Monthly Archives: June 2020

HERITAGE LIVES: Hanging Out At The Cross St. Pools

Cross St. pool, 1952. (Photo: from Celebrating 150 Years)

By Terry Hughes

There were three iconic sport centres in Welland’s past. The oldest was Burgar Park, home to numerous baseball leagues; the Welland – Crowland Arena where hockey would reign supreme; and the Cross St. pools where swimming was mastered in a little more than two months. 

The earliest memories at the Cross St. facilities were the two pools centred by a red brick change house and a small building where you had your clothes checked.

It was not uncommon for young mothers to take their children down to the wading pool, set up a blanket and chair and watch their kids jump into the pool. There wasn’t a fence nor showers so entering the pool could be done at a place of your choice. The floor of the pool had a gentle slope so that you learned to gradually work your way to the deep end. The sprinkler in the centre was the choice spot to get wet.

As time went on, improvements to the pool included a foot bath, showers and a fenced in enclosure as shown in the accompanying picture.

By now you came to the pool with kids from the neighbourhood armed with an old shirt, bathing suit and old shoes and made your daily journey on foot to the pool. This may have been your second trip to the pool because swimming lessons were going on in the morning.

The lure of the big pool always piqued one’s interest, particularly if you paid a nickel to check your clothes. Most often it was on a dare that running through the showers and foot bath, you found yourself at the top of one of two staircases that took you down to the water’s edge. At that time the area between these stairs was grass. It was home to a surfboard used for rescues, a lifeguard’s chair and a siren to get people out of the pool in an emergency. There was no catwalk!

And then that final moment came when one of you would dog paddle out to the chain that was anchored to the wall, cling to it for a few moments and return. Everybody followed suit.

The arrival of the catwalk benefitted both swimmers and lifeguards. The need to use the surfboard was negated and the guards had a new location to supervise swimmers and conduct swimming lessons. Now, we could jump and dive off the catwalk into deeper water.      

If you wanted further adventures, jumping and diving into the canal off the wall was what it was all about. One day, I had decided to ride my CCM coaster bike down to the pool when I was approached by some older guy who wanted to borrow it. Somewhat dumbfounded, someone whispered that you’d better let him have it because he was a member of a bunch of street toughs!

Reluctantly, I gave him my bike and he informed me that he was going to ride my bike off the wall and into the canal at a spot just near the deep end of the pool called the pier. Sure enough he went tearing down the route that led him to the jumping off point. Just as he flew into the air, he pushed my bike downward and went into a “Mammy Yokum” dive and both hit the water in two different places!

He surfaced, rescued the bike and brought it up the stairs nice and clean and no worse for wear. Now I was the hero at the scene because he had used my bike for this stunt.

Swim meets were always popular. Hundreds of people would line the fences to watch our local favourites compete against other swimming clubs. Names included John Dudas, John “Wheaties” Reid, Bev Gardner and many others coached by Gord Sykes. Later, Rose Smith would take over after Gord retired.

In the evening the deep end of the pool was the scene of explosive stunts off the diving board. Doing “one leggers” and “tucks” would send huge plumes of water high above the fence and getting the spectators wet!            

My interest in swimming would propel me into Royal Life Saving Classes and lifeguarding at the pool. In 1958 when the city was celebrating its Centennial year the staff dressed up in old fashioned bathing attire thanks to Ross Stores. Later, working on pool maintenance and pool manager, I worked all city pools except Maple Park Pool. But my favorite pool was Cross St.

Our last photo pictures a lifeguard, sixty-three years ago and about one hundred pounds lighter about to go on his break by diving off the catwalk into the refreshing waters of the Cross St. pool.                      


(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.)

City Establishes Cooling Station To Assist Residents During Excessive Heat

WELLANDThe City of Welland has established a cooling station to enable residents to get relief from the outdoors when a heat alert is in effect. When a heat alert is issued by Environment Canada, the city’s cooling station will be available at the East Main Street Welland Transit Terminal, 160 East Main Street, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.

Temperatures are expected to reach 30°C throughout the week and into the weekend, so city staff are welcoming people to stop by the cooling centre and beat the heat. Transit staff are encouraging people to wear face coverings while visiting the cooling centre.

Public Health advises everyone to take precautions during episodes of extreme heat and humidity; however, seniors, young children, and people with disabilities are most vulnerable in these conditions. Pets are also vulnerable and depend on their owners to keep them safe. Do not leave children or pets unattended in a parked car.

(Source: City of Welland news release)

By The Book

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

I was in the front garden the other day when someone called out from the end of the driveway. It was Sandy Mocsan who was driving by and happened to see me there and decided to stop.

She approached me with a book in hand.

Joe Mocsan. File photo/J.T. Lewis.

