Historical Society of St. Catharines

Celebrating the history of St. Catharines and its vicinity

Posts Tagged ‘St. Catharines’

Meetings in the Fall 2009

Posted by dsharron on August 31, 2009

Meetings in the Fall 2009 – 7:30 p.m. – all held at the St. Catharines Museum at Lock 3, 1932 Welland Canal Parkway, St. Catharines, Ontario. Free admission.  Doors open at 7:00. 

September 24 – “Forts and Families in Upper Canada” by Wes Turner, past Society President.  Who lived in the forts in Upper Canada in the early 19th century and what was their life was like.

October 22 – “A Brief Introduction to the History of Passenger Travel on the Great Lakes and Upper St. Lawrence… with some sightings of the River Palace” by Walter Lewis – marine historian and co-recipient of the 2009 Save Ontario Shipwrecks Marine Heritage Award.  From the earliest days of settlement in New France to the opening of the Seaway, in a heavily illustrated, we will explore the experiences of travel through this magnificent waterway.  

November 26 – Show and Tell Christmas Social – The Programme Planning Committee would like to hear about ideas from members for the popular Show and Tell event.  If you would like to bring an item, contact the Committee to let them know how much time you will need to “Show and Tell.”  Committee members – Gail (egailb@sympatico.ca) or Elizabeth (finnies@sympatico.ca).  You can also bring something for the dessert table for the social portion of the programme.   

For further information on Society gatherings, click on “Special Events”. 

* 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.

Advertisements

Posted in Historical Society, Meetings, Ships | Tagged: , , , | 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 »

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

Posted by dsharron on April 1, 2009

mckee-trophy-seymour1

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 »

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 »

History of the Silver Spire Church

Posted by dsharron on January 6, 2009

Report by Bill Stevens:

 

At our October 23, 2008 Society meeting Rev. Dr. Phil Cline spoke to an audience of 40 about the Silver Spire United Church.  In January 2008, Memorial, Welland Avenue and St. Paul Street United churches voted to amalgamate at the St. Paul Street site. The amalgamation took effect on July 1, 2008 and a new church congregation with over 700 members was established. The Welland Avenue and Memorial church buildings were vacated and sold off.

 

The history of St. Paul Street United Church begins with the first known record dated 1816 showing people being called “Methodists” meeting at the home of Rufus Wright, at the corner of Ontario and Trafalgar streets, for the worship of God and spiritual fellowship. Brothers Rufus and Gershom Wright were staunch Methodists and they played a large role in promoting the faith in St. Catharines.

 

During 1822-24, when  Rev. Ezra Adams was the Pastor, the land on St. Paul Street was purchased and a frame chapel was erected. The settlement of St. Catharines continued to grow and so did the congregation and St. Catharines became an independent circuit in 1832. Egerton Ryerson, the founder of the public school system in Ontario, became the first superintendent. The St. Catharines Circuit extended many miles in every direction, including Thorold, Beaver Dams, St. Johns, etc. In 1854, St. Catharines and its immediate vicinity were made a separate circuit, and the remainder was set aside as another circuit with two preachers, a married man and a single one, being appointed. 


The continued growth of the congregation saw the chapel expanded with an addition in 1845. Eventually a new building, the present church was built between 1860-63. The building contract was given in March 1861, to Mr. Henry Burgoyne. The new building was ready for use in 1863, and its cost was approximately $12,000. Subsequently, in 1870, a spire was added at a cost of $2500.

 

In December 1870, a meeting of the Quarterly Official Board was called to consider building a new Wesleyan Methodist Church on Welland Avenue. A resolution to that effect was unanimously carried, and a Board of Trustees for the new church was recommended.


Early in 1871 the lot for the building was selected, and the Board of Trustees chosen. In 1875 a new Wesleyan Church on Niagara Street was also built (the predecessor of Memorial Church) and in 1876 it was united to St. Paul Street Church, the connection lasting for several years.

 

On January l0th, 1876, the St. Paul Street building was nearly destroyed by fire. Thanks to the efforts of the fire brigade the flames were kept inside the walls and roof, and while the damage was great, the building was not destroyed. Restoration, however, cost a large sum, ($10,000) at a time when there was a financial depression in Canada. The Welland Avenue Church became independent in that same year, and in 1879, Niagara Street, Louth and Grantham churches were made into a separate circuit.

 

In 1890 the present Sunday School was erected, and the old church was removed to make room for the new building. Over the next century many improvements were made to the interior of the building. In 1909 an organ was installed. The building survived yet another fire in 1962 and was once again restored. The building has received a heritage designation and a brief description reads as follows:

 

366 St. Paul Street: Built of red brick, favoured by the Methodist Church, the structure was built in 1861 having rounded windows, pinnacled and centre towered Italianate style. Although the church was seriously damaged by fire, the original structure was retained in the reconstruction of the building. The exterior of the original church remains as constructed in 1861 with the exception of change of the front entrance in 1956.”

