Monthly Archives: June 2014

It’s My Life, Sort of – Summers of our youth

CAPTION: Your two-wheeler, favourite fishing poles and cardboard noisemakers on a bike’s spokes provide some of the memories from summers of our youth.

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

“No more pencils, no more books,
No more teacher’s dirty looks.”

Remember that classic?
I sure do.
Everyone said it on or nearing the last day of school way back when.
I wonder if kids still say it today. Do they? Does anyone know?
Mr. Murray, a Grade 7 teacher at St. Mary’s School on Plymouth Road, probably heard it more than anyone else. He was a stickler to the extreme for good penmanship. An improperly rounded ‘j’ or ‘y’, for example, resulted in a dressing down. If you were a recidivist, it led eventually to a sharp crack across your open palm or maybe your knuckles with his ruler.
Point made.
After the two liner’s novelty wore off, the guys sat around or stood at the corner chewing the fat about what the summer holidays would hold.
Oh, there were lots of things to amuse us. Most were outdoors activities, hijinks from shortly after sunrise to past sundown if we could get away with it.
Just the other day, I thought about things we did during summer holidays back in the late 50s and even early 60s. Here’s my Top 10 List.
10: Getting up before the crack of dawn to pick cherries and peaches at a fruit farm in Fenwick. Half the fun was the ride to and from the farm in the back of the farmer’s old pick-up truck, the other half was seeing who could eat the most cherries while trying to fill those big baskets;
9: Sitting on the front porch reading comic books, especially Classics Illustrated, Superman and Batman with your best buds. Some time you even traded ‘em back and forth; most in demand were the latest releases, bought at Mr. Hanna’s Rexall Drug Store at 591 King Street;
8: Playing baseball in the Cordage field on King Street, across from Joe Miller’s sports and variety store. The games, at times, went on for hours;
7: Having a cold, cold bottle of Evangeline lime, orange or ginger ale, the pop that came in those fancy bottles with the image of the character from the poem by the same name, Evangeline. Whatever happened to Evangeline pop?;
6: Hunting for empty pop bottles then cashing in your haul for penny candy from Joe Miller’s candy counter. Black-licorice cigars were popular with just about everyone, and spearmint leaves, nickel bags of sunflower seeds, black balls and those red, waxy lips;
5: Using clothespins to attach empty cigarette boxes or sports cards to your two-wheeler’s spokes, then riding up and down the block with your bike making a rat-a-tat racket heard from one end of the street to the other;
4: Fishing from the abutment or pilings at the train bridge between Sixth and Seventh streets, catching a sunfish or maybe perch and pretending Moby Dick was on the end of your line;
3 (Tie): Going to the Welland Drive-In on Forkes Road East with your folks, staying out late in your pyjamas and munching on spongy hot dogs tucked inside even spongier hot dog buns, and popcorn, chips, licorice sticks and pop; going to the Community Theatre on King Street with your buddies to watch Saturday matinees, often “serial” flicks that continued one Saturday to the next;
2: Spending the afternoon at the Crowland Wading Pool behind the municipal building on King Street. Though hardly bigger than a typical living room nowadays, it seemed there were always 200 kids give or take in this pool. Leaving your towels on the deck was risky because bigger kids came around, scooped ‘em up and threw them on or over the chain link fence then spread out their own, brazenly taking your “spot”;
1. Riding your bike to Nickel Beach in Port Colborne with your buddies and spending the day in the surf and sand. The ride back to Welland took two or three times as long as the ride there but heck, it was summertime and you had nothing but time on your hands, anyway.
Good times or what.
Good gosh, those were the days!
(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. It’s My Life, Sort Of, appears on the blog weekly.)

Welland Snaps – It’s rose month in the Rose City




CAPTION: Apricot Nectar, a floribunda, grows in our front yard rose bed. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

 INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: “Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.” – Anonymous

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

Historically, June is the month of the year dedicated to roses.

