Monthly Archives: October 2020

Heritage Lives: A Tight Squeeze

By Terry Hughes

As we enter November, our thoughts reflect on that time of year when we honour the veterans who have served in a variety of conflicts to bring peace to the world. 

The two World Wars come to mind but we have been engaged in Korea where our Princess Pats (Canadian Light Infantry) earned a presidential citation for bravery from President Eisenhower. HMCS Haida, a Canadian destroyer, became known for its train busting against Communist forces along the Korean coast. And how can we not recognize the Lancaster bomber that roars across the skies on special occasions!

Our military also has been engaged in a variety of peacekeeping missions. For example, in the former Yugoslavia when NATO became engaged to stop the violence in the 1990’s, our troops as peacekeepers stood fast against ethnic cleansing. We created a new term called peacemakers by returning fire, the first time since the Korean War, against those elements who engaged our troops to stop this slaughter in an area called the Medak Pocket (a Serb-controlled area of high ground near Medak, Croatia). Just look how our people served along with our allies in Afghanistan. And although many people do not know this fact, it was Canada in 1947 who recommended that an alliance of North American countries be created to stand up against the threat of the Soviet Union and NATO was formed in 1949.

When involved in war, the people at home are heavily involved as the provider of food, clothing and a variety of military equipment. The industrial base here in Welland and Crowland flourished as a provider for our armed forces. During World War Two, anti-aircraft guns from the Atlas and shell casings from Mead-Morrison are some examples. During World War One, we supported a short period of shipbuilding at an industrial site on King Street across from the Half Moon and the Rex. The owners, Beatty & Sons, had leased the site to a British firm to construct five ocean-going vessels to replace war losses by the enemy. A special ramp was built along the canal bank to launch vessels sideways into the water. Other structures were built to construct the hull and to fit them out.

In our first picture (top left), we see the hull of one of these ships about to be launched. It must be remembered that the third canal was in operation then limiting the maximum size of vessels to a length of 251 ft. long and 43 ft. wide to fit the locks. The canal was one hundred feet wide at the bottom which made ships of this size difficult to pass each other. Here, in the second picture (top right), we see one of these ocean-going ships passing a canal-size vessel. That means that they have 14 ft. to use for passing and it looks like the canaller is rubbing her bottom on the sloping banks of the canal.

Many people may question the paint scheme used on the hull of this vessel as it passes Merritt Park heading north to the Alexandra Swing Bridge. It was determined by the allies that a “dazzle” style of painting would confuse the submariners as to the size and distance of these ships while underway on the oceans. Anyway, hundreds of these ships would sail for many years and become known as “tramp steamers” because like some female companionships, these ships were found in every port!  

Next: Reflections

(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.)

Kennedy Formally Installed As Niagara College’s Sixth President

/Niagara College photo

”The next chapter in our college’s history is an inspiring story of growth and success that we will write together.”Sean Kennedy

Sean Kennedy, who took the helm of Niagara College in February 2020, was formally installed Wednesday as Niagara College’s sixth president, during a virtual, internal staff event.

Del Rollo, chair of the Niagara College Board of Governors, presided over the ceremony, which was originally scheduled for the spring, but rescheduled and re-imagined in line with COVID-19 measures and directives.  

“While today’s ceremony is certainly different from what we had envisioned in early 2020, it is no less special, no less meaningful, and no less historic – as we celebrate Niagara College’s first new president in a quarter of a century,” Rollo said.

Rollo also acknowledged the unforeseen circumstances that dominated the start of Kennedy’s tenure, while emphasizing the board’s confidence in his ability to lead Niagara College to a new long-term vision in the years ahead.

“The effectiveness of our College’s response to COVID-19, and the ingenuity and resilience that he has inspired in the Niagara College community, serves to underscore what the Board of Governors saw in Sean, when he was selected as president,” he said.

“And as much as we have deep confidence in Sean’s ability to lead Niagara College through this extraordinary time, we also know that he is a gifted and inspiring leader who, with your contributions and support, will guide Niagara College toward a student-focused vision of growth and success, building on our position among Canada’s best colleges, in the years ahead.”

Kennedy began his remarks by reflecting on the event itself, and the importance of looking ahead.

“Given all that’s happened, and the time that has passed since I began as president on February 24, I wondered about the desirability of still holding this special event,” he said. “However, after further reflection, I came to realize that this event is not about me. It’s about Niagara College’s future, and the symbolic start of the next chapter for our college, a new chapter that has been delayed, but not derailed.”   

