Monthly Archives: December 2022

View From The Bridge

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

WELLAND — We were driving across Woodlawn Bridge one day when I caught sight of some ducks roosting on the ice-covered Welland River. My camera was nearby so I picked it up, rolled down the window and took a few shots of the gathering below.

That was how View From The Bridge developed. Since then, wife Bernie and I occasionally go out for drives across the bridge to see what’s happening below. Or we bring the camera along when we go about our regular rounds in the event of a photo op while we are en route. Bernie is my driver. She has become adept at making the crossing when there are no or few vehicles behind us, so we can traverse it relatively slowly. 

You never know what you will see. And it’s a four-season experience as photos taken in spring, summer, fall and winter attest. I love looking over the bridge and seeing walkers on the trails below us. I love looking across the long stretch of recreational waterway under a blue sky and being able to see the landmark St. Mary Church steeple in the distance. I love comparing the landscape as it appears in differing times of year, for example winter and fall. For this observer, a way of better appreciating the richness and beauty in this place we call home.

When South Niagara Rowing Club’s Five Bridges Fall Classic is in town, we make a point of going out early enough to see rowers “parked” in racing shells near the bridge waiting for their starting times to come up. After doing this since 2018, this has become one of our favourite sights. One such photo is part of this compilation.

I also have a smaller number of photos taken from the Lincoln Street and Ontario Road bridges, but they are not part of the View From The Bridge collection. It is reserved only for sights taken from this valued vista. 

Don’t be quick to dismiss the Welland River as a potential photo source. In fall, the change in colour in trees along the riverbank can be spectacular. So too are the populations of ducks and Canada geese that congregate on its icy surface. So too are occasional surprises, like paddleboarders spotted in the murky river. You never know what you will see.

View From The Bridge is a recurring feature on the blog site. Watch for a new photo in days ahead

View From The Bridge: Driver, Bernadette Barkovich; photographer, Joe Barkovich.

Welland Transit Services Cancelled; Public Works Crews Continue To Battle Whiteout Conditions

WELLAND – Welland Transit services have been cancelled as of 11:15 a.m. Saturday, December 24. Service resumes December 26 with a Sunday/holiday schedule. 

Earlier in the day, Transit operated under a Stop and Stay order, halting buses at the terminal until visibility and road conditions improved. As the weather across the city worsened, and public works crews faced challenging conditions, the City’s Municipal Emergency Control Group (MECG) decided to cancel service immediately. 

King Street near the arena early Friday afternoon. Haven’t set foot out since.

“Cancelling transit is in the best interest of everyone, from our operators to the public,” said Steve Zorbas, chief administrative officer. “We know people rely on public transit, and it was not an easy decision to make, but ultimately it was the right one.”

With the cold temperatures arriving, the downtown bus terminal is open as a warming centre today from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and closed Sunday. The terminal reopens Monday, December 26, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For anyone requiring housing needs, please call 211.

Public works crews are challenged with two very different scenarios in the north and south ends of the city. Though the conditions in the north appear favourable, southern circumstances present white-out conditions. Staff will commence full winter operations when it is safe to operate the fleet in these areas. Please be patient.

With drifting snow, Welland Fire and Emergency Services remind everyone to check the vents around their homes to ensure no snow has built up around the vents, which ultimately would cause CO2 to build up in the house. 

Public Safety Canada encourages everyone to make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, medicine, a first-aid kit, and a flashlight. For information on emergency plans and kits, go to http://www.getprepared.gc.c

Attribution: City of Welland media release.

City Preparing For Significant Winter Storm

WELLAND –  Environment Canada has issued a storm warning for Welland and the Niagara Region, with blizzard conditions Friday into Saturday. Transit services are planning on operating at full capacity; however, delays and potential cancellations throughout the day may occur.

Blizzard conditions with wind gusts of 100 to 120 km/h with snowfall amounts of 15 to 30 cm by Sunday, December 25. Wind chill values will be near minus 20, and a flash freeze, producing icy and slippery surfaces, will likely occur.

“Our crews are preparing the roads with salt and material for the storm,” said James Sticca, manager of public works. “We have our trucks prepped and ready to go by 4 a.m. Friday morning and staff assigned to routes throughout the weekend.”

Public works staff are preparing to maintain priority and bus routes as the weather rolls in, with the deployment of plows based on snow accumulation. A full plow Friday overnight is planned, and, based on the forecast, mid-day clean-ups from snow drifts on Saturday.

Both field and administrative staff will monitor the storm and its impacts on the City throughout the weekend, despite City Hall being closed for the holidays.

