Monthly Archives: May 2021

Lighting Up The 2021 Graduation Experience

/Supplied photo

WELLAND – Main Street Bridge (Bridge 13) will be used to pay tribute to 2021 graduating classes with special lighting displays later this month.

The initiative is a project of the Welland Downtown Business Improvement Area according to executive director Alexis Higginbotham.

It was tried last year “as an outreach of support to all the grads who couldn’t celebrate as usual,” Higginbotham wrote in an email.

Since this year isn’t much different because of the pandemic, it was decided to do it again.

Higginbotham sees it as “a small way to let grads know they are not forgotten.” 

With the bridge as a backdrop and if weather conditions are right,  there are great opportunities for photos of local grads and this iconic Welland landmark. 

Here is the schedule:

Sunday, June 20: Colourful, for all elementary schools grads of 2021;

Monday, June 21: Orange, blue and white, for Centennial grads, Class of 2021;

Tuesday, June 22: Red and blue, for Eastdale grads,  Class of 2021;

Wednesday, June 23: Navy and gold, for Notre Dame grads, Class of 2021;

Thursday, June 24: Red, navy and white, for École Secondaire Jean de Brébeuf grads, Class of 2021;

Friday, June 25, Red, blue and gold, for  École Franco-Niagara grads,  Class of 2021;

Saturday, June 26, White and blue, for grads of Brock University and Niagara College, Class of 2021.

Heritage Lives: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes And Everyplace Else

By Terry Hughes

It’s 1939 and Canada which had just shaken its colonial bonds with Great Britain was about to embark on a six-year journey. It would make us a nation that would gain the respect of the world for our contribution during the Second World War. For a nation of a little over ten million we would contribute over a million participants to this conflict and end up with the third largest navy, the fourth largest air force and fifth largest army on the planet. We would serve as the birthplace for America’s CIA known at that time as the OSS, train ten of thousands to fly in the Commonwealth Training Program and act as a clearing house for aircraft headed to Great Britain coming from a neutral United States until Pearl Harbour.

A war cannot be won without the home front and an industrial base to support it. Like a lot of towns and cities in eastern Canada, Welland had the beginnings of a strong industrial base that had started when Byron “Byde” McCormick had initiated growth here in the early 1900s and promoted us with the slogan, “Watch Welland Grow!”. Add a healthy manpower base from across Europe before this conflict and you have a community ready to respond to this effort. Along with expanding the size of factories like Atlas Steels, it was at this time that we see government funding for wartime housing south of Lincoln Street in both Welland and Crowland.

Maps of the city show industrial development on the east side of the city along the CNR tracks and “French Town”but predominantly in Crowland Township. And every facility used coal, coke and a few natural gas as energy sources in manufacturing. With the war in progress production increased significantly particularly when items were made for military purposes. It was at this time that air pollution became part of daily living. All the factories were producing smoke but winning the war was more important. 

With the end of hostilities and a temporary shift to peacetime needs the economy picked up again. Smoke emissions were still tolerated but were becoming an irritant. But a new pollution source came with the rapid increase in the number of cars.

Our first picture (all three photos are from Celebrating 150 Years, Walking Through Welland) taken from the Broadway lift bridge shows a heavy blanket of smoke moving to the north-east while smoke plumes rise from the ovens of the Union Carbide. In the second aerial photo smoke can be seen from all of the chimneys heading in an easterly path towards the Maple Leaf / Mathew School areas. Until the cessation of production at Union Carbide and Page Hersey, they remained a major source of pollution. Even the last photo shows a couple standing along the canal looking at the smoke plumes coming from the furnaces at the Carbide in the 1970s.

Today our industries along with the coal-fired furnaces in our homes are just a memory and with their demise, the air pollution they produced.

   Next Column: Making Welland Feel Good About Itself.

(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.)

