Monthly Archives: July 2021

Heritage Lives: Yachting On The Welland Canal

By Terry Hughes

The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority, in recent years, has been more friendly towards private boat owners and in particular, those folks who own luxurious yachts. 

They range from 60 to 110 ft. in length and one featured its own bow and stern bow thrusters. The cost of purchasing and operating these vessels must be astronomical but as the saying goes, ‘if you got it, flaunt it!’

At one time, while traveling with my parents to Port Colborne on the old Highway 58 on the east side of the old canal, a vessel that lay across from the Robin Hood Mill caught my eye. As the photos show (top right, bottom right) she had the lines of a sailing vessel yet featured a funnel indicating her power source was steam. Two stars stood out on her funnel and her hull was painted in an off-white colour scheme. Much of her trim was gilded in gold. Some time later I found out she was owned by Capt. Scott Misener and her name was Venetia. 

Built in Leith, Scotland, this 198-foot vessel served as a subchaser and armed with two deck guns sunk two submarines, one of which sank the Lusitania during the First World War.

After returning her to the American owner, she came to the Great Lakes and in 1940 became the property of Capt. Misener. Again she was involved in the Second World War as a training vessel and returned to peacetime service as a yacht. She set sail for the upper lakes in 1947 and picked isolated bays to catch a bountiful supply of fish along with some consumption of alcoholic beverages.

 After returning home to Port Colborne, the owner let it be known that she was available for charter. Whether she left her berth afterwards is unknown because operating this vessel was expensive!  The photos were taken by the late George Shook at her berth across from the Robin Hood Mill in the early 1950s.

1959 marked the first year of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Queen Elizabeth was invited as a special guest at its opening. She arrived here on HMS Britannia (above, left) but had departed the vessel before it arrived on the Welland Canal. 

Along with a destroyer escort (not in photo) we see her rounding the curve near Notre Dame College School and being greeted by four ambassadors (in the water!) from the local community, a custom of some boys in those days for any ship passing through Welland.

One of the ship’s masts was too tall to fit under the bridges so it was hinged to enable her to safely pass underneath. 

Next Column: The City Puts the Bite On Feeder Lock Park

(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.)

‘The Big Food Boost’ : CAA Niagara Launches Community-Wide Food Drive

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact food banks and their ability to provide essential food to those in need, CAA Niagara has launched a community-wide food drive, dubbed The Big Food Boost, to support the fight against hunger. This intiaitve calls for Niagara residents to leave non-perishables on their doorstep on Saturday, August 28th for collection by a group of volunteers.

“CAA Niagara has had the pleasure of working with and providing support to many community partners over the years, and we ramped up those efforts throughout the pandemic. We want to help in every way we can,” said Peter Van Hezewyk, President and CEO of CAA Niagara. “This food drive presents the opportunity for not only our club to continue that good work, but for all of us to come together as a community to help the people and families within Niagara who need food and need it fast.”

On average, food banks have seen a 20 percent increase in the need for their services and a 50 percent decline in donations since the beginning of the pandemic. Despite the vaccine’s rapid rollout, many families are still facing food insecurity and food agencies are struggling to keep up with the demand. Recently, local food banks reported that a significant spike in visits to their facilities is also expected once the Canada Recovery Benefit expires in September. In light of these challenging times, The Big Food Boost will set out to collect non-perishables from both CAA Members and non-Members in each community within Niagara with the donations being divided between eight food agencies across the region.

Those who wish to participate by putting a non-perishable donation outside their home can pre-register for pick-up at Registration is open through Monday, August 16th. Non-perishables should be placed outside by 9:00 am on August 28th. CAA Niagara will also be accepting walk-in food donations at its five Branches (Thorold, Welland, St. Catharines, Grimsby, and Niagara Falls) between August 23rd–28th during its regular hours of operation. Residents are not required to pre-register to drop off non-perishables at a club Branch.

The Big Food Boost is part of CAA Niagara’s Big Boost, which was initially launched as a one-time extension of the club’s annual Community Boost program in 2020. Big Boost has since been revived for 2021 and will see a total of $100,000 donated to 14 pre-selected local charities, in addition to the food drive.

