Frankly Speaking, Campion’s Message Tells It Like It Is

I want to take this opportunity to thank the large majority of Welland residents who are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.  Those of you who are staying home as much as possible, practicing social distancing by staying at least 2 meters apart, adhering to mandatory 14 day self-isolation after returning to Canada, and those who are refraining from gatherings of more than 5 people.  I appreciate your commitment to not only keep yourselves safe but also keeping your families, friends and the community safe. It is important to every single member of our community that we observe these rules. 

For the small minority of those who are not adhering to these rules, it’s time to get with it!  It isn’t too late. Do you want to be burdened with the knowledge that you personally infected someone because you didn’t make an effort to do the right thing.  Do the right thing NOW and follow the rules. 

All of us also owe a debt of gratitude to the essential service businesses that are ensuring we are able to get the things we need.  I feel for the non-essential services that have had to close their doors and for the people who have lost their jobs or been laid off. We continue to review directives and available programs from upper levels of government that can provide you with the help you need to get through this.  The City is deferring penalty and interest charges on pending and outstanding tax and water/wastewater billing arrears as well as deferring interest charges on outstanding account receivables until the end of May to assist you financially.  

Further to this, Water/Sewer rates will remain at the 2019 rates until at least July 1, 2020. There are links on our website where residents and businesses can get the most up to date information. Visit: http://www.welland.ca 

And finally, I thank all the health care workers who are providing amazing health care services to our residents…you are the true heroes in this crisis. Everyone, please stay home as much as possible and stay safe.  Welland is an historically resilient community and we will get through this together.  – Mayor Frank Campion

Welland Extends Closure Of Facilities and Cancellation Of Events To June 30th

The City of Welland is announcing that it is extending the closure of all public facilities, and the cancellation of events and programming until June 30, 2020.

The decision was made by the City’s Corporate Leadership Team and Emergency Control Group, based on the need to protect City staff and residents; to help contain the spread of COVID-19; and to provide some certainty for user groups and key community stakeholders.

“This is an unprecedented time which requires an unprecedented response.”

— CAO Gary Long

With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and community spread in Niagara and Ontario on the rise, public health officials are indicating that it is more important than ever to continue to practice physical distancing, including self-monitoring and self-isolation. All indications from the experts are that these measures will be in place for months, not weeks.

The City’s business continuity assumptions are that normal business operations will not return until July 6. In the meantime, all City departments and divisions are operational, and staff are continuing to provide essential services. The City’s senior staff meet daily to review information, make decisions, and are committed to maintaining an open line of communication to staff, residents, and community partners as this situation progresses. Should the current information from public health experts change in the coming weeks, the June 30 date can and will be re-evaluated.

“This is an unprecedented time which requires an unprecedented response,” said Welland CAO Gary Long. “The diligence and dedication of City staff to deliver public programs and services to our community, both now and when this crisis has passed, remains unchanged.”

The City’s website www.welland.ca is updated daily regarding the City’s COVID-19 response, important information from Niagara Public Health, as well as municipal, provincial, and federal program information to assist residents and businesses.

(Source: City of Welland news release)

HERITAGE LIVES: Cooper’s Riverside Mill Still Jives In The Urban Landscape

The Riverside Mill (Supplied photo)

By Terry Hughes

In a recent article in the Tribune, Mark Allenov skillfully articulates the contribution made by David Cooper to Welland’s early industrial development and in particular, the Riverside Mill. He laments the fact that any evidence of this facility leaving a footprint on the urban landscape is no longer the case. However, this  may not be true and there is evidence that there are signs of this around the city.

If we go back to 1843 when the contract to build the second aqueduct was issued, the details of this effort indicated that the project included a lock on the northwest wall and a spillway on the southeast corner of the structure to allow excess water in the canal to be diverted into the river creating a potential hydraulic opportunity. (The second aqueduct later became the Cross Street Pool and the river ran underneath this structure) A facility that can be seen in the accompanying photograph shows wooden gates that were suspended below a catwalk supported on cut stone blocks that were part of the wall of the second aqueduct.

When the third canal expropriated property on which David Cooper’s mill was originally located on the west side of the second canal, a deal was made giving him the site next to the spillway enabling him to tap this head of water to operate the hydraulic engine found in the basement of his mill. Note the placing of sacks of flour on the horse-drawn wagon at the ground level. 

 When the route of the river was changed to its present course the former river bed had to be filled in but a small segment showing the large pipes from the mill were still uncovered. Since the beginning the city had been dumping its raw sewage into the river. Fast forward to the 1940’s and 50’s. When walking to the pool you would cross this catwalk and see the sewage coming from buildings on Main Street  oozing between the pipes of the mill! Fortunately, this situation was covered up.

The building of the civic centre created a threat to the pool as a historic structure. It was filled in and the need to place a drainage line to the canal caused the contractor to partially disassemble the wall that supported the pool and the catwalk near the former mill site. While conducting a tour for the World Canals Conference, we were passing by this site and a member of the tour asked who was supervising the disassembly of this piece of history. She said that in the U.S. each piece would be catalogued and marked with numbers so that it could be reassembled properly.  