Gadabout Gardener

The rose garden in Chippawa Park draws visitors to the park year after year. It’s named after Joe Mocsan, one of the Rose City’s best known rose growers, promoter of rose culture, and chair of the Rose Festival rose show for many years. Welland city council passed a resolution in October, 2011 naming the rose garden after Mr. Mocsan. The top three photos, taken Wednesday, May 26, show the sitting area and plaque designating the garden as the Joseph L. Mocsan Memorial Rose Garden. The two photos at bottom are file photos, the one at left taken in early evening and the one at right taken in early morning. Mr. Mocsan passed Saturday, May 31, 2003, aged 71. (Photos by Joe Barkovich)

(Gadabout Gardener is a recurring feature on the blog. The focus is on randomly selected or recommended garden spaces in the city. Do any sights or sites come to mind as photo suggestions? Contact Gadabout Gardener at

Niagara Catholic To Fly Pride Flag During Pride Week, June 1-6

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‘Historic decision is a visible sign of support for 2SLGBTQ+ students, staff and their allies

The Niagara Catholic District School Board respects the uniqueness of our students and staff, and recognizes everyone as a child of God, perfectly made, just as we are. We believe that we all have an inherent right to dignity and confidence in the knowledge that we are welcomed and accepted, yet we know that there are students and staff in our schools and sites who struggle to find a place where they belong.

On June 1, Niagara Catholic will make a public statement to our students and staff, particularly those students and staff who identify as 2SLGBTQ+, to ensure they know that they belong within Niagara Catholic.

During the May 25 Board meeting, trustees voted to fly the Pride flag at Niagara Catholic secondary schools, continuing education schools and the Catholic Education Centre from June 1-6, Pride Week in Niagara. The historic decision is a visible sign of support for our 2SLGBTQ+ students, staff and their allies.

Trustees will hold public consultations with stakeholders about future Pride Week/Month recognitions later this year.

“I am so grateful to my fellow trustees in recognizing the urgency of acknowledging Pride week,” said Trustee Paul Turner. “Jesus the Good Shepherd loves and cares for all members of His flock. However, He recognizes the marginalized, and when members need extra care. For those who identify as 2SLGBTQ+, that is Pride Week and month. Flying the Pride flag is a clear and powerful symbol to the friends, family members and allies of our 2SLGBTQ+ students and staff that our schools are safe places where all are welcome.”

Chair of the Board Larry Huibers also expressed his support for the motion.

“Niagara Catholic has many students, staff and their families who identify as 2SLGBTQ+,” said Chair Huibers. “It is not enough to simply tell students and staff who identify as gay, transgender and non-binary that they are loved and supported. Flying the Pride flag is the most universally accepted, visible show of support for all who identify as 2SLGBTQ+, and I am extremely proud of the Board of Trustees for supporting the motion to fly the Pride flag during Pride Week in June.”

Niagara Catholic’s Mental Health Lead said the decision to raise the Pride flag at Niagara Catholic secondary and continuing education schools and the Catholic Education Centre shows the Board’s commitment to student wellness.

“The reality of discrimination and oppression creates and reinforces barriers to equitable mental health outcomes,” said Andrea Bozza. “Equity and student mental health are deeply connected, and as a Catholic school board, we play an important role to promote equity, inclusion and safety for all students and staff. Acknowledging and accepting our students and staff who identify as 2SLGBTQ+ allows them to live authentically, which supports better outcomes for our students. I am very pleased that the Board of Trustees has recognized the importance of the Pride flag in creating safer, more inclusive spaces.”

Director of Education Camillo Cipriano noted that flying the Pride flag should be seen for what it is – a show of loving solidarity and support for our students, staff and family members who identify as 2SLGBTQ+.

