Welland History .ca

The TALES you probably never heard about

Results for ‘Historical MUSINGS’


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.


[Welland Tribune, 24 September 1897]

In all the historical researches in connection with the scenes of 1812-14 a remarkable oversight hs been made in the case of the McClellan family, Capt. Martin McClelland having fallen in active service, and was interred with others in old St. Mark’s cemetery, Niagara. Two descendants, grandsons, now live in Fonthill-Martin and Luther McClellan. Luther O. was requested by Rev. Canon Bull to furnish a short history of his grandfather’s life, which he has kindly consented to do, and has given us the following for the historical society, which met at Beaverdams 15th Sept, 1897


Captain Martin McClellan was born in the year 1778 in Cherry Valley, New York state. At the age of twelve years the Indians became troublesome and barbarous with the whites, so much so that they were obliged to sacrifice their property and forsake all and escape for their lives. His father, Wm. McClellan, was captured by the Indians and rings put in his nose and ears. He made his escape with his wife and family of three boys, with the exception of one son, Captain Martin McClellan, who was captured by the Indians and kept in custody for three months. He was taken away down to Ogdensburgh, and on their return with him to Cherry Valley was recaptured by the whites and brought to Niagara for the remainder of their days, raising three sons, Martin, John and William. John settled in Caledon and lived to the age of ninety-six. William settled at Beaverdams and owned a farm there, where the battle of Beaverdams was fought across; he lived to the age of eighty years. Martin remained on the old farm joining the Queen’s bush at Niagara. His father was owner of a large estate in New York state, that was confiscated through the Indian trouble. Captain Martin McClellan was given the power of attorney by his father to dispose of the property that was surrendered. A large portion of it was never disposed of on account of the war of 1812 coming on, and, unfortunately for his financial interests, Captain Martin was one of the Canada’s true loyal subjects, and stood manfully up to defend his country that was near and dear to him. He fell as a hero in that war, consequently nothing more was done as regards the property in New York state. Captain Martin McClellan was killed at the battle of Fort George at the age of 34. He was also in the battle of Queenston Heights, and stood very close to the brave Brock when he fell at the foot of the mountain. He left seven descendants (grandsons) living-Martin and Luther, living at Fonthill; Dr. Martin McClellan, Chicago; Dr. J.W. McClellan, California; Dr. Frank McClellan, Michigan; C. Thompson, Niagara Falls; and A. Thompson, Virgil. Captain Martin McClellan fell on the 27th day of May, 1813. In the old St. Mark’s church, Niagara, a tablet, fastened to the wall, bears the following inscription:

In Memory of
Aged 34 years.
In the 25th year of their age.
Of the First regiment, Lincoln, Militia,
Who gloriously fell on the 27th day of May, 1813
Also, Adjutant LLOYD,
On the 8th King’s Regiment.

This tablet was in the yard until a few years ago, when interested parties saw it was going to places removed it to the church and fastened it to the wall to secure it, as it was looked upon with exceeding interest. It brings back to the mind the tattle of musketry and rush of foemen-the day when Niagara was taken. A very remarkable and sad event took place the evening prior to his death. He was deeply impressed that he should go and see his wife and family, who were taken from Niagara to Virgil during the trouble. After a short interview with his wife he said: “I have come to see you for the last time; I have been deeply impressed this afternoon that this is my last day I have to live; I expect to be numbered tomorrow with the slain; my convictions are so strong I must bid you good-bye; here is my watch and purse, you will never see me again alive.” Before three o’clock the next day he fell, with three others that were buried with him. Cameron and Wright were relatives and Lloyd a near friend. Strange to say, the ball penetrated the watch pocket, and many of his friends thought if the watch had not been removed from the pocket his life would have been spared, as the watch was a heavy English watch. My brother Martin has the purse in his possession that he handed to his wife, purchased five months before his death. Inside the following inscription is found in his own hand writing: Martin McClellan’s property, Niagara, Dec. 21st. 1812.” His wife was left with a family of five children, three girls and two boys, my father being the youngest, only six months old. Captain Martin McClellan was owner of a large estate. The law was in those days that the eldest son inherited all. His wife suffered a heavy loss financially; the buildings were burned, and but one house could be found out of six. He had a large quantity of brick hauled to build a house. The Americans replied them and used them for breast-works for a defence. And now when reflecting, notwithstanding the friendly feeling that exists between the two nations, it stirs up a spirit of enmity in the minds of those that had relatives that were compelled to sacrifice their lives to save their country, which was near and dear, from falling into the hands of a nation that was taking a great advantage of the Canadians at that particular time. Whilst old England had her men engaged in a vigorous war with another nation, it was certainly very unjust on their part to ponce upon us, a mere handful compared to them, and to me it seems cruel in the extreme, and certainly was the means of making many fatherless homes with one to eight in number, and should cause a remorse of conscience in the hearts of those that were the instigation of that cruel invasion. Consequently we should manifest a more grateful memory of those who protected and preserved this land as a British possession.


