Heritage Lives: Developing A Historical Tour Guide For Welland’s Canals

By Terry Hughes

While developing a guide for the Nature Trails on Merritt Island, the idea of pursuing a similar guide for the canals in Welland was initiated. It was titled, “Welland: Yesterday and Today, A Historical Trail Guide”

 It contained two maps with a total of twenty-eight entries that were hand-sketched. They were too busy with details and not professionally done. A series of pictures were supposed to accompany the maps but were not included. With the cancellation of all projects with the federal election in 1984 any further work on this guide was terminated. 

Since then a number of tour guides have been initiated by Welland Museum and also heritage groups but with emphasis on other structures that included residences. 

The idea of revisiting a guide that would focus more on the canals and associated structures was introduced in 2001. Two themes were used to show the impact that the canal had on the city. They were: Wood, Stone & Sail  1829-1900 and Steel, Concrete And Steam  1901-1973. A total of twenty-three entries were used along with two maps noting their location. Computer enhanced photographs were used. This was achieved thanks to Brian York of Venture Niagara Community Futures Development Corporation who designed the booklet. 

The Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC), now called Welland Heritage Committee heartily endorsed the product. The accompanying pictures show how much improved the booklet, titled ” Welland and its canals.” was.  One of the articles inside was “The First and Last Time I Saw the Noronic”. The Noronic is the ship pictured on the cover.

Mayor Cindy Forster endorsed the it but felt it might be handier if placed using a folder format as a more practical approach. She was able to get someone who could produce the folder, and that was the last time I saw the booklet. 

Captions: Clockwise, top left, Cover of the draft copy; draft copy inside pages identifying the two themes; and, cover of the guide which came to an abrupt end with the 1984 election.

Next Column:  Ghosts of the WRCC: WRCC, Conflict and Dissolution, last of the series.  

(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.)

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