Welcome to Street Sense, where street names get the story they deserve.
It’s wonderful that streets are named after outstanding people; it’s sad that as years go by, the names become irrelevant in our time and culture.
One such street: Topham Boulevard.
The name isn’t well known even amongst Wellanders. I daresay neither is its location. And where does that name come from?
My reference book of choice, What’s In A Name, published by Welland Historical Society, presents a must read story about this “boulevard” found off Montgomery Road.
These and other streets are in Summerlea Subdivision, off busy Quaker Road.
“Summerlea was a development in Thorold Township by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide housing for veterans from World War II,” it says in the book.
Welland annexed the area in 1961.
The boulevard is named after Frederick George Topham, born in Toronto, Aug. 10, 1917, died March 31, 1974.
His is a compelling story, so much so that I am presenting it here in its entirety. It’s an amazing read and the story deserves being shared:
“On 24 March 1945, Corporal Topham, a medical orderly, parachuted with his battalion on to a strongly defended area east of the Rhine. At about 1100 hours, while treating casualties sustained in the drop, a cry for help came from a wounded man in the open. Two medical orderlies from a field ambulance went out to this man in succession, but both were killed as they knelt beside the casualty.
Without hesitation and on his own initiative, Corporal Topham went forward through intense fire to replace the orderlies who had been killed before his eyes. As he worked on the wounded man he was himself shot through the nose. In spite of severe bleeding and intense pain, he never faltered in his task. Having completed immediate first aid, he carried the wounded man steadily and slowly back through continuous fire to the shelter of a wood.
During the next two hours Corporal Topham refused all offers of medical help for his own wound. He worked most devotedly throughout this period to bring in the wounded, showing complete disregard for the heavy and accurate enemy fire. It was only when all casualties had been cleared that he consented to his own wound being treated.
“His immediate evacuation was ordered, but he interceded so earnestly on his own behalf that he was eventually allowed to return to duty.
On his way back to his company he came across a carrier, which had received a direct hit. Enemy mortar bombs were still dropping around, the carrier itself was still burning fiercely and its own mortar ammunition was exploding. An experienced officer on the spot had warned all not to approach the carrier.
Corporal Topham, however, immediately went out alone in spite of the blasting ammunition and enemy fire, and rescued the three occupants of the carrier. He brought these men back across the open, and although one died almost immediately afterwards, he arranged for the evacuation of the other two, who undoubtedly owe their lives to him.
This NCO showed sustained gallantry of the highest order. For six hours, most of the time in great pain, he performed a series of acts of outstanding bravery, and his magnificent and selfless courage inspired all those who witnessed it.
For these events, which took place over a six-hour period, Corporal Topham became Canada’s 12th recipient of the Victoria Cross.”
Wow, what a story! Had this been a U.S. soldier, chances are a movie would have been made based on the man and his battlefield heroics.
Other streets in this subdivision are named after distinguished war heroes. But those will remain stories for another day.
(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. Street Sense is a recurring feature.)
By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
The images on side walls of Roman Catholic churches go largely ignored most of the year hardly getting as much as a second glance as people walk down the aisles to their pews. But during the liturgical season of Lent, from Ash Wednesday to HolyThursday evening as the Mass of the Last Supper begins, and on Good Friday, they become an important form of personal and public devotion.
These 14 images are the Stations of the Cross. Most parishes hold these devotional services weekly during Lent, sometime more often in some parishes. At mine, St. Kevin’s, they are held Friday evenings. Attendance varies, usually from 50 or 60 to 100 or so You may recall seeing or reading about high profile public Stations, like those at World Youth Day. When Toronto hosted, in 2002, about 500,00 people watched and prayed in Nathan Phillips Square, along University Avenue, in front of the Ontario Legislature building and through Queen’s Park and finally, in front of the Royal Ontario Museum. In Rio de Janeiro in 2013, more than 1 million are said to have witnessed.
