The Maid of the Mist: An Ancient Tale Etched into Niagara Falls’ Great History

Whether you live near Niagara Falls, have toured the area, or live hundreds of miles away, the term “Maid of the Mist” probably conjures some familiarity. Originally a Haudenosaunee myth, this historical legend predates the colonization of America.

The Maid of the Mist: An Ancient Tale Etched into Niagara Falls’ Great History

Image source: www.bandbniagara.com

The tale goes that a young widow suffering from suicidal bereavement got into her canoe and steered it towards the water above the top of Niagara Falls. In the first few moments, the widow felt peace, but as she heard the rushing roar of the falls, she felt frightened by the physical prospect of death. She prayed to Heno, the God of Thunder, out of fear and asked for him to give her courage.

The woman threw her paddle to the side as she came closer to the falls and gripped the side of her canoe as the falls eventually started to toss her from side to side. Heno, after listening to the woman’s prayers, caught her as she fell through the falls and took her to his home within the waters. Eventually, she married one of the God’s sons.

A son was later born to the couple and the boy followed Heno everywhere, learning more about what it was like to be the God of Thunder. One day, Heno warned the woman that a snake had come from the Niagara River and poisoned its waters, and it would soon devour her people. The woman requested to return to her people for a single hour to provide them with a warning of the snake. Heno helped the woman ascend above the falls, and she told them to move to higher ground.

A few days later, the snake arrived at the woman’s village, but then quickly realized the area was deserted, going back upstream to find them. Noticing the snake along its path, Heno threw a thunderbolt into the falls and killed the serpent. The snake’s lifeless body ended up lodged right above the falls, creating a semi-circle at the precipice that let a massive influx of water into Heno’s home. While the God tried to stop the deluge, he was too late to prevent its destruction.

Heno and his family left for a new home up in the sky. From this new home, they watch over the people on Earth, and Heno continues to thunder up in the clouds, just as he did when residing in the falls’ vaporous mist. Today, visitors to Niagara Falls can hear Heno’s mighty voice as they travel near the rushing waters.

Just like the Maid of the Mist’s tale is inherently part of the culture and history of Niagara Falls, so are the beverages distilled to perfection by Niagara Falls Craft Distillers. Schedule a whisky tasting with us or order online to discover a taste of the falls for yourself!