Monthly Archives: July 2020

Scribbler’s Column: In Memoriam

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

WELLAND – I’ve Ivan Zecchini to thank for this Folklore rose.

Ivan, who passed two years ago, asked if I wanted it in my garden. He said it wasn’t doing well in his and maybe the change in surroundings might help it flourish. This was several years ago, maybe as many as 10.

Well, we moved it and planted it here in the backyard, along a fence. It survived. Now it is like an old friend.

But it had me worried this summer. May and June came and went without a single bud. I began to think Folklore might go flower-less this season.

Then earlier this month a bud appeared. Just one.

Its timing was late, but you can’t rush Mother Nature.

A rose in full bloom would have been nice for Ivan’s anniversary. It is July 11, 2018. The accomplished rose grower had turned 89 a couple weeks before.

I’m thankful for Ivan’s Folklore rose. It is a great way to remember him. It also serves as a valuable teaching point: Don’t give up on an old friend turning up.

(Scribbler’s Column is a new feature on the blog.)

HERITAGE LIVES: Here Comes The U.S. Navy!

USS Macon with Welland’s Main Street Bridge in the background. (Photo by George Shook)

By Terry Hughes

It’s 1959 and after thirty years of opposition by special interest groups in the United States, the St. Lawrence Seaway has finally been completed and opened. In June, Queen Elizabeth II on board the Royal Yacht Britannia joined President Dwight Eisenhower in officially opening the Seaway to lakers and salties to the Great Lakes. This effort would include a huge hydro-electric system for both Ontario and New York State.

Rumours persisted that the United States would send a flotilla of naval vessels to show the flag at American ports. And sure enough, they came stupefying those of us who watched them from the shore of the canal revealing the armament that most of these vessels carried.

USS William Lawe (Supplied photo)

Along with several submarines, many of the vessels were destroyers like the one pictured here, the USS William Lawe, but the most awesome vessel was the Baltimore-class heavy cruiser, the USS Macon.

She brandished nine eight-inch guns mounted in three turrets, twelve five-inch guns mounted in six turrets and a variety of anti-aircraft guns in twin mounts and Regulus missiles capable of carrying atomic warheads. Her dimensions just fit the canals and locks she encountered but needed to reduce her aerials on her masts to fit under the lift bridges.  

Having secured summer jobs at Nickel Beach, our staff could see these vessels sitting on Lake Erie awaiting their turn to move through the canal systems to the Atlantic Ocean. When the Macon was due to pass through Lock 8, the girls on staff were allowed to pile into cars and greet the ship as it entered the lock.

The interaction between our girls and the sailors on board the ship was very interesting. An exchange of coins and sailor hats was followed by a lesson in geography for the American sailors.

“What side of the canal is the United States?” some of them asked. “You have to go 13 miles to the east to get to the U.S.,” replied our girls. “You’re in Ontario.” The sailors yelled back, “What country is that!” 

 Pictured here is the Macon passing under the Main Street Bridge in a photo taken by George Shook from the syphon as she moves downbound to Lake Ontario.                                        

Next Column:  Ghosts of the Welland Recreational Canal Corp. (WRCC).

(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.)

Chambers’ Corner Revisited

Downtown Welland’s Ross Store in the 1960s, windows decorated for Christmas. (Photo by 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 ……

I’m still in awe about this view. Not that it’s a great photograph, but what it tells us now sixty years later. It was a time when names like: The Ross Company, Manners Camera store, Brit Phillips Shoes, Jimmy Marando’s Mens Wear, W. Clifford Healy Photography, Jantzi- Brown Motors, East Main Motors, Bowl O Rama, MacLean Motors, Harry Holcomb Shoes, The Blue Star, The Olympia, The Half Moon were well known local businesses …… Jeez, there must be a ton more.

Yes, “The Ross Store”, “The Ross Company”, “Ross’s” …. whatever you called it, it meant quality. A Harris Tweed sport coat, with leather elbow patches and cuffs that I bought there, lasted me well over 20 years.

Oh, about this photograph, Christmas season, mid-1960’s. Two exposures, not quite put together perfectly to make this panorama. Why didn’t I get shoppers on the sidewalk? Who knows. Maybe I shot it late at night to have less car traffic, so that standing on top of the traffic direction barricade, with cars roaring past on all sides at Main Street East and King Street, seemed much safer, well after rush hour.

Times have changed.

– 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 December, 2015. It is presented here unchanged. The series has been rebranded Chambers’ Corner Revisited and is appearing at the request of readers. It appears on the blog Wednesdays.

COVID-19: Mandatory Mask By-law In Niagara

Masks will have to be worn on public transit operated by Niagara Region and local area municipalities. (File photo)

WELLAND – Niagara Regional Council has approved a by-law making it mandatory to wear a face-covering or nonmedical mask in enclosed public places. All people ages five and older are subject to the mandatory mask by-law; however, people who are unable to wear face-coverings due to health or disability are exempt.

