Historical Society of St. Catharines

Celebrating the history of St. Catharines and its vicinity

Archive for the ‘St. Catharines’ Category

Honour Roll of Members of St. Catharines Sports Hall of Famers

Posted by dsharron on June 12, 2009

Compiled by Bill Stevens:

1990 – Jack Gatecliff, Walt McCollum, Rudy Pilous, Ashton Morrison, Roy ‘Pung’ Morton, Stan Mikita, Peter Neumann, Leroy Pickard

1991 – Rex Stimers, Lloyd Alguire, Vic Teal, Bill Whitaker, Jack Lowrey, Neil Campbell, Gerry Cheevers, Dennis ‘Duke’ Diggins

1992 – Tom Garriock, Marianne Allen, George ‘Mooner’ Manoogian, Douglas ‘Percy’ Favell Sr., Joseph Thomas James ‘Joe’ Cheevers, Brian Cullen, Warren Dell

1993 – Craig Swayze, George Howard, Bill DeMars, Joe & Rose Engemann, Peter Cameron, Bobby Thorpe

1994 – Walter Marsh, Jim Minards, George ‘Toughy’ Hope, Frank ‘Geezil’ Madsen, Douglas Cove, Christine Jurgenson, Marilyn Bodogh

1995 – Angie Pastore, Doug Favell Jr., Ed Dixon, Frank Martin, Fred Conradi, Joe McCaffery, Douglas J. ‘Ozzie’ Hill, Bill ‘ Whitey’ Frick

1996 – Peter Bicknell, Marty Calder, Steve Oneschuk, Wendy Wiebe, Wilfred Garrett, Alen Kelogg, Tim Rigby, Marg Schram

1997 – Susan Erskine, Edgar L. ‘Ed’ Moir, George Stauffer, Davey Moore, Helen Chyplik, Edward ‘Ted’ Howe, Douglas Court

1998 – Joan Gray-Brunshaw, Harvey Hutcheon, Jack Rountree, Bill Sadler, Ross Wilson, Elmer Vasko, J. Stan Elliott, David Howes, Benny Newman, Armand Difruscio

1999 – Chris Critelli, Marvin Edwards, Carl ‘Gus’ Madsen, Ivan Little, Douglas McNichol, Ronald French, John Newman, Dale House

2000 – WBC Burgoyne, Brian Bellows, Gerry Hinton, Hector Pothier, Mike Martyk, Jim Lamore, Ted Collins, Jerry Fitzgerald

2001 – Harry Edmonstone, Jim McNulty, Gil Boa, Karen Strong, Jim Robertson, Dennis Hull

2002 – James Douglas, Ken Hodgkins, Bob Davis, John Stevens, Harry Argent

2003 – Clint Page, Chester Warchol, David Dore, Bill ‘Lefty’ Allen, Virginia Thompson

2004 – Tom Smelle, Carl Smelle, Donald ‘Nip’ O’Hearn, Craig Woodhouse, Levio ‘Red’ Ferracuti

2005 – Bob Luey, Jimmy Joy, Terry O’Malley, Doug Robinson, Al McDonough

2006 – No inductees

2007 – Peter Berge, Gloria Campbell, Dean McBride, Rob Stoddart, Hap Walters

2008 – Ken Croft, Norm Defelice, Bob Gear, John Mouradian, Neil Stevens

2009 – Bruce Erskine, Marianne Groat, Robert ‘Buff’ McCready, George ‘Clickey’ Taylor, Mark Walters

Posted in Awards, Sports, St. Catharines | 2 Comments »

33rd Annual Oille Fountain Potting Ceremony – May 23

Posted by dsharron on May 10, 2009

Oille Fountain - downtown St. Catharines

The 33rd annual Oille Fountain Potting Ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 23 at 11:00 a.m. at the corner of King and James Streets in St. Catharines.  This event commemorates the contribution to the well being of the citizens of St. Catharines through donation of the City’s first public drinking fountain in 1878 by Dr. Lucius Oille – the second mayor of the city and first chairman of the waterworks.  This gift marks the establishment of the city’s waterworks system in 1875-1876.  Descendants of the Oille family are invited to participate along with City representatives.

There will be a small ceremony followed by the planting of a geranium on the top of the fountain. 

All are cordially welcome to come and take part in this tradition.