“Niagara Catholic has a duty of care to all those who enter our schools and sites, whether it is students, staff, family members or those from outside of our community,” said Director Cipriano. “The Catholic social teachings speak to values such as inclusion, compassion, respect, fairness, equity and social justice. As Catholics, and as educators, we must ensure that everyone who walks through our doors knows that they are safe, valued and respected.  This is our call to service and mandate as Catholics.  I want all of our students and staff to know that God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”

(Source: Niagara Catholic news release)

Lasting Image: Alirio Rodriguez, He Spent His Life Serving The Lord

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

I was saddened, as were many others, to hear about the death of Alirio Rodriguez.

He died May 11, aged 70, at Niagara Health System’s St. Catharines site, a victim of COVID-19.  

Mr. Rodriguez was a parishioner at St. Kevin Church, Welland. We often attended the same Sunday morning Mass, 8:30 a.m.

He came to church almost always in suit and tie. A fashion statement on his part? No. I took it as a sign of his deep respect for the space he was in. A sacred space.

He greeted others with a smile and handshake, both were warm and winning.

His verbal greeting was short but sweet: “Good morning, brother.” 

He and his wife had a favourite pew. You could find them in it Sunday after Sunday unless for some reason they were delayed and arrived later than usual, at the cost of losing their place. 

He was one of the volunteers who carried collection baskets from pew to pew for the weekly envelopes or cash donations from the faithful. He also participated in the offertory procession with gifts to the front of the church after the collection. After Mass, without fail, he stood in the foyer distributing the weekly bulletin to parishioners on their way out. 

I asked why all this was so important to him. He answered with a smile that stretched from ear to ear and just a few words, many were not needed: “Because it is work for God.”

Now, a sentence in the well-crafted death notice on the funeral home site amplifies that answer: “He spent his life serving the Lord and volunteering.”  The link to the death notice is: Obituary of Alirio Hernan Rodriguez | Welcome to the George Darte F… (

Some Sundays, our paths crossed in the afternoon. On those occasions he was at church as a participant in the Hispanic Mass celebrated in mid-afternoon, I was there waiting for the 5 p.m. Mass to begin. Mr. Rodrigues was one of the organizers of the weekly service for the local Hispanic community.

He was one of the last to leave, staying behind with his wife, talking with families, especially young families who were in attendance. He loved joking with the children, making them laugh.

He was a long-time volunteer at St. Kevin food bank and he made visits to parishioners who were patients in hospital, taking Holy Communion to them. There is much, much more in the death notice.

He left Colombia years ago for a chance to have a better life in Canada. Mr. Rodrigues, who loved his new country, was forever proud and grateful for being able to call it home. 

Although Mr. Rodriguez’s wife, Dora Maria, also had COVID-19 she survived but is in poor health. A fundraiser has been organized to help her with her husband’s funeral costs and other expenses. For more information (be sure to read the part about his employer) here is the link:–Alirios-decease?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1

Mr. Rodriguez will be missed by many. But memory will make him a lasting image at his post in the sunlit foyer, bulletins in hand waiting for people to walk past.

“Thank you, brother,” we would say as he gave us one. He liked that.

(Lasting Image is a recurring feature on the blog. Some others in the series: Caesar Hajdu, Never One To Miss A Game, October 21, 2020; Fred Turner, Forever A First-Class Guy, March 29, 2020; Gerry Berkhout, He Shone His Light On Others, January 4, 2019;  Augusto Macoritto, Gifted Lensman, August 21, 2018; Ivan Zecchini, His Countenance Glowed From Wide-Eyed Appreciation, July 18, 2018; Keith Hornibrook, Opening Doors to Addictions Recovery In Dignity, July 11, 2018; Steve Krar, Neighbourhood Nostalgia Buff, Visionary Leader, July 11, 2018; Mother Alba Puglia, Tireless Trailblazer, June 18, 2018; Michael Santone, A Barber Of King Street, January 23, 2018; Marjorie Hannah, July23, 2015; Rosie Smith, June 26, 2014;  Bob Fralick, May 7, 2014; Frank Addario, February 24, 2014.)

