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.


[August, 2017]

I was born in the Welland Hospital and have two sisters, Elaine and Brenda, and a brother Fred. We lived on Deere St. with our parents Lorraine (from Saskatchewan) and Andrew (born in Detroit). Andrew worked at the Page Hersey as a welder for almost 40 years. My grandfather George lived on Harriet street after his rum-running days were over in Windsor/Detroit area. My father’s sister, Rose, told me about the gypsies which used to pass through Welland occasionally. When she got up early on the farm, just west of Eastdale high, to do her chores, now and then off things would occur. The eggs were gone and the cows had already been milked. She said the neighbors also had the same problem. Then someone spotted a gypsy encampment outside  of town. The men got on their horses and rousted the camp, running the gypsies far out of town. My father’s brother, George, owned the grocery store next to the Tastee Freez on Ontario Road. They moved away to Stratford.

I learned to swim at the Memorial Park pool and then moved on to the old canal and the rock quarries and beaches around Port Colborne. I remember almost drowning at Nickel Beach and also the big flour mill fire out near the Pt Colborne pier

My elementary school was the now non-existent St Peter and Paul school. Some nuns could be very strict and mean but there was a piano in every room and they taught us to sing every day. We also used to clean the school yard of litter a few times a year. The school boundaries would change often so I went to Centennial Secondary, Eastdale, Welland High School and a stint at Niagara College.

As teens, my pals and I  would chase girls down at Long Beach and Niagara Falls. The drinking age in Ontario was 21 so we’d all pile in cars and go ‘over the river’ to Buffalo. where the age was 18. Bars there were a lot of fun, much looser than the uptight Ontario. I worked at Dominion and A&P stores in Welland, Niagara Falls and Dunnville.

I left town for traveling in 1973, returning in 1975 for a few months and worked at Stelco in Hamilton before leaving again for good.

In my middle grade books on Welland, I string together real characters and incidents Wellanders can enjoy too. The stories bring back memories and their kids seem to be interested in what life was like back then, too.


[Welland Tribune, 17 December 1897]

Mrs. Waddell, aunt of Mrs. Chas. Lewis, died on Wednesday evening (8th) of last week at the age of 58 years, of typhoid pneumonia.  Interment took place at St. Paul’s cemetery on Friday last, Rev. P.W. Smith officiating. The pall-bearers were: C. Riselay, Wm. Anderson, Thos. Warren, Wm. Rainsford, Thos. Lewis and John Lewis.


[Welland Tribune, 24 September 1897]

Elisha C. Taylor, who died at his residence in Pelham on Thursday evening, Sept. 16th inst., was born on the farm on which he resided all his life, and which was purchased by his father, John Taylor, from the Crown in 1790.The Taylor family were natives of Duchess county, New Jersey, and were members of the Society of Friends. They came to Canada as U.E. Loyalists-John Taylor referred to being at that time eighteen years of age.

Our subject, Elisha C. Taylor, was twice married. His first wife was Caroline Moore; his second, Hannah Cox of West Creek, N.J., who survives. Of his children eleven survive, and all were in attendance at the funeral. They are in order of age, as follows: _ Mrs. (Rev.) J.F. Barker, Hamilton; Mrs. Thomas Hill, Pelham; J. Bruce Taylor, Welland; A.E. Taylor, Niagara Falls; Mrs. (Dr.) Karn, Picton; L.H. Taylor, Niagara Falls; James B. Taylor, South Pelham; Mattie, at home; Mrs. Park Southworth, Pelham; and Charles and Alberta, at home. Until within a comparatively recent time Mr. Taylor was a strong, healthy man for his years, but last spring he suffered from lagrippe, and this was followed by jaundice, which proved fatal, after an illness of five months borne with true Christian patience and resignation. At the time of his death he was in the 74th year of his age. In politics Mr. Taylor was a pronounced Liberal, but always avoided rather than sought public office or position. In religious belief, like his forefathers, he was a consistent member of the Society of Friends.