Posted in Architecture, Historical Society, Special Events, St. Catharines | Leave a Comment »

Meet the 2009 / 2010 Board of Directors

Posted by dsharron on May 10, 2009

Historical Society Board of Directors 2009-2010

President – John Burtniak
Past President – Bill Stevens
Vice President – Paul Lewis
Secretary – Elizabeth Finnie
Treasurer – Chris Loat
Director – Membership – Mary Leighton
Director – Publicity – David Sharron 
Director – Director – Joe Muskat  
Director – John Calvert 
Director – Gail Benjafield

Posted in Historical Society, St. Catharines | Leave a Comment »

Treasures from the Vault – St. Catharines Museum – April 2009

Posted by dsharron on April 28, 2009

Sloop in Port Dalhousie c.1900

This month, the St. Catharines Museum made a collection of glass plate negatives available for viewing to the Society.

These images come from the Bertha Shickluna Collection.  The box of negatives were found in a basement when the Shickluna’s were cleaning up.  The box and photos were not in very good shape.  They were offered to the Museum with the message, “if you do not want it, throw it out.” Fortunately, the Museum immediately recognized the importance of the images and decided to keep the collection.  The photos were sent to the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa.  The CCI stabilized the images, cleaned the glass and made working prints of the photos.  

The bulk of the collection features the Port Dalhousie area around the turn of the 20th century. The collection shows buildings, people and a lifestyle that truly takes you back in time.  This has become one of the more important photo collections at the St. Catharines Museum.


Sample image: A sloop and grain elevator in Port Dalhousie, Ontario.  Bertha Shickluna Collection, 1982.223.74, neg. N4848.

Posted in Meetings, Port Dalhousie, Ships, St. Catharines, Welland Canal | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Meeting Recap: Snapshots of the Home Front – Niagara in 1939 to 1941

Posted by dsharron on April 27, 2009

Using images from the St. Catharines Standard Collection from the St. Catharines Museum, Graham Phair took the Society back to the Niagara area during the early years of World War II.  When Hitler invaded Poland and Great Britain declared war, Canada was quick to support their British allies.  The people of Niagara were equally ready to put their best efforts forward.

One of the major centres of activity was Camp Niagara in Niagara-on-the-Lake where local units trained as well as those from Hamilton and the far west of Canada.  Even professional hockey players such as Turk Broda and Syl Apps spent time in Camp Niagara.  Soldiers practiced such skills as machine gun firing, gas mask use, bayonets, semaphore, rifling and more.  The 2nd/10th Dragoons had to march from St. Catharines to Niagara-on-the Lake to conduct their artillery training.  The St. Catharines Flying Club and similar clubs across Canada, under the direction of Murton Seymour, agreed to start to train pilots for the war.

The First Battalion of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment was fully active at the outbreak of the war.  Both young and old enlisted at the outbreak of the war.  The uniforms and equipment of the Canadian military were still largely based on those from the First World War.  Servicemen had some perks around the cities and towns.  For example, they were allowed free entry into the local YMCA’s as an opportunity for recreation. 

The City of St. Catharines, itself, witnessed a change in its manufacturing sector.  Many of the factories were retooled to make the implements of war.  The Collegiate even changed its programs to focus on factory work.  The Decew Power Station was expanded to provide more energy.  Women began to find jobs in the absence of men.  And wartime houses sprang up all over the city.  One St. Catharine company was indirectly present for a major capture of a Nazi figure.  When Rudolph Hess crash-landed in Scotland, the man who captured him, David McLean, held him at bay with a two-pronged pitchfork made at the Welland Vale Company in St. Catharines.

Everyone did his or her part to support the war.  Individuals collected scrap metal to be recycled for the war effort.  People also rationed their food, gas and other amenities – all as a part of doing their part.  Local companies such as McKinnons made raising money for the war a competition.  Neighbourhoods, schools, social clubs, churches, and ethnic groups all came together to hold dances, parades and other events to raise money for the war.  The Red Cross was a major recipient of these goodwill efforts. 

If there was one thing to take away from the April meeting, it was the fact that all of the Niagara area either directly or indirectly did their part to support the Canadian military during the Second World War.  A fact that we should all be proud and thankful for.

Graham Phair’s book, Snapshots of the Homefront: 1939 – 1941, is available at the St. Catharines Museum.  He is currently working a second book on World War II.  Keep an eye out for it.  