Welland has various connections to the rose, the reputed Queen of the Garden:


CAPTION: One of many rose beds in Welland’s Chippawa Park.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: “Rose is a rose is a rose” – Gertrude Stein

Welland is Canada’s Rose City. That designation came on Oct. 18, 1921 by resolution passed by council.

The rose is Welland’s official flower.


CAPTION: The hybrid tea, Double Delight, grows in our front yard garden.

INSPIRATONAL QUOTE: “The cowslip is a country wench, The violet is a nun; But I will woo the dainty rose, The queen of every one” -Thomas Hood

Welland Horticultural Society has sponsored a rose show for decades. This year’s is the 95th, which is quite a record.

And in Welland, the Rose Festival is celebrated in June. The 2014 festival is the 53rd annual.


CAPTION: A miniature, name unknown, in a side yard rose bed.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: “A rose is sweeter in the bud than full blown.” – John Lyly

For some historical background, the city on Aug 13, 1991, passed a resolution to adopt a Kordes Nursery (Germany) hybrid tea rose as Welland’s official rose. Its name became the City of Welland rose.

The city purchased 1,000 bushes of its namesake rose for use in parks and other public gardens for 1993. It also approved sale of the City of Welland rose to the general public in 1993. Revenue from first -year sales was earmarked for the 1993 Rose Festival.

Chippawa Park in north Welland is the site of the largest public rose garden in the community.


CAPTION: Another of the rose beds in Chippawa Park.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: “Roses are red, violets are blue, but they don’t get around like the dandelions do.” – Slim Acres

This year’s Rose Show is being held Saturday, June 21 in Seaway Mall’s Centre Court.


CAPTION: The floribunda, Showbiz, in our front yard rose bed.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: “From the earth we were formed, To the earth we return, And in between, we garden.”- Nelson Eddy

There is local historical significance to the show: its theme is the Battle of Cook’s Mills, in observance of the 100th anniversary of War of 1812-14. The battle is recognized as the last action in this part of Canada of that war. Cook’s Mills is part of Welland.

So I thought it fitting that this week’s Welland Snaps pay tribute to the city’s various connections to the rose.


CAPTION: Purple Iceberg, a floribunda, in our front yard.

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE: “Watching something grow is good for morale. It helps you believe in life.” –  Myron S. Kaufman.


CAPTION: A white hybrid tea in the front garden.

INSPIRATIONAL CAPTION: “The sweetest flower that blows I give you as we part. For you it is a rose, for me it is my heart.” – Frederick Peterson

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. WELLAND SNAPS is a weekly feature on the blog, appearing Mondays.)

Woodstock's Tweet School

Welland, Ontario woodcarver Norm Wilde knows a good parody when he sees one. He calls this work of art Woodstock’s Tweet School, with Woodstock, baton in hand, teaching a nest of small birds how to tweet, the old fashioned way, that is. It’s just one of many woodcarvings the talented craftsman has created. After I write this caption, I will put this on Twitter, where it will become a different type of tweet. How tweet it is! (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

Garden Routes Home – Something out of nothing


CAPTION: What a welcome! Walk through the arbour at 54 Lock St., and feel right at home. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large


The Gardener: Norm Wilde

The garden: 54 Lock St., off Elgin East, Welland


CAPTION: The Wildes behind hosta Big Mama.

Can’t resist the play on words: Norm Wilde is wild about gardening.

When you consider he started with a bare lot, save for one tree, you can see why he should be. This is what you could call making something out of nothing. Wow, what a feat!

Right from the moment you enter through the arbour, you are captivated.

There’s a small pond with a waterfall; hostas large and small; peonies; daisies; and an oak tree with boughs that will leave you breathless. More, too.


CAPTION: Name unknown, but I took a liking because of the texture, symmetry and shape of the leaves.

“I made sure I took the city’s (horticulture staff) advice: I built lots of berms. It’s the best thing for good drainage,” Wilde says.

His guestimate is that he’s added about 100 cubic yards of soil over the past dozen years.

This spring alone he brought in six cubic yards.

Making the grounds growable was the biggest hurdle he faced, he says.

“This was all clay when we got here.”

