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On 21 April 1918, two Australian observation planes lumbered slowly through calm spring skies above a cratered French landscape. Suddenly from nowhere, three German Fokkers descended on the hapless victims. Eight RAF Sopwith Camels, out on patrol, noticed the Australians plight and rushed to help. A few minutes later more Fokkers and a number of Albatross Scouts entered the fray. The battle was on and the once peaceful sky became a scene of frenetic activity, as airplanes jockeyed for position; climbing, diving and twisting in an effort to gain an advantage.

A young Canadian, Wilfred May, new to the Western Front, had been warned by his comrades to stay out of any fighting on his first patrol. Disobeying orders, he entered the battle, only to quickly realize how completely outclassed he was. The new pilot desperately tried to escape by flying a straight course away from the melee, a dangerous and amateurish move. He was instantly noticed by the pilot of a bright red Fokker Triplane who quickly launched into hot pursuit. Whether the young Canadian realized it or not, his life was about to end abruptly, for he was being chased by the greatest fighter Ace of the First World War, Baron Manfred Von Richthofen, who with 80 kills to his credit was considered virtually invincible. The American Ace, Eddie Rickenbacker had 26 victories, Edward Mannock the top British Ace had 61 victories and Billy Bishop, Canada’s best, had 72.

Fortunately for the luckless Lieutenant May, other eyes were also watching the developing disaster. Captain Roy Brown must have known who was flying the famous red triplane, as he disengaged from combat and raced to help his friend. No novice himself, he was a skilled Ace with 9 victories, yet the selfless young pilot must have felt more than a pang of fear and a tightening of the chest. Few engaged in a dogfight with the Red Baron, or as he was called by the French “The Red Devil” and lived. Brown’s hand tightened on the firing mechanism of his synchronized .303 Vickers machine guns. For a few seconds the two planes were connected by a stream of bullets. The German pilot slumped forward his plane turning on it side, before plunging vertically into the ground. Whatever it was, luck, divine providence or skill, Captain Arthur Roy Brown, born 23 December 1893, Carleton Place, Ontario, son of a flour mill owner, had shot down the greatest pilot of the First World War.

It was a time of great gallantry, as well as courage, and the allies buried the German nobleman with full military honours. While viewing Richthofen’s body, Brown was heard to say “If he had been my dearest friend, I could not have felt greater sorrow.” We in Canada, unlike the Americans, British, Germans or French, rarely extol the virtue of our heroes’. Perhaps we find it un-Canadian and perhaps this is why when researching Carleton Place, we felt compelled to mention Mr. Brown, definitely a Canadian unsung hero.

In this early private postcard of Carleton Place, the newspaper office for The Herald is located on the right. Started in 1850, James Poole was the editor and publisher. The paper is no longer in circulation.

Dochstader Family Early Settlers in Gainsboro

[Smithville Review, Wednesday November 22, 1967]

In practically ever historical account of the early days of Lincoln County the name of Dochstader is very prominent.

They were one of the many families who left the United States in the 1780‘s to settle the land in the Niagara Peninsula. In 1782 John Dochstader settled on what is now the south-west angle of the township of Gainsborough, This was the beginning of the village of Wellandport. He was quickly followed by families of the name of Hodge, Vaughan, Philip, Henry Dils or Dilts, McDowell, Barker.

Descendants of these families are still living in the district. In order to reach this part of the peninsula the early settlers had to travel by boat and canoe in the summer and by sled on the ice, during the winter.

Wellandport is situated on a strip of land between the Chippawa and Beaver Creeks which was once known as the narrows. This was a trail once used by Indian runners. Now known as Canboro Road it is a direct route East and West from Niagara Falls to Windsor. Because of the natural proximity of the two creeks this site was chosen as the most suitable to build a mill. In 1816 the Beaver Creek was damned and a cut was made through the narrowest part where it operated a wheel and discharged into the Chippawa Creek. Today, of course the Beaver Creek is little more than a swamp in summer regaining some of its semblance of a river only in spring.