Much has been written about this moving and for many participants, intense devotion. One good source of information is found on the Creighton University (Omaha, Nebraska) website. It is clear and concise, explaining in simple language why it is that people “do” the stations. Here follows a passage about their history:
“From the earliest of days, followers of Jesus told the story of his passion, death and resurrection. When pilgrims came to see Jerusalem, they were anxious to see the sites where Jesus was. These sites become important holy connections with Jesus. Eventually, following in the footsteps of the Lord, along the way of the cross, became a part of the pilgrimage visit. The stations, as we know them today, came about when it was no longer easy or even possible to visit the holy sites. In the 1500’s, villages all over Europe started creating “replicas” of the way of the cross, with small shrines commemorating the places along the route in Jerusalem. Eventually, these shrines became the set of 14 stations we now know and were placed in almost every Catholic Church in the world.”
THE STATIONS AT ST. KEVIN’S
I often wondered about the Stations in my parish: who was the artist, where did they come from? With the assistance of office staffer Marney Donohue, I learned a little more about them.
The Stations are the work of Niagara Falls sculptor Helen Waimel Robertson. She was born in Estonia in 1917, emigrated to Canada in 1926 and died May 22, 2002.
Mrs. Robertson attended the prestigious Ontario College of Art in Toronto on a scholarship, completing a four-year program in three. She was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal upon graduation.
According to information in her death notice, she made “a considerable contribution to the sculptor scene in Canada.” Her commissions included 12 Canada Coats of Arms, 10 Provincial Coats of Arms, Shields of Arms for Ontario Law Courts for various cities, architectural and ornamental sculpture for the Workmans Compensation Rehabilitation Centre, the crest for Niagara Falls City Hall and of course, the Stations of the Cross at St. Kevin’s, among others.
Whether one is spiritual or not, Mrs. Robertson’s Stations of the Cross are noteworthy for simple elegance yet powerful imagery combining to create a masterful piece of religious art. They can’t be looked at for only a few seconds without inviting a longer and deeper study by the eye. These striking images may very well be the least known art treasure in the city.
At. St. Kevin’s, various groups or ministries take turns hosting each of the Stations of the Cross evenings, for example: St. Vincent de Paul Society, Youth Ministry, Secular FranciscanFraternity, Social Justice, Holy Cross Fathers.
It is not an overly-long service, ranging from 30 to 45 minutes. Each Station has a specific prayer and reflection led by the hosting group with spoken and sung participation of people in the pews. A verse from the beautiful hymn, At the Cross Her Station Keeping, is sung at the conclusion of each Station, then the movement continues to the next
ENTER INTO THE MYSTERY
Another passage on the the Creighton University website offers this insight into why people participate in this old form of prayer:
“The most important reason for reviving the practice of making the Stations of the Cross is that it is a powerful way to contemplate, and enter into, the mystery of Jesus’ gift of himself to us. It takes the reflection on the passion out of my head, and makes it an imaginative exercise. It involves my senses, my experience and my emotions. To the extent I come to experience the love of Jesus for me, to that extent the gratitude I feel will be deep. Deep gratitude leads to real generosity and a desire to love as I have been loved.
I asked Father Jim Mulligan CSC, associate pastor at St. Kevin’s to offer reflections for some of the Stations. I have used his text with some of the photos I have taken, and others as stand alone images in this piece of work.
“I have always liked the stations here at the church. They are almost in the style of an icon. They are carved stone. Each figure is in relief,” he noted.
The 14 Stations are listed below as is the 15th which was more recently added.
First Station: Jesus is Condemned to Die
Second Station: Jesus Takes Up His Cross
Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time
Fourth Station: Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother
Fifth Station: Simon the Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
Seventh Station: Jesus Falls the Second Time
Eighth Station: Jesus Speaks to the Women
Ninth Station: Jesus Falls the Third Time
Tenth Station: Jesus is Stipped of His Garments
Eleventh Station: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
Twelfth Station: Jesus Dies on the Cross
Thirteenth Station: Jesus is Taken from the Cross
Fourteenth Station: Jesus is Placed in the Tomb
Fifteenth Station: Jesus is Raised from the Dead
(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. This feature first appeared in April, 2014 and has been updated for use at the start of this Lenten season.Stations of the Cross at St. Kevin’s begin this evening following 7 p.m. Mass and continue Fridays through Lent.)
Thoughts on Some stations of the Cross at St. Kevin’s Church – Rev. Jim Mulligan CSC.
Station One – Jesus is condemned to death
REFLECTION: It is clear that Jesus and the other players are human … but there is no identifiable human trait that stands out. Jesus is everybody. The soldiers here in a row are everybody. And the judgment will be for everybody.
Station Two – Jesus takes up his cross
REFLECTION There is resignation on the part of Jesus and determination. This is his hour. He has been waiting for his hour. I can’t really do the stations unless I do them as a disciple. And one can’t really be a disciple unless one takes up that cross and walks it as Jesus did. There is movement here. Jesus walking the cross. The three Roman soldiers right behind him. The invitation here is for me to walk along shouldering my own cross.
Station Four – Jesus meets his mother
REFLECTION: Here just Jesus and his mother. Mary is there in her role as mother. And Mary is there in her role as first disciple; first believer. Jesus shoulders the cross with one arm and the other arm directed towards his mother. Mary is kneeling her arms outstretched. Is she there to catch or embrace Jesus? Or is she there to let Jesus go – to encourage Jesus so that he can do what his Father wanted him to do? The idea of a mother and child – roots and wings. There is time to hold and embrace and give security. And there is a time to let go as the bird flees the next. In Mary’s posture she does both.
Station Eight – The women of Jerusalem weep for Jesus
REFLECTION:This group of five persons, Jesus, two women and two children, is a powerful indictment of the patriarchal clericalism that there is still too much of in the church. No men here crying for or supporting Jesus. And I apply this to today. In most parishes in most places in the world it is the women who are the mainstays. It is the women who by and large make up the worshipping church, the witnessing church and the serving church. It is the absence of women in the offices where the rules and regulations and decisions are made that is missed most. The two women and the two children here jump out at us demonstrating what discipleship means in action.
Station Twelve – Jesus dies on the cross
REFLECTION: Jesus dying. Jesus dead. His mother. The disciple. Jesus gives the disciple (the church) into the care of his mother. Jesus gives his mother into the care of the disciple. Really – there are two disciples. Mary is the first of all of the disciples. She is discipling here trying to absorb what is beyond all of comprehension – the horrendous death of her son, her son who is Emmanuel, God with us. Disciples are often called to accept that which is total mystery and to accept it on faith. This station always reminds me of that. The disciple looking up to Jesus; Mary head bowed and hands folded asking for the grace of acceptance; asking that her beloved son – no matter what, is safe and at peace, finally. This station reminds me too of the hole in Jesus’ side from which came water and blood, the water of baptism and our birth into new life and the blood of the Eucharist that is food for our journey in our discipling and in our living this new life. The death of Jesus gives new life in abundance.
Station Fourteen – Jesus is placed in the tomb
REFLECTION: A group of five. Jesus dead being laid gently on a slab of stone. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea doing the heavy work. Is it Mary Jesus’ mother in the background .. is it the gospel’s other Mary? This grouping is both solemn and very sad. Not unlike the groupings we have at a funeral liturgy seated just 12 metres from this station. The looks of the four involved in Jesus’ burial are painful looks, looks that are without hope. We know how the story continues — the joy and power of the Resurrection. For the four that was it. Finis.
How Sweet It Is!
Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus hosts Decadence 2015, the fifth annual celebration of chocolate and icewine this weekend, today through Sunday. And how sweet it is!
A wide variety of family-friendly activities, celebrity chocolatier, chocolate sculpture demonstrations, a gala dinner and culinary competitions are being held.