The funeral took place on Sunday from his late residence at 10 a.m., services in friends’ meeting house, where Pastor William Rogers gave an appropriate address from the inspired and inspiring promise of holy writ, “I am the resurrection and the life.” William Wetherald also spoke in feeling and eloquent language of the deceased, whom he had known as warm friend for fifty years. The funeral was the largest ever held in that section of country, the community assembling on masse to testify their love and esteem for one so eminently deserving. The pall-bearers were the five sons of deceased, and Thomas Hill, the eldest son-in-law. The grandchildren present included Dr. Barker of the Johns Hopkins hospital, Baltimore, as well as all those living in this section. The floral offerings were profuse and indescribably beautiful. Among them were a pillow, the gift of the five sons; a sheaf and sickle, from A.E. and L.H. Taylor, and a wreath from Mrs. Frank Rounds, Welland.

Deceased was possessed of warm social qualities and a genial, sunshiny nature, as well as deep religious convictions; and his removal leaves a void in the community that will not be soon nor easily filled. But our loss is his gain. As the sequel of a well-spent life, death had for him no terrors, the grave no sting. In common with this community the TRIBUNE feels his loss as that of a friend, and tenders most sincere sympathy to those more immediately and deeply bereaved.



[Welland Tribune, 24 September 1897]

For some time past J.C. Harris has been very ill, at times apparently somewhat improved and again becoming worse. He had a host of friends and they were most solicitous for his welfare and, though it seemed like hoping against hope, all joined in wishing him restoration in health.

But it was not to be. The best medical attention was given him and affectionate friends nursed him, but age had taken away his old-time vigor and he was unable to withstand the ravages of disease. For the past few days he lay in a semi-conscious condition, his mind at times wandering back to scenes and incidents of former years, and the physicians said the end was near.

Saturday morning, Sept. 18, the messenger of death came and surrounded by his family, the kindly old man, who had been everyone’s friend, breathed his last. His death will be generally regretted among all classes in the Niagara district.

Some 40 years ago he came to St. Catharines, and his firm, Harris & Berston, did a very large business in tobacco. Upon the death of his partner, Mr. Harris continued the business alone, and to the last was keenly interested in all details pertaining to his business. He had the reputation of being scrupulously honest in his business dealings, and did a large trade throughout the district.

He was born 78 years ago in Nova Scotia. When 10 years old he came with his father to Fonthill, and later on, he and his brother started a cigar factory there. Then John Berston entered the firm, and later Wm. Berston, with whom Mr. Harris started business in St. Catharines.

He leaves to mourn him a wife and daughter, Mrs. E. Neelon, and to them will go out sympathy and condolence.

Mr. Harris had been an alderman of the city and was a member of St. George lodge, A.F. and A.M., and Mount Moriah Chapter. In politics he was a life-long Reformer.-Standard.

Mr. Harris’s funeral took place on Tuesday and was very largely attended. Interment at Fonthill.



[WELLAND TRIBUNE, 24 September 1897]

Niagara Falls, N.Y., Sept. 21-Mrs. Elizabeth McRoberts, 65 years of age, threw herself into the Niagara River just above the Falls this afternoon. Her body passed over the Falls a moment later. Mrs. McRoberts left her home in Buffalo at noon today, telling her son that she was going out of town on business. She evidently took a trolley car direct to the Falls, and shortly after her arrival threw herself over. She had been in ill-health for some time, and this probably unbalanced her mind.


[Welland Tribune, 10 September 1897]

Died, August 13, Phoebe Gainer, beloved with of the late Wm. Palmer of Burlingame, Kansas, formerly a resident of Oxford Co., in the 75th year of her age.

