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City of Welland Ontario
The Main Street Bridge (official name: Bridge 13), a Welland landmark

Coat of arms
Nickname(s): The Rose City
Motto: Where Rails and Water Meet
Location of Welland in the Niagara Region
Country Canada Flag of Canada.svg
Province Ontario Flag of Ontario.svg
Region Niagara
Settled 1788
Incorporated 1858 (village)
  1917 (city)
Government
 - Mayor Damian Goulbourne
 - Governing body Welland City Council
 - MP Malcolm Allen
 - MPP Peter Kormos
Area
 - Total 81.09 km2 (31.3 sq mi)
Elevation 179 m (587 ft)
Population (2006)
 - Total 50,331
 - Density 620.7/km2 (1,607.6/sq mi)
  Source: Statistics Canada
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal code L3B, L3C, L0S
Area code(s) 905/289

Welland (formally The Corporation of the City of Welland; 2006 population 50,331 [1]) is a city in the Regional Municipality of Niagara in Southern Ontario, Canada.

The city has been traditionally known as the place where rails and water meet, referring to the railways from Buffalo to Toronto and Southwestern Ontario, and the waterways of Welland Canal and Welland River, which played a great role in the city's development.

The city is notable for its large francophone population. Welland is one of few communities in southern Ontario where the percentage of Franco-Ontarians exceeds the overall provincial average. This, however, is proportionately speaking, as English still predominates.

Welland is the home of the The Lincoln and Welland Regiment which is part of the 31 Canadian Brigade Group, the classification of these units is Light Infantry.

Welland's nickname is The Rose City. Residents of the city are known as Wellanders.

Contents

History

The city was first settled in 1788 by the United Empire Loyalists. On October 19 1814, Canadian forces led by George Hay, 8th Marquess of Tweeddale, met an American raiding party, numbering approximately nine hundred, near the eastern edge of the present community during the Battle of Cook's Mills. After an intense skirmish, the Americans retreated to Buffalo, New York. Cook's Mills was the second to last engagement of the War of 1812 on Canadian soil.[2]

The Welland Canal is involved in the history of the area ever since the First Welland Canal was extended to reach Lake Erie in 1833. A wooden aqueduct was built to carry the Welland Canal over the Welland River at what is now downtown Welland, and the area became known as simply Aqueduct. A lock to cross from the canal to the river and vice versa was also built. A small shantytown soon developed around the facility, providing essential services in what was a convenient stop-over location.

The growing town was later named Merrittsville, after William Hamilton Merritt, the initiator of the Welland Canal project. This name is still reflected today in the name of the Merrittville Highway (Niagara Road 50), which served as the primary north-south route in central Niagara before the construction of Highway 406. Welland gained its present name when it was incorporated on July 24, 1858. It became a city in 1917.

In addition to the presence of the canal itself, one of the few railway crossings across the canal was also located near Welland. The two factors contributed greatly to the development of heavy industry in Welland. The Plymouth Cordage Company was the first major industrial company to open a plant in Welland in 1906. By 1930s, Welland was an important industry location in the region and was developing rapidly.

In 1960s, the city was starting to outgrow the canal passing through its core. The Welland By-Pass project, started in 1967 and finished in 1973, provided a new, shorter alignment for the Welland Canal by removing it from downtown Welland to the outskirts of the city. With the completion of the bypass, the east end of Welland (And the former town of Crowland) became a virtual man-made island, lying between the new and old canal channels.

Originally, this was viewed with enthusiasm as the constant traffic on the canal was interfering heavily with transportation within the city. The old alignment of the canal was renamed the Welland Recreational Waterway with the purpose of developing several recreational facilities and tourist attractions along its shores. The plans called for fishing platforms, water slides, boat rental points, as well as marine and rail historical exhibits. Eventually, most of these never came to be.

The effects of the canal relocation were compounded by the gradual, but steady move of industry out of Welland as a trend for global manufacturing was developing. As a result, downtown Welland has seen much deterioration in the years following the project. Many businesses relocated to the north end of the city, where a retail hub was being developed in and around the Seaway Mall.