Her father, Joe Mocsan, was a distinguished rose grower here in the Rose City, an accomplished yet humble gardener who did everything by the book. He passed May 31, 2003, aged 71.

But he was more than a rose grower. He was a friend in the garden, a mentor to and competitor with many, this Scribbler included.

He was known for sharing his knowledge about roses and about growing them but also for generously providing books, manuals and handbooks to others who shared his love for the rose. While still a novice, I was given a small bag of garden sulphur by Mr. Mocsan to use on my roses as a fungicide. That was Joe Mocsan, always wanting to help.

I still have copies of the Handbook for Selecting Roses, 1995, 2002 and 2004 editions that he gave to me. Mr. Mocsan always ordered several when purchasing for himself and gave them away gratis. 

The day following his death, his family called and asked me to stop by the house. They had something for me: A copy of a book, Old Roses….and how to grow them. On the cover was attached a note in Mr. Mocsan’s handwriting: Joe – Thought you might find this book informative. Joe M. It was in his plans to drop it off one day, leave it in the mailbox if he had to, but he never got the chance. So his family handed it off for him.

Now here was Sandy, 17 years later, with yet another book.

The bright red, hard-cover edition is titled: How To Grow Roses. Sandy said she was happy to give it to me, one of her father’s protégés. It had Mr. Mocsan’s initial on an inside page. Printed in 1937, it has useful tips, many photos both in colour and in black and white and helpful illustrations. 

Thinking about this later in the day, I appreciated her gesture of kindness and thoughtfulness. Why? In his own way, there again was Mr. Mocsan, garden friend, mentor and competitor still looking out for me, a rose grower.

He did it by the book.

Catholic Historian Says Establishing ‘Connections’ Became A Key In His Success As A Contract Writer

Welland resident and St. Kevin parishioner Michael Power as photographed in the backyard of his home Thursday, June 25. (Photos by Wayne Campbell)

By Wayne Campbell

Michael Power, a triple-award winning Catholic historical writer, began his career as a philosophy and history grad looking for a living.

In 1979, he offered to write a book review for his hometown newspaper, the Windsor Star.

“From book reviews then things moved outward,” Power, 68, said of his specialized writing field in Canadian Catholic history.

This year, he became a rare recipient of all three parts of the G.E. Clerk Medallion. The Canadian Catholic Historical Association usually awards it in just one category. Power was honored in all three: research and writing; service to the CCHA; and, exceptional work in the preservation and promotion of materials in Catholic archives. The announcement was made recently.

Power, interviewed at his Welland home, said his “big break” came in an offer to write the history of his parish, Church of the Holy Name of Mary in Windsor, and a history of the diocese of St. Catharines.

He also joined the CCHA, which he called the biggest bonus.

“There are a … lot of great historians there…that’s the bedrock,” he said.

“It’s all about connections” in building a career as a contract writer. People saw his writings and offered him projects.

They would include: 18 books, a history of the Roman Catholic Church in the Niagara Peninsula, parish histories, historical features in the Catholic Register newspaper, general newspaper articles, chapters in historical books, articles in academic journals and pamphlets. He may be best known for A Promise Fulfilled: Highlights in the Political History of Catholic Separate Schools in Ontario.

“Darn, I worked on that,” he said about the 525-page book. “There are always bumps on the road as a contract historian.”

In its 2020 award announcement, the Canadian Catholic Historical Association said A Promise Fulfilled “stands as perhaps the most readable and comprehensive history of Catholic schools in Ontario in a single volume… a model of historical research on Catholic education.”

Reflecting on his major study, Power does wonder if a funding deal for Ontario’s Catholic and public schools may become a poisonous gift.

Both Catholic and non-Catholic students can attend either. They seem to be seen as financial assets as boards compete for numbers, he said. It distracts from the religious purpose of Catholic schools. 

In general, as a Catholic historical writer, Power said he strives to keep the story of the Catholic Church in Canada alive and told “with warts and all.”

He would like to see a more loving and forgiving Church that sticks to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, such as reflected in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. It should shy away from the continually shifting trends in society by providing a consistent Christian example.

Power and his family have lived in Welland for almost 31 years. His life of research, writing and historical association work has taken him all over Ontario and Canada visiting archives, libraries, churches, universities, colleges and hundreds of homes.

For his love of history, he credits his father.

Each evening after supper, Power said his father would read the Bible to his family of eight children, an unusual practice for a Catholic family.

He still has the Bibles from which his father read.

Over his career of more than 30 years, Power said his writing style has improved.

“To get better, you have to pay attention to your editors,” he said. “You have to learn to write. Few people are natural writers. You have to read attentively.”

He suggests “trying out your limits” by attempting different forms of writing such as short stories, poetry, journalism and even family history.

Power has a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Windsor, a Master of Library Science from the University of Western Ontario, London,  years of experience reading documents, letters, journals, legislation, minutes of meetings and organizing historical materials.

