In '84 the Canadian dollar was down but July 4th tourism was up

Some of Canada's tourist attractions benefited from the low state of the dollar, with more Americans leaving home and more Canadians staying put.

Some savings-savvy Americans were willing to go further to make their dollar do the same

In 1984 Canada's low dollar brought U.S. tourists

38 years ago
Duration 1:33
Americans headed north for the sights and the savings on their national holiday.

Sometimes celebrating your national holiday in another country just makes dollars and sense.

And so in 1984, as July brought the start of summer holidays for Canadians and Americans alike, there was one up-side to the down-slide of the Canadian dollar.

"Americans were celebrating across the United States today, and there was some spillover into Canada — after all, Americans get a pretty good bargain here these days," announced The National's Peter Mansbridge on July 4, 1984.

During a period crowded with stories on the steady decline of the Canadian dollar — the Globe and Mail reported on June 28 that it had hit "a new low record, slipping through 76 cents (U.S.) for the first time ever"  — there was a little good news to be found.

The view of Niagara Falls was better from Ontario in 1984 thanks to the low Canadian dollar. (The National/CBC Archives)

As Alison Smith reported, in Niagara Falls, Ont., Americans were attracted "not just by the scenery," but by the current low value of the Canadian dollar and the chance of a bargain-priced holiday.

"We get a dollar and 30 cents, for each American dollar, so we can buy more,"  one visitor said.

Although official numbers were not yet in, the traffic from south of the border was steady, and customs officer John Whillier ventured that "as people become more aware, I think you'll see .. more traffic coming, to get the value on the dollar."

A Canadian customs officer checks in with a vehicle arriving from the U.S., in July 1984. (The National/CBC Archives)

As Chamber of Commerce representative Glen Gandy saw it: "All American dollars are good to us ... we understand especially in Niagara Falls the impact that Americans have in our area."

Businesses in the Ontario town were more definite in their outlook for how the numbers would add up at the end of the holiday period. 

"Tourism officials ... say this past weekend was one of the best they've had," Smith reported. 

She added that Americans were not the only tourists swelling the numbers, but that they had been joined by many Canadians who agreed that viewing the spectacle of the falls from the northern side was the most dollar-wise.

More U.S. dollars were being spent in Canada in 1984, thanks to the lower Canadian rate. (The National/CBC Archives)

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