Government

The current mayor of Welland is Damian Goulbourne, who also teaches tourism and development at Niagara College. The Welland city council is made up of the mayor and 12 councillors, each elected in his or her ward.

The City is responsible for fire protection, libraries, parks and recreation and secondary streets, but many municipal services come instead from the broader level of government, the Niagara Region. Regional responsibilities include social welfare, community health, and policing through the Niagara Regional Police.

The Welland Civic Square

The chief local political issue is the redevelopment of the downtown core area, which has been deteriorating in the years following the Welland By-Pass project. The Civic Square project has been completed after spanning the terms of three city councils and three mayors. The new building, facing both East Main Street and the old canal, houses the city hall and the Welland Public Library. The project is proving to be a catalyst for development, as several new establishments have been opened downtown and some current business are expanding.

Welland is represented in the Canadian House of Commons by the NDP MP Malcolm Allen, and in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario by the NDP MPP Peter Kormos. Both representing the riding of Welland.

Demographics

During the 2006 Census, the population of Welland was determined to be 50,331, making Welland the 86th largest city in Canada. The population rose from 48,402 in the 2001 Census.

The Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology brings people from all over southern Ontario to the city, promoting diversity.

According to the 2001 census, 95.5% of the population is Caucasian, 1.7% Aboriginal, 1.1% Black, 0.2% Korean, and 0.3% of other Asian descent. 17.7% of inhabitants are under the age of 14, while those over 65 account for 16.9%.

In 1914, a local business called Empire Cotton Mills was bought by a Quebec-based company. They brought in twenty French families to work in the mill, giving a start to a francophone community still very alive in the city today. Presently, Welland is one of only three communities in southern Ontario (excluding eastern Ontario) where Franco-Ontarians, as a percentage of the community's population, exceed the provincial average of 4.8%. (The other two are Penetanguishene and Lakeshore.)

Another significant cultural group was established with the opening of the Plymouth Cordage plant. Many workers relocated to Welland from the company's operations in Plymouth, Massachusetts were of Italian origin. To minimise the potential effects of cultural and language barriers, Plymouth Cordage sent four foremen to Welland: one was Italian, one French, one German and one English. The neighbourhood that the company built for its employees (now Plymouth Cordage Heritage District [1]) became the first Italian ethnic neighbourhood in Welland.

The Top 5 largest ethnic groups include: English: 24.9%, French: 23.3%, Scottish: 14.4%, Italian: 13.3%, and Irish: 13.1%. There are also many people of eastern European origin from countries like Croatia, Hungary, and Poland, as well as a growing contingent of Colombians and Venezuelans.

Famous People From Welland

Education

Like the rest of Ontario, Welland has access to four public education systems: the regional school boards are the Niagara Catholic District School Board and the District School Board of Niagara. The Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest (the French public board) and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud (the French Catholic board) also operate schools in Welland.

There are twenty elementary schools and five secondary schools in Welland. Of these, four elementary schools and two secondary schools are part of French-language boards. All schools offer education in French to some extent.

The Niagara Catholic District School Board operates six elementary schools within the city including Alexander Kuska KSG, Holy Name, St. Andrew, St. Augustine, St. Kevin and St. Mary, each offering Kindergarten through to Grade 8. The board also operates one secondary school in the city: Notre Dame College School which offers Grade 9 through to Grade 12. Continuing education courses are also offered by the board at its Father Patrick H. Fogarty Learning Centre within the city.

The District School Board of Niagara operates ten elementary schools within the city and two secondary schools: Welland Centennial servicing the western side of the city and Eastdale Secondary servicing the eastern side.

Thanks to the large population of francophones, both the Conseil scolaire de district du Centre-Sud-Ouest (the French public board) and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud (the French Catholic board) operate elementary and secondary schools in Welland. École secondaire Confédération and École secondaire catholique Jean-Vanier are the only French public and French Catholic, respectively, secondary schools in the Niagara Region. Jean-Vanier has planned to relocate to a new building in the north end of the city by 2009, adjacent to a proposed municipal sports park.