Posted in Historical Society, Meetings, St. Catharines, World War II | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

April Meeting – New Topic – On The Homefront

Posted by dsharron on April 11, 2009

On April 23, Graham Phair will give the Society a glimpse at how the people of Niagara managed during World War II.  Phair is the author of the recent book Snapshots of the Homefront: 1939 – 1941.  The book is filled with photographs from the St. Catharines Standard collection.  The meeting promises to be a wealth of information and imagery.  We hope that you can make it out.

Time / Place: Thursday, 23 April 2009, 7:30 P.M., Burgoyne Room of the St. Catharines Museum at Lock 3 (the Welland Canals Centre), 1932 Welland Canals Parkway (formerly Government Road). Wheelchair accessible. Free admission.  All interested persons welcome.

The Museum’s exhibit gallery will be open for viewing a half hour before the meeting.

Posted in Grantham, Meetings, Niagara, St. Catharines, World War II | Leave a Comment »

Treasures from the Vaults – St. Catharines Museum – March 2009

Posted by dsharron on April 1, 2009


Curator Arden Phair holding the Trans-Canada / McKee Trophy won by Murton Seymour in 1940.

At every meeting, the St. Catharines Museum brings out one of the interesting artifacts from its collection to share with the Society.

This week Arden Phair selected the McKee / Trans-Canada Trophy.  This trophy was awarded to Murton Seymour in 1940.  Murton Seymour was born in St. Catharines in 1892.  When a young boy, his family moved to British Columbia.  Out west, he learned to fly and helped to start one of the first flying clubs in Canada.  His interest in flight eventually led him to joining the Air Force during World War I.  

After the War, Seymour returned to St. Catharines.  He represented the City as a solicitor for over forty years.  He was also responsible for incorporating the St. Catharines Flying Club in 1928 and became a founding member and director of the Canadian Flying Club Association.  When the Second World War broke, Seymour’s influence was pivotal in converting flying clubs all over Canada into training facilities for war pilots.  For these critical efforts, Seymour was given the McKee / Trans-Canada Trophy in 1940 for his efforts undertaken in 1939. This award was bestowed to the individual who best advanced aviation in Canada.  Seymour was also inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame and was made an officer in the Order of the British Empire.

The Trophy was donated by Elizabeth Seymour – 2002.172.1.

Posted in Special Events, St. Catharines, William Hamilton Merritt, World War I, World War II | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Meeting Recap: The Datebooks of Ransom Goring

Posted by dsharron on March 28, 2009

On March 26, Mary Friesen introduced the Society to the Goring family of Niagara.  

Francis Goring was born in England in 1755.  On the eve of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Goring arrived in Quebec.  He soon moved to Fort Niagara where he worked as a clerk in the fur trade.  Through surviving letters and journal entries, it is apparent that Francis enjoyed living in the Niagara area.  He settled permanently and raised a family.

One of Francis’ children was Abraham Hamilton Goring who also settled in the area and had a family including a son – Ransom Goring (born in 1842).  Like his grandfather, Ransom was a dedicated journal writer.  He would comment on the day’s events regularly and would even take extra time on Sundays to reflect on the previous week and add to his entries.  Mary Friesen found three years of Ransom’s journals in the Niagara Falls Library and was compelled to transcribe and publish his words.  The journals span the years 1867 to 1869 – critical years in Canada’s history.  Not only does Ransom’s works chronicle the daily life of a Niagara resident but it also sheds light on a number of other interesting topics such as Canada’s militant feelings following the Fenian Raids, the spas of St. Catharines, weather, the social culture of the area, politics, education, courtship and marriage, and shipbuilding.  What better way to understand the past than through the words of one who experienced it.

Friesen’s book is entitled “Renascentur: The Datebooks of Ransom Goring”.  Renascentur was the family’s motto and means “They will rise again” in Latin.

Posted in Meetings, St. Catharines, Villages | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Meeting Recap: The Myth of Laura Secord by Alun Hughes

Posted by dsharron on March 26, 2009

On February 26, Professor Alun Hughes of Brock University methodically retraced the famous and heroic trek of Laura Secord using primary evidence in an effort to remove the myth and to uncover what most likely happened on that historic night.

