Monthly Archives: December 2020

2020: My Year In Pictures

Captions: January: Will it or won’t it? Action from the championship game, Tribune Basketball Tournament. /Photos by Joe Barkovich.

February: Brrr! Ice fishing, old Welland Canal.

March: Coming in for a landing.

April: Faith in social distancing.

May: Hey, do you have a dinner reservation?

June: The beauty of a rose, the queen of the garden.

July: Sunsetting ‘boarder.

August: Polo action in Wainfleet.

September: Mellow yellow.

October: Lake Erie sunrise, Sherkston Shores.

November: Squirreling it away for winter?

December: Homeward bound.

Recognize Junction Lock’s ‘Cultural Heritage Value’: City

Plaque on site at Feeder Lock Park. (File photo/Joe Barkovich)

WELLAND  – City council is seeking to have the Feeder Canal Junction Lock designated as having Cultural Heritage Value.

The property is located between Prince Charles Drive South and the Welland Recreational Waterway at Broadway.

Reasons for the proposed designation: “Key attributes of this structure that reflect its value as one of the earliest surviving structures in the City of Welland and one that was central to the establishment of the community: Lock dimensions are 150 feet by 26.5 feet and 9 feet deep. Lock walls are constructed of dressed cut Queenston limestone (dolomitic limestone) running the length of the lock backed by rubble fill. Number of the lock is carved into a stone near the top layer of masonry at its entrance. A portion of the lock  approximately 45 feet long remains unburied and is filled with water. Carved iron fittings are visible on the top of the lock walls across from each other on either side of the lock in this area. The remainder of the lock is buried with only the tops of the stone walls visible in some areas in the grass. The stone lock “fenders” are exposed and visible on the banks of the old Welland Canal (Recreational Waterway).

Terry Hughes, who writes Heritage Lives, a column that appears here, offered this comment: “Finally, a structure that played an early role in the development not only of the city but the region has finally been recognized. Ironically this is the second time it has been recognized by city council, the first happened during Mayor (Roland) Hardy’s administration along with the Cross Street Pool. 

“The lock site needs a little tweaking with the plaques (already on site) being turned around for safety reasons, removal of the tall plants that hide the structure and by placing railway ties to show its entire length. Proper signage, like the neighbouring dog park has, would finish the job.” 

More information about the proposed designation is available from the city.

Notice of objection to the proposed designation can be filed with the city clerk no later than Jan. 25, 2021.

(Source of proposed designation information: Welland Civic News posting)

Neighbourhood Lights

Lighting up the neighbourhood with the spirit of Christmas: Clockwise from top left, Église Sacre Coeur/Sacred Heart Church, Empire Street; Northgate Drive near Abbott Road; First Avenue across from Seasons Retirement Community; Niagara Street between Riverbank and Merritt Street East; and Ross Street at McMaster Avenue. Merry Christmas to our readers! (Neighbourhood Lights, last in the series./ Photos by Joe Barkovich)

Exclusive Interview: ‘There Is Always Hope, Never Lose It’

Some days, Santa’s mischievous elves hide toys in his workshop closet, ho, ho, ho! /North Pole photo, used with permission.

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large, with input from Bill Vigars

I tracked down a Santa from the past for this interview. Still as jolly as I remembered him to be, still with a soft spot in his heart for Welland, still with a great sense of humour. Some things never change. Here follows a transcript of the interview. If there are typos, blame it on Santa’s proofreader elves.

Q: What are Santa’s favourite cookies?

 A: Why do reporters always ask Santa, off the bat, questions about his dietary habits? I’m 1,750 years old, sonny (look it up if you don’t believe me) and I don’t look a day over 1,749. I moisturize, if you are asking my secret. But I digress. I have many, many, many favourite cookies….. Right now it just happens to be Oatmeal Crisps, I eat them regularly and they keep me regular, ho, ho, ho!  A wee sip of brandy on occasion as well. Never missed a day’s work though, because they were just wee sips.

/North Pole photo, used with permission

Q: What does Mrs. Claus do while you and the reindeer are out on your rounds?

 A: As to what the little woman does while I am out on my Christmas mission is put her feet up and take a moment to herself. The elves are off to bed early, their job is done and a party awaits Christmas Day. There is not much for her to do as I usually wash the floors, finish the laundry and straighten up the workshop before I jump into the sleigh.  Mrs. Claus, like most women, is the brains behind our operation. Santa could not possibly do it without her. I’ve got a good team working to bring joy to the world, so I can pitch in around the house. 