Due to the abundance of French schools, it is not unusual for parents to opt for French-language education for their children, even if only one or neither of the parents have French heritage. The process further strengthens the bilingual character of Welland.

Economy

Initially, manufacturing firms were the biggest employers in Welland. The plants of companies like Union Carbide, United Steel, Plymouth Cordage Company, three drop forges, a cotton mill, and the Atlas Steels, as well as general manufacturing plants, had big influence on shaping early Welland. While recent years saw the end of Welland operations for several companies, such as John Deere which announced in September 2008 that it would be closing its plant and relocating manufacturing to Wisconsin and Mexico, businesses such as Lakeside Steel (a pipe plant formerly owned by Stelco) continues to employ a significant number of residents.

Due to a large concentration of francophones in the city and resulting large degree of bilingualism, the city has been successful in bringing several call centres to Welland. Correspondingly, Canadian Tire Financial Services is presently Welland's largest employer, employing over 1,600 people in two centres.

Welland's electricity comes from the Sir Adam Beck hydroelectric generation plants at Niagara Falls via Welland Hydro. Thanks to the presence of the massive plant, power remained on in over half of Welland during the 2003 North America blackout until rolling blackouts began the next day in an effort to provide power to areas that hadn't had it for nearly 24 hours.

Geography

Welland is located in the centre of south Niagara. Over the years, urban growth has all but united the northwest part of Welland with the community of Fonthill.

Prior to the Welland By-Pass project, the Welland Canal cut through the centre of Welland. As a result, a very prominent split was created between the east side and the west side of the city. The west side grew primarily to the north, while the east side expanded south. The west side also became the more affluent of the two. Today, even though the canal traffic no longer causes regular interruption in the traffic across the city, the channel lives on as Welland Recreational Waterway. The waterway still serves as a very prominent visual feature dividing the city, and it is perhaps for this reason that the east side/west side division is still very much alive in the minds of Wellanders. East side and west side are very commonly used as basic directions.

The communities of Cooks Mills and Dain City have their own separation stories. Cooks Mills, located on the other side of the By-Pass channel than the rest of Welland, has arguably been protected against the impact of urban sprawl, but the necessity of using one of the two highway tunnels to cross the canal causes some residents to head to nearby Niagara Falls instead. Dain City, located in the south of the city where the two channels meet, is separated by the massive approaches to the Townline Tunnel required to provide the low grade for the rail lines that use the tunnel. Dain City was built for, and by, the Dain Manufacturing Company ( Now known as John Deere ), the main employer in the area, as a "company town", John Deere announced in September 2008, that it would be closing its plant and relocating manufacturing to Wisconsin and Mexico.

Currently, there is a slight movement to develop the northern end of the east side, an area formerly left undeveloped. A community named Hunters Pointe is being built close to the banks of the By-Pass, and the area received further investment when a new Wal-Mart store opened on Woodlawn Road close to Highway 406.

Technically, both the east side and Dain City are peninsulas, surrounded by the waters of the old and new channels of the Welland Canal and connected to "solid" ground only by the relatively small plug in the old canal along the Townline Tunnel approaches.

Another interesting man-made geographic feature is the Merritt Island, a strip of land approximately five kilometres long and, in some places, less than 100 metres wide. The island was created when the alignment of the First Welland Canal was constructed basically parallel to the Welland River and since the abandonment of the old canal has been established as Merritt Park, featuring a popular four kilometre-long paved trail.

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Climate

Welland experiences a humid continental climate typical of the Great Lakes region, with cold, snowy winters, mild, wet springs, warm, humid summers, and cool, wet falls. The winter is the driest season, with no more than 77.8 mm (3.06 in.) of precipitation in its wettest month. Though, due to lake-effect snow, the city receives, on average, 97.8 cm (38.5 in.) of snow every winter. The average temperature in January, the coldest month, is -4.7 °C (23.5 °F). Spring is mild (13 °C (55.4 °F) on average) and rainy (240.3 mm (9.46 in.) of rain in April, May and June, also with 5.4 cm (2.12 in.) of snow in April and May). Summer is warm, with an average high temperature of 24.5 °C (76.2 °F) and, humid, with 251mm (9.88in.) of total rainfall. Autumn is cool (average temperature of 4.3 °C (39.7 °F)) and wet (actually, the wettest of Welland's seasons) (273.7 mm (10.8 in.) of total precipitation. The extreme high and low temperatures are 37.8 °C (100 °F), recorded on July 4, 1911, and -32.8 °C (-27 °F), recorded on January 25, 1884.