A quick retelling of the classic story: on 21 June 1813 in Queenston, Laura learned of the American’s plans to surprise attack the British forces at Beaverdams.  The next day Secord set out on foot to warn Lieutenant FitzGibbon all the while taking a harsh route through forests and swampland to avoid being detected by the American pickets.  After her harrowing journey, Secord came across a First Nation’s encampment.  These British allies took Laura to FitzGibbon at John DeCew’s house where she relayed the information.  On 23 June, the British and First Nation forces ambushed the Americans at Beaverdams and were victorious.  The story of Laura’s journey became mythologized over time and she has been honoured in countless means such as statues, monuments, postage stamps, books, plays and more.

Alun asked two questions:  1) Did Laura Secord’s walk make a difference?  2) What route did she actually take?

Question 1: In 1932, W. Stewart Wallace wrote The Story of Laura Secord: A Study in Historical Evidence in which he looked at all of the contemporary reports, histories and newspapers.  There was no mention of Secord’s acts.  The only evidence of Secord’s efforts came from Laura herself.  In 1837, Laura made a petition to run a ferry and outlined her heroic efforts.  In 1839, FitzGibbon verified Secord’s petition in a open statement.  Secord made another petition for a pension after her husband died.  Again, she states her key role in the outcome of the Battle of Beaverdam.  Wallace did not buy Secord’s statements as her need for money in both cases was seen as a motive to embellish.  When other resources started to use Secord as part of the War of 1812 narrative, details became erroneous and Laura’s role became increasingly important and detailed.  To Wallace, Secord could not complete the walk as recounted because the timing of the episode did not work out.

However, in 1934, new evidence surfaced verifying Secord’s story.  In the 1820s, James Secord, Laura’s husband, made a petition for land and used FitzGibbon as proof that she left Queenston on June 22.  He made a second petition to manage the Brock Monument that included an even more detailed account from FitzGibbon further verifying Laura’s importance to the events that transpired from June 21 to June 23.

Ultimately, we will never truly know if Laura Secord’s walk made a difference to the Battle of Beaverdams.  However, there can be no doubt that she did the walk at considerable risk and with the most noble intentions.

Question 2:  There have been a number of inaccurate maps of Laura Secord’s route created over the years.  One such map was created by Jacob Cotton in 1917.  Cotton was commissioned by J. Ross Robertson to paint the Decew House, Laura Secord’s home and other landmarks in Niagara including a map of Secord’s route.  Cotton used the verified statements by Secord and FitzGibbons as sources.  Essentially, Cotton’s route resembled most of the others.

Professor Hughes (a cartographer and historian) taking into account the landscape and history, recreated the route as follows:

• Secord left Queenston towards St. David to see her brother Charles Ingersol who was ill
• Towards Homer she went through the swamp – not true; more likely followed the First Nation’s trail south of the Swamp
• At Homer, she crossed the 10 Mile Creek over the bridge
• In St. Catharines, we went along Queenston St. and St. Paul to cross 12 Mile Creek over the bridge
• She moved down Pelham Road toward the Village of Power Glen where she would have passed the Tourney house (family friends)
•  Crossed the 12 Mile Creek again before climbing the Niagara Escarpment
•    Arriving in John DeCew’s field, she encountered the First Nations who lead her to the DeCew house.

Conclusion on the route according to Alun Hughes:  If this new route is correct, Laura Secord travelled approximately 15 miles on foot – from sunrise at about 4:30 a.m. to nautical twilight around 9:30 p.m.  Total 17 hours.

Posted in Historical Society, Meetings, St. Catharines, War of 1812 | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Upcoming Meetings – Winter 2009

Posted by dsharron on January 6, 2009

The Historical Society of St. Catharines generally meets in the Burgoyne Room of the St. Catharines Museum at Lock 3 (the Welland Canals Centre), 1932 Welland Canals Parkway (formerly Government Road) at 7:30 unless otherwise posted. The facility is wheelchair accessible. Free admission to the Society meetings.  All interested parties welcome.



January 22 – “History of the Canada Hair Cloth Company” by Jim McFarlane


February 26 – “The Myth of Laura Secord: Seeking the Truth Beneath the Chocolate Coating” by Alun Hughes


March 26 – “The Ransom Goring Journals” by Mary Friesen


* Note: the St. Catharines Museum will generously open its traveling exhibit gallery for viewing a half hour before each meeting at no cost to the Society.


Posted in Historical Society, Meetings, St. Catharines | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »