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 →

I have this memory that recently floated up to the surface of a camping trip I took many years ago with my dad and brother. We were camping at Sherkston Shores a camping resort half-way between Fort Erie and Port Colborne. While I have excellent memories of swimming in the old quarry and the three waterslides, but less clear is a visit we made one trip to the Welland Canal. We’re all unclear as to what lock we visited. My brother remembers stores. And there was also the stranger who gave us chocolate bars (through our dad) on that same trip. I’m sure buried inRead 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 →

Since the first arrival of European settlers to the American continent, the drive to develop a local economy and industry. The new continent proved a wealth of raw material through timber, fur, and minerals. Open untouched space allowed for large farms and rivers teamed with fish. The first industries in the area were all related to the extraction and processing of these raw materials. The business owners made a fortune and grew into a new world nobility. Electricity remained decades away, and these industries relied either on animal power or better, water power. Water power relied on running water to drive massive wheels which turnedRead More →

While the construction of the canal inspired a great deal of urbanization of the Niagara Region, but not all towns came into being because of the canal. Even before the canal came to the region, the area attracted a great deal of colonization in the days during and following the American Revolution mainly by Loyalists. Officially today they’re called United Empire Loyalists, and they formed the core of the original European population in Upper Canada, created out of the Province of Quebec. Quebec had been under British occupation since the end of the French-Indian War, and the government was maintained to match that of NewRead More →

By 1836 the Welland in its current form remained woefully behind the times. Compared to the canal systems along the St. Lawrence River, the military Rideau Canal, and the under-construction Trent-Severn waterway, the Welland Canal remained little more than a cheap imitation to the technology of the day. Technology had moved on, and most ships now used steam power rather than sail power larger ships, especially those with side wheels and greater drafts and displacements prevented the larger modern cargo and passenger vessels from fitting through the canal. To simplify the problem, the Welland Canal had outgrown its usefulness. But the need for a canalRead More →

If you mention the Welland Canal today many people will think of the massive shipping channel cutting across the Niagara Penisula, an artificial river you see from the Garden City Skyway that carries the QEW over the top the channel. Part of an elaborate and technologically advanced highway and major trade corridor from the Atlantic Ocean to the northernmost Great Lakes. The Canal has humble beginnings. Since the earliest days of human settlement in the Niagara Regions, the major transit between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie has been the Niagara River. Even the first peoples realised they required a long portage as the great falls,Read More →

While the idea of cutting a channel to safely carry cargo and people across the Niagara Penisula was not a new one by the time William Hamilton Merritt came along and pushed the idea forward to completion, Merritt is the one credited with the concept. William’s father, Thomas Merritt served under Sir John Graves Simcoe in the Queen’s Rangers during the American Revolution. After the war ended Thomas and his wife Catharine Hamilton settled in Saint Johns, New Brunswick for some time. But the call of home beckoned and the two returned to Bedford, New York. In Bedford, on the 3rd of July 1795 thatRead More →

When it comes past projects related to history which I have written, the foundations of the events which I planned to explore are relatively modern happening some three to two hundred years in the past. A small drop in the bucket of the history of our planet. But when it comes to the Welland Canal, the foundations of that canal take place in the dark distances of prehistory. The need for a canal across the Niagara Peninsula is related to a massive limestone cliff that cuts across the modern province of Ontario known today as the Niagara Escarpment. Today the cliff runs from the NiagaraRead More →