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Fenwick News

[Welland Port Colborne Evening Tribune ,Tuesday June 6, 1944]

Fenwick June 6–Huge baskets of iris, lilies and spirea were used most effectively as decorations for the floral tea and bake sale held from three to six o’clock in the Sunday school rooms of Fenwick United church. Mrs C. Misener, president of the W.A. made the guests welcome at the door.

Tea was poured by Mrs J. Hampson and Mrs W. Moisley, followed by  Mrs H. Rock and Mrs W.E. Boyes from a beautifully-appointed tea table laid with a lace cloth. A silver bowl of white and yellow blossoms centred the table and was flanked by lighted tapers in silver candelabra. Silver tea services at both ends of the table completed the effect. The guests were served by Mrs H. Adrian, Mrs G. Lampman, Mrs W. Duncan and Mrs H.E. Hood. The bake sale table, in charge of Mrs G.  Christopherson, Mrs L.E. Haist, conducted a thriving business. A pleasant social time was enjoyed and a good sum realized.

EMMANUEL United Church of Canada 1884-1984, Wellandport Ontario

By Rev. Sharon L.W. Menzies

Our Roots in Gainsborough Township

As has been mentioned earlier, the Methodist Church in the Niagara area goes back to the work of Major George Neal in the 1780s. Major Neal’s work was both unofficial and much frowned upon by his British Army superiors who saw army discipline and Anglicanism as like virtues. It was Darius Dunham, though, who can claim to be the first regular itinerant preacher in Niagara. He was appointed in 1795 to serve a circuit covering 2.400 square miles. One of the early records of the Niagara circuit described it as follow:…”the circuit included the whole of the Niagara Peninsula, wherever there were settlements, from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and from the Niagara River westward to the township of Oxford, and required a tour of six weeks, and preaching almost daily, to complete a single round.”

Circuits in Canborough and Grimsby were formed over the next two decades and there is at least an intimation of rivalry between the two for prominence in the township of Gainsborough. In a Quarterly Meeting report dated 6 August 1836, John Hodge, Emmanuel Jones, Emerson Bristol, Samuel Jones, Joseph Dochstader and two other men were appointed trustees of the log meeting house in Gainsborough. This log meeting house was built as School House #9 on property owned by Alfred McPherson located on Elcho Road. Given the attitude of children toward higher learning  for many generations, We believe that it was this school house that bore the affectionate name “the log jail”

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WELLANDPORT: Busy Shipping centre of a Bygone Era PART 2

[Niagara Farmers’ Monthly  September 1992]

Dr John W. Collver was Wellandport’s resident physician from 1868, until his death in 1912. He was responsible for another of the town’s firsts, introducing lucerne to Canada. The seed , which he imported from Germany, was grown on property owned by another familiar name J.D. Fulsom, at the east end of the village.

Dr. Collver also had a drug store, on the northeast side of the Canborough Rd. and Hwy 57 junction.

Descendant and namesake John Collver and his wife, Dorothy, recently posted a sign, “The Collvers of Wellandport”, with others on display at Watson Lake, Yukon.

One of Dr Collver’s successors, Dr. John Leeds, caused quite a stir in 1933, when he administered the first vaccinations to the pupils at SSNo 1 Caistor. He had the unenviable task of persuading the children to have the dreaded needles, as well as convincing their parents that it was beneficial!


The old businesses began to disappear, victims of time and technology, and the end of the great lumber era. Among them were the cheese box factory, Peter Swartz’ harness boot and shoe shop, Jim Sheldon’s grocery with a crank telephone, and up to eight families on one line. It was closed in 1961, when dial telephones came into service.

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WELLANDPORT: Busy Shipping Centre of a Bygone Era

[Niagara Farmers’ Monthly, August 1992]

By Margaret Comfort

Much of Wellandport’s history may be gleaned from physical evidence, dating back even to prehistoric times. Skeletal remains of two elephant-like mastodons were discovered in the area, indicating that it was once covered with evergreens, the mainstay of their vegetation diet.

The Welland River(Chippawa Creek) was a direct artery in shipping lumber and grain to the United States, narrowly separated from Beaver Creek by a former Indian path. That two-mile long strip of land was called The Narrows by United Empire Loyalists (UEL) who began settling there in the late 1700s.

