Monthly Archives: January 2021

Heritage Lives: How Merritt Island’s Nature Trails Developed

By Terry Hughes

In 1983, Mike Franklin, project director for Public Works Canada, indicated that Merritt Island was to be the place for a number of development sites that would include nature trails. A group of university students using the title, Nature Development Project, under the supervision of the Welland Canal Advisory Group was to research the plant and wildlife that inhabited the island and develop trails as a way that people could enjoy them at their leisure. To organize the trails, the Grade 6  Environmental Studies Unit for the Niagara South Board of Education was used.

The trails were called Willow Walk, Wildflower Trail and Forest Track. A variety of places of interest on each were highlighted with red posts and a number on each. The numerals were painted blue, yellow and green to designate the three different trails. A booklet was published for each trail as a guide for use for elementary students as well as the general public. The booklets were a temporary issue until a more formalized issue were to be made. Unfortunately, they were never published because the federal election of 1984 halted all projects and they were later cancelled. 

Over time the trails were neglected until 1994 when the renewed Welland Canal Parkway Development Board was constituted. With the assistance of the Niagara Conservation Authority, some management was renewed but the trails were left on their own.

 As a member of a committee made up of the city, the office of our Speaker of the House of Commons, Gib Parent and the Welland Business and Community Development Corporation, a Millennial Project to clean up Merritt Island was instituted. It would involve three high schools (Eastdale, Centennial, Notre Dame) as noted in the accompanying poster. In 2003, after five weekends of cleanup supported with plenty of pizza and pop the job got done. Efforts by the newly-created Welland Recreational Canal Corporation (WRCC) under Mayor Cindy Forster to involve local schools for maintenance of the island as a way to establish ownership by students of a local asset were not successful.       

What more can be said about the trails on Merritt Island (now owned by the City of Welland). They have acted as ambassadors for numerous triathlons as well as a pleasant place to enjoy the wonderful assets that it offers. Luckily, it serves as a reminder of what we could have had if politics of the time had been in our favour. 

Next Column:  Developing A Historical Tour Guide For Welland’s Canal.

(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.)

(File photos/Joe Barkovich)

Flags Lowered To Honour Those Lost To COVID-19

WELLAND – Welland Mayor Frank Campion has directed that flags at Welland Civic Square and other municipal facilities be lowered to half mast in recognition of those who have perished due to COVID-19 and as an expression of sympathy to their families and friends. 

“We mourn the significant number of members of our community, the region, and everywhere who have tragically lost their lives due to COVID-19,” Mayor Campion commented on behalf of the city and Welland City Council. “The lowering of the flags is also a reminder that we all share a responsibility to stop the spread of this deadly pandemic that has taken such a devastating toll. We can collectively save lives and ultimately end the pandemic by following the rules. The number of lives lost and the speed at which they are being lost, particularly in our seniors’ population, is unacceptable so we must act now.” 

A stay at home order was issued by the Ontario government as of January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. for all of Ontario. 

Before going out, ask yourself if you must do so and avoid all unnecessary travel. By working together, getting everyone vaccinated and supporting our frontline workers we will succeed. 

For further information, visit

(Source: City of Welland news release)

Niagara College Mourns The Passing Of Saundra Patterson

Saundra Patterson is pictured at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus in 2009 wearing her Queen’s Jubilee medal for the royal visit of Prince Charles.(Supplied photos)

Message from Niagara College President Sean Kennedy:

It is with great sadness that I share the news that Saundra Patterson passed away last evening (Wednesday) after a long illness.

As the dedicated partner of our president emeritus Dan Patterson and as a champion for NC in her own right, Saundra leaves an indelible mark on our College community.

For more than 25 years during Dan’s tenure as president, Saundra was a steadfast supporter of our College through a transformative period of growth and evolution of our campuses.

Saundra stands with Dan Patterson following his final convocation ceremony as president of NC in October 2019.

She was at the heart of every major college event – as a supporter, ambassador and the true embodiment of our ‘NC DNA.’

Year after year, Saundra was a fixture of the front row at our convocation ceremonies, cheering on our new classes of graduates.

She greeted countless visitors to our campuses from across Canada and around the world – including two royal visits (Prince Charles, and Sophie the Countess of Wessex), two prime ministers (Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau), and numerous government officials and dignitaries.

Saundra and Dan also graciously welcomed their ‘NC family’ into their home over the years, including many gatherings of international students, and numerous ‘friends of NC’ from Niagara and around the world.

Saundra was present for the groundbreaking of the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus in 1996, and in late 2019 when the announcement was made at Dan’s community retirement celebration that the campus would be renamed the Daniel J. Patterson Campus in her husband’s honour.

With Dan by her side, she represented NC throughout the community and has spent numerous Christmases volunteering to help those in need at the Spirit of Christmas Dinner in St. Catharines.

Saundra leaves a special legacy at NC through her love for animals. As champion and guardian of our beloved Greenhouse cats, she brought much joy to students and employees alike. For more than 15 years, Saundra delighted in and took great care of Basil, often taking him for vet checkups, and presided over a special memorial in his honour in October 2019. More recently, she supported the adoption of our new Orange tabby, Scout, and was instrumental in selecting his name among finalists from a college-wide naming contest. Whenever we pay tribute to Basil or stop into the greenhouse to admire Scout, we have Saundra to thank for making this possible.