To learn more about The Big Food Boost and see a list of recommended food items, please visit

(Source: CAA Niagara release)

Receive An Extra Voter Card? Here’s Why And What To Do

WELLAND –  The City of Welland is aware of some residents receiving voter cards and kits addressed to individuals who no longer live at the mailing address they were delivered. 

Anyone receiving an extra ballot for someone who does not reside in their household for the upcoming Ward 3 byelection can return the envelope to City Hall via mail or at the drop boxes located at:

  • Drop-Box Civic Square, 60 East Main Street
  • Ballot Drop- Box at Welland Community Wellness Complex, 145 Lincoln St
  • Ballot Drop- Box at Welland Library Main Branch 50 The Boardwalk
  • Ballot Drop- Box at Welland Library Seaway Mall Branch 800 Niagara St.

As per the Municipal Elections Act, it is illegal to vote without being entitled to do so or vote more times than the Act allows. Electors should only complete the vote by mail kit addressed to them; it is a federal crime to open or destroy mail not intended for you.

The additional voter cards result from a discrepancy in the voter list, which the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation compiles (MPAC) and provides to the City of Welland. However, the records kept by MPAC are not always current, and municipalities cannot check and confirm all elector information.

Residents are encouraged to confirm they are on the voter list before the voter lists/cards/kits get mailed. Establishing you are on the voter’s list helps the City ensure that information for its electors is correct.

Voting day for the Ward 3 byelection is on August 9, 2021. More information about the by-election can be found at page

Residents with questions about the extra voter cards can contact the City Clerk’s staff at 905-735-1700 or by emailing

(Source: City of Welland news release)

Double Gold At National Competition A First For Teaching Winery Sauvignon Blanc

College winemaker Gavin Robertson holds up the award-winning wines from this year’s All Canadian Wine Championships. The NC Teaching Winery scored four medals, including a double gold for its Sauvignon Blanc, the best performance for a college-produced Sauvignon Blanc. /Supplied photo.

The scales tipped in favour of Niagara College’s Balance Sauvignon Blanc at the recent All Canadian Wine Championships.

The white wine, made by NC winemaker Gavin Robertson and students in the Winery and Viticulture Technician program, won double gold at the 2021 edition of the national competition that saw 1,365 wines entered from 217 Canadian wineries.

It’s the first double gold for a college-produced Sauvignon Blanc, making it NC’s best showing for the varietal yet, Robertson said.

It’s one of four medals the Niagara College Teaching Winery won at the awards, including gold for the first-ever Balance Muscat. The medalling wines in their respective categories are:

•   2019 Balance Sauvignon Blanc (Top Sauvignon Blanc)

•   2019 Balance Muscat (Gold – Other single vitis vinifera whites category);

•   2019 Dean’s List Savant (Silver – Red icewine category); and

•   2018 Balance Gamay Noir (Silver – Gamay Noir category).

All are wines that Robertson and his students don’t make every year, which makes the results particularly notable, he said. The Balance Gamay Noir is only the second Gamay vintage produced in the program.

“That’s satisfying. I’ve been the winemaker here since 2014 and I feel like I’m finally getting my head wrapped around certain grapes,” said Robertson, who graduated from the College’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program in 2011. “What I like about this showing is Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay Noir and Muscat aren’t normally grapes I would consider entering.”

Although a grape like Muscat is less commonly used by Canadian wineries, working with such varietals prepares students for what they might encounter after they graduate, Robertson explained.

“Anything our students can graduate into within the industry and have to produce, it’s important to expose them to,” he said. “For a small winery, we have dozens of SKUs with grapes and styles that someone in the industry is making. That’s really important since we’re a teaching winery.”

More than a bragging right, though, these latest awards show that students in the program work with high-quality fruit and turn out vintages that can compete with those from other Canadian wineries. They also speak to the quality of education happening at the College.

“Consistently winning top medals is a testament to our academic deliveries and the abilities of our Winery and Viticulture Technician students at Niagara College,” said Steve Gill, general manager of NC’s Learning Enterprise Corporation. “We are all proud of everyone involved.”

Such a performance isn’t uncommon for the Teaching Winery at the All Canadian Wine Championships.

“The competition results from Niagara College consistently show the calibre of the teaching staff, and the talent of its students,” said Bev Carnahan, All Canadian Wine Championships director. “Year to year, the college comes away with a fistful of medals and on occasion, a trophy. Their Balance Brut is not to be missed.”

