Welland History .ca

The TALES you probably never heard about

TALES to tell and MUSINGS to mind!

This is where you will find interesting TALES of the various people that lived in and around Welland during the 1800s and 1900s.

We’ve also introduced a new subcategory: HISTORICAL MUSINGS by select featured authors.

Women’s Institutes – PART SIX

Fonthill WI dates to 1913 still active in community

[Welland Evening Tribune, Thurs March 31,1977]

The Fonthill Women’s Institute dates back to February 1913 when there was an area roughly between Pancake Lane to Spring Valley Manor apartments at the north and from Fonthill Lumber Co., originally the site of the old rail station, to Port Robinson Road, with a population of approximately 500.

In this small area, there was great civic interest by the institute members. There was knitting for the soldiers; first aid kits for the school; free sewing instruction for the older public school girls; public speaking for all pupils in Fonthill region along with providing public picnic tables and benches in the lower park.

A flag pole was provided for the centre of the village and projects were a few news bulletin board and the donation of free skating on the small outdoor rink, not forgetting the supervision donated for the safety of afternoon skating.

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Women’s Institutes PART FIVE

Women’s  institute founded in Fenwick near turn of century

[Welland Evening Tribune Thurs March31, 1977]

Fenwick Women’s Institute (which was first known as Pelham Women’s Institute) was organized early in 1909 as a part of Monck Districk, Mrs R. B. Fitzgerald was the first president and became secretary-treasurer of Monck District, a position she filled until the dissolution of the district in 1917.

In the days of the infancy of the institutes few women worked away from their homes, so that meetings were directed mostly to the welfare of homes and families.

Perhaps one of the greater efforts of the Fenwick Institute was  the successful completion of a campaign to have electricity and street lights brought to the village of Fenwick, and in the buildings of sidewalks. In those days there were no competing organizations so that there were few distractions to the spread of institute work. Mostly of all the women in the community belonged to the institute and were staunch in their support.

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Women’s Institutes of Ontario, PART FOUR

Pelham Women’s Institute organized March 31, 1934.

Tweedsmuir Village History begun January 3, 1951

History of our Branch

Pelham Women’s Institute

Our branch of the Women’s Institute was organized at Law’s School on March 31, 1934, with Mrs J.D. Martin of Welland in charge of the meeting. The first president was Mrs Charles Lynes and the secretary Mrs Earl Bissell. There were  36 members during our first years. Later there were about half that number, and at the present time we have 22.

In following the prescribed program as suggested for the W.I. many interesting and enlightening afternoons have been spent. Among our speakers were Mr. L.B. Duff. Mrs. L.G. Lymburner, the agricultural representatives of the time, and of course, our county presidents.

As most institutes, we have kept up our financial obligations by the holding of bake sales, teas, card parties and dances. Of late years the dances have been the most popular source of income, both from the standpoint of finances and from the satisfaction and entertainment afforded to all ages in the community. With the money thus made we have been able to give yearly to such worthwhile causes as Children’s Aid, Institute for the blind, Red Cross, Welland Hospital and many others equally deserving. When such special appeals as the Manitoba Relief Fund and the Hospital for Sick Children were made, we were able to respond. At the present time we are hoping to make a substantial contribution towards a hall which can be used by all the people hereabouts.

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What are Tweedsmuir History Books?

Tweedsmuir Community History Books (or Tweedsmuirs as they are commonly known) uniquely capture and preserve community history. They vary in form from a simple scrapbook to an elaborate series of volumes bound in leather, with formal blue-and gold cover. Tweedsmuirs are comprised of a variety of information and often include a history.

Local Women’s Institute Branch

Earliest settlers in an area

Agricultural practices and individual farms

Industries that formed the basis of the local economy

Social institutions and public buildings, such as churches, schools, and community centres

Local personalities, such as war veterans

And more…

The idea of WI members writing the histories of farms, buildings and places of interest at the local level began  in 1925, the Committee for Historical Research and Current Events was formed and suggested that more time be given to the study of local history in the hopes of gaining greater insight into the lives and thoughts of our ancestors

By the mid-1930s, Lady Tweedsmuir, wife of Lord Tweedsmuir, Governor General of Canada, took a great interest in the Institutes of this country. While at a meeting of the Athens Women’s Institute, Lady Tweedsmuir stressed the need. for the history of our Canadian people. As an active WI member in England, she suggested that Ontario Women’s Institutes follow the example of their English counterparts and keep detailed local history books

In 1940, a recently widowed Lady Tweedsmuir was delighted to approve that these histories should be named after her husband, thereby originating “The Tweedsmuir Village History Books.”