Weather data for Welland, ON
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C 20 20.5 27 32.5 33.9 36.1 37.8 37.8 35 32.2 25.6 20.6 37.8
Average high °C -0.8 0 5.3 12.2 19.2 24.1 26.7 25.7 21.2 14.8 8.2 2.3 13.2
Average low °C -8.6 -8.5 -3.9 1.6 7.6 13.1 16.1 15.4 11.3 5.2 0.4 -5.3 3.7
Record low °C -32.8 -31.1 -27.8 -18.3 -6.1 1.1 3.9 0.5 -2.2 -8.9 -20 -27.8 -32.8
Precipitation mm 76.7 66.3 77.8 76.5 77.7 91.5 70.4 82.7 97.9 84.5 91.6 97.6 991.3
Record high °F 68 69 81 91 93 97 100 100 95 90 78 69 100
Average high °F 31 32 42 54 67 75 80 78 70 59 47 36 56
Average low °F 17 17 25 35 46 56 61 60 52 41 33 22 39
Record low °F -27 -24 -18 -1 21 34 39 33 28 16 -4 -18 -27
Precipitation inches 3.02 2.61 3.06 3.01 3.06 3.6 2.77 3.26 3.85 3.33 3.61 3.84 39.03
Source: Environment Canada [3] 2008-07-18

Parks

Notable parks are Chippawa Park, an older, well-developed park in the northwest; Memorial Park, a newer park in the southeast; and Merrit Island Park along the canal.

Chippawa Park has rolling hills, mature specimen trees, playgrounds, a large pond, and small ornamental fish pond in a formal rose garden. It features a large war memorial carved from Lacasse granite and designed by a famous Canadian sculptor, Elizabeth Wyn Wood.

Memorial Park was a project of the 1967 Centennial. It is very flat with younger trees. It has an outdoor pool shaped like a figure 8. There is also a cenotaph at this park. In the late 1960s, the eastern part of the park was used for the Welland Canal bypass.

At the heart of the old city of Welland, near the Main Street Bridge, the Welland River passes under the old Welland Canal, then runs parallel to it for a few miles. Between the old canal and the river lies a long narrow strip of land referred to as Merrit Island that is now a park. The end of the park closest to the centre of the city has picnic tables and playground equipment. The island also includes a main trail that follows the bank of the old canal for the entire length of the park, with a variety of intermittent side paths and trails.

Welland Canal Trails

The Welland Canal Parkway Trail is a paved recreational path beginning in the City of St. Catharines at Lake Ontario and ending at Lake Erie in Port Colborne. The sections of the trail located within Welland are paved. The trail follows alongside the Welland ship and Recreational Canals, and passes through downtown Welland.

Transport

Welland canal

The Welland Canal, linking Lake Ontario with Lake Erie, is the transportaion mode that Welland is best known for. Until 1972, the canal passed through downtown Welland. As of the end of the 1972 shipping season, the canal was re-routed via the Welland Canal Bypass east of the city. Welland clings to its canal heritage, as evidenced by the steadfast preservation of the Main Street Lift Bridge (Welland Canal, bridge 13) shown in the photograph above.

Roads

Highway 406 in Welland has the only at-grade railway crossing of any 400-series highway.

Highway 406 is the main route out of Welland, leading north to Thorold, St. Catharines and onwards via Queen Elizabeth Way. However, the first six kilometres of the highway are not a freeway like the 400-series highways standard dictates, but rather a standard two-lane highway with at-grade interchanges, and, uniquely among the 400-series highways, an at-grade railway crossing. Construction to upgrade the 406 to the freeway standard to a point slightly north of Port Robinson Road was completed in 2007, eliminating a highly congested at-grade intersection with Niagara Regional Road 20. Current plans will only see the 406 upgraded as far south as the intersection at Merritt Road. No date has been set for an upgrade all the way to Welland.

