Welland History .ca

The TALES you probably never heard about

John Brown

[History of the Village of Fonthill The Fonthill Women’s Institute, 1944]

The John Brown family were U.E. Loyalists, coming to Canada from the States in 1783. They settled first near DeCew falls in what was then called “The Gore” and in 1797 received three hundred acres of land from the crown.

The father died in 1804 and his son John Brown, who married Mary Damude, daughter of Henry Damude, then moved to a farm near Port Robinson.

John Brown Sr. came to Fonthill about the year 1824 for it was during the time the first Welland Canal was being excavated, and that primarily was the cause of his moving from his farm at Port Robinson. The canal came as far south as Port Robinson where the boats were locked into the Chippawa Creek, from whence they proceeded down the Creek to the Niagara River at Chippawa. The excavating was done mostly with shovels and wheel-barrows, by a rather wild crowd of Irishmen who liked nothing better than a good fight. In fact it was after one particular brawl in which a man by the name of Griffith was evidently killed, for he was never heard of again, that John Brown decided to seek a more peaceful region and traded his farm in Port Robinson for the one in Fonthill where the Browns still live.

At that time there was a frame house on the farm, which later burned and in 1864 was replaced by the present brick home.

John Brown Jr., was three years old when the family came to Fonthill. At that time there was no school in the village, and the first school he attended was situated on the Port Robinson Road in the corner of the farm now owned by Frank Clark. Afterward a small brick school house was built in the village, first of the three to be erected on the site of the present one.

The writer of the Biographical Sketch, a daughter of John Brown Jr., tells: About the time my parents were married an escaped slave came to my Grandfather’s; he had been the personal slave of a Mr Murray, so bore the name Sam Murray. Sam with some other slaves, had received permission to attend a religious ‘camp meeting’ and as they were to be gone two days and a night, they were well on their way before they were missed. Like so many slaves who escaped into Canada, they came by the ‘Underground Railway.’

Sam’s clothes were of fine broadcloth but were in tatters when he arrived here.. He lived several years and was a real friend of the Brown family.

Another interesting item follows: At the time of the Civil War in the States, some rich men who were conscripted by the Army, paid well for substitutes, and men from Canada were sometimes drugged, then taken across the Niagara River and sold. A case of that kind occurred at the old Rice Hotel which stood on the corner, now the lawn at the home of Gordon Haist. A number of men were in the hotel drinking; later one of them wrapped in a quilt, awakened in the Brown’s bush and was able to get home, but two others were never seen again.

Miss Brown continues: My first memory of cutting grain was by hand, with a cradle which left the grain in rows to be bound by hand. The first machine my father owned, drawn by horses, let the grain fall on a table: when enough was cut it was pushed off by a man who sat at the back of the machine. The next reaper had revolving rakes which pushed the grain flat on a table, the driver pressed on a ‘trip’ which caused the rake to force the sheaf off the table. It too had to be bound by hand.

Then came the Binder which cut the grain and bound the sheaves. Now we have ‘combines’which cut and thresh the grain in one operation.

Robert Burton Randall

[History of the Village of Fonthill The Fonthill Women’s Institute, 1944]

In 1849 Robert Burton Randall brought his family from Brookfield, Nova Scotia to Fonthill.

Mr D’Everardo who was instrumental in bringing so many Nova Scotians to the village had promised to have a house ready for his occupancy when he arrived, but when they arrived there was no house and they were forced to stay at the Temperance Hotel kept by Mrs Morton, who afterward became Mrs Samuel Rice.

The Randall family stayed there for a time making beds for the children on the floor: later they moved into the Dance Hall of the old Rice Hotel, where they lived until he bought a house on the lot afterwards owned by Edward Morris.

Robert Randall was a blacksmith and moved to Welland, thinking he could better himself, but died soon after, leaving a wife with eight children.

The family then came back to the home in Fonthill, and his son Nathan built the house where Edward Morris lived for so many years. Robert Randall’s second daughter, Elizabeth, married John Brown Jr., in 1855, thus uniting two pioneer families of our village.

Another daughter, Kate Randall, better known as Cassie, taught school in Fonthill and was beloved by all the children with whom she came in contact. The Randall family were strong Baptists, especially Mrs John Brown, who served as President of the Ladies’ Aid for several years, and was always ready to do anything for the church she loved so dearly.