Prior to Dan’s presidency at NC, Saundra dedicated her career working in what was then called the Federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. In 1977, she was awarded the Queen’s Silver Jubilee medal for her work with Canada’s First Nations.

Saundra will forever have a special place in the hearts and memories of our college community.

Flags are half-staff at our College campuses in Saundra’s memory and details regarding a virtual service will be shared with the College community once available.

On behalf of Niagara College, I extend my deepest condolences to Dan, and to Dan and Saundra’s family, including their daughter Christine, and grandson Sean.

Partnership Creates Living Classroom And Real-World Experiences For PSW Students

When Marie Vincent Enclonar starts her clinical placement at Radiant Care Tabor Manor this month, she’ll be familiar with the long-term care home.

That’s because Vincent Enclonar, who’s enrolled in Niagara College’s one-year Personal Support Worker (PSW) program, has already spent part of her studies at the St. Catharines long-term care home thanks to an innovative partnership between the College and Radiant Care.

The St. Catharines campus of care for seniors donated space specifically for  NC students, including Vincent Enclonar, to complete their lab work in their first term of studies and get acquainted with Tabor Manor staff before completing the practical, hands-on component of the PSW program with residents in Term 2.

“It’s nice we’re in that setting. I’m familiar with Tabor Manor so doing the clinical placement, it will be easier,” Vincent Enclonar said.

The partnership between Niagara College and Radiant Care was forged in 2019 after Tabor Manor opened new, state-of-the-art long-term care rooms that saw an older part of the facility mothballed.

Tim Siemens, Radiant Care’s CEO, approached the College about converting the excess space into a rent-free living classroom where students could train for work in a fast-growing profession. Three former resident rooms were renovated and set up like current lodgings. Students use mannequins in this living classroom to practise critical skills, including how to safely lift and transfer residents to do bed changes  before working directly with residents.

In addition, they learn the soft skills of establishing dynamic relationships with residents, and providing care in a loving and compassionate way, Siemens explained.

“The best lab is one set up in a real environment. A graduating PSW must have long-term care placement and must have community placement, and Tabor Manor is positioned really well that they could do both on site,” Siemens said. “Campuses of care in Ontario are set up very well to engage in these partnerships with academic partners.”

The partnership, he noted, isn’t just a boon for students. Such initiatives provide a pipeline of future employees to Radiant Care, which will see its staffing requirements grow in the years ahead.

Last fall, the province approved 38 new spaces, in addition to 81 previously allocated new beds and 41 upgraded spaces, to create a 160-bed home at Radiant Care Pleasant Manor in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Radiant care will need to hire about 100 additional PSWs over the next few years to meet the demands of the larger campus of care, Siemens said.

Niagara is also home to 31 long-term care homes that will also require a stable and reliable pool of PSW candidates from which to hire, he noted.

In addition, Radiant Care will hire more Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses and dietary aides. “What are we doing locally to increase the supply and what are we, Radiant Care, doing in concert with academic partnerships to affect the supply side?” Siemens said. “The partnership with Niagara College and the living classroom is exclusive to the PSW program, but our relationship extends beyond the classroom to those other job categories.”

Such partnerships are becoming more common, and increasingly important, noted

Carolyn Triemstra, NC’s dean of Community and Health Studies.

“We really want to get students out there and supporting the community, and to help with the health-care crisis and health-care needs,” Triemstra said. “It’s quite an amazing story because certainly there are other colleges that have relationships with living classrooms. The synergies between Radiant Care and Niagara College are really in line. They’re local and have the capacity to support students.”

And they get students excited about their future careers.

“It makes me feel more encouraged to do well in my studies,” Vincent Enclonar said. “I’m looking forward to working as a PSW.”

The Niagara College School of Nursing and Personal Support Worker prepares students for rewarding careers in several health-care disciplines. Courses are taught by supportive faculty with significant expertise in their respective fields with a strong emphasis on providing students with access to hands-on learning experiences via NC’s state-of-the-art lab facilities as well as field placements and practicums. Students can also earn additional certifications along with their credential; access unique bridging opportunities; have the option to apply for professional certifications post-graduation; and enjoy a unique inter-professional educational experience that focuses on integrating several health-care professionals into a single team to provide the best possible patient care.

Niagara College offers more than 130 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

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Welland Woman Honours Son’s Memory With Estate Gift To NC

Jean Kathleen Weber left an estate gift in her will to establish a permanent scholarship at NC in memory of her son.

A local woman’s wish to honour her late son’s memory will help support students from Niagara College’s School of Technology for many years to come.

The College recently received a surprise estate gift for almost $400,000 from Jean Kathleen (nee Smith) Weber, who died in December 2020 at the age of 86. In her will, Weber left a gift to establish a permanent scholarship at Niagara College in memory of her late son, David, who passed away more than 40 years ago at the age of 26. David had attended NC’s Electrical Power Engineering Technology program during the early seventies.