 

More information on the Silver Spire Church can be found on the web site  http://www.silverspire.ca/

 

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

Some Reminiscences of Grantham Township by Bob Bell

Posted by dsharron on December 6, 2008

On November 27, Bob Bell recounted some of his varied experiences as a local politician in Grantham Township from the 1950s through to the 1980s. 

Bob Bell was born in 1921 in Louth Township decended from the Loyalist families Secord and Pawling.  He worked at McKinnon Industries (now General Motors) for forty-seven years before retiring in 1986.  During the second World War, Bob served in the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Bell’s political career began in 1959 as a councillor on the Grantham Township Council and then as an alderman for the Grantham Ward on the new City of St. Catharines Council.  He remained an alderman until 1969 when regional government came to Niagara.  From 1970 to 1985, Bob was a Councillor on Regional Council.  Among his body of work includes time on the Planning and Development Committee, the Shaver Hospital Foundation, the St. Catharines General Hospital Board of Governors, Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and currently is the Executive Director of the Hotel Dieu Shaver Health and Rehabilitation Foundation.

What Mr. Bell brought to politics was the farmer’s mentality of never promising what you cannot deliver.  He and his fellow representatives strived to get things done without wasting a vast amount of time.  They were closer to their constituents than today’s politicians. 

In 1961, Grantham and St. Catharines had grown to the point where amalgamation was necessary.  Mr. Bell was among the group responsible for naming all of the streets affected by the amalgamation.  From 7:00 to 12:00 pm, a mere five hours, names were called out, checked by the clerk and voted on for all of the streets in the newly aligned city.

In 1972, Bob became the Chairman of the Regional Planning Committee – a position he held for a number of years.  After eight years of preliminary work, the Committee met with the provincial cabinet to get the Region’s first Offical Plan approved.  Niagara thus became the first municipality with a policy plan in Ontario.

Mr. Bell was also part of the initiative in 1959 to create the Lester B. Pearson Park.  It came about when the opportunity arose to get the properly for a dollar a year.  The space was ideal for a public recreation area as it remains today.

Mr. Bell’s talk was quite informative and highlighted the accomplishments of those who dedicated their time to making Grantham Township, St. Catharines and the Region a better place to live.  He ended his talk with the words, “Grantham was a great town with great people.  The good old days were all not that bad.”

Posted in Grantham, Niagara, St. Catharines, Towns, Townships | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

W.B. Allan – a St. Catharines’ Architect

Posted by dsharron on May 29, 2008

William Allan - St. Catharines architectOn Thursday, May 22, Pat Menon reintroduced the Historical Society of St. Catharines to the life and work of former local architect William Bryson Allan.  Allan (1838 – 1911) was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada in the 1850s.  After bouncing around Quebec and Ontario for a few years, he settled in St. Catharines in 1861 and started a furniture business with his family while also dabbling in undertaking, sewing machine sales and photography.  But it was apparent that Allan had a talent for architectural design.

St. Catharines Collegiate designed by W.B. AllanAllan’s first known design was the Riordan Mill in 1867.  In 1870, Allan married Isabella Dougan who was the daughter of a successful local builder.  Now with contractors, furniture makers and an architect in the family, the Allan’s and Dougan’s formed a formitable business team.  From there he did not look back.  Chronologically, some of Allan’s designs include: St. Paul’s Ward School (1871), Central School on Court Street (1872), First Presbyterian Church (1872), the expansion of the family furniture factory (1875), St. James Ward School (1876),  and St. Andrew’s Ward School (1883).  Other designs included the Protestant Orphans’ Home, Grantham Academy / St. Catharines Collegiate, St. Thomas Ward School, Merritton Cotton Mill, the R.H. Smith Company (saw works), the Oddfellows Hall, and the Merritton Town Hall.  From the late 1860s to 1900, Allan was quite prolific in St. Catharines. 

Allan’s last design was Memorial Hall in Niagara-on-the-Lake which opened in 1907.  Memorial Hall was the first building in Ontario designed specifically to be a historical museum.  The museum celebrated its 100th anniversary just last summer. 

While other local architects such as Tully, Latshaw, Dorr, Wiley and Badgley often receive more praise for establishing the architectural character of St. Catharines, it is important to remember the other architects like William Allan who added significant and memorable works of brick and mortar within our city.

Posted in Architecture, Meetings, St. Catharines | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Historical Documentary Preview – “Echo of the Future: A Tale of Sunnyvale”

Posted by dsharron on April 4, 2008

On Thursday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mills Room at the St. Catharines Central Public Library, the Historical Society and the Library will be sponsoring the preview of the DVD “Echo of the Future: A Tale of Sunnyvale” .  This 47 minute film tells the story of Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley), California’s early radio manufacturing industry and the Bessey family.  The Besseys lived in St. Catharines before moving out to California and making it big and our city is part of the film.  Please join us.

For more information on the film, visit the film’s blog at http://www.echoofthefuture.com/.

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