Rose City’s Annual Tulip Bulb Giveaway Huge Success

/Photo by Anthony Gallaccio

WELLAND – For more than 30 years the residents of Welland have participated in the annual Tulip Bulb Giveaway, Friday morning was no different. The City of Welland Parks department saw 500 vehicles flowing through the drive-up give-away to receive a bag of tulip bulbs at the Welland Sports Complex.

Approximately 8,000 bulbs were pulled from the garden features around the city that were then delivered to the Welland Sports Complex. The Parks staff ensured each bag was filled with the bulbs and placed in the drive up area.
Early birds showed up around 6:00 A.M. as vehicle after vehicle started arriving shortly after.

“Staying safe during the pandemic is priority number one and being able to keep traditions such as the Tulip Bulb Giveaway going is what we are all striving for”, said Mayor Frank Campion.

(Source: City of Welland news release)

COVID-19 Update: Open With Restrictions – Roadmap To Re-Opening

WELLAND – Yesterday, Premier Ford introduced the Roadmap to Reopen the province. This Roadmap is a cautious three-step plan that will allow a safe and gradual reopening of the province based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health system indicators.
The Roadmap to Reopen details are available by visiting the Provincial Reopening Ontario website
As of May 22 at 12:01 AM the following City of Welland outdoor facilities will be open with restrictions:
· Tennis Courts
· Basketball Courts
o Gaiser Park Basketball Court will reopen Friday. May 28, 2021
· Maple Park Courts, including Pickleball
· Lawn Bowling
· Sports Fields
· Skateboard (BMX) Park
· Outdoor amenities are available for use as Parks Staff will be deploying the remainder of picnic benches to all parks throughout the City in the coming weeks. We caution all residents to ensure they are following all safety protocols.
No outdoor organized sports or recreational classes are permitted at this time and will not resume until we enter Step 1 of the Roadmap to Reopen. Splash pads are tentatively scheduled to open on June 14.
Welland Community Wellness Complex will proceed with Spring Block 3 programming, which is set to begin at the start of Step 1 (tentatively June 14). In lieu of cancelling programs we will be following the Step 1 guidelines and taking classes outside. Here is what you need to know:
· Spring Block 3 Programs (June 14-July 10) – Classes will be outside on the grass area by the Canal, or in a designated section of the parking lot. Details will be sent to each class individually regarding class location prior to June 14.
· Summer Block 1 Programs (July 12-August 7) – Registration opens online on Tuesday May 25th at 9:00am, Details on location have yet to be determined. Classes will be outside at the WCWC or at several City Parks and Pavilions. We suggest you register for your regular programs and if the location does not suit your needs, options will be available.
· Summer Block 2 Programs (August 9-September 4) – Based on Ontario’s Road to Reopen document, Step 3 has the WCWC reopening and welcoming members into the facility. We highly recommend registering for these programs too.
Youngs Sportsplex (570 River Rd.): Youngs Sportsplex indoor and outdoor activities will remain closed until they can safely move into the Roadmap Steps. For more information, visit

(Source: City of Welland news release)

Canada Helps Central Fire Station Project With Major Grant

The Government of Canada, through a $500,000 grant, will assist in the revitalisation of Welland’s Central Fire Station.

The Canadian Heritage Legacy grant, spread over three years, will help cover the costs of architects, engineers and specialists as well as costs for restorations.

A volunteer not-for-profit group, the Central Station Education Initiative (CSEI) leases the Central fire Station from the City of Welland.

The project involves renovating the designated historic site in downtown Welland. It will reopen as a multi-use community centre, which will include original fixtures and artifacts from 1920, when the classic fire station opened.

 The restored fire hall will house a heritage display illustrating the building’s history, a hall of honour for first responders, rentable office space for not-for-profit cultural groups and artists and an innovative co-working space for businesses, artists and artisans, the Heritage Department said.

“The heritage display and restored fire hall will increase access to local heritage in the community,” the ministry said. “It will celebrate and raise awareness about the local history of firefighting, as well as the fire hall’s role in the community over the years.”