John Gore

[History of the Village of Fonthill The Fonthill Women’s Institute, 1944]

John Gore of U.E. Loyalist stock was born in Digby, Nova Scotia in the year 1800. When a young man he went to New York at the earnest wish of his uncle, Captain John Gore, one of the founders of the Sailor’s ‘Snug Harbor’ as it is called, on Staten Island, a retreat known to sailors the world over.

In New York he fell in love with and married Miss Asenath Crowell: at the age of twenty-six he and his bride with all their worldly goods traveled from New York to Buffalo by way of the Erie Canal. It took them three weeks to make the journey in small boats towed by slow moving mules.

In Buffalo he established a furniture business which he later removed to Fonthill and conducted there for many years, dying at the advanced age of ninety-three.

During Mr Gore’s residence in Buffalo, Dexter D’Everardo, then teaching school there, met and fell in love with Eliza Brown, a young and charming widow, cousin of John Gore, and it was from the latter’s home that the wedding took place in 1843. The same year Mr. D’Everardo and his bride moved to Fonthill and six years later in 1849, Mr Gore followed him. On his arrival at Fonthill, he lived for a time in a low rambling house at the top of the hill, adjoining a Government Observatory, from which on clear days a splendid view of both Lakes Ontario and Erie could be obtained.

In 1851, Mr Gore built the home where he spent the rest of his life and from which Dr. J.O. Emmett, who married his only daughter, Kate Gore, carried on his practice of medicine.

In politics Mr Gore was a Reformer {now called Liberal} and in religious belief a Universalist, who took an active part in providing a church for that Denomination, which was afterwards sold to the Methodists, and the site is now occupied by their place of worship. John Gore was a Cabinetmaker and Undertaker, and was known far and wide as a craftsman of no mean ability. You will find, as you go through the Niagara Peninsula, many pieces of furniture to which the owners proudly point and say “this was made by John Gore of Fonthill” At the time of his death in 1893 he was known as one of the oldest residents in this part of Canada, and  ended the life of one of Fonthill’s pioneer citizens, loved by many and respected by all.

Thomas Canby

[History of the Village of Fonthill The Fonthill Women’s Institute, 1944]

The D’Everardo home was originally built and owned by Thomas Canby, another early settler.

The Canboro Road was surveyed by Mr Canby from whom it derived its name. This road, a very crooked one, was the old Indian trail from Niagara Falls to Detroit and many old Indian relics have been found on the farm now occupied by Miss Ella Brown and Clifford Brown, originally known as the John Brown farm

From Mr Canby’s grandsons at Lowbanks, we learn a map of the Peninsula made by an army officer in 1816 showing a district called Canby-Marsh, taking in the countryside from Fonthill to Port Colborne. Fonthill is prominently marked but Welland not shown at all. These grandsons say Mr Canby always thought Fonthill “ a little bit of heaven.”


[History of the Village of Fonthill The Fonthill Women’s Institute, 1944]

Again looking over the years, we find the name of our first doctor, John Fraser, who left quite a record in various ways.He is said to have selected many of the books for the Library and held the office of  President in 1859. He was an M.P. which brings to mind that even a small village like Fonthill has given two members to our  House of Commons in Ottawa, the second being the late A.B. Damude, who was a member at the time of his death.

Dr J.O. Emmett was our next physician, coming to Fonthill in 1865 and carrying on an extensive practice until his death in 1914. Dr H.L. Emmett, his son, graduated from Toronto University in 1908. In 1909, during a diphtheria epidemic, he associated himself with his father and they carried on together for five years, until the death of the former. Dr Harry continued the practice until his death in 1933, thus covering together a period of sixty-eight years. During his entire life as a physician, Dr Harry was very keenly interested in all matters pertaining to the improvement of our village, and it was due to increasing endeavor on his part that we now have our waterworks system and beautiful cemetery.

Dr  John Hansler, son of Andrew Hansler, came here in October, 1881, fresh from college where he was a gold medalist. He located in one of the  fine residences on the hill-top, then owned by John Willson, and pictured in the afore mentioned Atlas. He carried on a practice here for many years until his death in April 1924.

The home was then purchased by his nephew, John Stirtzinger, who occupies it at the present time.

Dr F. Myers was born in the town of St Mary’s, where his father and grandfather owned and operated extensive woolen mills. Two years after his graduation, Dr Myers came to Fonthill (1924) establishing his first office in the eastern end of the hotel. In 1929  he married Mary Davidson and had his home and office above the Bank while building their fine home on North Pelham Street, where he practiced until enlisting for service in the R.C.A.M.C..