The two waterways made the location an ideal one for transportation, livestock and personal use, as well as power for the saw and grist mills so vital to progress.

As the community matured, the water source took on a new significance, in combating two major fires within the village itself. Effects of those fires and more recent growth may be traced by comparing the architecture of the buildings along today’s Canborough Road and Highway 57 junction.

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Ross, James Alway (1869-1945), Wellandport

[Grimsby Independent , May 31, 1945]

One of Niagara Peninsula’s best known businessmen, James Alway Ross, ex-M.P.P., of Wellandport, passed away on Tuesday evening, May 2nd at St Catharines General Hospital, following an illness of three months’ duration. The late Mr. Ross was born at St Ann’s on Jan. 13th, 1869, son of the late William Nelson and Lydia Tufford Ross, and spent his early years there. Upon completing his education as a teacher, he taught in the Model School at Welland, later at Wellandport, and resigned as Principal of Scott Street School St Thomas in 1896, to enter the commercial field. In 1908 he was elected member of the provincial parliament for the riding of Monck, being the first Consevative member ever elected for the riding which had been held by the late Hon. Richard Harcourt for 30 years. He was especially gifted as an orator and poet, being a member of the Canadian Writers’ Association, and the author of a volume of Poems, “Canada First,” “Dominion Day” and many other poems. Besides his sorrowing widow, Agnes K. Ross, with whom he celebrated his golden wedding anniversary two years ago, he is survived by four children. James Leighton Ross of Hamilton, Miss Eula I. Ross and Romaine Kay Ross, L.L.M., of St Catharines and Mrs Michael Solyk (Roma Kay) of Merriton, also five grandchildren.

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The Singer and His Song
[Niagara Falls Review]

The Singer and his Song and Other Poems will be a welcome guest in any home, Philosophy in rhyme–patriotic, religious, and memorial verse; songs of the seasons; songs of sentiment and of recollection; and songs of special occasion–will bring entertainment to young and old alike. Here can be found the hopes, the fears, the joys, and the sorrows which all of the human family feel but which few are able to express.

Who will not be moved by tender memories of “The Old Home Town” and The Little Old White School House”? Whose eyes will not moisten with the sentimental references to Mother, and to Father? Who will not find happiness in fond recollections of childhood days? Who will not be inspired by the loyalty and love of country to which the author had given such forceful expression? Who would not commit to memory “Love’s ledge,” and other beautiful verses to be found throughout the book?

Surely the author, in contemplating the whole broad scope of human feeling will find ready and close response from many hearts.

Beyond these considerations, the reader will feel that  The Singer and His Song and Other Poems strikes a note of optimism in living. Mr Ross had a buoyant, forward-looking attitude towards life. Although he was fully conscious of the inevitablility of the march of time, he found no sense of tragedy in the fact. He looked upon the pageant of man and nature with calm and clear-observing eyes. He frequently struck a rich Wordsworthian note, urgent with feeling and charged with moral seriousness.

It is this notable characteristic which enables Mr Ross to write with such vigor, such clarity, such mind-arresting simplicity. His poems  are both understandable and compelling.

It is published by Tower Books, Ottawa at $1.50.

Book Review
[The Guelph Daily July 5, 1950]

The Singer and His Song, and Other Poems by James A, Ross, Published by Tower Books, Ottawa, $1.50.

It is a great relief to open a book of poetry and find that the meaning is plain, the language clear and the music of the lines lilting and rhythmical. Striving to comprehend the incomprehensible may be a good mental exercise; enjoyment of the comprehensible is more pleasant.

James A. Ross, who died in 1945, has led a varied and an active life. He was in turn a school principal, insurance executive, businessman and bank manager. He represented the riding of Monck in the Ontario Legislature, and was recognized as one of Ontario’s top-flight orators. In later life he conducted a real estate and brokerage business in Wellandport. The poems in this volume have been collected and arranged by Romaine K. Ross.