Precipitation begins as rain this afternoon, and temperatures are expected to drop on Friday morning, leading to a potential flash freeze. Rapidly falling temperatures will be accompanied by strong to damaging winds and heavy snow. Blizzard conditions will develop Friday, especially as lake effect snow off Lake Erie intensifies. Lake effect snow will result in variability of snowfall amounts through the weekend.

Visibility will suddenly be reduced to near zero in heavy snow and blowing snow. Protect yourself from wind, cold and disorientation by staying sheltered indoors or with your vehicle. Anyone not dressed warmly is at risk of frostbite and hypothermia in cold weather.

Public Safety Canada encourages everyone to make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, medicine, a first-aid kit and a flashlight. For information on emergency plans and kits, go to

Attribution: City of Welland media release.

Heritage Lives: A Christmas To Remember

Remember having to shove paper into the toes to make those old skates fit?

/Supplied graphic

By Terry Hughes

Do you remember a time when children were not pressured into experiencing what Christmas was all about? Our picture for the column aptly explains how a child many years ago daydreamed about enjoying one of the toys or sporting equipment shown in this window display. 

There were both spiritual and gift opportunities that stand out in our minds that made this time of year so special. For me, one such experience was being part of the Holy Trinity choir singing at the Midnight Eucharist on Christmas Eve and sleeping over at my grandparents. This was followed with a quick trip home to enjoy my gifts and the relatives that came to join us for Christmas diner.

Money was not that easy to come by and children had to rein in on the kind of present you hoped to receive. Often that present was not forthcoming, and you had to wait for another Christmas and hope it would appear under the tree. Sources for gift ideas were held to advertising around the first week of December when storefronts and display windows offered a glimpse of what item you longed to have. Locally, for east end kids McCrae Sporting Goods on East Main Street near the tracks offered everything from hockey sticks to your favourite team’s jersey that usually, back in the days of the Original Six, was the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens. In later years that team sweater may have had the number of your favourite player whether it be number 27 (Frank Mahovlich) or number 5 (Bernie ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion). A pair of new skates was a break from having to endure hand me downs you were forced to wear. Remember having to shove paper into the toes to make those old skates fit?

A source for toys was found in the Eaton’s and Simpson’s catalogues. Barbara Ann Scott dolls, miniature dishes, a table and chairs or kitchen stove and figure skates tantalized the girls while electric trains, tinker toys, Meccano sets and military action figures with appropriate equipment were liked by the boys. My wife still has her china set! Remember the Canadian-style log cabin that you built, or a family favourite – the hockey game with levers that you activated the ‘players’ to hustle a marble (in place of a puck) up and down the curved wooden surface?

Sometimes, a visit to a large centre such as Buffalo or Toronto offered the eye of a child a visual experience that was hard to forget. Large stores offered  winter scenes with mechanically-activated figures, nativity scenes and characters found at the North Pole. Santa and his elves were busy manufacturing make-believe toys or the old gentleman was shown flying with his reindeer across a wintertime sky. In Toronto, a family favourite of ours was getting breakfast at a Honey Do Restaurant that just happened to be on the Santa Claus Parade route. After the parade a visit to Eaton’s Toyland topped our visit to the city. The huge display of Lionel and American Flyer Trains speeding around a winter wonderland of snow and ice was the topper!

Well, we hope that you enjoyed some memories of days gone by and we look forward to offering some new historical experiences that enhanced our heritage.

God bless you all and have a very Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year!

(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.)

Merritt Island Access Restricted New Year’s Eve For Event Set Up; Full Schedule Of Activities At Market Square

/City of Welland graphic

WELLAND – Access to Merritt Island will be restricted from 1 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 31, as crews prepare for the evening’s fireworks event.

As set up for the New Year’s Eve fireworks take place, public access to the trail will be closed to ensure the safety of everyone.

“We prioritize the safety of everyone involved in the preparation and launching of fireworks,” said Erin Carl, supervisor of festivals and events. “Closing of the trail for a brief period on New Year’s Eve to ensure we can have a great show that allows everyone to enjoy the show safely is a step we must take.”

The City’s New Year’s event includes a Winter Wonderland-themed Farmers Market at Market Square from 3 to 6 p.m., including:
Outdoor skating on synthetic ice
Ice carving demonstration
Face painting
Crafts for kids
Festive mocktail station
Fireworks begin at 6 p.m., and Merritt Island’s access will resume at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit

Attribution: City of Welland media release

Caroling Voices Sing Out With Joy

‘We gather in the spirit of Christmas….’ priest says.