Wendy Dueck, director of Development, noted that the gift, which was half of Weber’s estate, came at a time when fundraising for student support has been very challenging due to the pandemic, and was, therefore, truly a wonderful surprise.

“We are so grateful to Jean Weber, who valued the role education plays in a person’s life, and made this incredible personal gift in her will, to memorialize her son who predeceased her, and leave a lasting impact on a cause she cared deeply about,” said Dueck. “Legacy donations made through a will truly have the power to transform lives. Through Jean’s generous act, the David Weber Memorial Endowed Scholarship will have a lasting impact on the lives of many of our students who receive much-needed financial assistance to support their education.”

The new David Weber Memorial Scholarship will be awarded annually beginning in the 2021-2022 academic year to select students in the Electrical Engineering Technician and Electronics Engineering Technician programs.

Jean Kathleen (nee Smith) Weber was a long-time Welland resident who had been a Sunday school teacher, a vacation bible school teacher, a children’s club teacher, and an active community volunteer who was honoured with an Ontario Volunteer Award in recognition of her many contributions. She died on December 8, 2020 at the age of 86. View Weber’s obituary here.

Legacy gifts at NC

For many students, the financial challenge is the greatest barrier to pursuing postsecondary education. Those leaving a gift in their will to Niagara College to support access to education can help students overcome this barrier and set them on a course for future success.

In this way, wills are not just a legal way to distribute personal assets but are powerful tools for social change. And it’s not an either/or proposition – people can leave a gift in their will to charity while still taking care of those they love.

To learn how a future gift can make a difference in the lives of students, visit

(Source: Inside NC)

Niagara Parks To Host Virtual Black History Speaker Series

  • Three-part speaker series will focus on Black history and culture in Canada
  • Virtual events will be held in January, February and March, with full details and tickets available at

NIAGARA FALLS – Niagara Parks will host a three-part virtual speaker series exploring perspectives on Black history and culture in Canada, delivered by leading historians and commentators. The online events will be held on the last Wednesday of the month in January, February and March.

The three-part virtual series features an incredible line-up of speakers, including the return of acclaimed author Saladin Allah and renowned historian, Rochelle Bush, both of whom presented at Niagara Parks’ Black History Symposium last February. Joining them to kick-off the series on January 27th will be Order of Ontario recipient, Rosemary Sadlier.

The interactive online sessions will each focus on a unique topic related to Canadian Black History and Culture.

  • January 27: Rosemary Sadlier, Blacks in the Military
  • February 24: Saladin Allah, The Power of Cultural Competence
  • March 31: Rochelle Bush, Fugitive Freedom Seekers Escape to Niagara

Additional event details and tickets are available at Tickets are $15 per event, with access to all three events available for $35. All sessions will begin at 7:00pm.

About Niagara Parks

Since its establishment in 1885, Niagara Parks has remained a self-financed agency of the Ontario Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, entrusted to preserve and protect the land surrounding Niagara Falls and the Niagara River. Today, Niagara Parks boasts gardens, a horticulture school, recreation, golf courses, restaurants, heritage and historic sites, gift shops and, of course, Niagara Falls. In short, natural landscapes, history, family fun, hiking, culinary delights, attractions and adventure.

(Source: Niagara Parks news release)

Heritage Lives: A Swimming Pool IN The Recreational Waterway?

Photo shows general area, at the Lincoln Street dock, where the controversial floating swimming pool would be located.

By Terry Hughes

At one time, Welland boasted five municipal swimming pools for local use. Times have changed with a multiplicity of pools at private homes and closing two city facilities due to infrastructure issues requiring major repairs. Cross Street pool was slated for historic designation but the city refuses to support the idea even though Mayor Roland Hardy’s council did so in 1990. 

When plans were afoot to develop the canal lands in 1983-4 at least a dozen sites were identified as suitable for swimming. One major site was a beach that was to be located in the area between the swing bridge and the present boat launch. It was not seriously considered by Mayor Cindy Forster and was outside budget consideration later, by the Welland Recreational Canal Corporation (WRCC).

Had this site been developed you would have had a three hundred foot frontage along the shoreline with a sloping, sandy beach for bathers. It would have required buoy lines anchored in the canal with rafts located in strategic locations. After placing a load of rocks for bedding, the soil covering the proposed beach would be bulldozed over top of the bedrock and that would have been covered with sand.    

Not since the demise of the WRCC has council supported a major development on the canal lands but this past December, they approved funding a floating swimming pool at a cost of $1.4 million. 

Local media reported that a great deal of time was expended on this issue but details of this project require better explanation. According to published reports, the structure, measuring 10 m by 14 m  and 1.4 m deep  – would fit into most backyards. It would be smaller than the indoor pool at the YMCA!  No financial details were provided as to where the pool would be stored, nor regarding the prevention of vandalism during the down times after operating hours. This pool would probably be overwhelmed by swimmers; as proposed, it raises questions about its feasibility.

Ward 6 Coun. Bonnie Fokkens has raised the issue of public input, suggesting that it be sought by the city. My suggestion – phone your local councillor and complain about this development.   

Next Column:  How Merritt Island’s Nature Trails Developed. 

(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.)