Guelph readers will be especially interested in James Ross’s memorial lines on John McCrae:

“Brave John McCrae, you struck the chord,
A master hand could ill afford
One doleful note; so in our mind
Your words  will live and, living, find
Response in all, with one accord
“You are not dead, by fate’s reward
With us you live, revered, adored
More fondly loved, our hearts entwined
Brave John McCrae
“With you we fight the craven horde,
From you the sacred torch has soared
On high; it shall not be confined;
We pledge our faith, rest ye resigned
Break not your sleep, in Him
Our Lord,
Brace John McCrae!

Poems such as this which mirror the honest feeling of Canadian man of affairs, deserve a place on every library shelf.

“The Singer and His Song”
[The Express Beamsville]

There has come to hand a second volume of poems by James A Ross, native of St Ann’s was beloved resident of Lincoln County until his death in 1945.

Mr Ross was the father of Romaine K. Ross, who is for a time conducted a law practice in Beamsville and is presently a resident of Port Dalhousie.

In the forward, Romaine Ross states that his father published first volume of poems in 1920, wrote for the Mail and Empire, Star, Telegram, the Spectator Hamilton, the Standard, St Catharines, the National Home Montreal Winnipeg and other newspapers and magazines. Donald G. Fre.. compiler of the Standard Canadian Reciter, selected some of Mr Ross’s work for that volume, and the B, of Christmas lyrics, published New York City in 1937, contained a poem by Mr. Ross.

“The Singer and His Song”, Other Poems” comprises some poems of patriotic verse, song sentiment, religious and verse, songs of the seasons, of collection and of special occasions and several philosophies in rhyme.

Strongly patriotic, Mr Ross’s of Canada and the British turns up many times throughout the book. Notable are his verses “Canada” “The Union Jack” “Canada and the Empire” and the odes to Their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary, and to the present Monarch and his Queen the occasion of their visit to Canada in 1939.

In “Songs of the Seasons” Ross reveals his love of nature especially in spring when the  out-of-doors called him to banks of the Chippewa at ….. time.

People who live in Canada appreciate Mr Ross’s verses pressing as they do the love of family, and of the little things a discerning and educated writes in verse sometimes, always loyal to the highest and truly Canadian in outlook. Poems strike a note that will a ready response in many especially in this Niagara district where he was widely known and respected.

Of Wellandport
To the Editor

I have read with very great interest the story of the village of Wellandport, in the August 18 issue of your valuable paper. The account given of the various places of business and the businessmen is very vivid and accurate. I note the omission of one very important fact and one of which very few small places can boast. As well as being the centre of the bygone electoral County of Monck, one of its residents redeemed the county for the Conservatives for the first time in over 30 years. I speak of one of Wellandport’s well known and high;y respected citizens James A, Ross, who resided there 54 years, coming as principal of a public school in 1891. He was married in 1893 to the daughter of Thomas H. Kay, the owner of Kay carriage works spoken of your story and whose shop stands as a garage owned by P.N. Redmond. Over the years Ross held many important positions and was highly instrumental in bringing the telephone and hydro into the village. He managed the  Sterling Bank of Canada at its Wellandport branch, promoted and managed the Empire Store Company of Wellandport and later becoming an insurance and real-estate broker. In 1902 he contested the provincial riding of Monck against the Hon Richard Harcourt who was then Minister of Education, being defeated by a small majority, and again in 1905 he was defeated but in 1908 he carried the riding. and sat in the Ontario Assembly under the leadership of Sir James Pliny Whitney, where he was quickly acknowledged to be one of Ontario’s top-flight orators. He was also an author of some note, leaving published two books of poetry and all of this time he was an esteemed resident of the lovely village of Wellandport.

Your very truly,

Mrs James A. Ross.

James A. Ross
[Compiled by ‘S’]

James A. Ross was a longtime teacher at Wellandport school. He had an insurance business, managed the Empire store, was a co-founder and manager if the Sterling Bank of Wellandport(est 1904)

From Confederation in 1867 until 1914 Monck elected a member to the province’s Legislative Assembly, basing their nomination meeting and conventions in Wellandport.

