History Geography Welland
Welland 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, of a approximately nine hundred men. This confrontation took place near the eastern edge of Welland named the Battle of Cook's Mills. After an forceful conflict, the Americans retreated back to Buffalo, New York. The Battle of Cook's Mills was the second to last encounter of the War of 1812 on Canadian soil.
The Welland Canal has been part of Welland's history 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. That area of Welland became primarily known as Aqueduct. A lock was required to cross from the canal to the river and vice versa this was also built. Welland was a small shantytown until the Welland Canal was built when it soon developed around the canal. Welland was providing an essential services service to the travelers when it became known as a convenient stop-over location.
Welland was a vastly growing town and was actually first named Merrittsville, after William Hamilton Merritt, the initiator of the Welland Canal project. This name is still reflected today in the name of the Merrittsville Highway or 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 wasn't till 1917 when Welland was incorporated as a City. There were very few railway crossings in the Welland area but one railway crossings across the canal was located near Welland. This was also in addition to the presence of the Welland Canal in Welland. Due to the influence of these two factors they contributed greatly to the development of heavy industry in Welland. The first major industrial company to open a plant in Welland was the Plymouth Cordage Company in 1906. But by the 1930s, Welland was an important industry location in the region and was developing rapidly. With the population of Welland increasing in the 1960s, Welland started to outgrow the canal passing through Welland's core. In 1967 The Welland By-Pass project started and by 1973 the Welland By-Pass was finished. This in turn provided a new, shorter alignment for the Welland Canal by removing it from Welland's downtown core and relocating it to the outskirts of Welland. With the completion of the Welland by-pass, the east end of Welland became a virtual man-made island, lying between the new and old Welland canal channels.
Originally, Welland By-Pass was viewed with enthusiasm as the constant traffic on the Welland canal was interfering heavily with transportation within the city of Welland. The old alignment of the Welland canal was renamed the Welland Recreational Waterway with the purpose of developing several recreational facilities and tourist attractions along the canal shores. The plans were to create a tourist location for Welland with fishing platforms, water slides, boat rental points, as well as a Welland main marina with rail historical exhibits. Eventually, Welland tabled most of these plans very few coming to pass.
With the effects of the relocation of the Welland canal this compounded with the gradual, but steady move of industry out of Welland cause great financial hardship on Welland's economy. As a result of the moving of the Welland canal downtown Welland has seen severe deterioration in the years following the Welland canals relocation from main downtown Welland. Many of the local businesses as well relocated to the north end of Welland where a retail hub was being developed in and around the Seaway Mall.
Welland 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 Welland. 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 Welland, the channel lives on as Welland Recreational Waterway. The waterway still serves as a very prominent visual feature dividing Welland, and it's perhaps for this reason the east side/west side division is still very much alive in the minds of the residents of Welland. 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 Welland canal causes some residents to head to nearby Niagara Falls instead. Dain City, located in the south of Welland where the two channels meet, is separated by the massive approaches to the Town line 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 better known as John Deere, the main employer in the Welland area, as a "company town", John Deere announced in September 2008, it would be closing its plant and relocating its manufacturing to Wisconsin and Mexico. This greatly effecting Welland's economy.
Currently, there is a slight movement to develop the northern end of the east side of Welland, an area formerly left undeveloped. A community named Hunters Pointe is being built close to the banks of the Welland 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 of Welland 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 Town line 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 Welland canal has been established as Merritt Park, featuring a popular four kilometre-long paved trail.
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, Welland 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.
Welland's City Murals
The City of Welland, long associated with the Welland Canal, is gaining a reputation as the largest open-air art gallery in the world, and the canvasses are gigantic, stretching up to 25 metres (80 feet) long and three storey's high.
Welland commissioned artists from across Canada to paint murals on the sides of buildings to beautify the city of Welland. More than two dozen permanent, colourful murals depicting historical themes of the region now grace Welland, adding a rich visual element to the urban landscape. The Welland cit murals started in 1986 and is an ongoing project with new murals being added periodically.
To date there are 29 murals to which are listed here:
1. "Towpaths" at 1030 Niagara Street North, by Ross Beard, depicts a sailing ship being pulled through the Welland canal in the 1800's.
2."Welland Dairies" at 871 Niagara Street North, by Mike Svob, has three panels showing the milk business in the early 1900's
3. "History of the Niagara Peninsula" at 800 Niagara Street North on the Sears building at the Seaway Mall. This mural depicts the cultural and economic development of the Niagara Peninsula.