The award-winning wines, along with other vintages produced by the Teaching Winery, are available for sale at the Niagara College Wine Visitor + Education Centre, located at its Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, or online at Sales of the wines support student education.

Visit for more information about the All Canadian Wine Championships.

Tasting notes from Bev Carnahan, All Canadian Wine Championships director:

2019 Dean’s List Savant

Rich, creamy, concentrated fruit, good structure, ripe cherry and nicely balanced with a clean finish.

2018 Balance Gamay Noir

Pretty, sippable, cherry-based Gamay. Juicy fruit on palate.

2019 Balance Sauvignon Blanc

Crisp, tart, eminently refreshing. 

2019 Balance Muscat

Clean, flavourful, ask for more! Floral, dry, mineral finish, fresh, light fruit — fun. Delightful.

Niagara College’s Teaching Winery is the first and only commercial teaching winery in Canada. It is located at the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, along with the NC Teaching Brewery and the NC Teaching Distillery, which were also the first of their kind in Canada.

(Source: Niagara College news release) 

Gadabout Gardener: Raindrops Reign

Raindrops coalesce along strands of a spider web attached to hosta leaves in the sideyard garden, Wednesday morning, July 21. /Photo 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

Fireworks Bylaw, Fireworks Safety Tips Outlined

WELLAND The City of Welland reminds residents that fireworks are not to be ignited on public property, including parks and open fields/spaces in the City of Welland. Fireworks are only permitted on Victoria Day and Canada Day as well as three days preceding Victoria Day and Canada Day.

Any person who contravenes any provision of Bylaw 2003-127 is guilty of an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine of not more than $5000, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, according to Section 61 of the Provincial Offences Act. R.S.O. 1990.

How do I file a complaint about the discharge of fireworks?

At no cost, residents can anonymously report fireworks violations while the fireworks are happening by calling 911 and asking for the Fire Department to respond. Provide the dispatcher with the details and safety concerns while the fireworks are occurring, and they will prioritize the Fire Department’s response. During business hours, you can file a complaint either by phone at 905-735-1700 ext. 2403 or by email to

If you choose to have family fireworks or an informal neighbourhood display, on the days permitted, keep these fireworks safety tips in mind:

  • Purchase fireworks from a reliable source. Stay away from illegal explosives.
  • Carefully read and follow directions on the label of fireworks packaging.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors.
  • Always have a water source such as a running garden hose or bucket of water handy.
  • Never experiment with or make your own fireworks.
  • Light only one firework at a time. Never set off fireworks during strong winds.
  • Never re-light a dud firework. Wait 15 to 20 minutes, then soak the dud in a bucket of water.
  • Never give fireworks to small children and always have an adult present.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • The handler should always wear eye protection and never have any part of their body over the firework.
  • Remember to be considerate of your neighbours and pets when using fireworks. Only use fireworks between the hours of dusk (approximately 9:30 to 11 p.m.), as the noise may be disturbing to those around you.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper disposal of fireworks.

For further information on selling and discharging fireworks in the City of Welland, please review our Fireworks By-law 2003-127, visit By-law 2003-127 (

(Source: City of Welland news release)

Gadabout Gardener: During The Rain

Couldn’t do any weeding, pruning, deadheading etc., in the garden this morning because of the rain, gentle though it was most of the time. But it didn’t stop me from trying to capture the beauty of rain and raindrops on the good things growing. The rose at the beginning and end of the display, incidentally, is Electron. /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

Artists Named For Murals Project, Work On ‘Neighbourhood Masterpieces’ To Start July 25

Aldo Parrotta, the Wellander who liked what he saw when viewing Bell box murals in Toronto, then successfully advocated for a similar startup here in the Rose City. He’s shown in front of a Bell utility box on First Avenue at Chippawa Park. Emilia Jajus will be showing her artistry on this box. For complete list of participants, see below. /File photo Joe Barkovich.

Note: This story has been updated to provide information on mural themes.

WELLAND – Welcome to the Welland Neighbourhood Murals! 

17 murals will be painted in Welland beginning Sunday, July 25 as part of the Bell Box Murals Project.

 The murals are a partnership between the City of Welland, North Welland BIA, Community Matters, and Bell Canada.

 The artists and designs were selected by a jury consisting of members of the City of Welland’s Artist and Culture Advisory Committee and the North Welland BIA. 