Today Tweedsmuir History books continue to be compiled by all levels of the Women’s Institutes, branch, district, area and province.

The list of branches started with the list created in 1995 in the book “For Home& Country–The Centennial History of Institutes in Ontario” by Linda Ambrose..


Township of Thorold 1793-1967

Page 308-9

The first Women’s Institute in the world was organized in the village of  Stoney Creek in Wentworth County on February 19, 1897, where the Farmer’s Institute had also had its beginnings.

In the autumn of 1896, a young farmer named Erland Lee heard Mrs Adelaide Hoodless give a thought-provoking address on the value and need of teaching domestic science in public schools. Her interest stemmed from the fact that she had lost an 18-month-old child due to impure milk. This prompted her to devote her time to seeking improvement in Ontario’s educational system. She strongly believed that girls should be educated to fit them properly in the sphere of life for which they were destined–that of homemaking–and this should be done by teaching domestic science in public schools.

Mr Lee was impressed by the words of Mrs Hoodless and decided to ask her to speak to the women of Saltfleet Township at the first available opportunity. The chance came in January 1897, when Mr. Lee was asked to help plan a program for the Farmer’s Institute. Several members objected to his suggestion of Mrs Hoodless as a speaker for the evening session when the women would be present, but Mr Lee invited her despite their objections.

Mrs Hoodless delivered her talk on the need for a women’s organization similar to the Farmer’s Institute but time was limited and a discussion on the subject could not be held. Mr Lee, who was chairman, asked the ladies how many would be willing to attend a meeting to deal with Mrs Hoodless’s suggestion and 35 responded and promised to be present the next Friday.

Both Mr and Mrs Lee were busy during the next week as they visited district homes, in their attempts to stir up interest. When Mrs Hoodless arrived for the meeting at Squire’s Hall, Stoney Creek, she was met by 101 women and Mr Lee, who agreed to act as chairman, thus begun the first Women’s Institute.

The purpose of the Institute was to raise the standard of homemaking, as shown by this statement recorded in the early minutes: “A nation cannot rise above the level of its homes, therefore, we women must work and study together to raise our homes to the highest possible level.”

In order to carry out the objects of the Women’s Institute six divisions were outlined, There were:

Domestic Economy, Architecture, with special reference to heat, light, sanitation and ventilation. Health, Floriculture and Horticulture, Music and Arts. Literature, education and Legislation.

It is significant to note how closely these six divisions corresponded to the standing committees of W.I. today.

Before long Women’s Institute  branches had started in many areas including Thorold Township. Many of these groups are still active today, such as those in DeCew Falls and Allanburg. Groups in Port Robinson and Quaker Road have now disbanded, while new institutes have formed, such as the branch at Singer’s Corners and the Mildred Summer’s Branch of DeCew and St Johns.

Besides taking part in many projects to improve conditions the institutes have carried out valuable research, which is recorded in their Tweedsmuir History Collections.

History of Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario – PART ONE

Adelaide Hunter Hoodless (1857-1910)

The tragic death of her son, John Harold Hoodless, from drinking contaminated milk led her to campaign for clean milk in the city. She devoted herself to women’s causes especially improving education of women for motherhood and household management.

Eight years later, in 1897, Adelaide was invited to speak at a Farmer’s Institute Ladies Night in Stoney Creek, Ontario where she suggested the formation of an organization for rural women. The next week, the inaugural meeting of the Women’s Institute was held. The following week Adelaide Hunter Hoodless was named honorary president at the first formal meeting.

For the most part, however, Adelaide left the Women’s Institute in the capable hands of the rural women, while she continued her campaign for domestic science in towns and cities. Thanks to Adelaide, domestic science and sewing were added to the Hamilton school curriculum where she organized the training of domestic science teachers. She wrote the favoured textbook, ‘The Public School Domestic Science’, and became increasingly respected as an expert.

Later in her life, Adelaide Hunter Hoodless was to claim, “The education of women and girls has been my life’s work” and so it continued to be right up until the end. She died in February of 1910 of heart failure after speaking at a meeting at St Margaret’s College in Toronto, where she was appealing for a school of Household Science to be established at the university level.