 The new mandatory mask by-law includes all regional and municipal public transit — excluding all transit drivers who are protected by a plexiglass barrier—and also includes municipal buildings.

The by-law comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on July 31, 2020, and will remain in effect until Oct. 1, 2020, unless extended by Regional Council.

 The by-law applies to the following enclosed indoor places:

 • Retail stores where goods and services are sold to customers 

 • Businesses that primarily sell food including restaurants

 • Supermarkets, grocery stores, bakeries and convenience stores

 •Churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other places of worship, except during a religious rite or ceremony that is incompatible with the face being covered 

• Shopping malls or similar structures which contain multiple places of business

• Lobby areas of commercial buildings

• Common areas of hotels and motels and other short term accommodations, such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms or other common use facilities but does not include the common areas of residential apartment buildings or condominiums

 • Laundromats

 • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas 

 • Fitness centres, gyms, other recreational and sports facilities and clubhouses

 • Arcades and other amusement facilities

 • Premises utilized as an open house, presentation centres or other facilities for real-estate purposes

 • Museums, galleries, historic sites and similar attractions

 • Businesses providing personal care services

 • Banquet halls, convention centres, arenas, stadiums and other event spaces

 • Public transit operated by the Niagara Region and local area municipalities

 • Municipal buildings 

Under the by-law, all businesses operating in Niagara must have a policy regarding the wearing of face-coverings that prevent people from entering without a mask. Additionally, businesses must ensure that staff receive training in the requirements of the policy and provide hand sanitizer at all public entrances.

 The by-law exempts indoor locations that already have policies in place, or are subject to other provincial legislation or guidelines. The following enclosed indoor public spaces are exempted:

 • Daycares, schools, post-secondary institutions and other facilities used solely for educational purposes 

• Hospitals, independent health facilities and offices of regulated health professionals

 • Buildings and services owned or operated by the Province of Ontario or the Federal Government of Canada

 • An indoor area of a building that is accessible only to employees

 • Portions of buildings that are being used for the purpose of providing day camps for children or for the training of amateur or professional athletes

For more information on the new mask by-law visit, For more information on Welland Recovery – Moving Beyond COVID, visit 

(Source: City of Welland news release)

Niagara Catholic Trustees Approve 2020-21 Balanced Budget

WELLAND – Niagara Catholic’s Board of Trustees has approved a balanced budget for 2020-2021.

The $267-million operating budget was passed at a special Board Meeting on July 14, 2020. It represents a continued commitment to fiscal stewardship and responsibility, while addressing the uncertainties caused by COVID-19 and providing the necessary programs, supports and services for all students.

Frank Fera

“On behalf of Niagara Catholic’s Board of Trustees, I would like to thank Senior Staff for their diligence in creating a balanced budget for the coming school year,” said Chair of the Board Frank Fera. “The coming school year comes with a great deal of uncertainty, and I have no doubt that creating a balanced budget was a challenge. I am grateful to our senior administrative team, who worked very hard to create a budget that addresses the need for the many additional safeguards for students and staff when schools reopen and the need to be financially prudent, with the Board’s continued commitment to provide the best programs, supports and services to students. This budget sets the stage for our incoming Director of Education, Camillo Cipriano, and new Senior Team to move forward in the future.”

Director of Education John Crocco thanked all those who participated in the process of creating a “realistic and responsible” 2020-2021 budget. 

“Following an extensive consultation process, Senior Administrative Council presented the Board with the Original Estimates for the Annual Budget designed to achieve the 2020-2021 System Priorities within the funding provided by the Province,” said Director Crocco. “Certainly, this has been a challenging year to create a budget, with so many forces that are outside our control influencing expenditures. However, after months of hard work, thoughtful consideration, and decisions in the best interests of all students and staff, we are confident that the 2020-2021 budget will optimize all areas of the provincial funding to ensure the Board continues to provide effective and innovative programs, supports and services for all of our students. 

“Senior Staff will continue to monitor the system needs and budget throughout the year, particularly regarding enrolment numbers, and will make any necessary changes to ensure that we continue to meet the needs of all of our students within the context of a balanced budget.”

The 2020-2021 Annual Budget is available in Section B3 of the July 14 Special Board Meeting agenda. 

Niagara Catholic provides excellence in Catholic education to approximately 21,000 students throughout Niagara from Kindergarten through graduation.

(Source: Niagara Catholic media release)

Chambers’ Corner Revisited

Where Rails and Water Meet (Photo by Bob Chambers)

Photographing A City Motto …………….