What does Power do to relax?

He tells a story of how he began school in Grade 1 knowing how to read and assuming his mother taught him.

“Reading is my hobby,” he laughs, holding up a thick biography of King Edward III.

(Wayne Campbell, a long-time journalist now retired, is an occasional contributor to the blog.)

Gadabout Gardener: Celebrating New Dawn

New Dawn is one of my favourite climbing roses, which explains why I have it in the garden. Its blooms are light pink with a darker-hued reverse. A multiple bloomer, this rose is healthy, hardy and drought resistant. Introduced in 1930, I like it for its delicate beauty, long flowering period and sweet fragrance. (Gadabout Gardener is a recurring feature on the blog. Photos by Joe Barkovich)

Concert Association Suspends 2020-21Series

‘Heart-breaking’ Decision Made During Virtual Meeting Of The Board

We have been closely monitoring the devastating effects of the pandemic on our lives and especially on the performing arts community.  We have been waiting for guidance on how to proceed as it has become clear that big theatres like the J.M. Ennis Auditorium will not be opening for concerts in the near future.

Our Board held a virtual meeting and came to the heart – breaking decision that we must suspend the 2020-2021 series.  This decision has just been confirmed as the right one as the District School Board of Niagara has cancelled all rental permits for the coming school year.

We are working with the agents and artists to re-schedule the wonderful concerts we have booked until similar dates for 2021-2022.  They are grateful that we have the trust and confidence to offer them hope for the following season.  We will announce new dates once we are in a position to confirm that rental permits have been approved.

We suspend any further subscription sales at this time.  We will be processing refunds for the ABBA Revisited show and for all patrons who renewed for 2020-21 season. This may be a time consuming process so please be patient while we work through the mechanics of issuing refunds. If you do not see your refund by August 15, 2020 please contact our Treasurer Rob Neill by email at  Once you have received your refund, please destroy all existing tickets.  New ones will be available once we launch the 2021-2022 series next year.

This is a challenging time for us all and we will look forward to once again appreciating our live concerts as soon as it is possible to do so.

In the coming months stay well and upbeat until we can enjoy the camaraderie of sharing concert events with friends once again.

(Source: News release)

Rose City Celebrates Canada Day With Cities Across Canada

‘Gotta love our national holiday! (File photo/Joe Barkovich)

WELLAND – The City of Welland is joining Niagara, and other cities across the nation, to celebrate a virtual Canada Day party for all ages. Although the city’s Canada Day Celebrations signature event at Merritt Park is cancelled due to COVID-19, Niagara residents can unite and celebrate in the comfort and safety of their own homes this July 1, 2020.

Campion: A message to ‘ignite civic pride…’/File photo

Canada Day kicks-off at 8:00 a.m. on the city’s Recreation and Culture Facebook page with a virtual message that will launch a full-day of family fun. Mayor Frank Campion will also deliver a message to Welland residents to ignite civic pride and wish Niagara a happy Canada Day.

The City of Welland is excited to host its first virtual Canada Day Celebrations. The virtual show can be accessed July 1, on the Welland Recreation and Culture Facebook page at @wellandrecandculture. The City of Welland is providing the following performances:

  • Video Messages from Mayor Frank Campion, Welland Jackfish and more
  • Femme Du Feu Creations
  • Mad Science (sponsored by Welland Downtown BIA)
  • Club Rex
  • Tik Tok Dance Party, Trivia, and Fun Facts
  •  Do-it-yourself Crafts, Recipes, and more

Niagara’s 12 municipalities are also collaborating on a Canada Day, the Niagara Way virtual party for Niagara’s residents to unite and celebrate across the region. Canada Day, the Niagara Way will host the following performances:

  • Tim Hicks
  • Avenue Inn
  • Great Lake Swimmers
  • Spencer Burton
  • Juliet Dunn and Peter Shea
  • Rick McLean

Residents can join in the fun by decorating the front of their homes with Canada Day inspired trimmings, and share images on social media with the hashtag #CanadaDayNiagaraWay. Welland residents can access the city’s Canada Day Celebrations, including Canada Day the Niagara Way and the National Show through the Welland Recreation and Culture Facebook page @wellandrecandculture. For more information and a full list of acts and performances, visit

(Source: City of Welland news release)

Welland Man Chosen 2020 G. E. Clerk Award Recipient

2020 Clerk Medallion recipient Michael Power, a Welland resident and St. Kevin parishioner. (Supplied photo)

The Clerk Medallion is awarded every two or three years by the CCHA (Canadian Catholic Historical Association) to honour an individual who has distinguished him/herself in one of three categories: research and writing of the history of the Catholic Church, or service to the CCHA, or exceptional work in the preservation and promotion of materials in Catholic archives. It is very rare that a recipient of the award has demonstrated excellence in all three categories, but Michael Power, this year’s recipient, has worked with distinction in all of them.

