Welland History .ca

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History of Wellandport

(Compliled by  “S”)

Originally called The Narrows, named for the narrow strip of land separating Beaver Creek from the Welland River. The Beaver Creek was where the beaver built dams. The water was used to run mills. Today it is dry.

The Welland River also went by the name of Chippawa Creek.

The first settlers came about 1795 and settled on the narrows.. they had to clear the land before building homes.

The river was clear with lots of fish, surrounded by forests.

1816 saw the first sawmill, 1820 a grist mill, distillery and tannery  were built.

Many people came from  United States to settle on free land given to them by the government. In 1861 many came to avoid Civil war army service.

In 1841 a post office was established under the name of Wellandport.. The sawmill employed  twenty people, running day and night. Three large boats travelled up the river to take lumber to Buffalo.

In 1850 there were two physicians, two churches and several stores.. By 1861 the population  of Wellandport was about 230.. In 1870 Wellandport was expected to become a seat of the government.

Logging was big business. Logs were taken to the end of Heaslip road each winter then in the spring the logs were rafted down the river. Bricks were made at the Larose  and Angle farms, stave bolts were used by  barrel makers. Barges were also made in Wellandport.

The first school was believed to be made of logs, located west of the village on Canboro road. The first teacher was Wilson.. The second school was made of logs, located south of the village, across the Welland river, north of the cemetery. The teacher was  Michael Brennan. The next  school was frame, built in the village. This location was the site  of  the next brick school built 1893. the building still stands today.

In 1952 a building was moved from Silverdale to Wellandport, making it a two room school. Mr. L. Michener was principal and R. Truman taught in the junior room..

The activities of the school were county field days, Gainsborough music festivals and guest speakers..

In 1965  pupils were sent to a new school, Gainsborough cental school in Bismarck.

Social life in early 1900s  consisted of card games, garden parties, winter sports and fairs. On the river  one could boat, fish and skate. Baseball was another favorite sport.

Early 1875 sleighs came in from Dunville, Fonthill and Fenwick. Hot bricks kept the feet warm. They danced at Peckham’s  Hall, Durham Hotel and Cronkite hotel.

The first fair was founded by the Monck Agricultural Society in 1868. The first fair was located along Beaver creek but, moved east of the village along the Welland river. The community hall and library are located there today.

In 1908 Tom Longboat, a famous runner was at the Wellandport fair

The first church in the village was Wellandport Presbyterian church, organized in 1831 called the Chippewa Presbyterian  church. In 1947 it closed and  in  1948 it was torn down.

The United church was a Methodist church built in 1884. The first minister was Rev. H.A. Cook. This was the first Methodist church dedicated in the Dominion of Canada. After a year it had a membership of 232 people. By 1896 the church was paid for.. A basement was put under the church in 1913. The concrete blocks came from Dunnville. They were transported from the feeder canal to Welland canal the the Welland river.

June 10,1925 the Wellandport Methodist church became Wellandport United church.. July 1,1968 became  Emmanuel United church. Today it is a private home.

January 2, 1882 fire destroyed twenty buildins in Wellandport. Again on August 24, 1910 most of the downtown was destroyed by fire.

1880 Walter Misener owned a general store and telegraph office. Telegraphy was taught here..

1899 the Empire store was built on Main Street. James Ross helped to establish this store. After some time it  served as a post office and later became a feed mill and burned in 1945.

Dochstaders rebuilt and operated a feed mill until 1960s when it was torn down.

Early 1900s  the Coopers  had a store, ice cream parlor and a mill. The store was later owned by  Glaves, Howie, Garland, and Ruggi families. The building still stands today.

Also in 1900s Jim Simpson had a barber shop, John Flewelling had a butcher shop, Joe steward owned a buggy and cutter factory, Rigg’s memoral was on the Beaver creek, the drug stored was operated by Dr. Collver, Hortons had the drug store which later became a post office. Goring had a large store where the neighbors came for  nvisiting.. Next to Goring was the telephone exchange, Heaslip’s Undertaking, Methodist  church, Ross Hall and Presbyterian church.

Amos Heaslip owned the Heaslip Funeral & Undertaking Parlour in 1902. The business was sold to  Hugh Brooks, Mr. Slaigh,  , then to John Lampman who added  a hardware business. In 1954 it was sold to Herb Powers. The building still stands today.

A bank was built about 1904. Mr Ross was the manager of the Sterling Bank, In 1939 it was closed. Charles Gee bought the building, it was used as a barber shop and private residence. The building still stands today.

1904 telephone service came to Wellandport.

1910  Wellandport got natural gas  service for their homes and street lights.

1936 Wellandport had three grocery stores owned by Gale, Garrett and Coleman families., the Cronkite hotel , three garages owned by Redmond, Morningstar and Garner families, two feed mills,, a transport business, blacksmith shop,  and funeral home.

The earliest bridge was built about  1837, made of logs. Later ones were made from piles.

When the barges came the bridges swung out to let them pass. This caused quite a gathering of people.

A bridge was built in 1883 of stone and iron by Thomas Ray.

The present bridge was built in 1938.