Kennedy acknowledged the unique challenges that came with the start of his term as president, while looking ahead to a post-pandemic period where Niagara College will flourish.

“Although the current pandemic has been all-encompassing for us, this will ultimately be a snapshot in time,” Kennedy said. “We will persevere, and we’ll take important lessons from this extraordinary period, but it will not define our college or our vision for the future. The next chapter in our college’s history is an inspiring story of growth and success that we will write together.”

Kennedy also acknowledged his predecessor, along with former Board of Governors chair John F.T. Scott, and others for their contributions to Niagara College.

“I am also very grateful to John Scott, former Board Chair, as well as my predecessor, the incomparable Dr. Dan Patterson, and all of the incredible leaders who have come before me along with our retirees and pioneers, our alumni, donors and community supporters all of whom have helped to build what I consider to be the top College in all of Canada,” he said.

John F.T. Scott, chair of the Board of Governors and its selection committee when Kennedy was appointed, offered Kennedy best wishes via a recorded greeting.

“You have demonstrated that our confidence in you was so well placed; you were indeed the right person at the right time,” Scott said. “May you and Niagara College thrive now and well into the future.”

As part of the ceremony, Kennedy was presented with the presidential robes by his spouse, Kerry Kennedy, and he affirmed an oath to faithfully fulfill the duties of the President of Niagara College, emphasizing his commitment to the wellbeing and success of its students, faculty and staff, preserving the strong connections between Niagara College and the communities it serves, and protecting and promoting the welcoming, passionate and trailblazing characteristics that define Niagara College.

Kennedy’s selection as Niagara College’s sixth president was announced on January 10, and he assumed the role on February 24. Kennedy joined Niagara College in 2014 and has held several positions on the College’s executive team, including vice president, Student and External Relations and CEO of the Niagara College Foundation, interim vice president, Academic, vice president, International and senior vice president, International.

Kennedy succeeds Dan Patterson, who led Niagara College for 25 years before concluding his tenure in early 2020.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

2020 Food Drive ‘Remarkably Successful’, But The Joy Of The Door-To-Door Blitz Of Past Years Is ‘Healing And Heartwarming’

These food drive signs are scattered on streets and street corners across the city. There is no door-to-door campaign this year in Welland but if you are interested in making a money donation, or if you want more info about the campaign, visit (Photo Joe Barkovich)

Editor’s note: The Welland Food Drive was at $44,626 of its $100,000 goal as of late this afternoon. It continues through Saturday, November 7. If the money campaign reaches or surpasses its goal, I asked Monique Finley, might it replace the door-to-door non-perishable food collection that has brought hundreds of Wellanders together as volunteers for close to 30 years? Here is her reply:

By Monique Finley

Food Drive 2020 is already being viewed as remarkably successful by some who have had more experience than the Food Drive Committee in this sort of philanthropic initiative and it’s not over yet!  Donating money as effortlessly as is the case this year does have some advantages in that tax receipts can be issued which allows the generous participation of businesses and organizations as well for some individuals.

Monique Finley/ File photo

 The collection of money for the charities to buy the food they need, when they need it with the buying power they have is very helpful for the smooth and efficient running of their programs. I believe that this fund-raising component of the Welland Food Drive might be trialed again next year. I am doubtful however, that it would replace the door-to-door campaign that has been part of the fabric of our Welland community for nearly three decades.  

Nearly 500 volunteers rally the first Saturday in November and we do something really wonderful. Feeding the hungry is the purpose of our Welland Food Drive but the community gathering to give, collect and sort food has other outcomes as well. Something else happens along the way; people experience the joy of the gesture and that type of joy is healing and heartwarming.

 I would say it would be unlikely that the Food Drive of 2020 will become the norm. Wellanders can hardly wait to get back on the streets, collecting what others are generously donating to help those who need a helping hand.

(Monique Finley is the long-time coordinator of the annual Welland Food Drive.)

Five Beds Located in Welland Added To Emergency Shelter Services This Winter

WELLAND – People in need of overnight emergency shelter will continue to find support this winter through the Hope Centre’s shelter program.

Space under bridges is sometime used for shelter by those experiencing short-term or episodic periods of homelessness, regardless of season. /File photo Joe Barkovich

 The Hope Centre emergency shelter services supports individuals experiencing homelessness in accessing appropriate shelter and other housing options. Hope Centre, working in partnership with Niagara Region, will have 5 additional emergency shelter beds which will be located in Welland for this upcoming winter. 