CCHA logo

With a Master’s degree in Library Science from Western University, Michael worked tirelessly, in his native Windsor, promoting the extensive collection of materials in the Assumption College archives. His resultant three volume documentary history not only chronicles the institution and its Basilian founders, it also is an extraordinary introduction to the documents contained in the college archives. His work in Windsor prompted more projects including writing extensively on the Basilian Fathers, the Diocese of London, and the regional church on the Niagara Peninsula, where he now lives.

From 1986-1988, Michael served as the President of the CCHA, after filling various positions on the executive in the early 1980s. In 1991, he was part of the planning committee for the sesquicentennial historical conference for the Archdiocese of Toronto (CATO-150) and was a published presenter in its subsequent volume and the volume’s indexer. That same year he returned to the executive of the association and served a term as secretary. 

For over thirty years, Michael Power has been an active researcher and historian and has produced numerous books of lasting value including parish histories, a history of the Diocese of London, a history of the early years of the Catholic Church Extension Society, a commissioned history of the permanent diaconate in the Archdiocese of Toronto, a biography of education pioneer Carl Matthews, sj, and numerous scholarly articles in academic journals on the history of various aspects of the Catholic Church in Ontario. Michael is a gifted stylist, whose narratives are a pleasure to read and well supported by archival research.

By his own admission, his magnum opus was A Promise Fulfilled: Highlights of the Political History of Catholic Separate Schools in Ontario (2002), which stands as perhaps the most readable and comprehensive history of Catholic schools in Ontario in a single volume. The work has become a standard resource for anyone researching Catholic schools in Ontario. A Promise Fulfilled has been cited by numerous scholars and is considered by many, a model of historical research on Catholic education.

Clearly the CCHA is both delighted and honoured to have Michael Power receive the Association’s highest award.

(Source: Canadian Catholic Historical Association website)

Editor’s note: Story to follow later in the week.

Chambers’ Corner Revisited: A Night At The Fair

Were you there that night? (File photo/Bob Chambers)

By Bob Chambers

This is Chambers’ Corner ….. the occasional occupant of a corner of this blog, where Bob Chambers, an Evening Tribune photographer from 1957 to 1970, will present some of his photographs from that era ……

With the Niagara Regional Exhibition being held in Welland in the next few days (Thursday, Sept. 17 to Sunday, Sept. 20) this picture from my file seems to be appropriate. It takes us back to the days of “Hell Drivers”. In the years from 1934  (when Earl “Lucky” Teter started it all in the US) to the late 60’s, many groups travelled from fair to fair, or doing special events at race tracks, putting on shows of precision driving and deliberate crashes.  All the major automakers actually sponsored some of the shows.

Here, in Welland on Friday night, Sept 14, 1962, the Trans Canada Hell Drivers are wowing a packed grandstand at the fair. This is WAY better than reality TV, this is the REAL thing. When a 1947, OK, maybe a ’48, Nash comes flying through the air to demolish a 1949 Hudson, you didn’t know what would happen. After all that guy named Lucky Teter, had been killed doing a similar stunt a few years before.

Look at the safety precautions …. a sash cord holds the driver’s door closed …. there’s some sort of helmet being worn ….. along with unseen but sensible things, like no gasoline in the targeted Hudson and very minimal in the flying Nash. The trick in the business was having just enough fuel in the tank to make sure it lasted until takeoff from the ramp.

The local sponsor was a Welland Nash dealer, Keenan Motors, but who is Muriel Tessier? Surely the sign painter didn’t want to advertise his high-quality work. (Maybe it was the same guy who painted the Niagara College sign in the previous Chambers’ Corner) The crowd is certainly, “all eyes forward”, and has more women in it than I might expect. Also, please recall that in 1962, the word “Hell” could not be used in polite conversation. Your mother would certainly be teed off if she heard you say it. But when The Hell Drivers were in town, well, “What the Hell?” Even newspapers could use it.

And as for calling it the NRE, that came much later …. in 1962 it was the Welland Fair, or more likely just, “The Fair”. And squeezed into the space between Denistoun Street, Maple Avenue, and Prince Charles Drive, it was a popular place, walkable (for some) and parkable if you got there early, or had a friend with a driveway.

Were you there that night?

– Bob Chambers, Tribune photographer 1957 -1970.

Comments are invited and appreciated by the photographer. You can comment directly on the site.

Editor’s note: Chambers’ Corner appeared on the blog a few years ago as a recurring feature, this submission in September, 2015. It is presented here unchanged. The series has been rebranded as Chambers’ Corner Revisited and is appearing at the request of readers. It will be on the blog weekly, on Wednesdays.