Late Reporter for Welland Tribune

[The Evening Tribune, 19 July 1958]

Although some of the old names still exist today in Welland business circles, most of the city’s early stores and shops have long gone the way of their founders.

This, however, is perhaps all the more reason to recall a few of them on the occasion of Welland’s 100th birthday. After all, these were the people who were the pioneers of our modern businesses on East and West Main streets. Their general stores were in more ways than we might think possible the forerunners of today’s supermarkets and department stores.

It is a sad fact, however, that our information of these early businesses is, to be charitable, limited. Although the first settlement in this area was known to be before 1790 we have practically no information at all about the daily life our forbearers until well into the nineteenth century, and nothing at all on the stores where they bought the necessities of life until 1850. And then it is sketchy information at best.

However, limited as our knowledge is, we can still glean some idea of what our “prehistoric” stores were like; and we even know some of their names and where they were situated.

This last problem is, in a general way the easiest to solve, as, until after 1900 the business district of the area consisted, as far as one can learn, exclusively of East and West Main Streets. The exact location, however, of some of the stores is often hard, and sometimes impossible to determine.

Of course, as in all small communities, tastes were much simpler, then than now. They had to be. Nevertheless, if one goes by the advertisements, in early, early newspapers the people were not too badly off. All the necessities and most of the luxuries of life, including China tea, coffins, and ready-made suits seemed to be available.

The reason for this was certainly that Welland, as well as most other 19th century communities, was much more self-sufficient than is now the case. With transportation both less convenient and more costly this was the only solution for smaller towns and villages.


One thing Welland never seems to have lacked is hotels and taverns. There at least eight of them, evidently doing a brisk business in beer and hard liquors in the 70s and 80s when the population was still under the 2,000 mark.

It was the grocery stores of the village of Welland which perhaps would be at once both the easiest and the hardiest for present-day residents. The most restricted ones largely took the place of crockery and hardware stores as we know them, while one could also buy clothes, including suits and dresses in some of the more adventurous shops. When considering the early days of this area one enterprise which immediately comes to mind is of course the Ross Store, with a continuous history of 80 years as part of the city’s business district in the same location.

The founder, David Ross, came to Welland in 1878 as manager of the town’s branch of a store belonging to the Bull and Ross dry goods change chain. A few years later “Daddy Ross” as he came to be known, bought out the Welland store, after the chain had experienced financial difficulties.

The store was originally in the same location, as today, although it occupied much less space. The building, known then as the Mellanby Block, also contained two other establishments, one on each side of the Ross premises. On the corner to the west was Cumine’s Drug store, while to the east was Thos. Teskey’s general store. Both were eventually taken over by Mr. Ross after he had bought the whole block shortly before the turn of the century.

Another of the earliest businesses established even before the arrival of David Ross, and still continuing in operation  was the boot and shoe store of Daniel McCaw, who died in 1902 at the age of 92, started his shop in 1867 at the corner of Cross and East Main Streets, opposite the court house.

As well as being one of the area’s most prominent businessmen, Mr. McCaw also became the first reeve of Welland. His son John, and currently his grandson, L.D. McCaw, followed in his footsteps.