WELLAND – Holy Trinity Church held its Christmas Carol Service Sunday morning, 10 a.m.  Attendance was estimated at close to 150 people, said to be the largest turnout at the downtown Anglican parish since before the pandemic. The church holds about 200.

Father Tom Vaughan

The service featured eight carols, prayers, a New Testament reading and Communion. Attendees were given a program booklet upon entering the church and candles, the latter to be turned on during singing of Silent Night near the end of the service. Other carols during the service included Joy to the WorldO Come, All Ye Faithful and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The scripture passage was Luke 2: 1-20, the account of the birth of Jesus.

“A warm welcome to you this day, whether you have been here for a long time or you are new,” was a written greeting on the cover of the booklet.

Father Tom Vaughan, parish priest, was visibly, and vocally, pleased with the turnout. He thanked parishioners and guests, many of them volunteers in Holy Trinity’s social outreach programs, for attending. During the service he read from a card received from a man thankful to Holy Trinity for work done caring for the unhoused and hungry in the community.

A reception was held in the parish hall following the service.

— Story, photos by Joe Barkovich

Teaching Winery Wins Global Gold For Icewine

Niagara College’s Teaching Winery has turned its ‘liquid gold’ into a gold medal at the world’s most exclusive fine wine show.

Judges from the 2022 Global Fine Wine Challenge awarded a gold in the Dessert Wines category to the NC Teaching Winery’s Dean’s List Savant Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2019.

Exclusive to nations of the new world – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States – the annual invitation-only competition is open to the top 120 wines of each competing country. The best selections across 22 classes are made by representatives from each participating country, and the selected wines are transported to Sydney, Australia for blind judging.

“It was truly an honour to be invited to participate in the 2022 Global Fine Wine Challenge,” said Steve Gill, General Manager of NC’s Learning Enterprises. “To learn that our wine has been listed as a gold medal winner among the finest wines in the new world is a testament to how Canada’s first and only commercial Teaching Winery continues to raise the bar for wine education.”

Dean of NC’s Culinary, Tourism and Beverage Studies division Craig Youdale applauded the achievement.

“The practical elements of our programs are the hallmark of what we are all about here at Niagara College,” said Youdale. “There is a strong tradition of Icewine production in Niagara and at our Teaching Winery, and to see their hard work being recognized with a gold medal is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of our staff and students, and we could not be prouder.”

Dean’s List Savant Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2019 comes from the Teaching Winery’s 2019 Icewine harvest, picked by NC wine students at a College-operated vineyard on Concession 5 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, then pressed in a student winemaking lab.

“I am proud to be a part of this team, where pushing the envelope and finding new exceptional ways to raise the bar continue to be at the forefront, said Allison Findlay, Winemaker at NC’s Teaching Winery, who is also an alumna of the College’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program (2014). “It is an honour to be recognized as a top contender on the world stage.”

Professor Gavin Robertson, who was Head Winemaker at the Teaching Winery from 2014 until he took on a full-time faculty role with the College’s School of Wine, Beer and Spirts this fall, recalled leading the production of the award-winning Icewine.

“We were striving to achieve a specific style within the Icewine category with this bottling: a single-vineyard, barrel-aged, complex, age-worthy dessert wine that would balance sweetness with acidity and grape and oak tannin structure, and which would evoke the true varietal character of the estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon we picked that cold night in December rather than being reduced to a more monotone, honeyed sweet wine which can happen with this style,” he said.

While the Teaching Winery has won several national awards for a variety of Icewines over the years, Robertson pointed out that this win was significant; it marked the Teaching Winery’s first invitation to enter the Global Fine Wine Challenge where it had an opportunity to compete against dessert wines “from a large swath of the wine-producing globe.”

“To stand out to a panel of Masters of Wine and other prominent wine judges and critics in that context is fairly remarkable,” said Robertson, who is an alumnus of NC’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program (2011) and a Nuffield Canada scholar. “It speaks to the quality we strive for, not just in winemaking but in education at the only Teaching Winery in the country, and it demonstrates to the students who picked and processed the fruit with us that they are all capable of forging a path to greatness in the global wine industry in their own right.”

The NC Teaching Winery’s gold was one of 12 awards listed in the Dessert Wines category at this year’s Global Fine Wine Challenge (view the 2022 results here). For information about the Global Fine Wine challenge visit

This isn’t the first award for the 2019 Dean’s List Savant Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine. In June, it won bronze at the 2022 All Canadian Wine Championship.

Products from NC’s Teaching Winery are available for purchase at the College’s Wine Visitor + Education Centre (Daniel J. Patterson Campus: 135 Taylor Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake) or online at while supplies last. Proceeds from sales support student learning.

