Heritage Lives In Pictures: The Building With The Arches On Niagara Street

Business Area Was Dubbed ‘The West Main Village’ By Well Known Wellander

By Terry Hughes

No, we’re not talking about McDonalds but instead a building next door to Bogner’s Photography once known as the Hilder Bldg. The late Joe Krar called this row of buildings and those structures on West Main Street  THE WEST MAIN VILLAGE.  These buildings reflect the style of businesses that were once part of the historic west side of the city over a century ago. 

Close examination of our picture from yesteryear this month shows a portion of dirt road which was eventually covered with brick sometime around 1912. This part of the building shows the first arch, housing a grocery store and a soda fountain. 

What was common for grocery stores was placing some of their fruits and vegetables on a sloping table for potential shoppers to see. The size of this type of shop was relatively small and noted as neighbourhood ventures that were found across the town. They would cater to the customers of that area.but it was very competitive. 

The operation of a soda shop was very specialized because you were limited to selling ice cream in various forms and soda drinks. Coke was just getting started and Pepsi was yet to be marketed. Eventually this type of business would be found in drug stores. 

One other feature of shops of the day was the use of awnings. Not only did they offer shoppers some relief from the weather but were used as a method of advertising. If the weather was too punishing they would simply use a hand crank device and raise them until better conditions prevailed. 

A wide variety of businesses would be found here over the years. I can remember going into this part of the building called Isherwoods where the owner sold model kits of airplanes, ships, etc. It also housed a bike shop. The upstairs apartments served both the shop owner as well as a temporary place to live for some folk. For viewing, some of other businesses are shown on pages 106 and 107 in the CELEBRATING 150 YEARS, the Welland 150th anniversary book. 

Next Heritage Lives in Pictures:  Getting Ready To Bridge The Great Dain.

(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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