Dr Graham Jordan bought the old Emmett home and office in 1934, coming here from Wellandport, where he had practiced since graduation. At the present time, he is our only physician, and a very busy one, especially so due to the number of doctors entering the armed forces.

Dr. J.O. Emmett

[History of the Village of Fonthill. The Fonthill Women’s Institute, 1944]

Dr J.O. Emmett’s forefathers came from Delaware, shortly after the Revolutionary War, settling in Homer with so many other U.E. Loyalists.

Their farm was situated where the new St Catharines Cemetery is located. Dr Emmett attended the St Catharines Collegiate, and when a child I have heard him say many times that in winter he and his brothers used to run most of the way to school and home again, a distance of two miles, to keep warm, overcoats being a luxury for farmers in those days.

From high school he went to New York, where he completed his medical education in two years, graduating from the New York Homeopathic College in 1863. After a year at Bellview Hospital in New York, he returned home to Canada.

He immediately looked around for a suitable place for a young doctor to establish himself and settled on Fonthill , where he came in May, 1865. It was a very hard struggle at first, having to make his calls on foot, then came a horse, which he used to ride, and next and last his faithful horse and buggy in summer, changing to a team and cutter in winter, by which methods he used to travel far and wide for the whole of his forty-nine years’ practice.It was a familiar sight to see the old doctor in winter, with a huge Scotch shawl wrapped in his own peculiar style around his head and shoulders to keep out the cold, start out for a long drive through the country with the temperature well below zero and the roads often blocked with snow.

A “Country Doctor” in those days was also counselor and friend and to show the esteem in which he was held by his practicing colleagues, the Welland County Medical Association had planned holding a testimonial banquet for him to celebrate his fiftieth anniversary in the profession.Death intervened however, and in April 1914, Dr J.O. Emmett was laid to rest, mourned by the whole countryside.

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.


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

Skelton –Mr and Mrs Robert Skelton (nee Myrtle Roberts) Welland Junction are happy to announce the birth of their daughter Gwyneth Elizabeth at the Welland Auxilliary Hospital on Saturday , June 3,1944.

Roik--Pte. George Roik(nee Marjorie Turner) are happy  to announce the arrival of their baby daughter  on Thursday, June 1,1944, a sister for Georgie.

McBrayne–Mr and Mrs M. McBrayne nee (Dorothy Phillips)are happy  to announce the arrival of a son on Tuesday, June 6, 1944 at the Welland Auxilliary Hospital.

Smith– To Mr and Mrs R.R. Smith (nee Dorothea Phillips) a son, Robert Kent on Sunday June 4, 1944, at the Welland Auxilliary Hospital.


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

Mr and Mrs J.H. Fletcher Jr. of Fonthill, wish to announce the engagement of their younger daughter, Mabel Eleanor to Harry Payne, son of Mr and Mrs A.P. Payne of Beverdams. The wedding will take place on July 15.

Weddings: Perenack–Billyard

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

First Baptist church was the scene of a pretty wedding Saturday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock, when Elsie Margaret, daughter of Mr and Mrs W.H. Billyard, 270 Bishop Road, became the bride of Joseph Perenack, son of Mr and Mrs Paul Perenack, 270 Burgar Street. Rev S.R. Weaver performed the ceremony.

Given in marriage by her father, the bride was charming in a white long-sleeved sheer frock with inserted sides of lace and buttoned down the back. A long lace veil was held to her head with a cluster of flowers. Miss Ethel Billyard was her sister’s attendant, wearing a blue net dress with a peplum effect with a sweetheart neckline, She wore a Dutch-cap headdress and carried a cascade of pink roses and sweetpeas.

Miss Mary Stillman was organist and James Marando was groomsman.

A reception was held at 4 o’clock at the Marine restaurant. The bride’s mother received wearing a blue sheer street length frock and a corsage of pink roses. She was assisted by the mother of the bridegroom, who also wore blue sheer with a corsage of pink roses.

The bride’s table was prettily decorated with pink carnations and centred with a three-tier wedding cake.

For travelling to Bangor Lodge, Muskoka, for their honeymoon, Mrs Perenack chose a black crepe dress with black accessories under a black chesterfield coat.

On their return, Mr and Mrs Perenack will reside at 33 Maple Avenue.