Celebrating it own centennial just two years ago was a third Welland store which has been here for many many years, that of Richard Morwood and Co., hardware retailers. Started back in 1856 at the same location on West main St., as it now occupies, the business is now in the hands of John and Arthur Morwood, grandsons of the original Richard Morwood, who was one of the business pioneers of this community. When first started the store dealt in groceries and dry goods as well as hardware.

An indication of the nature of the grocery business in the early years is provided by advertisements in the Welland papers of the 1870s. For example Crites Brothers grocery store located in Mellanby’s Block ( now the Ross Block), advertised “tweeds, cottons, shirtings, green tea and coffee,” while Hendershot and Hancock, also on East Main St., had groceries, crockery, china, glassware, oils, paints, syrups and salt.

Another grocery store was James Griffith’s in Dunigan’s Block. Here as well as groceries and dry goods, customers could also buy shoes, readymade clothes of all sorts and millinery. Even modern supermarkets seem to have been outdone by some small town grocers, in the variety of goods offered.


Prices for foods were of course ridiculously low by present standards. In the village period eggs were 10 cents a dozen, best beef eight to twelve cents a pound, with the heart, liver, tongue and kidneys thrown in. However, beginning to lament the passing of “the good old days,” we must remember he was a very lucky man who got a salary of more than $600 a year and that the average was considerably less than that.

Other grocery stores included “Stalker’s Old Stand” on West Main at Frazer, J.B. Taylor, also on West Main, and several on East Main. These were Swayze’s in Dunigan’s Brick Block, J.S. O.Neal in the Opera House Block (now the Odd Fellows’ Hall,) John Crites, S.H. Griffiths, “China Hall,” where lamps and dinner sets mingled with the vegetables, and “The Old Gothic Store,“ of James Bridges.  And The Toronto Star” in which boots and shoes shared the limelight with groceries and dry goods.

In addition to the grocery stores there were also establishments for the dispensing of strong drink and tobacco, and as the Toronto Tea Store (which did also sell tea) and T.F. Brown on East Main. One store exclusively devoted to meat that of R.A. Lambert, also flourished for some years.

How so many grocery and food stores could survive in a town with a population under 2,000, can only be surmised. They must have been at least partially saved by the wide range of haberdasher, clothing and hardware business that most of them did. Of course the farmers of the area formed a good portion of their clientele.

Hardware stores did also exist, although perhaps they were not of quite the same type as our modern ones.

Instead of selling small kitchen and household utensil, these old stores sold eavestroughs, roofing and stoves, taking in exchange “hides, pelts, rags, old copper, brass, iron, etc.”  Clayton and Hopkin’s hardware on East Main also sold “smoke stacks of any size,” to those who were interested. J.H. Crow on West Main St., combined his hardware store with a plumbing business and repair shop for tin and iron ware.

A fair number of furniture stores also existed, in spite of the fact that so much of their business was done in the groceries. One of the oldest and most best known of these was Mrs. R. Cooper’s millinery shop, on West Main St., since 1868 at which time Mrs. Cooper, a Scottish immigrant, had come to this country.

In addition to Ladies’ hats, Mrs. Cooper sold “fancy goods,” to her clientele. With her own work shop and with several employees, this lady exemplified the self-sufficiency of small town merchants in the last century, It was not for her to buy hats ready-made at some central fashion house. Instead, following along lines suggested from New York and Paris, Mrs. Cooper gave the benefits of at least some originality of her Welland customers.

In men’s clothing M. Whalley and Co., established 1877, L.H. Pursel started in 1884, and Andrew‘s hats and caps, on East Main, took some portion for at least a few years, of the clothing trade remaining after the grocery stores had finished with it.

Horses also needed equipment in these pro-automotive years, and harness shops, blacksmiths and livery men took the place to today’s ubiquitous garages, and gas stations. A.D. White was one of the earliest with a blacksmith and carriage business on East Main Street in 1866, expanding into livery in 1874. Another livery was that of Lawrence and Sutherland just opposite the court house which had been started at some time before the turn of the century,

It the name of was any indication E. Brasford’s: Harness and Horse Clothing Emporium: established on West Main St., in 1889 must have been well patronized by the upper crust of equine society. A fourth business catering to horses was Andrew Carl’s harness shop on West Main, started in 1871.