James A Ross devoted much energy to developing a railway. Work on the railway began in 1912. It extended over the Chippewa and Beaver Creek bridges almost to St Ann’s. The railway was never completed, as W.W. 1 took much of the manpower and financial strain made it impossible to continue.

James A. Ross served as M.P.P. for riding of Monck June 8, 1908-Nov. 13, 1911. He was in the Conservative party, served on the Printing and Railways committees.

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Wellandport Ontario

By W. Schwoob

Perhaps I should give a short history of Wellandport before my impressions of the village. It was first called the Narrows from the ridge of land separating the Chippewa River and Beaver Creek. (Chippewa is Indian for “People without moccasins”) and Beaver Creek is self-explanatory.

The first settler was John Dochstader in 1782, whose grant of land was west of Wellandport. He was soon followed by the Henry, Robins, Heaslip and MacDowellfamilies and others. These people settled along the Chippewa River as it was the easiest way to travel by boat in summer and on the ice in winter.

The river valley is so flat that when the Niagara (into which it empties) is in flood, the river backs up nearly 30 miles from it’s mouth, and raises the water one to two feet.

The first school was built on land owned by Wm Dils, west of Wellandport, after 1800, and the teacher was Mr. Weston, nicknamed “Nappertandy”. There were two churches built in 1835, both Methodist. One, just west of Elcho, and the other on Heaslip’s farm, east of the village.

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My Memories of Wellandport

By Vivian Sutton Sunday, February 5, 1984.

Arriving in the fall of 1945, to make my home in the busy, friendly village of Wellandport was certainly a great experience. Having lived all my entire 19 years in a large city; there was a great period of adjustment. The friendliness of the people was really and truly a heat warming experience for me.

Traditionally a typical city, where a mere hello was about all you exchanged with your next door neighbour was most welcome. Mrs J.D.(Reva) Fulsom was one of my first acquaintence.

Indoor plumbing was considered a luxury and the Saturday night bath in the old tin tub left much to be desired

Living accomodations were very difficult to obtain as many returning service men had married during the war and housing was a priority.

Unable to find a suitable place to rent in Welland, we obtained rooms with a lovely retired couple Nelson and Lillie Chadwick, former owners of Chadwick Feed Mill.

Most of our neighbours were all retired people. Mrs Frankie Arnold, Rev McRoberts, Henry & Etta Jupe, George & Lillian Southwick, Mrs Holmes Sr.,George & Caroline Holmes, Earl & Erford Robins, Harry Poore, Thom & Effie Freure, Mr & Mrs Addie Adam Beamer, Bill & Tunie Zawelski and Mearle & Edith Fester.

There friendly and out going manner made me feel so welcome.

The minister at that time was Rev. McRoberts, a bachelor who was a frequent guest for a dinner or a supper. He told me that I was priviledged to reside in the part of Wellandport known “As Quality Hill”. This has always remained in my memory as I  look now at the changes in that part of the village.

Wellandport had four grocery stores. Roman Suters, Red&White store owned and operated by Ada Coleman(Hiles). Howies grocery store, and Nepons general store. In the old general store, centered in the middle of the floor was a large pot bellied stove. This was certainly a popular spot. Everyone congregated from the village and surrounding farms on a Saturday night to purchase supplies, exchange chit chat, catch up on the weeks happenings. No one ever thought of going to town to shop.

We were very fortunate to have in the village a most competent doctor. Dr. Carson made numerous house calls, delivered babies at home, performed many other services.

A local post office operated by the Coleman family in part of the red & white store. A telephone office, headed by Mrs Lloyd Book(Nora) operators, Florence Cavers, Beryl Moore, Elma Cavers to mention a few. Lampmans’ operated a hardware store, implement business and upstairs a funeral home. This was owned by John Lampman and his son Glenn.

This funeral home & furniture store was first owned and operated by Amos Heaslip an uncle of Hazel Ullman in 1902. This building presently is now known as Home Hardware. Mr Heaslip had two hearses. Black & white, two teams, black & white. One pulled the hearse, the other the carriage.

Mr Heaslip sold to Mr. Hugh Brooks. Mrs Hugh Brooks to a Mr SlaghtMr Slaght to John Lampman.

