“The memories within the millions of people who experienced Crystal Beach, even just once, will never be lost.”
One of Canada’s greatest entertainment centres existed for one hundred years in an isolated little village in one of the southernmost corners of Ontario, just across the lake from Buffalo, New York. Nicknamed “Buffalo’s Coney Island,” the Crystal Beach Amusement Park swarmed with American visitors in its mid-century glory days, and its stories were carried all over the world.
A Crystal Beach resident since childhood, Gary Pooler takes readers behind the scenes of a world class amusement park, combining local history, sports journalism, true crime, and North American folklore to create a unique picture of the quirky Crystal Beach community, both in and “out of the park,” through its geographical and social history. These collected stories tell of the life and times in an amusement park resort community—a summer-long carnival, illegal prizefighting in the nearby sand hills, world class entertainers and athletes, featuring the likes of Jesse Owens, an eccentric traveling minstrel, vaudevillians settling in the village, police scandals, bootlegging, and even murder. Pooler chronicles the gradual decline and closure of the amusement park and the effect this had on the village, and illustrates the community’s triumphant renaissance in recent years.
Harrowing and nostalgic, Crystal Beach: Out of the Park is a rare and vital historical record and a spirited exploration of Crystal Beach in all of its various shades and stages.