In a related field we find the Agricultural Hall of W.G. Somerville on the west side of the canal on North Main (now Niagara St.,) just off West Main, which began in 1880.


When it comes to eating out, village residents do not seem to have had much choice other than to go to a hotel or tavern, as restaurants as such, from all evidence, appear to have been non-existent. However, from the last years of the century, if they were satisfied with dairy products, they could patronize one of the pastry shops, such as R.G. Common’s near the courthouse or W. H. Crowthers on North Main where the delights of the ice cream parlor and the newfangled soda fountain awaited them.

The first known bakery, that of David McEwen believed to be on East Main St., did not have any of these new ideas when it was flourishing in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Instead, there one went, taking one’s own wrapping paper to buy cakes, buns and candy, dispensed by old Grandma McEwen while the proprietor attended to his baking.

In 1900 modern times came closer with the establishment of ice cream rooms in conjunction with two stores of the Dilworth Drug Company in the town. The “Wilhelmina Room,’ in the east side store, became a favorite meeting place for the town younger set.

One of the more important of the early drug stores was the Medical Hall, started by J.H. Burgar on East Main St., in 1866, which was used for a short time as the town library just before the turn of the century. Another early druggist was Thomas Cumines in Mellanby’s Block, at the foot of East Main St., also established before 1870.

That drug stores were early branching out is to be seen in an advertisement for Burgar’s store in 1872, then known as Burgar & McKee’s in which the reader is informed that spectacles worth $2.50 were to be had for one dollar, “less than cost” as this forerunner of the modern “sale” ad put it.

Welland also had other stores and businesses, ranging from jewelry shops to billiard parlors. In the first category was T.H. Lord in Lamont’s Brick Block on East Main St., who advertised watches in the early 1870s’ for “from 25 cents up”. In the second was J. Bradburn’s Arcade Billiard Parlor and Sample Rooms. The latter were for the sampling of wine, liquor and cigars.

Just barely in the jewelry line was the shop of L. Goodvilliers on East Main. However, this line of goods almost reminds us of the grocery stores, at least in its range. As well as watches, clocks and jewelry, he had available “stationery, soaps, perfumes, school books and fancy goods.” His motto- a very modern one-“quick sales and light profit.”

Of course, there was one barber in town, and perhaps more. The only one known definitely in the 1870s was Abraham Jamieson on East Main St. What is more surprising is the existence of the “Royal Photograph Gallery” under its proprietor Alf Lord on East Main in these years.

Among the other stores were Mrs. J. Tuckey’s jewelry and optical shop, started in 1862. J.M. Livingstone music store, specializing in pianos and organs, and O.H. Garner in the Opera House Block, who carried on the rather queer combined trade of ticket agent, telegraph clerk and bicycle dealer.

Of the early hotels, probably the leading establishment was the Commercial Hotel, conducted by a Mr. Vanderslip. This was the only one which had regular bus service at the station of the Grand Trunk railway, as well as being unique in having a colored porter on duty in the lobby. It was built in 1856, the year of the California gold rush, and its first proprietor is reported to have lost his life while joining in the search in the far west.

Other hotels included the Barney House on the west side, the City Hotel (where Woolworth’s stands), the Union House, (opposite the jail), the Dominion Hotel (on the site of the old registry office), the Franklin (across from the old Grand Trunk), the Maple Leaf (on the site of the fire station), the Tremont on West Main and the O’Brien Hotel on the former Canal Street.

Room and board for a week in these establishments cost from $2.50 to $2.75 a week in the village days of Welland.

For many years the population of the community grew very slowly, and of course no great expansion in business activities could be expected at such a time. Even so, a steady development in them can be seem from earliest days, with the gradually increasing variety of stores and products until the veritable explosion that took place just after the coming of the 20th century.


From 1905 to 1911 the population of the town of Welland more than tripled, jumping from under 1,800 to

6, 250. This was the real beginning of the growth of Welland to its present status as a medium size, highly industrialized city.