On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., horse-drawn carriage rides, ice-carving demonstrations, magicians and face painting, birds of prey, chocolate-themed manicures and children’s chocolate classes will keep visitors of all ages entertained. A Decadence barbecue hosted by Ted Reader, the “Godfather of the Grill”, celebrity chef demonstrations, food and beverage pairings featuring the college’s most popular wines and beers, and more are on the menu. Many of the activities are free of charge.
For full details see the Decadence website.
Sunday Screening At Library
Welland Public Library is hosting screenings of the latest documentaries from the National Film Board of Canada. All viewings are free and everyone is welcome to join.
The next is this Sunday, February 22 at 2 p.m.: Everything Will Be.
This feature documentary by Sundance award-winning director Julia Kwan captures the subtle nuances of a culturally diverse neighbourhood – Vancouver’s once-thriving Chinatown – in the midst of a transformation that plays out across many ethnic enclaves in North America. The community’s oldest and newest members offer their intimate perspectives on the shifting landscape as they reflect on change, memory and legacy. Night and day, a neon sign that reads “EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT” looms over Chinatown. Everything is going to be alright. The big question is – for whom?
Seniors Centre Foundation Bursary Application
Applications will be considered for the following award: Rose City Seniors Centre Foundation Bursary Award.
The successful candidate(s) shall be awarded the sum of $500 to pursue post-secondary school studies in fields that will benefit the care of seniors.
Full info is available on Welland’s Civic Corner page on the city website or in local media.
Get On Over To The Museum
Welland Museum is gearing up for its re-opening in May.
The first big event is Significant Moments in Ontario Sporting History, May 1 to June 30, from the Archives of Ontario. Next is a Pan-Am Games exhibit opening May 5, continuing through Dec. 31.
Architectural walks resume in May, continuing through October and something new – children’s birthday parties, can be arranged. As the museum’s ad in the city’s Community Wellness guide says: “Parties are a piece of cake.”
Canalside Players Show Dates
Welland’s community theatre group, Canalside Players, has announced its next two performances.
The Great Kooshog Lake McCauley Fishing Derby will be staged in the fall, dates to be announced.
The plays are staged at Welland Community Wellness Complex theatre, Lincoln Street.
Celebrating Athletic Achievement
Tickets will be available starting March 3 at the recreation and culture division office, Welland Community Wellness Complex. More info, call 905-735-1700 ext. 4000.
In addition, 22nd annual Wall of Fame Induction Ceremonies will take place Sunday, May 3 at Seaway Mall.
Busy Month for Local Seniors
June is celebrated as Seniors Month.
Activities include the Senior Citizen Month celebration kickoff event, June 3, featuring guest speakers, music and refreshments at the Wellness Complex; strawberry social June 11 at the Wellness Complex; Strawberry Feast-ival June 20 at Welland market square and, Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance, June 27 in the Wellness Complex theatre.
Humanitarian of the Year
Nominations are being accepted for the T. Roy Adams Humanitarian of the Year Award.
The prestigious award, to honour the memory of the late T. Roy Adams, is awarded annually by Niagara Region to a resident of Niagara. According to a news release, “The recipient will be someone who best exemplifies Roy’s values and dedication to community service; a person who sees volunteerism as an integral part of their life.”
Mr. Adams was known throughout Niagara, Canada and abroad “for his service to God, his country and his fellow citizens.”
Deadline for nominations is March 31. For more info and nomination form go to www.niagararegion.ca or contact Sharon McNames, 905-685-4225 ext. 3224.
(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)
The Beatles had a big hit in Here Comes the Sun, music and lyrics written by George Harrison, my favourite Beatle.
But I must admit taking a shine to a version performed by Richie Havens, and still like it to this day.
The morning walk, today, to the Niagara College Welland campus provided opportunity to catch the sun rise and it was a beauty. Here’s my photo tribute to the song (a portion of the lyrics are below), and to the sunrise.
“Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,/ And I say it’s all right/ Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter/ Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here/ Here comes the sun, here comes the sun/ And I say it’s all right.”
(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)