The above is the sister of Jacob and John Gainer of Welland county. She was born in Pelham on Jan. 1, 1822; was married in the year 1843 to Wm. S. Palmer and in December, 1878, they removed to Burlingame, Kansas, where they have since resided. She was sick about two weeks. The very warm weather and old age combined brought on a low fever, and in spite of all that loving hands could do, God took her to himself. She was a birthright member to the Society of Friends. She has swerved neither to the right not to the left from the faith of their fathers, but lived a life of patience and fidelity to her family, her friends and her God. Truly we can say, she has gone to her reward. She was conscious to the last, and recognized each one as they came to her bedside. Her last hours will be precious to the memory of her children, as they gathered about her and each received a kiss and silent blessing. She will be greatly missed in the neighborhood, as in time of sickness she was a comfort and help. She will be missed in the meeting at Emporia, which she frequently attended, and she leaves a vacancy in the home that can never be filled. The funeral was conducted by the meeting to which she belonged and was largely attended by friends from Emporia. “She is not dead, but sleepeth.” Surely they are blessed who sleep in the Lord.


[Welland Tribune, 6 August 1897]

Wm. H. Shisler, M.D., son of Jacob Shisler, is visiting in Welland county. He was once a student under geo. A. Clark at Fort Erie; passing the entrance he attended the Welland high school under the late J. Murison Dun; from Welland he went to Boston, Mass., and secured a position as night operator on the Boston & Albany railroad. Working short hours Mr. Shisler was able to prosecute his studies; graduating with the degree of doctor of medicine this year. The doctor is accompanied on his home trip by his wife and little daughter, Jessie Jenneatta, Robert Telfer, his brother-in-law, (on his way to Bruce Co,) and Miss Merriel Chesley, the daughter of the late lamented superintendent of the Boston & Albany railroad.


[Welland Tribune, 2 May 1884]

MRS. JOHN DUNIGAN- We are called this week to record the death of Mrs. John Dunigan, which occurred on Monday night last. Mrs. Dunigan was a native of Oneida, County, N.Y., was married to Mr. Dunigan at Utica, and after residing some time in Western New York came with her husband and family to Canada in 1858; having been for the past thirty years a resident of Welland and vicinity. Her children, Warner and Albert Dunigan and Mrs. James Bridges, were all abroad at the time of her death, which occurred quite suddenly and unexpectedly. A few evenings previous she attended a public gathering in town, death resulting from the effects of a severe cold on the lungs. Mrs. Dunigan was a woman without reproach, with charity toward all and malice to none, possessing more than the esteem-the love-of all who knew her. The funeral was held on Wednesday, services by Rev. J. McEwen, Presbyterian, and interment at Fonthill Cemetery. The general attendance testified the public regret at the passing away of this good and respected woman, and those near and dear who survive have the sympathy of all friends.


[Welland Tribune, 16 July 1897]

MR. EDITOR- Some citizens of the county seem inclined to condemn the extension of the Fort Erie races beyond the first fixed date, July 5th, and, as there are two sides to every question, I ask your permission to refer briefly to the matter.

In the first place, the club met with almost insurmountable difficulties at the start. The public, and especially the owners of the horses, could not be convinced that the track would be ready on time. Rain was almost constant during the construction of the track and buildings, and before the original expenditure was at an end about $75,000 had been paid out. At first the races opened rather dull, and several days passed before financial success was in sight. The sport was good and the crowds continued to swell. The management looked the situation over carefully and decided that thirty days at one stretch would be far less expensive than two fifteen-day meets. The heavy expense of reshipping 300 or 400 horses would be saved, and the large outlay for re-advertising would be unnecessary. In view of the heavy debt resting on the club it is also just to state that is in no way a counterpart of the Windsor track. The Windsor track is leased by bookmakers, and run by them, and in their interests. Not so with the Fort Erie track. It is managed by reputable men and I the interests of fair and legitimate sport. Judge Burke is one of the most competent and prominent judges on the continent, and every attempt at a job on the part of the jockeys is quickly nipped in the bud.

I think the public will, when the facts are fully known, agree that the Jockey club have merely managed their race meeting as any other set of men would manage any other legitimate enterprise.


Drowned In The Lake

[Welland Tribune, 2 July 1897]

Miss Myra Hopkirk, the nineteen –year-old daughter of Thomas F. Hopkirk, of Parkdale, was drowned in the lake 400 yards west of the Exhibition Park, through the upsetting of a canoe on Monday.