Dennis Gannon, The Standard


A tornado struck St. Catharines and Merritton on September 26, 1898. Many homes were seriously damaged (upper right). The North Ward School, located on Smythe Stree, was left a ruin (upper left). Merritton's Presbyterian Church, at the corner of Oakdale Avenue and Merritt Streets, was demolished (lower left). The Lincoln Paper Mill was badly damaged. (lower right).

YESTERDAY AND TODAY: The disaster of 1898

For the past several weeks the news has been filled with reports of one horrifying natural disaster after another – Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria ravaging the islands of the Caribbean and the Gulf coasts of Texas and Florida, and an earthquake devastating Mexico City and vicinity . . .

 Left: This photo, taken in November 1925, documents a re-working of the “Five Points” intersection where Geneva, St. Paul, Queenston and Niagara streets all meet. — Special Collections Room, St. Catharines Public Library Right: The city plans to re-configure the “five points” intersection, show in this photo from Wednesday, by re-routing Niagara Street away from intersecting with the other three streets. — Julie Jocsak/Standard Staff

Yesterday and today: Five Points intersection

The Standard recently reported that in 2018 the city plans to re-configure the “five points” intersection where Geneva, St. Paul, Queenston and Niagara streets all meet. The plan includes re-routing Niagara Street away from intersecting with the other three streets.

Left: An aerial photo of the area around where the St. Catharines Centennial Library was built on Church Street in 1977. Right: The St. Catharines Library as it looks in 2017. Standard Photo

YESTERDAY AND TODAY: Library leaps ahead

Readers in St. Catharines have been able to borrow books since the establishment of the Mechanics’ Institute in the 1840s, but that was essentially a private institution and patrons did have to pay a fee for the books they borrowed.

Left: An arch built by local firefighters of the tools of their trade — ladders and hoses — embellished with evergreens greets Governor General Lord Dufferin and Lady Dufferin on St. Paul Street in 1874.— Photo courtesy of the St. Catharines Museum, X1988-91-1A Right: The view down St. Paul Steet at it appears today looking toward the Geneva Street and Queenston Street intersection. Bill Sawchuk/Standard Staff

YESTERDAY & TODAY: Firemen greet Governor General

In late August 1874, Governor General Lord Dufferin and Lady Dufferin undertook an official visit to southern Ontario — London, St. Thomas, Simcoe, Cayuga, Welland ... They finally reached St. Catharines on the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 28.

Left: The Upper Steel Arch Bridge, illustrated in the accompanying drawing, was built in 1897-98. — Supplied phot. Right: The Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. Julie Jocsak/ St. Catharines Standard/ Postmedia Network

YESTERDAY AND TODAY: Bridging the Niagara Gorge

The first bridges across the Niagara River (first for pedestrians and carriages, later also allowing for railroad traffic) opened in the late 1840s and early 1850s. They were a good distance away from the Falls, crossing the Niagara Gorge where the CN crosses today at the eastern end of Bridge Street in Niagara Falls.

Opening of the Welland Ship Canal. (Library and Archives Canada)

YESTERDAY & TODAY: Triumph and tragedy

Aug. 6, is the 85th anniversary of the official opening of the latest Welland Ship Canal, the fourth realization of the vital economic link between Lakes Erie and Ontario that has meant so much to Niagara and to all of North America since the first canal opened in November 1829.

Left: Twelve Mile Creek between Glendale Avenue and downtown as it looked in 1934 — Brock University Map Library. Right: The East side of Twelve Mile Creek between Glendale Avenue and downtown as it looks today— Google Maps

Yesterday and Today: Straightening out Twelve Mile Creek

While out walking recently along the east side of Twelve Mile Creek between Glendale Avenue and downtown, I began to wonder about the path that the Creek is taking today. There are places where the shapes of the slopes down into the Creek valley, and related depressions in the adjacent land – especially at one place below Glenridge, just north of t

Left: Henry Wise owned the City Planing Mills in 1907, when this old photo of the building appeared in a booklet published by the Standard. (That’s Geneva Street in the foreground of the photo.) — Special Collections Room, St. Catharines Public Library; Edwin Poole, photographer. Right: View of Geneva St. from Centre St. where the Henry Wise lumber company used to stand. Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard


For upwards of a century, the southern half of the large triangular plot bounded by Niagara, Geneva and Church streets was mostly occupied by a huge planing mill producing lumber and all sorts of trim for local builders.