The old Cronkite Hotel housed a two family apartment. Gordon MacDonald family and the North family.

The Masonic Hall was in operation and the Womens’ Institute held social events there.

The Wellandport United Church was the only place of worship and all our spiritual needs well looked after.

A one room school tended to the educational aspects, grades 1-8, capabiley taught by Harold Hodgkins.

Two garages were in operation. One owned and operated by N. Peter Redmond; the other Andys garage, by Andy Toiwchowski. Mr John Johnson was our local carpenter.

A very busy blacksmith shop, owned and operated by Bill Zawelski.

Milk was delivered by two local dairy farmers, Charles Freure and Adam Moore for the exorbant price of .05 cents per quart. When pastuerization became law Welland Dairy delivered the milk

Cars were in short supply, but our needs were well looked after by the local merchants.

The daily bus service from Dunnville to Smithville was in operation by Bert Phillips.

Villagers would avail themselves occasionally. for a special outing, ride the bus to Smithville. Purchase a special rated train ticket to Hamilton for the day from the Smithville railroad station office and off for a days shopping. Think this cost  about 65 cents return. Many the trips I made with friends.

Our community has seen many changes in the 39 years.

Today we have one grocery store and gas bar, local post office, library which is an asset to our community.

One garage, one feed mill, feed supply dealer, hardware store and church.

The Masonic Hall is still an active hall as well as the Independent order of the Odd Fellows Hall.

One of our proudest accomplishments is our local community hall. Many donated long hours of hard work went into the building and maintanence of this very busy hall. The older friendly familiar faces has long since passed on.

Wellandport village is now inhabited mainly by the Dutch people who settled in the area in the very early fifties.

We who were a majority are now a minority. I have spent happy years in this lovely friendly community. A community with a heart, a community who cares.


By Verna Eileen Marlatt, Feb. 27, 1998

Northeast of Welland and hard by the north shore of the Welland River once thrived the settlement of Port Fanny, so named by William Peckham of Wellandport. In time the name was changed to Canadasville in honour of its oldest resident, Mrs Candas Snure.

One hundred years ago this busy community included twelve large farms, three stores, a crockery, a wagon slip, two blacksmith shops, a sawmill, a cooperage and a brickyard.

South of the settlement was a bridge across the Welland River. A wooden bridge, built in five parts, two slopes up, a level piece, and two slopes down served well at first. A half moon bridge replaced it and served for thirty years. Freeman Hodgkins later constructed a steel bridge.

Rafts of logs, barges and tugs were a common sight on the river. Wheelbarrow loads of wood were taken down the bank and loaded on board the barges and tugs. Hinged smoke stacks on the tugs allowed passage under the bridges.

The farmers prided themselves on raising excellent grain, cattle and sheep. Large cow bells were tied  on the sheep which were marked and allowed to roam at will. Mr. Wm. Disher employed his oxen to draw cord wood to St Catharines. Mr James Marshall bought butter, cream, cheese, and eggs from the local citizens.

These commodities were sold in St Catharines where he purchased goods and groceries to retail in his store. Crocks were manufactured in the crockery and sold in the stores. A wagon shop was operated by Mr. Gifford. Mr Benjamin Rogers and Mr Lloyd operated blacksmith shops.

A sawmill, owned by John MacDonald, had a brick chimney seventy feet high and four feet in diameter. Square timber, lumber and shingles were manufactured. Mr Cornelius Bertran operated a brickyard. Clay was dug from the river bank, put into a pit, moistened with water, and then put into a mixer driven by horse-power. Next it was pressed into forms holding six bricks each. The forms were then removed to level ground, inverted, the forms removed, and the bricks allowed to dry. Then a kiln baked them. Three days of labour would provide the inadequate remuneration of one dollar.

West of the brickyard was an ashery.

All work and no play was not the rule of the day. A football team brought local honour. Swimming, skating, and ice races for horses were common. As the rafts of logs floated down to the saw mills the local citizens fished through the cracks between the logs.

Few of the pioneer names are heard today. The families have dispersed to help in building other localities but they left an indelible mark in the local development.