History is far more complicated. And when it comes to the history of the railroad in Ontario, there are many more moving parts to the story than most people think. The history of the railroad does not begin in the 19th Century; rather, the events of the early 19th Century are simply a culmination of a vast array of the human need to improve our own mobility beyond that of our own two feet or the control and domestication of animals. As I am fond of saying, there has to be context to understand. While this is not the furthest I’ve gone back in time,Read More →

My first introduction to Brantford came in the form of the film Silent Hill where the city’s depressed centre featured as the downtown of the titular Silent Hill, a fictional mining town that ended up in a supernatural cataclysm after a coal fire broke out. Brantford, in reality, has a far more complex history where the dark colonial past and rich indigenous heritage are seen like never before in Ontario. I’ll admit, this week was hard, made harder by recent dark elements of Canada that were brought to light for us on the colonial side of history. The earliest known human settlement in the GrandRead More →

When it comes to Living History museums, I have a long enjoyment of these sites. From jumping in Pioneer Puddles at Upper Canada Village to putting on musketry displays before Waterloo’s 200th. One of my favourites is Westfield outside of Hamilton, Ontario. While smaller and quieter, it has some of the oldest buildings from this part of the province! And while the museum aspect is officially closed for the time being, I learned that the site itself remains accessible and without reservations! So I took an early morning visit to avoid any major crowds and got some beautiful morning light. While every building on theRead More →

It was May 2009; I was on a road trip with three friends to explore the wealth of abandoned buildings up in Northern Ontario. Our previous night’s plans of camping out at a mine further north skunked by cold weather and the inability to hide our car safely. But that didn’t matter; we found a small motel on Highway 11 north of our next location, the town of Cobalt. Despite the name, the city once thrived with silver mines and started the northern Ontario silver rush that eventually butted into the gold rush further north. Silver from Ontario caused riots in New York City inRead More →

The historic downtown of Oakville has always been a bit of a respite for me and my photography since I started taking it seriously. It also helps that working fifteen minutes north of this space allows me an easy lunch break escape to relax in an urban environment. But my experience with downtown Oakville goes back further than working at Sheridan. Back in 2002, I attended PYPS Fall Convention at Knox Church. That event stands out in my mind for several reasons. First, I met several longtime friends at that event. The second I did my first serious photography at a PYPS event, and thirdRead More →

There is always a bittersweet feeling when you wrap up a project. You’re proud that you completed the project and hopefully worth the effort you took to complete it from beginning to end. But you’re also sad because you cannot keep working on the subject. While this one, compared to some of my two recently history projects, was far smaller. The Anglo-American War of 1812 and Canadian Confederation were exhaustive topics filled with all sorts of twists and turned. The Welland Canal is far more straight forward, which is why I could complete the project in such a short amount of time. I guess learningRead More →

When it comes to all the posts I’ve written about the Welland Canals, this one is probably the most important. The reason is that if it hadn’t been for the efforts to save the historic Welland Canals, this whole project would not have been worth creating. The reason is that there would be nothing left of the first Canals at least in original forms. Sure there might have been plaques installed eventually, and some sections of the earlier Canals may have survived, but I don’t think in any meaningful sense. The preservation of the historical Welland Canals was the last thing on the minds ofRead More →

Out of all communities formed along the Welland Canal, both large and small, the ones that are most important to the Canal are the ports. It’s easy to tell which communities along the Canal remain or are former terminuses or access points onto the Welland Canals as most of them carry the title Port in their name. Welland for example offered through the first two Canals access onto the feeder canal that exited at Port Maitland (which I will not be covering today, sorry). While once-thriving communities with some level of municipal independence all save Port Colborne are a part of a larger city today,Read More →

Like the Canal, the industries that formed along the corridor needed to adapt and change as technology, power, and market demand changed throughout history. During the early day of the Canal, industries could get by working in a relatively small area. Local grain, timber, and materials were brought to the mills, and then the products were used within the local market. The Canadian Industry during the first part of the 19th Century remained local, colonial, provincial. They were dedicated mainly to the extraction and processing of raw materials. But the 1850s brought two significant changes, the first being an effective railway network that provided furtherRead More →

The Welland Canal attracted a wide range of industry. But most of the industry used the Canal as a way to bring in power to drive the machines, transport in raw materials, and ship out finished products. But if there is a single industry that not only depended on the presence of the Canal but also provided goods and service to the Canal, it is the shipbuilding industry. Shipbuilding in Canada was nothing new; ships were the cars of the day as water was the highway. And with most the communities that existed in Canada were on the water. While Mills drove inland communities onRead More →