Q: Even though you’re way up north at the North Pole, do you and the elves have to follow social distancing? 

A: You ask if we are social distancing?? You bet your buppy we are. And we all wear masks, including Santa, just to set a good example, although I didn’t wear it for the photographs because I like to show my beard, ho, ho, ho! Like all good boys and girls we also wash our hands several times a day. On the other hand, at the North Pole we are in a very secure bubble. Never a visitor, you know. Santa’s Workshop is two blocks from the North Pole in a very secret location. (oops, did I give away a secret? Nope, I didn’t tell you which way). I know being safe at this time is often very hard for the little ones to understand, but it is not forever. If we are kind to each other, patient and understanding these strange times will end soon. Gee, I wish I could load a happy ending to the year in my sleigh and bring it with me…. Just remember we are in this together and we will soon see a brighter day.

Q: Do your reindeer have to wear masks?

A: You ask me if the reindeer have to wear masks? Well, the answer is no. Just like puppies don’t wear masks, reindeer also don’t. And just so you know, this year they have been living in a special area of Santa’s Workshop Complex, living and playing in a space of their own. They have been very healthy all year. They know how important they are to the Christmas Dream. Rudolph’s nose will be particularly bright this year. No speckles of paint from the elves’ brushes and no crumbs from Mrs. Claus handing him treats. (but I know she does sneak out with goodies for the reindeer when my back is turned. I just laugh). 

Q: Does anyone ever ask Santa what he wants for Christmas?

A: Certainly Mrs. Claus and elves do, even the reindeer surprise me with presents. Many times, after a little one whispers in my ear what they want under the tree, they’ll hesitate, then quietly say “What do you want, Santa?” My heart always grows a little bigger when that happens. The best part of Christmas is thinking of others. This has been a very hard year for so many around the world. This year my biggest wish is that we can all find a little hope, a little ray of sunshine, patience and a tiny bit of understanding about how others feel. But most of all, I want a hug from Mrs. Claus on Christmas morning.

Q: What does the missus want?

A: Mrs. Claus is very frugal. “Now don’t go making anything expensive”, I hear her say every year. I give her little things, like pictures from the year about to end, a note telling her how much she means to me and a little trinket that she adds to the tree. That being said, this year she wants a new clothes washer since ours broke down in November. I hope she likes it better than the floor polisher I got her last year. Still can’t figure out why she wasn’t excited about a new floor polisher!

Q: What is Santa’s favourite Christmas memory of all time?

A: Santa’s favourite Christmas memory was from the year 1976 in Welland. I had my own Christmas show on tv there which we aired direct from the North Pole. The fine folks who owned the businesses downtown set up beautiful displays even though they did not have a great deal of money. Two of my elves, Kerry and Pat, had their pictures taken by the nice newspaperman. I remember that it snowed Christmas Eve. Santa has a little tear in his eye and a warm heart remembering that special Christmas.

Q: What are your thoughts as Christmas 2020 draws near?

A: I say a special prayer that your readers make this the most special Christmas ever. Some of you will not be able to be with your friends. This dang pandemic makes it so that it is not safe to come home. Maybe some have lost a family member this year. But there is Hope. There is always Hope, never lose it. Find a twinkling star, a snowflake, a tiny bird, a pretty cloud, you’ll know when you see it, and talk to the person you can’t be with. They’ll hear you.

Merry Christmas Joe!  Many good memories of Welland. Much love to you and your family.

Eckhart Appointed City’s New Fire Chief

WELLAND – The City of Welland is pleased to announce the appointment of Deputy Fire Chief, Adam Eckhart, as Welland’s new Fire Chief. Council approved the appointment at its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. 

Fire Chief Eckhart has been with the Corporation since Aug. 2002, when he joined the municipality as a probationary firefighter. He served as Training Officer and Director of Training before being appointed to Deputy Fire Chief on Oct. 3, 2016.

 “I am delighted to have Chief Eckhart lead our city’s highly respected Welland Fire and Emergency Services Department,” said Mayor Frank Campion. “Adam’s extensive leadership, professionalism, and dedication will lead the fire department, keep our community protected and safe, and ensure that Welland Fire and Emergency Services remains a leader in the fire service. Chief Eckhart is and will continue to be an invaluable member of our City Leadership Team.” 

