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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.

[More RELATED material.. in POEMS]

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.

[More RELATED material.. in POEMS]

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.



[The Welland-Port Colborne Evening Tribune, 26 November 1931]

This synopsis of Presbyterian church history covering a period of one hundred years was prepared by the present minister, Rev. Donald H. Currie, for the Centennial of the Wellandport Presbyterian church, observed on Sunday, October 25th, 1931, by special services in the church, and on Monday, Oct. 26th, by a supper served by the Ladies’ Aid in the “Tourists Inn,” followed by a reunion and program in the church. The sketch is dedicated to the memory of the pioneers who came into the forest to hew out homes for themselves, and build schools and churches that their children might be provided for materially and spiritually.

My sources of information are from Dr. Gregg’s History of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and from the session and congregational minute books of Wellandport church. The church in Gainsboro on the Twenty Mile Creek was organized by the Rev. D.W. Eastman in 1809. From its organization this church at St. Ann was under the care of Mr. Eastman, something like twelve years, and he was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Goodell. In 1831 there were two Sabbath  schools, and Mr. Goodell divided his labors between St. Anns and another congregation six miles distant in the same town.

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History of Wellandport

(Compliled by  “S”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Half of Wellandport Wiped out by Fire

[Welland Telegraph, August 26, 1910]

Warrant issued for the arrest of Arthur Powell, a lad of sixteen , who has fled—post office, stores, houses and barns destroyed—loss $30,000.

 The village of Wellandport  suffered an unusually serious fire at an early hour Thursday morning whereby  all of the northern half  of the business section of the place was wiped out. With a total loss reaching  $30,000.,only  one-third of which is covered  by insurance.

The origin of the fire is a mystery.It broke out in Goring’s  general store and was first seen about half past three. There were no lights or fires about the place and everything was in good shape when  Mr. Goring locked up at eleven o’clock the night previous.

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[ Welland Tribune 1898]

Wellandport, lying in the midst  of a good farming section. Yet without the impetus that railroads give a place, is steadily on the move forward. While we have had no spasmodic business boom, yet what there has been was of moment to the place.

Overholt’s Mill

The new roller process flour mill erected this spring by John Overholt, has been a solid addition to our village. It certainly brings  a large amount of trade to the village. And thoroughly appreciates the patriotic spirit of the townspeople in subscribing a cash bonus towards the erection of the mill. Its capacity is fifty barrels per day.

Wm. Stewart’s Cheese Box Factory

This is another of the industries of the village , employing several hands a large portion of the year. Mr. Stewart very kindly showed the Tribune representative around the factory and explained the process of the making of a cheese box , which is very interesting indeed to the uninitiated. The boxes are made here right from  the rough logs , which are rafted down to the mill  in the Welland river , windlassed up, put through a splitter, which cuts the elm logs up like strips of paper, about one eighth inch thick. These are in turn cut in proper  lengths , steamed , placed on a shaper , the bottoms put in, a band around, passed on to the heading department, and are ready for shipment. Birch and poplar is used for the covers and elm for the round part. As there is a large demand for these boxes.

Other lines

George Stewart carries an extensive blacksmithing and carriage making establishment in the west end of the village and enjoys a large patronage.

The general stores of M.H. Prentiss, Dilly C. Holmes, J.R. Goring and W. Misener are well kept and good representative departmental business places., where a line of everything is the greatest good to the community. Other kinds of business are pretty well represented. Geo. Beatty also has a good wagon shop. P.W. Emrick sells watches and clocks—new ones—and has an ambulance for the disabled ones. He is a good business man and has an increasing patronage.