Along with the population growth has gone great commercial expansion and of course change. Certain it is that great surprises would be in store for some of our early businessmen if they could return and see East and West Main Streets as they are today. The general layout of district would be the same, but the size and variety of the stores would be rather shaking.

However, the fact of variety in itself would not be too remarkable, for our visitor, especially if he had run a grocery store. The number of goods might astound him, but that one store can sell both clothes and can openers would not seem at all strange to one who himself had outdone in some respects our ultra-modern supermarkets.


[Welland Tribune, 12 March 1897]

We cannot resist quoting the following criticisms upon the historical works of well-known local authors, which appeared in a recent issue of the University Review:

“In the Annals of Niagara, by William Kirby, F.R.S.G. (Lundy’s Lane Historical society, 1896), the author of “Le Chien D’Or,” has done for his native place a delightful service. No other town in Ontario has so interesting a history as Niagara. Hither came the first French discoverers, and here were seen the rise and fall of the Great Fort and the assembly of Johnson’s forces. Niagara has been the capital of a new province, and seen an infant parliament meet to lay the foundations of a new state. It has been captured by an enemy and burnt with every accompaniment of barbarity, and later it has seen its commercial prosperity gradually fade away until it has become the quiet and attractive watering place of today. The story Mr. Kirby has well told, with much that is new, either from his own reminiscences or from those who have passed away.” University Review pp. 165-6.

“Capt. Cruikshank’s Documentary History is of very great value. The story of the struggle between the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon race on a frontier close to the barrier of unknown forests and before the era of the war correspondent, has never been told without bias. We may hope that before long such a history will be written and this book will be a great aid to the historians. Captain Cruikshank in tracing the military movement of the campaign of 1814 has departed from the method he has employed in his narratives of the more important engagements, and has given the story as it appears in the official despatches and orders, and in private letters from combatants on both sides. Most of this matter has been hitherto in MS. Only. The arrangement throughout is chronological and the reader therefore can follow easily the movements of the forces on both sides as they were directed day by day from headquarters. Captain Cruikshank carefully refrains from editorial comment and confines his attention to strict accuracy in transcription and arrangement. This sound and scholarly piece of historical work when completed will be of great service.”-University Review, p 81.

SWEEPINGS – We reprint here some excerpts from that notorious sheet, “Sweepings.”

Welland High Paper circa 1930s’


Arthur Smith

To the average person interplanetary travel is something so improbable that it belongs to the realm of fantastic. To my mind, there is nothing fantastic about it. I am convinced of the feasibility of space travel, and I predict that a successful flight to Mars will be made before the close of this century.

I am aware that there are great difficulties, but these are not insuperable. It is true that the distances are vast (Mars at its nearest is 5,000,000 miles away) but in space you can go a million miles as easily as one. This is because space is almost a perfect vacuum, and thus friction is practically absent.

A frequent objection is that a spaceship would have to obtain a speed of 7 miles per second, and that the acceleration would kill all on board. This is erroneous. Seven miles per second is the speed necessary if the rocket is to cut off its power and continue on momentum. But why not build a ship to travel at a bearable acceleration and keep the rocket blast on?

The greatest difficulty is fuel. The only suitable fuel now known is a mixture of liquid oxygen and gasoline, which is too bulky. However, I am confident science will find something better and thus remove the main obstacle.



Buffalo Courier

[Welland Telegraph, 15 May 1891]

In the historical society’s rooms in the library building stands an iron basket of latticed and riveted iron strips, painted red, with room for two persons to sit vis a vis on a wooden bottom-altogether a rough and ancient looking contrivance. It was used in years long past to convey human freight across Niagara’s gorge, and in imagination one can see the queer-looking object on grooved wheels running on the small cable above, shoot down the cable’s deflection till the centre was reached, then climb the opposite incline and by other aid finally reach the Canadian bank.

The basket has an interesting history, as the following letter in the possession of the secretary of the society will show. It was written by Judge Hulett of Niagara Falls, and has never before been published.