Port Colborne is linked to Welland by Highways 140 and 58. Port Colborne residents then can take the 406 further north.

The Mid-Peninsula Highway, once constructed, can play an important role in the transportation patterns of Welland, as it might cross the Welland Canal along the Highway 58A corridor in the south of the city. Should that occur, Highway 406 will likely be extended to reach the new thoroughfare.

Two of the three tunnels under the canal, Main Street Tunnel and Townline Tunnel, are located in Welland, just east of the main urbanised area.

Railways

Welland boasts a rich railway history. The city motto is "Where Rails and Water Meet", referring to the two prevalent means of transportation. The Canada Southern Railway (CASO) passed through the south end of Welland, with a passenger station on King Street. The CASO operated very few trains of its own - the majority of traffic on the line consisted of New York Central Railway trains transiting between Windsor, Ontario (and the tunnel to Detroit), and one of two bridges over the Niagara River located at Niagara Falls and Fort Erie.

Welland was also the terminus of the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Railway's track (the link to Buffalo, New York being via the CASO line). The T, H & B ran joint passenger trains with the New York Central to provide through service between Toronto and Buffalo (via Hamilton, Ontario and Welland).

There was also a Canadian National Railways (earlier, Grand Trunk Railway) line running in a North/South direction and crossing the CASO line at Welland Diamond. An interlocking tower (WX) stood here. Another line ran through the Dain City area of south Welland. This was the Canada Air Line Railway, and was also used by the Wabash Railway. Later, it became the Cayuga Subdivision of the Canadian National Railway.

Lastly, the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway provided electric interurban service from Port Colborne, Ontario to Thorold, Ontario via Welland. Passenger service ended in November, 1959, but the tracks remained in freight use until 1981 when a trestle over the Welland River became unsafe and the line was removed from service.

The relocation of the Welland Canal in the early 1970s caused massive changes in the local railway network. The new route of the canal was previously crossed by five separate railway lines. The new segment of canal would have no bridges, and just one railway tunnel, so all of these route required redesign. The two branches of the CASO line, plus the Cayuga Subdivision were re-routed through the Townline Tunnel, while the North/South Canadian National line was split and discontinued as a through route. The station at King Street was abandoned and demolished. It was replaced by a new station outside of town, but passenger service ended soon after.

Today, Welland is the location of one of only two remaining railway crossings that span the Welland Canal. The Townline Tunnel is built for three railway tracks, but the center track was removed in the early 1990s. Now, only two tracks run through the tunnel. The north track is the Canadian Pacific Railway Hamilton subdivision. The south track was formerly the Canadian National Railway Cayuga subdivision. Since the abandonment of the majority of that subdivision, operations on this track were limited to occasional trains interchanging with Trillium Rail's Port Colborne Harbour Railway. Today, Canadian Pacific also uses this track as their "Brookfield Siding".

There is also a Trillium Railway (Port Colborne Harbour Railway) north-south line running through the east side of Welland on the former Welland Canal railway/Canadian National tracks beside the former site of the Atlas Specialty Steels plant (torn down in 2007). A daily (Monday to Friday) train operates along this route to Merriton (interchange with Canadian National). No passenger trains stop in Welland - the closest VIA Rail stations are in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.

Prior to the Welland Canal relocation in the early 1970s, there were two bridges crossing the old canal. The busiest was a swing bridge located between the Lincoln and Broadway bridges (the CASO line). This bridge was a relic of an earlier canal, and although it does not swing any longer, it remains in railway use. Once or twice per week, a local way freight crosses this bridge to access Vesuvius Industries on the west side of the old canal. The second crossing was as vertical lift bridge at Dain City, Ontario which also remains in use as the Trillium Rail Canal line.