By Bob Chambers

This photograph taken in 1968 (or maybe 1969) was my attempt to bring to life the City of Welland motto of that era — “Where Rails And Water Meet”. To take the picture I rode the New York Central Railroad swing bridge just north of the Broadway Avenue lift bridge, as both opened for a ship to pass.

I had preconceived that the rails and ship would line up and  somehow look like they could actually connect in some fashion. Well, just a couple of clicks on my Pentax and it worked. I didn’t have to try it again from another angle.

After this ran in the Tribune, a colleague chided me for being  too much of a flag-waver for the city …..  he even envisioned  the Chamber of Commerce writing the caption and driving me  to the bridge, while city council cheered from the shore as I  took the photo.

Looking back now to that period in Welland’s history …. I wasn’t  flag waving, I was simply stating a fact. Rails and Water did meet in Welland then. The rails in this picture carried freight of three railroads to all points in North America. Every day. While the ships, like this “saltie,” travelled the world. Welland was connected. Just beyond the picture, in the shadow of that lift bridge, lay the  Welland South Dock, or was it called the Union Carbide Dock?  There trains came to the water’s edge and exchanged cargo  with ships.

At that time six railroads served the city, and many days a total of a hundred or more freight cars were loaded or unloaded at numerous city industries. Yes, we were a huge rail city, and at the  same time the namesake city of the Welland Canal, part of the greatest inland waterway in the world.

Me, a flag waver? I think not. I was simply a bearer of the truth. But as this picture was being taken, you could have almost heard  the roar of huge earthmovers at work digging the new canal channel that would, in a few short years move the canal, not out of the city, but almost out of sight to the east side. Trains, would no longer meet the ships, but would sneak, unseen in a tunnel, underneath the  new channel. And this rerouting of the rail lines will almost eliminate major traffic problems on our streets.

So, four years later, in 1972, Welland would essentially lose the ships, along with most of the trains, and the traffic tie-ups caused by both.  Yet now, almost 50 years later (for those of us who remember) wouldn’t you actually recall those days of playing “bridge tag”, or “railway roulette”,  as the “good old days”? Or were we just younger and ‘foolisher’?

– 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 June, 2015. It is presented here unchanged. The series has been rebranded Chambers’ Corner Revisited and is appearing at the request of readers. It appears on the blog Wednesdays.

Rose City: Programs, Services Expand; Public Amenities Re-Open

WELLAND Niagara is moving to stage-three of the Ontario Government’s Framework to Re-open the Province on Friday, July 24, 2020. Stage-three allows a broader business community to re-open and engage with customers. Planning for a safe, gradual re-opening is a challenging process that requires city staff to re-imagine program and service delivery. The City of Welland is committed to expanding city programs and services with a safe approach to customer service.

The following modified city services will become available with Ontario’s stage-three phase:

  • July 20 – Baseball Fields (Quaker Rd. only) can be booked provided organizations submit a safety protocol plan
  • July 24 – Public washrooms at Merritt Island (main building only), Welland Skate Park, & Welland International Flatwater Centre
  • July 31 – All city-owned public playground equipment opens with periodic cleaning. Installation of safety signage is ongoing
  • Aug 4 – Welland Civic Square city hall offices open by appointment only with pre-screening
  • Aug 4 – Welland Public Library is offering more services at the Main Branch, Diamond Trail Branch, and Seaway Mall Branch by appointment. The Main Branch is expanding its hours of operation. Visit for details
  • Aug 31 – Welland Community Wellness Complex, soft re-opening. Staff are developing programming in alignment with the province’s phase-three strategy
  • Welland Fire and Emergency Services continue all emergency services. Fire prevention and property inspection remain a priority across the city. The department is open by appointment
  • Youngs Sportsplex is open for indoor tennis and outdoor soccer with physical distancing. Capacity restrictions in place as per provincial requirements. Visit for details

The following facilities are not included on the city’s phase-three plan to re-open and will remain closed until further notice:

  • Welland International Flatwater Centre
  • Maple Park Pool and Memorial Park Pool are closed for the season
  • Welland Boat Rental Program is closed for the season
  • Park Pavilions
  • City-owned Soccer, Lawn Bowling, and Cricket Fields
  • Welland Museum is under renovations; therefore will not open to the public during the summer season. The museum is offering virtual tours at
  • Maple Park Courts, Chippawa Courts, and Gaiser Rd. Multi-Courts

Stage-three of the re-opening strategy also permits indoor gatherings with a maximum of 50 people and outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 100 people. A two-metre distance must be maintained at all gatherings and events. Public and group gathering restrictions apply to community events, private gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports, recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals, and open houses.

For more information on the Ontario government’s stage-three phase, visit For more information on Welland Recovery Moving Beyond COVID-19, visit

(Source: City of Welland news release)