“George F. Barnum, secretary Buffalo historical society. Dear Sir: It gives me much pleasure to be enabled to furnish you the history of the ‘iron basket’ which was a preliminary means in the construction of the great railroad suspension bridge that now spans the Niagara River, the admiration of the world. The dates I will give you were taken from a diary kept by me during the work.

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[Welland Telegraph, 30 October 1891]

The late Judge Lawder, of St. Catharines, used to relate the word spoken to him by General Scott-his intimate friend and visitor, who commanded the American army of 5,000 at Lundy’s Lane. That “they (the Americans) got the worst of the battle, and so were forced to retreat,” leaving their dead to be disposed of by the British. They concluded to retire, having held council of war of officers at early dawn of July 26, under a tree near Forsythe’s house, Falls View. It was early on the same day that they crossed the Chippawa and burnt down the old bridge.



A Glimpse of Welland Herald of Seventy Years Agone


Welland Was Then Merrittsville

By Frank C. Pitkin

[The Welland Tribune and Telegraph, 7 July 1925]

In your further perusal of the Welland Herald of 1855, printed at Fonthill, you will be on the lookout only for the high spots, the review of the copy dated Sept. 20 of that year having been extensive enough to give you a slant on the difference between the journal of those days and the newspaper of these times.

Anyway, in the second copy, dated Oct. 18, 1855, you find no changes in the first two columns of page 1, both of which carry the same advertisements as seen in the former issue.

Next comes a three-column piece of fiction entitled “The Mysterious Marriage.” The scene is laid in New Zealand and your eye is caught by such alluring phrases as “the piercing scream of a female voice” and “in the coffin lay the form of the murdered bride.”

But what catches your attention is the initials “H.H.” at the close of the story, for that gives ground for the belief that it was a production of some local genius, and maybe your mind reverts to the notice in the former copy of another and literary sheet published at Fonthill, “The Acorn” by Stone and Hobson.

But H.H.” does not square up with either Hosmer Stone or Daniel Hobson, which latter was a son of the first sheriff of this county, and that is that.

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Robert Cooper Made County Clerk at 1891 June Session

[The Welland Tribune and Telegraph, 15 June 1926]

“April showers bring May flowers”- a little belated this year, ‘tis true-and June brings County Council session, which may be counted on to show up with no belatedness.

This year’s session marks an anniversary, not for a council member, but for the clerk of that body, for it is thirty-five years ago, back in 1891, that Robert Cooper assumed that office.

Says the paper of those days: “The appointment of a new County Clerk was done in the twinkling of an eye this morning, (Saturday, June 6). Messrs. Cruikshank and Riselay introduced the bill to repeal the old by-law by inserting the name of Robert Cooper in lieu of that of Jos. C. Page, resigned. The bill was duly read and passed without dissent. It is but fair to say, however, that the obstructionist, Zimmerman, was not present when the bill was passed.”

The obstruction referred to came about the previous day when, again quoting from the newspaper, The Clerk read a motion by Morris and Seuss, that the County Clerk, be asked to put in his resignation, to take effect July 1.

Mr. Zimmerman- “I object. Mr. Seuss is not present.”

Mr. Morris, (the late Edward Morris of Fonthill)- “A little explanation is necessary here. It was agreed by both political parties that a member from each should act as movers. The duty fell upon myself, and the Deputy Reeve of Humberstone.”

Mr. Zimmerman- “Under circumstances.”

Mr. Morris- “The deputy did not second it, but Mr. Seuss has agreed to. Now he is not here.”

Mr. Cronmiller- “In the absence of Mr. Seuss, you may put my name down as seconder.”

“The motion was then put and carried out without discussion or dissent.”

Pursuing the newspaper further, it appears evident that the county fathers of those days followed much the same lines as those of today in getting things fixed up outside the council chamber preparatory to their being dealt with on the floor, for the report says: “Caucusing was in full swing until three o’clock, and coming before Council proper met it was well-known that two county offices would be declared vacant and that one of the plums would fall into the Conservative camp and the other into the Grit ranks. G.L. Hobson of Welland drew the first prize-that of County Treasurer-in a brief caucus of his friends. The Grits were no longer in session, but before they returned to the council chamber it was confidently whispered that Robert Cooper of Welland would succeed Mr. Page as County Clerk.

