Welland History .ca

The TALES you probably never heard about


A Village Publication Ere Welland Was Named- Merrittsville -a Suburb of Fonthill-Names Known Today and Names Lost to Memory


Frank C. Pitkin


[The Welland Tribune and Telegraph, 11 June 1925]

Next in order of the third page of the Welland Herald of September 20, 1855, you come to an advertisement that may for all this recorder knows, embody the Robert Cooper and the Maple Leaf mill of our own time- a notice that Wm. Thompson having purchased the Merritsville Mills has commenced business on his own account and would inform his friends and the public that he is prepared to do Custom Grinding in a Workmanlike manner on short notice, and hopes to receive a continuance of the liberal patronage hitherto extended to the mills.

Next Alex. Young advertises for sale “a valuable farm of 100 acres in the Township of Crowland, Welland County, C.W.” Said farm can “scarcely be equaled in Fertility of soil and beauty of surface…it is only four miles from the county seat and one mile from the Village of Crowland.”

Furthermore, “as the proprietor has had frequent applications for the Farm, those who would wish to purchase would do well to give an early call.”

Which last seems to be a version of the modern tip to Get Busy!

School Teacher Wanted

“A teacher of first rate qualifications may hear of a good school at Fonthill. Application to be made to the Trustees.”

They were D. Kinsman (father of Fred Kinsman, now postmaster of the village) and J.B. Oxley (of the then locally prominent family of that name and whose descendants are frequent visitors to this city and the village.}.

Follows then the card of A.L. Cumming, Commissioner Court B.R. & C. P., Accountant, Conveyancer, & c., at the Post Office, Merrittsville, C.W. He would “respectfully inform his friends and the public that he has opened a General Agency and Collecting Office and solicits their patronage and support.”

In addition to various branches of legal work enumerated, “He will also give his attention to the adjustment of intricate accounts, claims, etc., to the making them out and Collecting the same, in all parts of the country.

Some Burg Then

To show you the standing and importance of the Fonthill of those times, attention is called to the next advertisement, an 8 inch ad, of the hardware store of Dewitt C. Weed, 222 Main St., Buffalo.

There was undoubtedly the well-known firm of Weed & Co., of today, but can one imagine a Buffalo business house of 1925 thus advertising.

The ad is a curious one, No prices are quoted and no bargains offered; but there is a lengthy list that seemingly embraces about every item known to the hardware trade.

Stone Bridge

John Graybiel of Stone Bridge advertises to rent there, on the west side of the Canal, a store and dwelling house, occupied formerly by the late Mr. Schooley.

He says that “The advantages for a good mercantile business are good,” so things must have changed somewhat thereabouts.

J. Thompson, Esq., Stone Bridge is also named as one to whom application for a lease may be made.

More Buffalo

Another Buffalo ad follows, and this with a wood cut of Butler’s Patent Flouring Mills: sold by Weston, Cogswell & Co., successors to Lowell, Wright & Co.

They advertise mill machinery…and punctuality attended to.

These various Buffalo ads suggest the possibility that today’s merchants of the Bison City are over coking a bet and neglecting a profitable field, “Advertising rates quoted on application.”

More Stone Bridge

Stone Bridge was apparently “some punkins” then, for next is the advertisement of Haun & Dobbie, who there manufactured Iron AND WOODEN Plough’s.

A prospective Plough purchaser would find much pull in what they say-“Would respectively announce to farmers, and the country generally that they make and have constantly on hand an extensive assortment of Ploughs, warranted to be made of the very best material and on the newest and most improved principles.”

“Neither time nor expense has been spared in getting up patterns that can not be surpassed in the Province; our workmen are the best that can be obtained; and our Ploughs have been awarded the First Prizes at the more recent Provincial and County Fair.”

Attention of R.J. Bryden

And here comes not only a clinching argument but a notice to our District Representative of the Ontario Department of Agriculture that the present plowing matches under his auspices and that of the Plowmen’s association are no new thing, for the ad continues-

“The last named proprietor (Dobbie) having been awarded the first prize on Ploughing at the last County Ploughing Match, held at Port Robinson, using a plough designed and manufactured at their establishment, which success in such a wide field of competition enables us to assure our patrons perfect satisfaction.”

Call For Old-Timer

Is there left any small boy (or girl) of that day who can tell us about that Port Robinson Match or any others? It would make good stuff.

No Fords Then, But…

The tin rattler of our times was not even a wild dream then; but they did have something we lack today-Murgatroyd Buggies, for you come now to that means of transportation for the second or third time, and you find a rival to the Chippawa buggy-maker in the advertisement of P.M. Cushing, of Ridgeville; which hamlet the most of you probably suppose has not been on the map that long-at least, it does not look so today.