Welland residents are encouraged to access the emergency shelter and homelessness supports through the Hope Centre to ensure access to the most appropriate resources. Anyone experiencing homelessness can also receive assistance with finding emergency shelter by dialling 211 or visiting to learn more about shelter resources in the City of Welland. 

Ontario 211 connects people to services and offers a broad range of language interpreters. Niagara’s shelter agencies suggest that anyone seeking overnight emergency shelter call ahead to register due to COVID-19 screening measures.

Commonplace in big cities, scenes like this one in Toronto are no longer just ‘big city’ problems. /File photo Joe Barkovich

 “Ensuring our vulnerable community members are safe and have a place to stay this winter is crucial,” said Mayor Frank Campion. “This winter will be even more challenging to operate shelters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Niagara’s agencies are ready to step up and continue with these much-needed services. Having 5 beds located in Welland will enable some local clients to be provided shelter in the City. We are hopeful this will be expanded in the future.” 

Welland residents also are accessing other specialized shelter resources that have been put in place due to the pandemic such as designated hotel units for those who are elderly or immune compromised; a 25 bed Housing Focused Shelter pilot; COVID Isolation Shelter; increased Home for Good supportive housing units; increased outreach supports. 

For more information on the Hope Centre’s resources, call 905-788-0744, or visit For more information on Niagara Region’s Housing and Homelessness Action plan, visit 

(Source: City of Welland news release)

Niagara’s Young Women To Hear From Inspiring Females, Learn About Careers In Trades And Technology

Niagara College (NC), the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN), Niagara Catholic District School Board (Niagara Catholic) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG), partner to host Exploring Your Future – Dream It, Believe It, Do It series, kicking off October 29

Starting this month and continuing through Spring 2021, Niagara College will play virtual host to female high school students across Niagara who will explore careers in trades and technology. Exploring Your Future – Dream It, Believe It, Do It is a new partnership between NC, DSBN, Niagara Catholic and event sponsor OPG to make female students aware of the many lucrative career pathways that exist in industries they may not have traditionally considered.

Jessica Polak

The online series kicks off on Thursday, October 29 at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom, where over 120 students will have the opportunity to hear from female mentors whose stories, experiences, and advice will inspire young women to think about exciting careers in trades and technology. Guests include keynote speaker Jessica Polak, OPG’s senior projects director, Darlington Nuclear Refurbishment, and Lisa Caruso, a professor in NC’s Mechanical Techniques program.

“Ontario Power Generation is proud to sponsor this collaborative event, which is about giving young women an opportunity to explore careers related to math, science and technology,” said Polak. “Hopefully, these interactive sessions will spark their interest in furthering their education in these areas.”

“I have enjoyed a career as a tool and die maker in the manufacturing industry for over 25 years, and now I am fortunate to help train the future generation of skilled workers,” said Caruso. “I hope that sharing my experience will inspire young women to consider a career in the trades and encourage more female representation in the industry.”

Students will have the opportunity to learn more about specific career paths through additional events that they can register for based on their interests.

Future sector-specific events include:

  • Thursday, November 26, 2020: Construction – with Annette Dearling-Manchester, professor, School of Trades, Niagara College
  • Thursday, February 18, 2021: Motive Power – with Emily Chung, licensed automotive service technician and owner, AutoNiche Auto Repair Services
  • Thursday, March 11, 2021: Industrial and Power Technologies – with electrical & control technicians from Ontario Power Generation
  • Thursday, April 29, 2021: Service Sector – with Selah Schmoll, co-owner, Incoho restaurant

All events will be held at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom.

In advance of each event, registrants will receive an event package filled with career resources, as well as a program guide and swag from NC.

“Students will also get materials sent to them so they can participate in hands-on activities during the virtual sector-specific events, from wherever they’re tuning in from,” said Jill Russell, DSBN Consultant for Technological Education and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. “Our students really value the chance to hear from strong, enthusiastic, and accomplished female mentors, so it’s important that we’ve been creative and moved this opportunity online.”

“This is an incredible opportunity for the young women in Niagara, to learn from trailblazers who are leading the way in the skilled trades and technology,” said Ivana Galante, Niagara Catholic’s Business-Techology/Specialist High Skills Major/Co-op/Ontario Youth Apprenticeship consultant. I encourage all of our participants to keep an open mind and be willing to learn about the amazing opportunities available to them.”