Mr. Hobson’s appointment was in succession to James McGlashan, whose resignation was tendered by himself on account of failing eyesight, and whose service in the office was commended by a resolution passed by the council “in appreciation of his efficient, faithful and honest services.”

C.R. Bennett was the next to assume the office of treasurer, following the death of Mr. Hobson, and the present incumbent, W.H. Garner, succeeded him in 1905, so that he now has twenty-one years’ service to his credit.

The situation in the case of the retiring County Clerk was of a different order. A committee appointed to audit his accounts in connection with the sale of marsh lands submitted a report showing that the sum of $5,959 appeared by the books to have been paid to the clerk between 1873 and 1886, over and above the amount paid over by him to the county treasurer.

This explains the request for his resignation before narrated. The newspaper report of the matter says: “It was a delicate business that faced councillors this morning. No action had yet been taken as to the clerk’s deficit, and all the members seemed loath to open the ball. Joe Page had been a landmark in the county council as its clerk. The older councillors felt disinclined to move against an old friend, while the new men thought that if any movement were made, the first step should be made by members who were at the board while the moneys were being misappropriated.

There were others after these two offices. D. McConachie was willing to fill both at $900 per annum, while John R. Sawle of the Welland Telegraph made application for the clerkship at $300, and Thomas Teskey, Welland, applied for the post of treasurer, without making mention of his emolument.

Warden H.G. Macklem occupied the chair at the session. He told the council that as the Government had not made a grant to the county for the Industrial Home, he believed it had no authority over the Home and no right to order that the bodies of deceased paupers be sent to the medical schools. He had instructed the keeper of the Home not to report deaths of inmates, and expressed belief that the county would not begrudge giving such dead a peaceful grave on the home farm.

On June 2nd the council sent a telegram to Lady MacDonald at Ottawa expressing their sympathy with her in the illness of her husband, Sir John A., whose death occurred June 6th.

The newspaper account of the session closes with a few notes, among them the comment of one member that “Welland County Jail has a continental reputation as a pleasant winter hotel.”

Another member observed that “Welland Town is still the favorite with county councillors generally. A motion to have the county buildings removed to some more appreciative town would no doubt carry by an unanimous vote-outside of the town representatives. Welland appears to ‘get there’ when any offices are being filled, just the same.”

And here’s a warm one to wind up-an observation that would, of course, have no bearing today since the banishment of the bar. Be it remembered that said institution was in full swing back in those days and Councillor Battle “suggested a system of electric bells, connecting the council room with different hotels in the vicinity of the court house.”

The which may draw comment from some of the old-timers, “Ah, Them wuz the days.”

One of my favourite outings

[Submitted by: B]

Erie Beach

One of my favourite outings is walking the boardwalk on the Friendship Trail through the old Erie Beach Amusement Park. Running parallel to the north shore of Lake Erie, it is an historical treasure. In the late1800s and early 1900s, amusement parks usually located near a river, lake or other large body of water, became a prime source of entertainment for the public. They provided endless hours of diversion. Locales were chosen by the availability of mass transit and limited for the most part to two mediums: steamers and trains. Highways were virtually non-existent and motorized vehicles still a novelty.

Most of the early amusement parks are gone now, victims of changing demographics, new modes of transportation and competition from the Internet, television and movies. Names such as Crystal Beach, Bob Lo, Lakeside Park, Grimsby Beach and Hanlans Point are mere memories; only a handful such as Cedar Point, Sandusky and the Canadian National Exhibition remain: islands of candy floss and roller coasters echoing with the shouts and laughter of children and adults alike. Today, like the bones of some prehistoric animal, the remnants of old buildings, broken piers, walkways and the outline of the once grand swimming pool are all that remain, but standing at one end of the boardwalk, one can almost envision the gaily dressed women, parasols in hand, escorted by men in their straw hats and suits walking arm in arm to and from the steamer.  The entire area, once a magnificent  playground, is now a rustic park with trails winding through the ruins and suburbia encroaching on its borders. Let us hope that a sense of history prevails and these majestic ruins are preserved just as they are.