But Cushing “begs to acquaint the public that he has purchased the right to Manufacture and Vend Murgatroyd’s Patent Suspension Carriages, and is now prepared to furnish them of any size and in any style of finish which may be desired.”

The buggy must have been sort of like today’s Rolls-Royce in its field for you read further-“For neatness and lightness, combined with strength and durability they, by far, excel anything of the kind ever before used, as will be apparent to all who see them and examine the principles upon which they are constructed.”

They were evidently the real goods then; and who knows but what seventy years from now, people will muse over advertisements and wonder how, we could possibly have gotten around without the aeroplane  every family will likely than have hitched to the roof, awaiting use.

Some Difference

The next advertisement is given here in full for the purpose of illustrating the great shift from that time to the form of advertising you are familiar with today. Contrast this copy of seventy years ago with the lay-out utilized by merchants now.

“Mr. Danson Kinsman, grateful for the generous patronage heretofore extended to him, begs respectfully to announce to his Customers and the public generally, that he is now receiving and opening out his spring stock, consisting of Dry Goods, Groceries, Hardware and Crockery, in the premises formerly occupied by Mr. E.R. Page, directly opposite the Registry Office.

“His purchases this month have been large and embraces  the newest styling of Ladies’ Dresses in Muslins, Tarltans, Baregas, Lawns, Alapachas, Coubourgs & Ginghams; Brocade, Plain Black and Fancy Silks; Calicos in endless varieties; Dunstable and Straw Bonnets, Ribbons new and fashionable styles, parasols, &c., &c., &c.”

“Gentlemen’s Leghorn and Straw Hats, Spring and Summer Clothing.

All of which will be sold unusually cheap, for ready pay, on short approved credit.

A nimole sixpence is better than a slow shilling.

A good assortment of Room Paper always on hand.”

“Fonthill, 25th April, 1855.”

Reflect Awhile

If you are an advertiser, you will likely muse a bit over this old ad.

You will get the dates-that of the ad April, and of the paper, five months later. Putting it in front of them while it is fresh evidently was not practiced then.

And you will note what may seem to you the stilted courtesy of the approach, but which was evidently the right lead-off then.

If you are of the fair sex, you will likely consider a space on the dress materials enumerated. If it be that you have journeyed long enough on life’s highway to have worn some of them yourself, “Tarletons, Alapachas, Coubourgs and Calicos will doubtless draw up many a fair picture of yourself thus garbed; or it may be that they will only help recall Mother or Grandmother and their tales of youth.

And the “Dunstable Bonnetal”  Be you woman or man, old or young, that tas of a surety, an alluring sound: and fancy can, but paint some fate, then fair and fresh and young , framed in such bonnet,-a face that today either bears the deeply graven marks of Time or has, ere this, passed into the dust you and all of us must some day reach.

Dunstable Bonnets! Ah me!

If you are a mere man, you likely have a dim idea of what a Leghorn Hat looks like; and when you learn that men in those days supposedly rigged themselves out in contraptions along the same sort of lines, you find cause for satisfaction, if you are of the younger generation, that you were not alive to thus gum up the landscape; but if  you are an oldster you probably recall yourself thus arrayed and feel that the handsome and rollicking young buck of those times had the varnished hair sheik of today beat by a mile.

Down Get To Earth

To return to things mundane, you will next read a notice signed by John Frazer, Prov. Warden’s Office, Pelham and dated April, 1854, that all persons are thereby forbid trespassing in any manner upon the Lands known as “The Great Cranberry Marsh, situated principally in the Townships of Crowland, Humberstone and Wainfleet,”and that “such trespassers will be prosecuted as the law provides.”

“Cranberries” must have meant something different then than it does now, as it is presumed that the marsh of today has always been in the hands of Nature alone, and that Man has made no artificial change in the blueberries there garnered.

The next advertisement is of no local interest; it offers for sale a farm in Elgin County on “Talbot Street, the greatest Thoroughfare and general Stage route through Canada West.”-and a continuation of our own Canboro Road.

One advantage cited is the farm being rounded on one side by a good Plank road.

One hundred acres, with small house, barn and large orchard, are offered for $3,000.

You would hardly get an Elgin County farm at that price today.

Nor would the vendor come to Fonthill to advertise it.

Mercy! What Have We Now!

This seems a good time to lay-off for the next advertisement would be banned from the columns of any newspaper today, and it leads to speculation upon the work the professional “reformers” of those times were busy with, for they scotched this evil, all right: they did so.

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