NC’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program is a two-year diploma program within the College’s School of Wine Beer and Spirits.

Niagara College’s Teaching Winery was the first and only  commercial teaching winery in Canada and is the only facility of its kind in the country today. It is located at the College’s Daniel J. Patterson Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, along with the NC Teaching Brewery and – the latest addition in September 2018 – the NC Teaching Distillery which were also the first of their kind in the country.

(Attribution: Niagara College media release)

Some Main Street Bridge Memories Over The Years

Main Street bridge in a photo taken in September 2022. A beautiful ‘retirement’ for the iconic structure. /Joe Barkovich file photo.

By Terry Hughes 

Things I remember:

As a wide-eyed five-year-old, from my grandparents’ apartment above the old post office on King Street, watching 1,000 tons of steel and concrete move up and down allowing boats to pass by, wow!;

Walking across the bridge fearful of being “bombed” by a resident pigeon; 

Buffalo radio station WKBW (1520 AM) contest paying $15.20 for the best news tip and sometime kept our local CHOW from getting top local news. Once, upon hearing the Main Street bridge had collapsed and without checking sources just to beat the Buffalo rival, CHOW reported the tip as true;

Standing too close to the rising gate, a student caught her skirt on it and revealed beautiful legs for all to see!;

When a crime was committed in Welland and the police hoped to catch the culprits, a message was sent to the canal authorities to lift local bridges to trap the culprits before they could get away;

For half their “lives”, the bridges were painted black;

Being late for high school because the bridge was up;  

On the night of the big celebration, fireworks were planned as part of it. But the truck bringing the fireworks to town was involved in an accident en route and the fireworks show did not take place;

On the night of the big celebration, as the laker Georgian Bay passed through downtown, many in the crowd of onlookers started singing, to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down, “Welland Bridge Is coming down, coming down ..…” What a chorus of voices!

According to a study by Acres Research Inc., the Main Street bridge was up the equivalent of 8 hours out of 24 every day.

(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.)

‘I Remember: The Night Of December 15 In Downtown Welland’

Cec Mitchell shows his photo taken the historic night of December 15, 1972 of the Georgian Bay as it passed under Main Street bridge. It appeared on page 1 of the next day’s Tribune. /Joe Barkovich file photo.

By Cec Mitchell

It was approaching the middle of December, 1972 and there was a buzz in the air. No…It wasn’t Christmas, it was another historic event.

Relatively few people alive today remember a time when the shipping season meant traffic tie-ups as the bridges went up to allow the passage of the ships. But at last, the end was in sight. The new canal channel east of the city was almost ready, waiting for the old canal to close for the season so the plug could go in and the rail lines graded to meet ones in the new tunnel.

In the early evening, December 15, throngs of Wellanders converged on the downtown to see the last boat pass under Main Street bridge. It was bitterly cold and it was snowing but still they turned out. The bridge had been raised about an hour before the ship could be seen. There was excitement in the air. Two searchlights, one at each end of the bridge sent pencils of light into the sky adding to the festive mood.

The siren sounded to signal the boat’s approach. Normally this would lead to many groans but that night it led to cheers. Everyone jockeyed for position to get a good look. I had picked a spot in the parking lot at the end of Division Street along the canal. I already had my photo idea in my head, the ship passing under the bridge with the two searchlight beams crossing overhead. Now if only they could all come together.

Slowly the Georgian Bay appeared, slowly moving under the bridge. My luck was with me…I got the searchlight beams where I wanted them. Slowly the ship moved on to much applause and cheering and singing from the thousands who had gathered.

Next the bridge started its slow descent. When it was down and the gates went up a sea of Wellanders flooded onto the bridge deck, shoulder to shoulder. No more waiting for ships!

Festivities continued into the night. The Kiwanis Club who organized the event had “Last Boat” souvenir mugs made for the occasion and they were put to good use, toasting to that last boat!

There were a couple of boats after that but they were canal service boats.

Now the big job begins. Connect the rail lines to the tunnel at Townline Road, remove the sections on the new canal that couldn’t be excavated until the rail lines were rerouted. And then the new canal had to be flooded, a very slow task, all before the new shipping season opened in the spring of 1973.

There was much celebration that night but then the following year nostalgia took over. As much as as they were glad to see the unimpeded traffic flow, many Wellanders expressed missing seeing the ships of the world pass through their city.  

(Cec Mitchell is a long-time Wellander and former Tribune photographer who retired from the newspaper in 1995.)