Museum Chat Live! E509 – The Friends of the Carousel

Lakeside Park Carousel

In this episode of Museum Chat Live!, Kathleen Powell, Supervisor of Historical Services chats with Bonnie Cameron, President of the Friends of the Carousel and Katherine Nelson-Riley, Communications and Public Relations Director for the Friends of the Carousel about this beloved attraction in the community. The Carousel is currently closed to the public due to Covid-19 restrictions. This podcast is a way for us to get our Carousel fix!!

The Friends of the Carousel have worked in partnership with the City of St. Catharines since 1999 to preserve and restore this amazing historic carousel and “Keep the Dream Alive” for riders of all ages!


Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloudGoogle Podcasts, and Spotify (STCM Podcasts).


The Friends of the Lakeside Park Carousel can be found at:

Paint is removed for restoration
Once restoration is complete the animals are painted and ready to ride!

History of the Lakeside Park Carousel

The Lakeside Park Carousel is a Charles I.D. Looff original, carved between 1898 and 1905 in Brooklyn, New York. The beautifully restored animals were carved by Looff’s factory workers, including Marcus Charles Illions, who later went on to become a famed carousel-maker in his own right. Relocated in 1921, the carousel came to St. Catharines from its earlier home at an amusement park in Scarborough, now part of the City of Toronto. It was purchased for the amusement park flourishing in Port Dalhousie, which had 58 attractions. In those days, more than a quarter million people annually crossed the lake in steamships to visit Port Dalhousie on weekends.

The carousel has 68 animals, including horses, lions, camels, goats and giraffes, plus four chariots. The accompanying music is played by an antique Frati band organ which uses a system of paper music rolls to serenade riders. Each animal has been hand carved and the horses still have real horsehair tails. The carousel animals have all been carefully restored by the Friends of the Carousel, who continue with annual maintenance and repair work to keep the carousel in sound working order.

The Lakeside Park Carousel is one of approximately 350 antique hand carved carousels still operating in North America – only nine of which are in Canada – and is considered fairly unique in size. The original Looff lion on the Lakeside Park Carousel is one of five existing Looff lions in all of North America and it is the only one that has its head turned to watch onlookers as it circles by. The second lion on the Carousel was carved in 2004 by the Friends of the Carousel to replace the original lion that was stolen in the 1970s.

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