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History of the Village of Wellandport


[Welland Tribune, 7 September 1906]

property, consisting of ¼ acre of land with fine commodious dwelling and barn.

The purchaser will be required to search the title at his own expense.

All parties bidding on said property will be required to make a deposit of $50 with the first bid as a guarantee of good faith. The money will be refunded to any not being the purchaser. The balance of the purchase

money will be required from the purchaser within thirty days from the day of sale.

The highest or any bid not necessarily accepted.

For information apply to ABRAM ANGLE, Wellandport


By Esther M. Holmes [The Welland Telegraph]

Wellandport is a post village, prettily situated on the north bank of the Welland River (also known as Chippawa Creek), in the township of Gainsboro, county of Lincoln, about twenty-fives miles from the mouth of the river; also the centre of the electoral county of Monck. Monck elects a member to the Legislative Assembly at Toronto, and all county conventions and nominations for members has been held here since Confederation, 1867.

First Settlers

The first settlers in this district were Vaughns, Henrys, Dils(sometimes spelled Dills, Dilce,Dilts) and Humphreys, in the years between 1795 and 1800. Between 1800 and 1812—Miseners, Heaslips, Robins and Hortons settled here. Most of these settlers passed to their new homes in canoes from the mouth of the Welland at Niagara River; it was the best highway in summer in canoes and boats, and in winter with sleighs on the  ice.

First Mills

The first mill was built in 1816, at what was then called The Narrows (now village of Wellandport), so named  from the narrow strip or ridge of land , only a few rods wide, where the Beaver Creek narrowly escapes uniting with the Welland River. In 1820 there was  a grist mill, saw mill and distillery situated at the west end  of the town, and a tannery about the centre of the town, the place where J.A. Ross’ barn now stands. The first general store was built here about this time, owned and operated by Mr. Humphrey. The supply of goods in the store was bought at Old Niagara and Buffalo, carried here by means of boats and sleighs on the river. In 1841  much timber and lumber was shipped from here. The saw mill, which stood where the grist  mill now stands, ran day and night, employing about twenty hands. There is a large grain storehouse here and  in early days large quantities of wheat  were bought here. I have Samuel Holmes wheat purchase book which states that in September , 1855 the price per bushel was thirteen shillings ($1.62c); by the 11th of October the price was fifteen shillings six pence. This was the price paid  until late that fall. In the fall of 1856 the price paid was ten to eleven shillings, and in the fall of 1857, seven shillings and six pence, a very few loads were bought at eight shillings per bushel..

Schools of Early Days

The first schoolhouse in this neighborhood, attended by the children of the village, was built at Wm. Dils’ lane (property now owned by H.B. Brooks), about one mile west of the village. The first teacher of this log  school  was Wilson, alias Nappertandy. The second school was in a log building at the north end of the cemetery, a few hundred yards south of the village, on the bank of the Welland River, the teacher being Michael Brennan, an Irishman. The next school was a frame building built in the  village  on the present school lot. It is disputed  as to whether Michael Brennan or John Fairgrave, a Scotsman, was the first  teacher. In 1860 the first female teacher was employed  in Wellandport school, a Miss Miller, at a salary of $300 a year, and an attendance from seventy-five to eighty pupils. The trustees debated in respect to having a female teacher—the opinion  was that a woman could never control a school.One trustee said “Let us give her a trial; The British Empire is ruled by a woman , and cannot a woman rule a school?’ I am pleased to say this teacher, Mrs. Simes, is still living, and resides in Dunnville. The present school is the third one built on the grounds, and the present teacher a female, at a salary of  $725, and an attendance of about 55 to 60.

First Church was Methodist

The first church attended by the village people was built in 1835 on Leonard Heaslip’s farm, about one mile west of Wellandport. It was a Wesleyian Methodist.

The first church built in the village was the present Presbyterian Church, erected in 1868. Chairman of building committee, Alexander Makeague, secretary, Gavin Robinson , and the first trustees of the church were Jas. Rice, Alexander Youngs and Gavin Robinson; the first minister being the Rev. James Malcolm. The Methodist Church in the village was built in 1884; first minister was the Rev. Henry A. Cook. I will add as a matter of history that this church  was the first Methodist Church dedicated  in the Dominion of Canada after the union of all Methodist churches , namely—Wesleyian, Episcopal, Bible Christians.

First Postoffice

The people of this district, up to the time of 1841 went either to Smithville or St. Catharines for postal service. On October 5th, 1841, a post office was opened here, and given the name of Wellandport, as many boats came on the Welland River at that time to bring in goods and carry out grain and lumber. Luke Cavers was postmaster, and held that position until July 30th 1853. Samuel Holmes was then appointed and remained until 1874. when Dilly C. Coleman was appointed and remained until January 3rd, 1899. At that time James R. Goring, the present postmaster, was appointed.

Cheap Whiskey

This was a very lively village from 1861 to 1865, having double the population it has now, many Americans coming here to avoid being  drafted in the army, as this was the time of the rebellion in the United States. Two or three large scows were built here during this period, to carry cord wood, stave bolts and such to Buffalo. They would carry two hundred and fifty cords of wood. The river is navigable here for boats drawing eight to nine feet of water. In 1851 Peter Sammons kept a general store here and had a license to sell liquor retail. The fee was twenty dollars, which went to the township. Whiskey was sold at 31c, rum, gin, and brandy at $1.50 per gallon. At that time there were four hotels in the village, and whiskey was sold  to the hotel-keepers at 25c per gallon. I have Peter Sammons day book giving these facts

The Bridges

The first bridge used to cross the Welland River here was built near the present grist mill. It was a float bridge constructed of pine logs. The road then was along the river bank. The second was a bent bridge on mud sills, a very low bridge, situated  where the present one now stands, but extending about three times the length. The third and fourth bridges were spile  bridges and the present iron and stone bridge was built in the summer  of 1883 by Thos Ray, contractor, the cost being about $10,000.

Monck county electoral  division Agricultural Society was established here in 1868, and has been kept up ever since. The first  president was George Secord, M.P.P., St Anns, and secretary , Dilly C. Coleman Wellandport. The first fair was held in 1870 and there has been a fall fair every year since, except for two or three years when it was called off on account of extreme wet weather.

Two Big Fires

On the morning of January 2nd, 1882 , the village was nearly wiped out by fire, destroying about twenty buildings. The second very destructive fire was on the morning of August 24th 1910, wiping out twelve buildings—not quite so many but more valuable buildings than in previous fire, this incurring heavier loss.

The Village Today

In this village four lodges or societies have been established, namely,–Masonic, Home Circle, Foresters and Chosen Friends. The town has  an abundant supply of natural gas, a very enterprising people, having cement sidewalks. The head office of the Dunnville , Wellandport abd Beamsville  Ellectric Railway  is situated here.. At present the town consists of two general stores, furniture and undertaking store, branch of the Sterling Bank, two churches Methodist and Presbyterian, two parties deal in agricultural implements, barber shop. One hotel (temperance), tailor shop, two butcher shops, Bell Telephone central  (open day and night , grist mill, two blacksmith shops, cheese-box factory, Masonic Hall and wheat storehouse. We have very good postal service here, three daily mails.

My father has known the village well since 1847, when raceway, flood gates and tannery vats could be seen. His father  settled near  the Narrows of Chippawa (this village) in 1830 and father got much information from Samuel G. Wiggins, who came here in 1822 aged about twelve years and lived here most of his time up to 1904, when he moved to Fort Erie.