One quotation, above all others, demonstrates the message from the founder of the Women’s Institute to all those women who have belonged to WI ever since: “What must be done is to develop to the fullest extent the two great social forces, education and organization, so as to secure for each individual the highest degree of advancement.”

EMMANUEL United Church of Canada 1884-1984, Wellandport Ontario

By Rev. Sharon L.W. Menzies

Our Roots in Gainsborough Township

As has been mentioned earlier, the Methodist Church in the Niagara area goes back to the work of Major George Neal in the 1780s. Major Neal’s work was both unofficial and much frowned upon by his British Army superiors who saw army discipline and Anglicanism as like virtues. It was Darius Dunham, though, who can claim to be the first regular itinerant preacher in Niagara. He was appointed in 1795 to serve a circuit covering 2.400 square miles. One of the early records of the Niagara circuit described it as follow:…”the circuit included the whole of the Niagara Peninsula, wherever there were settlements, from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and from the Niagara River westward to the township of Oxford, and required a tour of six weeks, and preaching almost daily, to complete a single round.”

Circuits in Canborough and Grimsby were formed over the next two decades and there is at least an intimation of rivalry between the two for prominence in the township of Gainsborough. In a Quarterly Meeting report dated 6 August 1836, John Hodge, Emmanuel Jones, Emerson Bristol, Samuel Jones, Joseph Dochstader and two other men were appointed trustees of the log meeting house in Gainsborough. This log meeting house was built as School House #9 on property owned by Alfred McPherson located on Elcho Road. Given the attitude of children toward higher learning  for many generations, We believe that it was this school house that bore the affectionate name “the log jail”

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WELLANDPORT: Busy Shipping centre of a Bygone Era PART 2

[Niagara Farmers’ Monthly  September 1992]

Dr John W. Collver was Wellandport’s resident physician from 1868, until his death in 1912. He was responsible for another of the town’s firsts, introducing lucerne to Canada. The seed , which he imported from Germany, was grown on property owned by another familiar name J.D. Fulsom, at the east end of the village.

Dr. Collver also had a drug store, on the northeast side of the Canborough Rd. and Hwy 57 junction.

Descendant and namesake John Collver and his wife, Dorothy, recently posted a sign, “The Collvers of Wellandport”, with others on display at Watson Lake, Yukon.

One of Dr Collver’s successors, Dr. John Leeds, caused quite a stir in 1933, when he administered the first vaccinations to the pupils at SSNo 1 Caistor. He had the unenviable task of persuading the children to have the dreaded needles, as well as convincing their parents that it was beneficial!


The old businesses began to disappear, victims of time and technology, and the end of the great lumber era. Among them were the cheese box factory, Peter Swartz’ harness boot and shoe shop, Jim Sheldon’s grocery with a crank telephone, and up to eight families on one line. It was closed in 1961, when dial telephones came into service.

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WELLANDPORT: Busy Shipping Centre of a Bygone Era

[Niagara Farmers’ Monthly, August 1992]

By Margaret Comfort

Much of Wellandport’s history may be gleaned from physical evidence, dating back even to prehistoric times. Skeletal remains of two elephant-like mastodons were discovered in the area, indicating that it was once covered with evergreens, the mainstay of their vegetation diet.

The Welland River(Chippawa Creek) was a direct artery in shipping lumber and grain to the United States, narrowly separated from Beaver Creek by a former Indian path. That two-mile long strip of land was called The Narrows by United Empire Loyalists (UEL) who began settling there in the late 1700s.

The two waterways made the location an ideal one for transportation, livestock and personal use, as well as power for the saw and grist mills so vital to progress.

As the community matured, the water source took on a new significance, in combating two major fires within the village itself. Effects of those fires and more recent growth may be traced by comparing the architecture of the buildings along today’s Canborough Road and Highway 57 junction.

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[Welland Tribune, 3 January 1908]

In the presence of a few immediate friends, on New Year’s afternoon, and at the residence of Mr. Joseph Carl, Crowland, Miss Margaret Wallace Carl was wedded to William F. Swartz of Welland. Rev. J.D. Cunningham performed the ceremony.

The bride was unattended; little Lily Carl acted as flower girl. The bride wore grey silk, while her going away gown was blue broadcloth. The bridegroom’s present to the bride was a necklace and pendant, which was studded with pearls. To the flower girl he gave a locket and chain. After the ceremony a jolly hour was spent at a splendidly appointed table. Mr. and Mrs. Swartz will reside on North Main St.