“Adam stepped in as acting fire chief during a challenging period. I look forward to working with him in his new leadership role and overseeing the construction of our new Central Fire Station and Fire Station #2,” said Steve Zorbas, Interim CAO.

 The Fire Chief is responsible for fire and emergency operations for the municipality and oversees 54 full-time and 55 volunteer firefighters. 

(Source: City of Welland news release)

Welland Makes Adjustments For Niagara’s New Lockdown

WELLAND –  On Saturday, Dec. 26, at 12:01 a.m., Niagara will move to the grey lockdown level for 28 days under the provincial government’s COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open. Under the provincial mandate, a lockdown implements wide-scale actions and restrictions, including closures, to stop or slow the spread of COVID-19.

While Niagara is under a lockdown, it is illegal for people to gather indoors with anyone they do not live with.

The following city services and programming changes will be mandated while Niagara is in lockdown status:

Welland Arenas (501 King St.): The Welland Arenas will be closed for the lockdown, starting Dec. 26. Staff anticipate the arenas will re-open Jan. 23, 2021. Further information in regards to reopening will be communicated on January 11.

Welland Community Wellness Complex (WCWC): The Welland Community Wellness Complex is now closed and will remain closed during the 28 day lockdown. Staff anticipate the WCWC will re-open for winter programs on Jan. 25, 2021. Further information in regards to reopening will be communicated on January 11. For the latest updates and information on program schedules and COVID-19 facility procedures, visit

Welland Farmers’ Market (Market Square, 70 Young St.): The Farmers’ Market will continue operations through the lockdown and will continue implementing guidelines as advised by Public Health, including strict social distancing and sanitization measures for vendors and patrons.

Upcoming Farmers’ Market schedule:

  • Christmas Farmers’ Market Dec. 23, 2020
  • No Farmers’ Market Dec. 26, due to Boxing Day
  • Regular Saturday Farmers’ Market resumes Jan. 2, 2021

Youngs Sportsplex located at 570 River Rd. is closed beginning Sat. Dec. 26 for the 28-day lockdown

City of Welland Skating Rinks: Welland Civic Square Rink will not open this 2020/21 winter season. All other outdoor rinks in the community will be operational. Physical distancing must be practiced.

Marriage Services are cancelled and will be rescheduled in January.

Cemetery and Burial Services: Pre-purchase of grave sales are suspended at this time but will continue on an as needed basis. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people.

Water service and water meter services

·       Water meter installations for new home construction will continue by appointment only, subject to COVID-19 screening and building permit

·       Water quality complaints by appointment only and subject to COVID-19 screening and protocols

·       Emergency water meter maintenance (water meter only) by appointment only subject to COVID-19 screening and protocols

·       Exterior water meter general maintenance only

·       Emergency repairs to the water service from watermain to the property line to be completed as required

·       In-person water meter inspections for real estate transactions are cancelled. Vendors must call for remote inspection instructions, which includes submission of two photos of the existing water meter installation (top view and side view) and forward via email to 

Sanitary sewer lateral services-

Suspended until Further Notice:

·       Sewer rodding of sanitary sewer laterals from inside the home

·       CCTV inspections of sanitary sewer laterals from inside the home

·       CCTV of sanitary sewer Laterals for the Sewage Water Alleviation Program

Emergency repair of the sanitary sewer lateral by city forces from mainline to the property line to be completed as required

To ensure physical distancing and safe work practices, residents or owners receiving emergency city services must first complete a COVID-19 questionnaire. If emergency work is required, the resident or owner must ensure the workspace is clear and safe. Public Works services are by appointment only. Appointments can be booked from Mon. to Fri., 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., at 905-735-1700 Extension 3000.

For more information on City of Welland services while in grey lockdown, and how to access services, visit For more information on Ontario’s response to COVID-19, visit

(Source: City of Welland news release)

HERITAGE LIVES: After 80, Some Reflections

The way we were. /Supplied photo

By Terry Hughes

Like some of you, I have reached my eightieth birthday and I am overwhelmed about these eight decades and what has occurred. You might as well say that the impact of events of the past eight decades could be summed up as being greater than the events that occurred since man inhabited this planet! And the push to go higher, faster and farther continues. 