The next day, I found out that the city considered these cut-stone blocks as landfill and it would be disposed of accordingly. Alerting the Tribune, a story critical of this situation appeared causing the city to place these cut-stones at their public works facility. In recent years these stones have been appearing at various spots in the city as part of floral displays. The accompanying photo shows one of these locations, at Riverbank Park at Niagara Street and Riverbank. A second site is along Catharine Street, the brick paved road from West Main Street to Bald Street.  So David Cooper’s footprint is still in evidence today.

Remnants from the old mill pictured here, Riverbank Park, Niagara Street.

(Terry Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His opinion column, Heritage Lives, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.)

Lasting Image: Fred Turner, Forever A First-Class Guy

Fred Turner, pictured during Welland’s Centennial celebrations in 1958.

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

My lasting image of Fred Turner, the much admired, former City of Welland treasurer who died Saturday, March 21, aged 94, is from weekday lunch dates at The Rex. 

We were a foursome.

There was Fred, seated directly across from me. There was his wife Liz, seated adjacent to me. There was their son Paul, seated on the other side. For family guy Fred – their presence, the circumstances – was sheer joy. It was so evident. It lit up his face. A look of love. A lasting image if ever there was one.

Our lunch menu was always the same: a bowl of minestrone soup for Liz, pizza for Fred and me. Paul’s varied from week to week. He pre-ordered for all by telephone so the lunch would be ready when we arrived from Rapelje Lodge.

Oh yes. Liz had a glass of pinot grigio, a good selection to accompany the minestone that she near blanketed under frequent flurries of parmesan cheese, and Fred had a glass of beer, more if he wanted. Liz rarely finished her wine.

It was a simple lunch but one that was ritual laden.

There were always toasts: “Cheers!”, party girl Liz would say lifting her glass, and we would join in. There was clinking of glasses. Liz made sure Fred’s was first on her rounds, and then we joined in too. Once was never enough. “Cheers!” was the word of the day at our table, rising up six, seven, eight times, always followed by a chime of clinks. How sweet it was.

They – the Turners, Fred and Liz, were married 68 years. Liz made sure I didn’t forget it, reminding me once or twice during every lunch date. And then she would reach out, pick up Fred’s hand that was nearest hers, and give it a kiss. Always a soft, gentle kiss. Always. How sweet it was.

Friend Paul made me part of this lunch experience what, two, maybe three years ago? Fred and Liz were still at Seasons Welland on First Avenue back then. On one of our first outings, Paul stopped by our house to pick me up. Fred was already in the front seat, it was a boys-only outing that day, Liz was not there. 

“How are you, Fred?” I asked while fumbling, as always, with the back seat belt buckle. 

“First class, Joe,” Fred bubbled, glancing over his shoulder. “I’m first class.”

I realized it instantaneously: On our way to lunch at The Rex, a nickname was born. From that day onward, Fred Turner became my forever pal, First Class Fred.

Lunches with the Turners. How sweet they were.

(Lasting Image is a recurring feature on the blog. Some others in the series: Gerry Berkhout: He Shone His Light On Others, January 4, 2019;  Ivan Zecchini: His Countenance Glowed From Wide-Eyed Appreciation, July 18, 2018; Steve Krar: Neighbourhood Nostalgia Buff, Visionary Leader, July 11, 2018; Mother Alba Puglia: Tireless Trailblazer, June 18, 2018; Martin Walsh: One Of Our Finest, March 2, 2018; Michael Santone: A Barber of King Street, January 23, 2018; Jimmy Roberto: September 11, 2015; Bob Fralick: May 7, 2014; Frank Addario: February 24, 2014.)

HERITAGE LIVES: Hotel Barclay

The Barclay Hotel as it was known in local parlance, a downtown landmark at King and Division streets. (Supplied photo)

By Terry Hughes

Our picture for this month was taken 120 ft. above the canal from the Main Street Bridge showing the newly constructed Barclay Hotel opposite the city hall on Division Street. In the past this site served as the location for Welland’s first hospital and later, the hotel would replace an establishment known as “Shady Anderson’s.”

Judging by the presence of one-way traffic noted by the parked cars and the city hall, dating this photo would be sometime after 1953. It was the first new hotel that was built in the downtown area since the Reeta Hotel that replaced the Arlington Hotel opposite the court house in the early 1930’s.

It reflected the spirit of the community because the local economy was thriving and out of towners would be attracted to it and the view of the canal and Merritt Park. It would also offer the locals an up-scale place for entertainment.

Time and changing economic conditions would erode the hotel as a place to do business and a change in ownership becoming known as the Dar Hotel only temporarily put off the inevitable.  

With the appearance of motels, hotels had to make major changes and many would be developed into apartments. The Dar, as it turned out, was to be demolished in 1989 and replaced with an apartment complex and retail opportunities on the bottom floor.

Next column:  Cooper’s Riverside Mills Still Lives In The Urban Landscape.

Terry Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His opinion column, Heritage Lives, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.

In Memory Of: Cpl. Tyler Crooks, Port Colborne 'Boy', Hero

Cpl. Tyler Crooks Born: March 20, 1985 Killed in action: March 20, 2009

Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan was our country’s most significant military operation in recent years. More than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members would serve in the Afghanistan theatre of operations between 2001 and 2014.

It was very dangerous duty, and Ontario’s Corporal Tyler Crooks of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group lost his life alongside a fellow soldier as a result of an improvised explosive device blast while on foot patrol in the Zhari District, on March 20, 2009. He was 24. It was his 24th birthday.

Source: Canada Remembers (Photo: Department of National Defence)