Artists will be paid $750 each upon completion of their respective mural. 

Wellander Aldo Parrotta, who spearheaded the local initiative, is thrilled about seeing the project moving closer to fruition. A distinguished artist himself, he put many hours into planning, then working for it to happen:

“Finally seeing the city of Welland and North Welland BIA Bell Box murals projects come together after that delegation in 2019, gives me a tremendous feeling of pride and happiness for the Welland community.

“It is for me, extremely exciting to see so many artists and their families sharing this moment of getting the opportunity to beautify the city and neighbourhoods through their art. I am looking forward to trying to get every Bell Utiliity Box in Welland painted, can you imagine where that would put us in the art world? I can.”

According to Parrotta, the Bell utility box murals will have a variety of themes.
Some examples include: firefighters, local sports, homage to Welland history, canal, bridges, the Rose City, local recreational trails, unity of community and historic beginnings in Welland.

Here is the list of participating artists and their locations:

Sandra Bell, 428 Lincoln;

Sydney Bouwers, Niagara Street north of Lancaster – TD Bank;

Sarah Dall’Orso, Niagara Street in front of Desjardins Bank;

Emilia Jajus, 150 First Avenue at Chippawa Park;

Darlene Kisur, 250 Thorold Road;

Daniel Kozina, Woodlawn Road west of Trelawn Parkway;

Chris Lagesten, 3 Cross Street;

Jungle Ling, 620 Niagara Street, front of former KFC (now Garden City Cannabis);

Julie Mastrantonio, Niagara Street north of Quaker Road – Donut Diner/Carwash;

Colin Nun, Welland Hospital at Welland Arena;

Cassandra Peebles, Wellington Street South of East Main;

James Takeo, Division Street east of Hellems;

John Zaleski, Woodlawn Road east of Clare Avenue;

Petraleah Bouwers, Thorold Road west of Niagara Street;

Melika Saeeda, 894 Niagara Street South of Quaker Road – Welland Toyota;

Laura Voigt, Niagara Street north Thorold Road;

Yong Yi,Woodlawn Road west of Welland Canal.

Heritage Lives: Some Unknown Stories About The Forkes Road Bridge

By Terry Hughes

Historical maps from the 1880’s tell us that Forkes Road was an important land route serving Humberstone Township and would require a canal crossing in what is now known as Dain City. By 1903 the federal government had initiated a bridge replacement program that included the Forkes Road crossing with a steel swing span in 1903. 

Our first picture (top left) was taken from the wooden pilings of that bridge looking north to the railway crossing the canal. This spot is where the rowing course is presently found. The third canal was half as wide as it is today. Notice the road on the right of the photo and how close it was to the canal. It would pass behind all of the buildings that now are found on Canal Bank Road. It connected Welland and Port Colborne and became known as Highway 58. In the background beyond the tracks can be seen the beginnings of the John Deere facilities. 

The second photograph (bottom left) shows the Forkes Road swing bridge opening over a widened canal in 1927 and the railway bridge is being dismantled in the foreground. It was at this time that soil tests indicated that the canal banks were unstable. That fact meant the approach spans to both bridges needed to be lengthened. The photo showing the two bridges (top right) bears this fact out. That issue would require that the highway would have to be moved to its present location forming an “S curve ” near the former John Deere site.

Triumph & Tragedy, The Welland Ship Canal, a recent publication concerning the 137 persons who perished building the last canal contains a picture showing a bank failure (centre right) to the north of Bridge 17 and opposite the John Deere in 1939. It was attributed to hardened clay giving way at its base below the waterline. Shipping was able to get around it until some form of remediation took place.  

The fifth picture (bottom right) shows the Forkes Road Bridge raised to allow the CSL vessel Tadoussac to pass by just before this portion of the canal was closed. I had the opportunity to ride this bridge and the bridge master pointed to a pair of binoculars sitting on a desk in the control cabin from where he works the lift span. He said that a car drove into a group of trees that bordered the east bank of the canal and often visited this spot. The occupants in the car were safe from peering eyes but when the bridge was up …..well you can imagine what could be seen with those binoculars.

Thanks to a developer, the city and two levels of government, the bridge will be replaced with a more substantial span, rejoining this community to some form of normalcy.

Next column: Yachting on the 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.)