Our picture for this column offers a contrast to today, showing a boy and girl from “our” time….the nineteen forties. Here we see two children immersed in a book on the steps of a school. And it’s easy to imagine aside from the information that they are gleaning from this text that their minds are centred on things of that decade that interested them. Having adjusted to having dad close after returning home from the war, their thoughts might include the Tinker Toys they got for Christmas and the fun of playing board games like Snakes and Ladders. A miniature tea set like the one that my wife got to play house with for her birthday or the hopes of getting a pair of skates like Canada’s Babara Anne Scott wore in winning the world figure skating championship come to mind. 

For the boy, the completion of that machine made with a Meccano set when he gets home or the electric train featured in the Eaton’s Catalogue he hopes Santa will bring Christmas Eve are important. For both of them radio has created cowboy heroes like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and finally Hopalong Cassidy. Cap guns help to play the role of each character as they act out their unscripted plays of good and bad guys. And don’t forget the Shadow and Inner Sanctum! Sports heroes will happen with the coming of television in the next decade. 

In our retirement years our thoughts recall the values and beliefs that we learned from three sources. They were the family, the school and the church. Fair play and putting in a hard day’s work earned us these retirement years that other generations will struggle to attain. And aren’t we lucky we were children during that decade!     

On behalf of Gene, Roy, Dale and Hoppy, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  

Next column: Building a swimming pool on the recreational waterway.

(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.)

Niagara College: Appointments To Board Of Governors

Niagara College is pleased to announce appointments to the Board of Governors. 

Excited to welcome new members with a broad range of experience and expertise to the board, chair Del Rollo said: “I look forward to the value and insight that our new governors will bring to our deliberations.”

The college is grateful for the commitment and dedication of its volunteer Governors and is proud to welcome the following community members to the Board for a three-year term:


Janet Allan: Allan is a retired partner from KPMG LLP, having worked in KPMG’s St. Catharines office. She has more than 35 years of experience in public accounting, serving clientele including local governments, school boards, colleges and universities, not-for-profit organizations and private companies. Allan has a long history of community involvement and is also treasurer of Gillian’s Place in St. Catharines and of the Rotary Club of St. Catharines Lakeshore. 


Mishka Balsom: Balsom is the President and CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC), which develops and implements initiatives designed to strengthen the local business climate and support Niagara’s economic prosperity. Under her leadership, the GNCC launched a number of new programs and collaborative partnerships throughout Niagara, Ontario and New York State. Balsom is actively involved with a number of local, provincial and international community organizations. Before joining the GNCC, she successfully held senior management positions in Canadian media and owned her own communications company. 


Michael Mann: Mann is a member of the corporate/commercial legal team at Lancaster Brooks & Welch LLP. He was admitted to the partnership at Lancaster Brooks & Welch LLP in November 2000. In 2008, Mann received the Business Link’s 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Award, which is given to future leaders under the age of 40 who consistently make their mark in business and contribute to their respective communities. Mann has a long history of community involvement and currently sits as a board member on the Niagara Community Foundation.


Carolyn Hurst will return to the board for her second three-year term. Hurst is a seasoned business executive and board member who has an outstanding record of business success. She has been the president of three companies (Why Interactive Inc, ITC Corp., and Effingham Technology Management Inc.) and has more than 20 years of experience as an executive in the global Information Technology industry with Capgemini Canada, Ernst and Young, SHL Systemhouse, MCI International and JetFform. Currently, Hurst is the co-owner and founder of Westcott Vineyards, a boutique winery in Jordan, Ont. She also has significant experience in the Toronto restaurant and hospitality industries.


In addition, joining the board for a one-year term is Emily Irwin, who was elected to serve as the student representative for 2020/21. Irwin completed her second year of the Office Administration – Executive program last spring and started the Office Administration – Health Services program this fall. She has regularly volunteered at on-campus events and served at the InfoDesk. Irwin hopes to take the skills she has learned to improve the student experience, and is focused on mental health, food security, embracing and celebrating diversity on campus, and student success. 

“Niagara College is so fortunate to have a group of accomplished business and community leaders who give of their time and expertise so generously in support of our students and our college,” said Niagara College president Sean Kennedy. 

For more information regarding the Niagara College Board of Governors, visit

(Source: Niagara College news release)