Female students interested in registering or learning more about these events are encouraged to reach out to their school guidance counsellor.

The Exploring Your Future series is the latest effort from NC and its valued partners to inspire young women to seek career opportunities in trades and technology. Both school boards have held previous in-person events encouraging female high school students to explore traditionally male-dominated fields.

Comments from past student participants

“Hearing from successful female mentors has really changed my perspective. I will definitely keep an open mind about going into the trades.” – A grade 10 DSBN student

“The main message I will take from this event is to be open to new opportunities. Girls can do anything they put their mind to and do it with power and strive to be great.” – A Grade 10 Niagara Catholic student

Niagara College offers more than 150 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information, visit

The District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) is the largest public school board in Niagara. The DSBN serves over 37,000 elementary and secondary students in elementary and secondary schools across the Niagara region. The DSBN is committed to ensuring all students have the individual support and resources they need to reach their full potential. For more information, visit

Niagara Catholic provides excellence in Catholic education to 21,000 students throughout Niagara. We nurture the souls and build the minds of our students, from Kindergarten through graduation.

OPG is a climate change leader and the largest clean electricity generator in the province, providing more than half of the power Ontarians rely on every day. It is also one of the most diverse generators in North America, with expertise in nuclear, hydroelectric, biomass, solar and natural gas technologies.

(Source: Niagara College news release)

‘From An Early Age Gary Wanted Only To Be A Journalist’

The Gary Manning Memorial Scholarship In Journalism

A new scholarship in journalism will be awarded for the first time this academic year in the name of a former Managing Editor at The Tribune.

Gary Manning

The Gary Manning Memorial Scholarship in Journalism was established by a generous gift from Joanna Manning in memory of her late husband, Gary.  Mr. Manning was at the local newspaper from the early 1990’s to 2004. He was named Managing Editor in 1995, said his wife.

The scholarship will be awarded annually to a full-time student at Western University “entering the Master of Media in Journalism and Communication (MMJC) program, based on outstanding academic achievement and an interest in pursuing a career in the Arts or Public Relations,” according to a post on the Faculty of Information and Media Studies webpage.

Mr. Manning was born in London in 1946, graduated from Western in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts, Honours, Journalism degree and went on to have a long career as a journalist and editor. He died in New Brunswick early this year.

His first job post-graduation was in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. According to information provided by Joanna, he became City Editor in Sarnia and a respected Managing Editor in Cornwall, Guelph, Woodstock and Welland. 

“His staff appreciated his patience, commitment and enthusiasm; always receptive to new ideas for columns, features and reviews. Journalism was Gary’s life, one he loved unreservedly. A gentleman in the newsroom and beyond he was rarely seen without a smile,” she wrote.

“From an early age Gary wanted only to be a journalist, believing giving people the best information would help them make good personal decisions. That was why he found himself at 15 the only boy in the girls’ typing class. At school and at Western he was very active in student journalism.

“In the arts world Gary’s first love was theatre, followed by music, from classical to a wide range of genres. He also appreciated the visual arts. As his wife, being a visual and performing arts reviewer and feature writer, this gave us a delightful and rewarding partnership.”

Joanna, who continues to reside in New Brunswick, noted the scholarship was given with her love, her respect for Mr. Manning’s commitment to journalism and her thanks for his love.

“In these uncertain times I am happy to be able to offer some support to future journalists and writers,” she  also wrote.

Heritage Lives: Ghosts Of The WRCC

Under Mayor Cindy Forster’s administration, the WRCC built better bicycle/walking paths on the west side of the waterway. (File photo Joe Barkovich)

Part 3: Incorporation And A Comparison Of Canal Land Development By Two Administrations

By Terry Hughes

During  the negotiations between the city and the federal government, a number of legitimate concerns were raised by Mayor Dick Reuter in a letter to our M.P. Gib Parent in 1994.

 He states that “physical liabilities such as the collapse of the aqueduct, canal bank and their retaining structures” and other issues must be considered. A public relations campaign was initiated by the city planning department on the latter featuring local radio personality Frank Sernak on a professionally developed video.

Interestingly, Public Works Canada had commissioned a study on canal bank erosion by Acres in 1993. They noted that “the north reach (from north of the aqueduct to the train trestle) has experienced most of this phenomena because of the high banks in this portion of the canal.” Estimates made on this issue were costed out at spending two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for twenty-five years. I don’t believe that any remediation on this problem has occurred.   