Canadian Heritage’s Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Legacy Fund provides funding for community-initiated capital projects intended for community use on significant anniversaries.

This grant to the Central Station Education Initiative commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Central Fire Station’s opening on December 17, 1920. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, altered a planned celebration.

It has been said that “the greenest building is the one still standing”. CSEI recognizes that the most significant artifact is the 100-year-old building itself, the only historic fire hall in the Niagara Region intact with its original interior fixtures.

The group continues to raise funds to preserve and update the three-storey firehall and convert it to a multi-use community centre with a “time capsule” heritage display on the first floor using the original fixtures and artifacts as well as other donated or loaned items.

The upper storeys, formerly offices, firefighter’s sleeping quarters and meeting/recreation room will be rented to community groups with the exception of one firefighter’s bedroom for display. The rental income will help to make the historical preservation project self-sustaining.

In addition, this project will stimulate tourism and enhance existing downtown features such as the recreational canal (former Welland Canal), farmers market, retail businesses and restaurants, City Hall, the Welland Museum, and the area’s parks and multi-use trails.

CSEI president Nora Reid expressed thanks to the Government of Canada and Canadian Heritage for their generous support of this project that will have historical, environmental, cultural and economic benefits to the City of Welland. The Legacy Grant, along with a grant of $100,000 over the next two years from the City of Welland, means that the not-for-profit group now has half of the $1.2 million needed to complete the project.

If the general public would like to help CSEI complete this project, donations can be made through our website,, Facebook at, by cheque to Central Station Education Initiative, P.O. Box 432, Welland ON L3B5R2 or by e-transfer to

To get involved in transforming this beautiful building as a volunteer please leave a message on our Facebook page and a Board member will call you to let you know how you can help.

This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.

Ce projet a été rendu possible en partie grâce au gouvernement du


(Source: news release)

Catholic Diocese Announces Clergy Changes

The Diocese of St. Catharines has announced various clergy appointments and a retirement. The announcements, by Bishop Gerard Bergie, were posted over the weekend on the diocesan website.

All pastoral appointments noted below take effect August 4, 2021 unless otherwise indicated.

Appointment of Pastors:

Father Peter Rowe – St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Niagara-on-the-Lake 

Father Randy Gallant – St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, St. Catharines

Father Mathew Pendanathu – St. Thomas More Parish, Niagara Falls

Father Janusz Roginski, S.A.C. ( Society of Catholic Apostolate (Pallotines)) – St. Therese of Lisieux Parish, Port Colborne

Father Stephen Bruzzese – St. Denis Parish, St. Catharines

Appointment of Parochial Vicars:

Father Chad Grennan – Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Catharines (June 30, 2021)

Father Stephen Innamorati – Our Lady of the Scapular Parish, Niagara Falls

Appointment of Administrator:

Father Jacek Kryn, S.A.C. – St. Ann Parish, Fenwick (June 30, 2021)

New Clergy to the Diocese:

Father Jacek Kryn, S.A.C. (Fr. Kryn has served in the Diocese of Hamilton since 2007, most recently at St. Gabriel Parish, Burlington)

Father Janusz Roginski, S.A.C. (Fr. Roginski has served in the Diocese of Hamilton since 2006, most recently at St. Gabriel Parish, Burlington).


Father Michael Andrysiak. Fr. Andrysiak was pastor at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish, Port Colborne.

Other announcements:

Seminarian Daniel Corso – Summer Intern at the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Catharines (May 1, 2021 – August 20, 2021) 

Seminarian Brian Izzard – residing at St. Stephen Parish, Cayuga for the summer months.

Seminarian Yohander Sanchez Mora – residing at St. Joseph Parish, Grimsby for the summer months.

Bishop Bergie wrote that he is “most grateful” to Fr. Andrysiak for his dedicated service to the Diocese and wished him “many blessings as he begins his retirement.”

(Source: Diocese website)