February, 2019:

St. Catharines, Ontario – Book 5 in Colour Photos – My Top 15 Picks

St. Catharines is the largest city in Canada’s Niagara Region in Southern Ontario. It is 51 kilometers (32 miles) south of Toronto across Lake Ontario, and is 19 kilometers (12 miles) inland from the international boundary with the United States along the Niagara River. It is the northern entrance of the Welland Canal.

The city was first settled by Loyalists in the 1780s. The Crown granted them land in compensation for their services and for losses in the United States. Early histories credit Sergeant Jacob Dittrick and Private John Hainer, formerly of Butler’s Rangers, as among the first to come to the area. They took their Crown Patents where Dick’s Creek and 12 Mile Creek merge, now the city center of St. Catharines.

Secondary to water routes, native trails provided transportation networks, resulting in the present-day radial road pattern from the City center.

The small settlement was known as “The Twelve” and as “Murray’s District” to military and civic officials, but the local residents in 1796 and earlier referred to it as St. Catharines.

The Merritt family arrived; they were among the later Loyalists to relocate following the American Revolution. In 1796, Thomas Merritt arrived to build on his relationship with his former Commander and Queen’s Ranger, John Graves Simcoe, now the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.

The first Welland Canal was constructed from 1824 to 1833 behind what is now known as St. Paul Street, using Twelve Mile and Dick’s Creek. William Hamilton Merritt worked to promote the ambitious venture, both by raising funds and by enlisting government support. The canal established St. Catharines as the hub of commerce and industry for the Niagara Peninsula.

The Queen Street neighborhood has been subject to historical development associated with the Merritt family. The Niagara Peninsula saw considerable economic growth after the construction of the first Welland Canal, a project initiated by William Hamilton Merritt, a prominent land owner. The subdivision of his family’s estate in 1868 created the Triangular Tract, a new residential neighborhood with an extensive open parcel of land known as Montebello Gardens, later to be acquired by the City as a park.

By the 1870s, Queen Street was a thriving residential street while Montebello Park saw the construction of a large pavilion and a smaller bandstand. It was not until 1913 that families settled into residential dwellings on Midland Street along the park’s border. The unique building styles found in this neighborhood give the Queen Street District a diverse and rich streetscape.

The Yates Street residential district was developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s along the banks of Twelve Mile Creek on land originally owned by William Hamilton Merritt. Soon after he moved to St. Catharines, Merritt began building a mill along the shores of the creek. There he discovered an artesian well with mineral water flowing from a deep cavity in the earth. This water could be boiled, leaving behind salt residue – a valuable commodity at the time. In later years, it was discovered that drinking or bathing in the mineral water could cure a variety of ailments. This prompted the development of two spa resorts on Yates Street – the Stephenson House and Springbank Hotel – allowing those with ailing health and vacationers from far and wide to test the healing powers of the mineral waters.

In the early to mid-1800s, many mills were constructed along Twelve Mile Creek, all of which needed a reliable source of water. The Erie Canal was being designed in the United States as a waterway that would divert vessels away from local businesses in Upper Canada. Hoping to solve both of these problems, Merritt formed the Welland Canal Company in 1824. The Company was made up of many investors, one of whom was John B. Yates, an entrepreneur from the United States. Yates Street was named in his honor. The Canal was finally finished in 1829, bringing vessels through Twelve Mile Creek on their way to the Great Lakes and beyond.

Many important businesses made their home on the banks of the Welland Canal. Yates Street was located very close to the new businesses so many of the mill owners and managers chose to reside there. They were generally very wealthy men and therefore wanted large, elegant homes. A lot of the homes were constructed in elaborate styles such as Georgian and Tudor that are rarely seen in other parts of the city due to the large size and detailing required.

Over the years, the home owners have wisely preserved many of the grown trees on their property, creating the beautiful tree-lined streetscape we see today. Although the mills and other canal side businesses ceased operation after a new route was chosen for the canal, the elegant residences remain, creating a beautiful eclectic neighborhood.

Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
Court Street – 2½ storey tower, pediments on the roof, banding, beveled dentil molding, semi-circular stone voussoirs
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
19 Centre Street – Edwardian – oval stained-glass window with contrasting-colored brick voussoirs
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
87 Queen Street – Gothic, pediment
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
88 St. Paul Street – Detour Music Hall – pediment, cornice brackets, pilasters with composite capitals
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
115 St. Paul Street – cornice brackets, dentil molding, voussoirs and keystones
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
101 St. Paul Street – Patrick Sheehan’s Irish Pub – parapet, keystones, engaged Doric pillars, pilasters
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
157-159 St. Paul Street – dormers, drip molds with keystones
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
220 St. Paul Street – stepped parapet – 1914 date stone, voussoirs, banding
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
321 St. Paul Street – mansard roof with dormers, tower extending above roof line with iron cresting around widow’s walk, polychromatic tile work, keystones
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
15 Welland Avenue – Second Empire – mansard roof with dormers with window hoods, three-storey tower, pediment, cornice brackets, voussoirs and keystones
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
12 Yates Street – cornice brackets, round windows in gables, pedimented window hoods over lower windows, sidelights – Oak Hill was built in 1860 after Merritt’s first house burned due to arson. Merritt was part of The Refugee Slaves Friends Society. The tunnels under Oak Hill house connected it to the coach house and another to Twelve Mile Creek. There was plenty of space to hide escaping slaves, and it was an important stop on the Underground Railway. In 1938 the building was converted into CKTB radio station.
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
26 Yates Street – Classical Revival – second floor semi-circular balcony above pillared porch with composite capitals, sidelights and transom
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
29 Yates Street – Georgian – balanced façade, cornice brackets, shutters on six-over-six windows
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
30 Yates Street – three dormers, second floor balcony above pillared entrance with sidelights, bay window
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
33 Yates Street – hipped roof, cornice brackets, shutters, engaged pillars around door with sidelights and transom

St. Catharines, Ontario – Book 4 in Colour Photos – My Top 18 Picks

St. Catharines is the largest city in Canada’s Niagara Region in Southern Ontario. It is 51 kilometers (32 miles) south of Toronto across Lake Ontario, and is 19 kilometers (12 miles) inland from the international boundary with the United States along the Niagara River. It is the northern entrance of the Welland Canal. St. Catharines carries the official nickname “The Garden City” due to its 1,000 acres of parks, gardens and trails.

Before this area was settled several Indian trails intersected here at a ford in Twelve Mile Creek. They were improved by early settlers and a church was erected at the crossroads by 1798. A tavern soon followed and a settlement began to grow. After the War of 1812, the community expanded largely through the efforts of William Hamilton Merritt. He was the chief promoter of the first Welland Canal built in 1824-33. The canal made St. Catharines a center for water transportation, and provided abundant water power for industry. Factories and mills were established and St. Catharines became a leading flour-milling and shipbuilding center.

Dr. Lucius Oille was born in 1830 and was one of St. Catharines most prominent citizens. He served as a member of council for several years before becoming mayor in 1878. He was the second mayor of the city and first chairman of the waterworks. Oille was a physician and owned the first x-ray machine in St. Catharine. He was involved in dozens of city projects, such as the organization of the Niagara Central Railway and the city’s first streetcar system. In 1878 Dr. Oille donated a fountain in front of the courthouse at the corner of King and James Street to the citizens of St. Catharines. He wanted to provide water to citizens who were shopping in the market square or had come downtown to work. Tin drinking cups were attached to the fountain by a chain so that people could use them to drink. Dr. Oille even thought of the animals as the fountain has a small basin at the bottom specifically for them. This gift marked the establishment of the city’s waterworks system in 1875-1876. Dr. Lucius Oille died on August 15, 1903.

Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
15 Church Street – 1½ storey frontispiece entrance – Heritage Building
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
27 Church Street – Italianate – 2½ storey bay windows, fretwork, dormer
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
26-30 Church Street – Gothic Revival, verge board trim and finials on gables
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
31 Church Street – cornice brackets, dentil molding, keystones and voussoirs, free standing and engaged columns, sidelights and transom windows around door
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
104 Church Street – decorative entrance, shutters on windows
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
106-108 Church Street – Second Empire style, mansard roof, dormers with window hoods
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
101 King Street – former Court House – Georgian style – 1848-1849 – The visible James and King Street facades are of channeled Queenston ashlars while the concealed west and north walls are constructed with a course rubble limestone and brick, respectively. The front façade has a tower with a three-faced striking clock and is topped by an octagonal cupola. The clock continues to chime with the assistance of the original weights which extend from the clock tower to the first floor. The entrance to the building is carved in stone like the town hall in Perugia, Italy. It features upright balustrades which conform to the slope of the stairway. The supporting columns under the copings on each side are individually carved to fit its specific location. The northeast wing cut-stone addition to the original structure was built in 1865 to accommodate the County offices and courthouse.
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
164 King Street – three storey tower with voussoirs and keystones; cornice brackets
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
183 King Street – Mill Memorial Home was built in 1868 for James Mills, a founding member of the YMCA. The structure is a two and one half storey brick home built with Italianate design influences. It features a central tower and decorative roof line brackets. The tower has a mansard roof and semi-circular dormers. There are oval windows set between two courses of white brick which are located below the boxed cornice, decorative frieze and brackets of the roof line. The main floor windows are segmental with plain trim and a continuous stone sill. The upper windows are set in semi-circular frames. The main doorway has a fan transom and a paneled door. The large veranda, supported by sets of wooden columns, stretches across the entire front façade; it is a later addition to the house.
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
81 Lake Street – The Armoury was constructed in 1905 and was designed to serve as the regimental headquarters of the local militia and continues to function as a drill hall. It was from The Armoury that local militia units left to go overseas in 1914 and 1939, and for peacekeeping duties. The bulky, rectangular shape of the armoury is relieved by an irregular roof line and the stylistic diversity of its two basic constituencies. The expansive gable roof and the rhythmic course of arched windows marking the drill hall contrast with the crenelated towers, jutting chimneys, and rigorous fenestration patterns of the street elevations. The use of consistent materials and continuous horizontal elements unifies the overall composition. Quarry faced stonework is juxtaposed with fields of flat brickwork which accentuate the visual links afforded by the massive foundations, string courses and copings. The interplay of colors and textures inherent on the masonry is an essential feature.
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
Lake Street – wraparound veranda, bay window
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
127-129 Lake Street – dormers, finials and verge board on gables, beveled dentil molding, voussoirs and keystones
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
72 Lake Street – dormers, cornice brackets, string course, voussoirs and keystones, two-storey bay window, rectangular bay window on side, bric-a-brac on veranda, sidelights and transom
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
76 Lake Street – Italianate style, verge board trim on gables, voussoirs and keystones, bay windows, transom windows
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
1 Montebello Place – Queen Anne style – varied roof line, turret, wraparound veranda on two levels, Palladian windows in gables, dormers
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
10 Norris Place – 1874 – Norris Place in St. Catharines, Ontario is named after Captain James Norris who was a sea captain, businessman, Mayor of St Catharines and Member of Parliament. James Norris, one of the successful business men and leading manufacturers of St. Catharines, was born in Argyleshire, Scotland, in February 1820. At age fourteen, immigrated with his family to Upper Canada. When he was nineteen or twenty years of age, he came to St. Catharines, sailing on the lakes and Welland Canal in the season of navigation.
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
9 Norris Place – Mr. Norris owned this place. Decorative entrance, octagonal veranda
Architectural Photos, St. Catharines, Ontario
135 Ontario Street – fretwork, two storey bay windows, pediment