Now, the landscape is luscious.

Hostas, the sprawling Hungarian oak and flowers in pretty pastel colours are among his and wife Deb’s favourites.


CAPTION: The sprawling Hungarian oak has an impressive mix of boughs and branches.

“I have one philosophy when it comes to gardening,” Wilde says. “If it’s meant to live it will and if not, it doesn’t, end of story.”

He doesn’t mind moving something to another part of the garden if it is struggling but other than that, “if something doesn’t take, I don’t lose any sleep over it. I don’t go off and research to find out what went wrong.”

He has a herb garden and vegetables here and there, too.

What a pleasure it was to walk through this property!


CAPTION: How relaxing is this to sit by and enjoy your morning coffee.

I enjoyed this garden because of the spaciousness of the site, the privacy it offers and the warm, welcoming feeling a visitor gets. Hard not to be wild about something like this.


Saturday, June 21: Welland Horticultural Society’s annual rose show,Seaway Mall, centre court. Full details in Garden Routes Home, June 20.

Monday, June 23: Evening Garden Walk, Four Gardens in Pelham. Meet at Fonthill Library at 6:30 p.m. for list of gardens. Free for members, non-members $10. Refreshments to follow.


‘Quercus frainetto’: One of the most impressive trees in the world is an oak and one of the most majestic oaks is the Hungarian oak, or Quercus frainetto. This stately tree was introduced from South East Europe in the late 1830s and is sometimes known as the Italian oak. Hungarian oak is a large, deciduous tree that makes a striking subject for parks, woodland and campuses and it has proven to be well-adapted as a boulevard tree. It has a broad, rounded crown, and is classically oak-like in form. In cultivation it probably reaches 80 feet tall and after many decades, an 80 foot spread. It is slow growing and long-lived making it an excellent Heritage choice that will bring shade and beauty to a property for generations. (Source: A Tree A Day)


 “Novels and gardens,” she says. “I like to move from plot to plot.” –Bill Richardson, Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast

Next Garden Routes Home: Friday, June 20.

Sunset today, Friday, June 13: 8:52 p.m.

Sunrise tomorrow, Saturday, June 14: 5:13 a.m.

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)

Park and pay!



CAPTION: I  took note of these two permanent signs after voting today at the Wesley United Church polling station on First Avenue, Welland. After a 40-day election campaign with political signs posted here, there and just about everywhere, they were a sight for, well, sore eyes. Park your vehicle in these spaces reserved for the minister and church administration – and be prepared to pay the penalty. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)

Scholarships for social justice workers

CAPTION: Teams from Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute and five local high schools took part in Soup’s On! held in January. Some are shown here prior to the start of the annual event, fundraiser for social justice scholarships. (File photo by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
A popular fundraiser is about to pay off for some local high school students.
The fundraiser is Soup’s On!, a soup luncheon held annually in January at the Parish Community of St. Kevin, Welland. The pay off is the St Kevin’s Food Bank Social Justice Scholarship, awarded to students interested in and committed to social justice with a record of solid academic achievement in their high school years.
Nine student applicants from three secondary schools in Welland and Pelham have been interviewed for the $1, 000 scholarship. Names of recipients are announced at commencement ceremonies.
The applicants are from Confederation Secondary School, E. L. Crossley Secondary and Notre Dame College School.
As one of the application documents says, the scholarship is for students “who envision not a perfect world but a better one.”
These are students who give selflessly of their time as volunteers at, for example, local food banks, Harvest Kitchen/Out of the Cold suppers and soup kitchens, who organize and participate in events that focus attention on social issues such as gender inequality, income disparity, drinking and driving, poverty, bullying, male violence against women, and who take part in humanitarian aid and mission projects in developing countries.
Their social awareness helps them march to a different drummer, as a saying goes. They are young people who have not succumbed to what has been called “the globalization of indifference.”
Pope Francis used that term in July, 2013 on Lampedusa, Europe’s so-called Island of Tears. An estimated 20,000 refugees hoping for better lives have died en route to the island in recent years. In his homily, the Pope said: “In this world of globalization, we have fallen into a globalization of indifference. We are accustomed to the suffering of others, it doesn’t concern us, it’s none of our business.”
The students who apply for this scholarship are contrarian – they make social issues and social wrongs their business. They believe in getting involved, each in his or her own way, and believe in working to make a difference.
Soup’s On! is the main source of funds for the scholarship. Since 2004, the social justice scholarship committee has awarded $26,050 in scholarships and special funding requests to students committed to social justice in their schools, local communities and developing countries.
(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)

