The area was originally known as “The Burning Springs”. By 1820, it was already a tourist attraction, but not because of Niagara Falls. There was a small natural gas emission coming from the ground. The owner of the land, M.J. Conklin, has placed a pipe with a cork stopper over the leak. When visitors came, Conklin would release the gas and ignite it so that they could view “The Burning Springs”. The Dufferin Islands area was purchased by the Niagara Parks Commission in 1887. In 1902, the Ontario Power company started diverting the Niagara River, reducing the water. This changed the landscape. The Ontario Power Company and the Niagara Parks Commission came to an agreement and the power company arranged to re-landscape the area, adding in 4 man made islands. Situated approx.. 1 km (1/2 mile) south of Niagara Falls, the 10 acres of the Dufferin Islands park is a quiet place. It was and still is a favorite picnic, barbeque and hiking area. Visitors enjoy the beautiful, natural environment with a wide variety of plants and waterfowl. It is a popular birdwatching location. Up until the year 2000, people were allowed to swim there. Every winter, from November to January, the Dufferin Islands hosts some of the light displays for the Winter Festival of Lights.