In 1996, the Welland Canal Parkway Development Board resigned. Pressure from government officials for us to become involved in the negotiation process between the federal government and the city led to this decision, however, discussions between the chair, Mr. Parent, Mayor Reuter and Coun. Joe Spadafora continued on a governance model.

1997 was a memorable year for a number of reasons. I retired from the teaching profession, became involved in the federal election but more importantly the city and federal government settled on transferring the canal lands to the city. I recall Mayor Reuter suggested to Coun. Spadafora that a symbolic dollar bill be placed on the wall of the mayor’s office celebrating the deal.

The mayor’s attention quickly changed to the issue of building a new city hall. Controversy over building a swimming pool under the facility would become a local election issue. That would end further involvement between local officials on a new board. But the need to have the new mayor aware of a framework for a governance model and the need to have it incorporated became important. The significance of a new board and its incorporation was presented to Mayor Cindy Forster’s first council meeting. 

The Cindy Forster Canal Board 

The operation of this board was very similar to the parks and recreation department. Until the incorporation of the board, money secured from the deal with the federal government was used for non canal land purposes. 

Soon it became evident that the board was not in the tourism business. The possible reason was that the mayor who chaired the committee as well as being mayor of the city left little time for investigating tourist opportunities. 

That issue would come under jurisdiction of the committee called TOWN (Tourism of Welland Niagara). Instead, motorized boating became a major issue in terms of numbers and the operation of watercraft. There wasn’t any way to enforce coast guard rules because they lacked qualified officers. If they hired off-duty regional police, it could become very expensive as the committee running the triathlon found out. In the meantime, the marine unit of the regional police was overwhelmed patrolling the multitude of waterways in the region. When they did arrive here the number of boaters found to be drunk was greater than the provincial average. 

One of the greatest disappointments during the operation of this board was the filling in and placement of structures in the Cross Street swimming pool during the construction of the city centre. At no time was anyone in the heritage community advised or consulted as to what plans the board had for this piece of history. All that was achieved was the further disguising of this valued structure.

The birth of the WRCC (Welland Recreational Canal Corporation) at its time of incorporation was a positive step because now, the funding for the operation of the canal lands from any future takeover due to municipal reorganization was secure. The fund was now to be used for canal land purposes only. Better paved bicycle/walking paths were built on the west bank of the canal. But the frustration over the lack of tourism development would become the major issue that would fuel the next election. 

Next in the Ghosts series: A New Governance Model And Direction For Tourism.

(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.)

Covid Restrictions Silence Community Remembrance Day Commemoration At Welland-Crowland Cenotaph

Ken Cassavoy speaks to the gathering, left; spectators watch and listen to the service, top right; Sylvie Browne, granddaughter of the famed sculptor, Elizabeth Wyn Wood, whose name appears on the back of the granite masterpiece, travels from Troy, N.Y. to attend the service, bottom right. (2018 file photos by Joe Barkovich)

WELLAND – This notice is to advise the public in Welland and area that the Remembrance Day Community Commemoration at the Welland-Crowland War Memorial in Chippawa Park, scheduled for November 11th, 2020, has been cancelled for this year. 

This decision has been made to comply with the Ontario Government’s Covid-19 regulation restricting outdoor events to a gathering of a maximum of 25 people. Under the circumstances, the office of Welland Mayor Frank Campion also has recommended that we not proceed with the Community Commemoration this year.

As volunteer organizers of the event, Betsy Warankie and I (Ken Cassavoy) understand and support the Ontario government Covid-19 regulation and the related recommendation from the Mayor’s Office. Therefore, in the interest of the safety of the public during the ongoing pandemic, we have agreed to the cancellation of our commemoration service this year.

We are hopeful that the coronavirus will be sufficiently under control in the coming year to allow us to renew our annual Remembrance Day service at the Welland-Crowland Cenotaph in November of 2021. In the meantime, we take this opportunity to thank all those members of the public who have attended our past commemoration events. We also thank Welland city council members and city staff for their tremendous help and support, and the Welland Museum board and staff for their past support as well.

In the absence of our annual gathering, we urge everyone to pause for a few minutes on Wednesday, November 11th at 11:00 a.m. and privately pay quiet tribute to all the veterans and the other men and women who sacrificed for us, and still continue to do so, in so many different ways. 

To those who paid the supreme sacrifice we give our assurance that, while we may not be able to join together as a community to honour them at the Cenotaph this year, “At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.” Always.

(Source: Community Commemoration organizers news release)