List of names associated with early Wellandport

Adams

Anderson

Angle

Atkinson

Beamer

Beattie

Becker

Bousfield

Bowman

Brooks

Brown

Campbell

Carl

Cavers

Christie

Clark

Collver

Cosby

Cronkbite

Cushman

Daboll

Dalrymple

Darrah

Devitt

Dils

Dochstader

Durham

Eitle

Flummerfelt

Fralick

Freure

Gee

Gillem

Gilliam

Goring

Girven

Gracey

Graham

Grenville

Hainer

Hanham

Hartwell

Heaslip

Henderson

Henry

Heslop

Hill

Holmes

Imrail

Jeffrey

Johnson

Kay

Lane

McKeague

McLaren

McPherson

Misner

Moore

Overholt

Phillips

Prentis

Rice

Robertson

Robins

Rose

Schram

Seldon

Steward

Sutherland

Swartz

Thompson

Trumm

Ulman

Vaughan

Wiggins

Wilcox

Willson

Wilson

Zink

References:

“Thriving Inland Port Century Ago” St Catharines Standard June 27,1967

 “Peaceful Wellandport Once Busy Peninsula Town” Evening Tribune May 18,1965.

 West Lincoln our Links With the Past 1784-1984.

 “Major Shift in Population  Changes old Wellandport” The Hamilton Spectator  October 21,1961.

  1. On 7 March 2014, Jeanette La Rose Said,

    My Dad and his mother bought the farm during the 2nd war. It was the most wonderful place to grow up. Skating on the river and swimming and boating, a real magical place

    . Went to school at the one room school. First the white one than the brick one. The brick school house use to sway when the wind was strong and you thought it was going to blow over but there it still stands today.

  2. On 11 March 2014, B Said,

    Good Morning Jeanette

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of Wellandport. I have canoed many times on the river there and found the surrounding area a serene place to wile away a few hours.

  3. On 5 February 2015, Lyn Kinnaird Said,

    I am really enjoying reading the history of Wellandport. I have just bought a home on Canborough Road. I believe it’s pre-Confederation. Do you have any suggestions on where I can research the history of the home or if such information will even exist?

  4. On 8 February 2015, B Said,

    Hi Lyn

    We have three suggestions for the moment.
    1-The registry office in St. Catharines
    2-The library in Wellandport might be able to direct you
    3-Ask at the post office if anyone has any knowledge of this home’s history.

    If the house is well-known you hopefully should be able to research it.

  5. On 11 June 2015, Anna Said,

    Looking for info on the Baughman family from Wellandport, especially Eliza Baughman who married Joel Willoughby Dennis. Lock55@outlook.com

  6. On 6 June 2016, Debbie manson Said,

    Has anyone heard of the balint family..john, Mary, or mike..they had a farm in wellanport..or the topolinsky family.. Or Alex and Olga Horton. If so please email me

    Debmanson0302@yahoo.ca

    Debbie

  7. On 13 September 2016, Howard Willson Said,

    I lived on the Willson farm from 1931 to 1938 ssnd attended first year of school in Wellandport.
    I remember the Anderson. Cavers, Robertson and Moore families. My Grandfather, Walter, Died before my parents were married. He is buried in a small roadside cemetary. not the Willson Cemetary further south. Perhaps he was a black sheep. I visited the area a few years ago. but only recognized the general store and the school, which was of interest to the teachers in the family.

  8. On 14 September 2016, B Said,

    Morning Howard

    Thank you for your memories of Wellandport. Hopefully sometime we can add more about this community. B

  9. On 21 September 2016, Howard Willson Said,

    Since my note of Sept. 14 I found an old map of Gainsboro. There was no date on it, but the scale was 50 Chains to the inch. I didn’t try to upgrade it. All the properties have the name of the owner written in. Great, except that some properties are very small. Many different hands put in the names/, so not always easy to read. I found my family farm and could see a few names around it, only some o which I recognized. J. Becker, John Cavers, Walter Cavers, Thos. Grenville, Abram Mastym, John Manslip, John & Rrchard Phillips and The Stewart family is on a property that I remember as the Anderson farm. I can,t clarify much more with the equipment I have, but I may pursue it further.

  10. On 21 September 2016, B Said,

    Hi Howard

    Always exciting to find new information and then explore the various avenues it takes one down. Keep in touch. B

  11. On 7 March 2017, Richard Robbins Said,

    I am glad to have found this history of Wellandport! My 5th Great Grandfather Stephen Robins came to the area in 1798 or so. I believe his original land holding was where Wellandport was built. He later bought land in Wainfleet across the river. Interested in hearing from others that may be related from this family.

  12. On 7 March 2017, Richard Robbins Said,

    Forgot to add an email for contact :)
    robinsgenes AT gmail.com

  13. On 8 September 2017, Paul.V Said,

    I live in Wellandport and have been trying to find out some of the history of our house which was a large farm in the centre of Wellandport built by Mckeans apparently in 1911. Our house has gone through many changes in the past, but we do not have any of the papers or documents relating to the work on the property. I have asked the West Lincoln Historical Society if they have anything about our property. All we can go off of is a picture of the farm in the 20s with owners names on the back throughout its history.

  14. On 11 September 2017, B Said,

    Hello Paul

    Hopefully one of our readers will be able to help you out. Good luck with your search. B

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