By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
WELLAND – The heritage plaque unveiling Saturday morning at the Brick Archways, Parkway and Niagara Street, was like a homecoming for Mayor Frank Campion.
Campion grew up on Parkway, he said to a small gathering. It had assembled for the opening of a heritage designation tripleheader: in addition to the Brick Archways, also being designated were the Welland Canal Memorial Monument, Merritt Park and the Canal Construction mural, on an exterior wall of the Welland Museum, 140 King St.
The archways, constructed in 1913, were part of a gated entranceway to Parkway Heights, a new subdivision built as Welland was experiencing an industrial boom and rapid growth thanks to the arrival of industries like Plymouth Cordage, Electric Steel and Metals, Page Hersey Iron Tubes and others. The subdivision became home to prominent industrialists, business owners, merchants and professional people.
The mayor had fun with the “elite subdivision” reference to Parkway Heights in the printed program.
He said he grew up on the “elite street”, with all its unique people.
“And then there were the Campions.”
The archways became important to him in childhood days.
Campion recalled being walked to the corner of Parkway and Niagara Street by his mother. As a kid, he attended nearby St. Kevin School.
Going to school was easy, he said, with his mom there to send him off. But coming home was a tad more challenging.
He was afraid he’d get lost, the mayor said.
But when the archways came into view, he knew he was on the right track home.
That was “about 57 years ago”, Campion reminisced. And just as she was then, his mom was there for Saturday’s ceremony at the corner of Parkway and Niagara Street, still graced by those landmark brick archways.
The Welland Canal Memorial Monument in Merritt Park “commemorates the people from Canada and around the world who came to the Niagara Peninsula to build the Welland Canal,” according to background info in the commemorative program. It was unveiled September 27, 2001.
The Canal Construction mural, painted during Welland’s Festival of Arts in the late 1980s, “depicts the construction of the Welland Canal bypass in the 1970s and expresses the relationship between man and machinery.” Its theme, Construction of the Welland Canal Bypass – Machinery, “relates it to the 200-year-history of the Welland Canal which was central to the inception and growth” of Welland.