4. "History of Welland Canal" at 800 Niagara Street North, on the front of the Seaway Mall. The artist captures the many obstacles that had to be overcome in the construction and development of the Niagara Peninsula.
5. "Welland Trolley" at 1 Niagara Street, by David More. The NS&T trolley brought visitors to the Welland County Fair on Denison Street from 1910 to 1930.
6"Lift Bridges" at 31 West Main Street facing Niagara Street. Painted by Greg Garand, it depicts the Welland canal prior to the completion of the by-pass to the east, when ships from around the world passed through the heart of Welland.
7."Welland's World War 1 Efforts" at 51 Division Street on Columbus Hall, by Risto Turunen, illustrates & reservations Welland's involvement in World War 1.
8 "New World" at 77 Division Street is a brick mosaic mural designed by Dutch artist Bas Degroot. The mural depicts people moving to a "new world" and can be interpreted from a spiritual or secular viewpoint.
9."Three Historical Scenes" at 115 Division Street is by Toronto artist John Hood. It consists of three panels each containing a great deal of historical detail.
10. "Wagons" at 250 Division Street, by Andrew Miles. This is a stained-glass effect of several turn-of-the-century wagons and buggies.
11."Education" at 285 East Main Street, by Risot Turunen. Teacher, principal, students, and school are based on old photographs.
12."Triathlon"at 285 East Main St, by Paul Elliot. The runner, cyclist, and swimmer are captured in a scene from the annual Welland Triathlon by Mike Burwell.
13. "Upbound at Midnight" at 228 East Main Street, by Ross Beard. This is a night scene of a ship travelling south towards Port Colborne along the Welland Canal.
14. "Welland Fair" at 228 East Main Street, by John Hood. Three scenes from the 1940, 1958, and 1975 Welland Fair are shown.
15." The Cordage Community" at 212 East Main Street, by Marsha Charlebois, depicts the employees of the Plymouth Cordage Company circa 1906 at work and play.
16. "Tell me about the Olden Days" a freestanding wall across the street from 212 East Main Street is by Chemainus, B.C. artist Dan Sawatsky. It depicts the arrival of immigrants in Welland circa 1910.
17. "Little Helper" at 225 East Main Street is also by Dan Sawastzky and depicts a farm family of father, son and grandson in a local agricultural scene.
18."The Pond - New Year's Day" at 188 East Main Street, by Ross Beard, depicts the Welland Junction area about 1970, with upturned earth suggesting the construction of the new Welland canal by-pass.
19. "The Welland Club" at the corner of Hellems Avenue and East Main Street, by John Hood, depicts the professional club around 1920, with the Union Jack and lawn bowling featured prominently.
20. "Where Water Meets Rail" at 147 East Main Street, by Larraine Coakley-Black, consent rates & reservations on various means of transportation.
21. "Tugboats" at 77 East Main Street, by Stefan Bell, depicts the tugboat "Hector" circa 1920, pulling barges and ships through the Welland canal. Look for the artist's juggling equipment hidden in the mural.
22."Steam Engine" on the side of the Bell Building on Cross Street, by Ron Baird, depicting the old "work horse" used in the construction of the old Welland canals.
23."Working Women" at 27 East Main Street, by Ted Ziegler, shows the contribution of women to the industrial work force in the factories of Welland.
24. "Downtown Welland" at 14 King Street, by Phillip Wolf, depicts the commercial life of early Welland.
25."Main Street" at 22 King Street, by Mike Svob, contains two scenes of commercial activity in early downtown Welland
26."Canal construction" at 140 King Street, by Bas Degroot, depicts the construction of the Welland canal bypass.
27."Canal Digging" at 175 King Street, by Brian Romagnoli, depicts the era around 1824, with great detail in size historic scenes.
28."Paint by Number Mural" at 300 Lincoln Street East is the world's largest paint by number mural, completed by approximately 1000 people. It depicts the diverse ethnic mixture that played a major role in Welland's development
29. " O Canada" a relief Mural in Basswood, at 300 Lincoln Street East inside the Lincoln Centre by the Niagara Wood Carvers Association. This carving depicts the flora, fauna, and heraldry from countries of Europe and Asia, which are the homelands of a large percentage of the population of Welland. The birds and animals from these countries have come to the "Canadian Beaver Pond" to drink in peace in harmony.
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