dazzle, and one must squint hard to understand anything about the the on-the-ground developments that make access to the shows possible.

Last Monday evening I arrived at 8pm, and it took until 9.20 before I made it to the head of the line to see the show. The line, btw, is carefully designed so you cannot see anything, with six foot fences on each side wrapped in black fabric so you shuffle along in a claustrophobic black tunnel:

Part way along there is an educational display on aboriginal rights, some fireplaces and lawnchairs to rest or warm up. But then the line up shuffles onwards.

Trees and plants are illuminated in flashing lights, theatrical fog billows around, and flashing lights flicker to show the way forward along the walking path, if only people were actually moving…

As one gets closer to the actual waterfall and show itself, the effects are downright Disney. Choreographed spots dance and sway as if arranged by Ester Williams, omnipresent speakers play loud chanting and humming music reminiscent of Lion King.

Here it is in video format by a very amateur cinetographer: – I dont know if you can see these, as the link to Youtube.ca keeps getting replaced by these images of the player bit that often wont play for me. I give up.


Miwati is not a show about the panorama of the falls, or their majesty, or sheer size that rivals Niagara. One can only get nano-second wide glimpses of the actual falls. It is easier to see small bits of the falls or rapids when splotlights linger for a moment.

The new pedestrian walkways that go out onto the Islands and the edge of the falls will be wonderful once they open to the public. An old building foundation, of a mill that survived the 1890’s and 1900’s fires, will provide an attractive viewing platform. There appeared, in the fog, to be numerous plantings around the pathways which will be open in the non-frozen-spray spring and summer months. Alas, the pathways are closed now during daylight hours, so you cannot see what has been accomplished.


With current practices, only a few gates on the dam are open at a time, leaving most of the view damn boring.  Zibi is working with governments to try to have more gates open a less amount, so that the waterfall is spread out wider and more visually appealing. Good luck.

In the map below are shown some of the walkways. The current light show starts at the red star, and viewers shuffle out to the west and then north of the star, ending up right under the Miwate Entrance label.

Note that the picture above also shows the path crossing the channels right above the War Museum. Eventually, one will be able to go out onto the Zibi development site, through the urbanized islands, to the falls, without using Booth Street.

For now, the very first part of that pathway running north from the War Museum, is already built, but alas still closed to the public:

Should you go the light show? Yes, if you like flashing lights and will take your luck on finding a short line up. No, if you actually want to see the falls.

6 thoughts on “MIWATE, dazzled by the lights

  1. Mark and I can’t walk long distances and don’t have a car. What’s the best way for us to get to Miwate by transit? We’d like to see it. Thanks, Glen

    1. Glen: take the bus to Gatineau, formerly Hull. The bus is the former 8, now numbered something in the 40’s. It’s after dark, so the driver should honour your request to get off the bus right at the entry gate where there is an operating traffic signal so you can cross the street.

  2. Thanks for the videos and write-up.
    Wanted to see it. Checked out how to get there and, while not easy, it can be done. First night was reported as a 45 minute wait time so will pass on it. Nice idea, poorly organized IMO.

  3. Thanks for the review Eric. I haven’t been yet as my family and I are waiting for the lines to go down a bit. But I also admit that having been underwhelmed by the visually / technically spectacular – but thematically and intellectually hollow – Kontinum, I’ve been trying to keep my expectations down for this one. In both cases, I wish they’d focused on just allowing public ACCESS to what should have been the stars of the show: a) the LRT station, and b) the Chaudiere Falls. This expensive layer of shock-and-awe eye candy on top of it feels like we’re apologizing for these places not being spectacular or interesting enough on their own.

  4. Thanks for your views and comments. I share your opinion. Fortunately I only had a 10 minute wait. On the plus side, I think the falls are spectacular even at low water – too bad you can’t see them. The tableaus outlining the history are interesting, although there is nothing new or surprising. On the minus side: The black tunnel is creepy and it makes you wonder: “Why, what are they hiding?”, the sounds and lights are, at best, mildly annoying and detract from the falls. I would prefer to have the path open during daylight and forget the sounds and lights.

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