Welland History .ca

The TALES you probably never heard about


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.