It’s My Life, Sort Of – Special contents stored within


By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

I remember he said it was to be used as a “trinket box”.

That was so many years ago. Fifteen for sure, maybe 16 or 17. I can’t be sure.

Matt was in elementary school back then.

The simple, wooden box was done as a class project.

One word was painted across the top: DAD, and three decorative roses were attached beneath. Two are red, one is white.

It was his Father’s Day present to me that year.

One doesn’t give short shrift to gifts such as this. Not then. Nor not now. In fact, I would say its sentimental value has gone up over the years between then and now.

And I took Matt’s advice, I used it for trinkets.

Cuff links. A repository for Chiclets, two or three that had fallen from their box. Two ticket stubs from a Blue Jays game we attended. Three marbles. A mix of pennies, nickles and dimes totaling 47 cents. Odds and ends like that, contents changed from time to time as housekeeping urges overcame me.

But it also was used for other purposes too. It became a memory box. It became a wish box. It became a dream box. When I wanted one to hang onto I would open the lid and take hold. Invisible to all but me of course, they were, and still are, the special contents of a Father’s Day box from son to dad.

Oh, a few “trinkets” will always be stored within. But this box holds so much more the eye cannot see, contents known to this dad alone.

With Father’s Day approaching, it is time to re-visit.

Thanks, Matt.

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. It’s My Life, Sort Of… is a weekly column on the blog..)

Welland Snaps – Bridges we come across, maybe


CAPTION: No doubt about it, our most famous bridge of all. Parts of the Main Street bridge are under wraps because of a painting and remediation project expected to be finished in September. (All photos by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

This is a city of bridges.

Big bridges.

Little bridges.

Well known bridges.

Not-so-well-known bridges.

Bridges which are part of our history, heritage, culture.

Some we cross day after day.

Some we hardly come across.

Some made us cross – remember gridlock on East Main from the Main Street bridge all the way to Atlas Steels, back in the day lakers and salties went through downtown Welland? “Grrrrr!” we said, under our breath or aloud,  time and again


CAPTION: The pedestrian bridge at Niagara College’s Welland campus. I cross it a few times each week on walks with our dog, Buddy.

I photographed a few bridges for this photo essay – bridges I came across in a short span of time.

Enjoy this tour of our bridges. Do it now. Do not take a “I’ll cross this bridge when I come to it” attitude.



CAPTION: An off-beat view, the bridge over the Welland River, Niagara Street.


CAPTION:  The Division Street bridge, with a portion of the Main Street bridge beyond it.


CAPTION: Two bridges leading  from quiet streets to Chippawa Park. Above, the bridge at the end of Glen View; below, the bridge at the end of Parkdale Place.



CAPTION: Is this a bridge? Some say it is an overpass. I think both are right.


CAPTION: The bridge Wellanders should be embarrassed by and ashamed of. This is the old train bridge between Sixth and Seventh streets. What’s to be done with it?

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. Welland Snaps appears weekly on the blog, Mondays.)

Known by name

On this the 70th anniversary of D-Day, a photo tribute to those from Welland and Crowland who gave their lives during the Second World War. Their names are inscribed on the Welland-Crowland War Memorial in Chippawa Park, as are the names of those who died in the First World War and the Korean War. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

While strolling in the park....

I was taken by surprise (a little) by these early bloomers. They are among a handful of roses now showing colour in Welland’s Chippawa Park, home to about 50 rose beds. Roses in early June, what more could one ask for? (Photo by Joe Barkovich)