A recent initiative proposed by local businessmen and politicians, in particular Trillium Railway owner Wayne Ettinger and the Mayor, Damian Goulbourne, calls for the planned GO Train extension into the Niagara Region to include a station — and cross the Welland Canal — in Welland rather than St. Catharines. The proponents argue that an adequate rail line is already in place and using the Trillium's track through the Townline Tunnel would allow for uninterrupted train traffic to Niagara Falls. They also point out that a station in Welland would fit in the Niagara Region's "Grow South" policy of expanding the infrastructure south of the Niagara Escarpment. [4]

Air

The closest airport to Welland is the Welland/Niagara Central Airport on the western edge of the city. It is a small field airport and is not served by any regular links, but it is an international point of entry. However the airport is under a number of developments in hopes to expand its services. For now, most air travellers use either Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport or Hamilton's John C. Munro International Airport. The Buffalo Niagara International Airport is also used by some, as it is the closest, although it requires the travellers to cross the American border.

Public Transit

Between 1912 and 1930, local streetcar service was provided in Welland by the Niagara, Welland and Lake Erie railway which operated on East Main Street and King Street (then known as South Main Street). This company also provided a short lived service on West Main Street and Niagara Street (then known as North Main) for about 6 months in 1922.[5]

Currently, Welland Transit operates the public transport service of scheduled bus services and paratransit covering the city. Also provided is Welland-St. Catharines Connection, a link to the St. Catharines public transit system from Niagara College to Brock University terminal in St. Catharines, with the first and last run of the day interconnecting to the downtown core. Service is also provided to Port Colborne and Pelham.[6]

Events

Niagara Food Festival, marketed as The Peninsula's Tastiest Party, takes place on the Merritt Island in city's downtown every September and brings crowds from the entire region in addition to the locals.

Niagara Regional Exhibition, running since 1853, is held at the Fairgrounds in the north end of the city every fall. Tradition stands that on at least one of the operational days it will rain.

Farmers' Market, held downtown in the Market Square, features up to 60 vendors offering food, produce and homemade items every Saturday morning, year-round.

Welland High and Vocational School Reunion will be held May 15/16 2009 in Welland.

Communities

See also

References

  1. ^ Statistics Canada. "2006 Community Profiles". http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/profiles/community/Details/Page.cfm?Lang=E&Geo1=CSD&Code1=3526032&Geo2=PR&Code2=35&Data=Count&SearchText=welland&SearchType=Begins&SearchPR=01&B1=All&Custom=. Retrieved 2007-03-13.  
  2. ^ Collins,Gilbert: Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812 (Dundern Group, Toronto Ontario,2006, ISBN 1-55002-626-7), pgs. 158.
  3. ^ Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000
  4. ^ Furminger, Greg (2006-07-20). "Fantastic idea; Railway owner makes pitch for Go Transit service". Welland Tribune. http://www.wellandtribune.ca/webapp/sitepages/content.asp?contentid=115122&catname=Local%20News. Retrieved 2006-08-09.  
  5. ^ Mills, John (2007). Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway. Canada: Railfare DC Books. pp. 198–199. ISBN 1-897190-27-1.  
  6. ^ Routes and Schedules, http://welland.ca/Transit/Route_schedules.pdf, retrieved 2009-01-15  
  • Lewis, William H. Aqueduct Merrittsville and Welland : a history of the city of Welland : the beginning years, A.M.W Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-9682743-0-7.
  • Lewis, William H. Aqueduct Merrittsville and Welland : a history of the city of Welland, volume 2 : the continuing years, A.M.W Publications, 2000. ISBN 0-9682743-1-5.
  • Lewis, William H. Aqueduct Merrittsville and Welland : a history of the city of Welland, volume 3 : the 20th century, A.M.W Publications, 2003. ISBN 0-9682743-2-3.
  • Welland Public Library's Local History Resources
  • History of Industry in Welland
  • Canada Southern Railway Home Page CanadaSouthern.com
  • Canada Southern Railway (Photos - Welland) Welland Photo Page

External links

Coordinates: 42°59′36″N 79°14′50″W / 42.993468°N 79.24719°W / 42.993468; -79.24719

North: Pelham, Thorold
West: Pelham, Wainfleet
Welland East: Niagara Falls
South: Wainfleet, Port Colborne

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