Left; Demill Ladies College moved into the old Stephenson House on Yates Street in St. Catharines. — St. Catharines Journal, Veterans’ Edition. July 23, 1898. Right: The view at 41 Yates Street today. Julie Jocsak/Postmedia Network  

YESTERDAY AND TODAY: A corner with a history

Of all the sites along Yates Street, from St. Paul West up to Adams Street, the southwest corner of Yates and Salina has probably had the most varied history.

Left: St. Denis Church takes shape. The photo looks at the Lake Street end of the church and was taken in early November of 1960. By that time just half of the supporting steel framework of the ceiling of the church’s nave had been set in place. — Standard file photo. Right: Current view of St. Denis Church on Lake Street and Carlton Street. — Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard

Building a parish, one step at a time

Recognizing the need eventually to establish new parishes for local Roman Catholics as the city grew in the 1930s and 1940s, Monsignor Denis Morris acquired land on Russell Avenue at the foot of Henry Street as a possible site to serve the city’s north end.

Left: This week photo was taken March 28, 1959, the day on which the NS&T made its last run from St. Catharines to Thorold, thus ending 60 years of its interurban electric rail service. — unknown source. Right: Current day view of Welland Ave. in the are of the Midtown Plaza where NS&T railyard once stood. Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard

YESTERDAY AND TODAY: Rail yard to shopping centre

In the past, this feature has twice been devoted to the rail yard that for more than half a century occupied the strip of land on the south side of Welland Avenue between Clark and Court streets.

The historic photo this week, presumably dating to late March or early April 1919, shows a scene from the early stages of preparing the grounds for the garden, with two city workers and their horse-drawn equipment leveling the site.

Yesterday and today

William Bartlett Burgoyne was a many faceted individual. He was much more than “just” the founder of the St. Catharines Standard and its editor/publisher for three decades, from 1891 to 1921. He was involved in all manner of local undertakings, usually those aimed at civic betterment.

Left: Samuel Leonard St. John owned a series of residences in downtown St. Catharines, but by the mid-1860s he was prosperous enough to finally build his own “dream home” on the west side of Ontario Street, between Adams Street and Welland Avenue. — Courtesy of Joseph Eddleman, Charleston, S.C. Right: The current day view of where the Hotel Dieu hospital used to stand in St. Catharines. Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard

Mr. St. John’s Ontario Street mansion

The house in our old photo this week belonged Samuel Leonard St. John (1820-1881), a native of Pennsylvania who came here with his family and pursued a successful career as merchant and broker.

LEFT: The old photo this week shows a rail car used as an ambulance during emergencies during construction on the Welland Ship Canal, 1913-1932. — Weller Collection, library RIGHT: Niagara EMS ambulance in the west end of St. Catharines. — Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard


Our old photograph this week was taken in about 1914 and shows a group of men gathered around a vehicle that had been important from day one in construction of the Welland Ship Canal.

Left: A set of concrete residences that stand side by side at 110-116 Queen Street S. in Thorold, on the east side of Queen just above Richmond. The photo was taken in 1913 or 1914 and found in the papers of John Laing Weller. — St. Catharines Museum, Weller Collection, 2007.73.648 Right: The houses, side by side at 110-116 Queen Street S. in Thorold, are still occupied and in good shape, Standard photo

YESTERDAY AND TODAY: New way to build houses

Toward the end of the 19th century a new type of residential construction came on the scene. The traditional methods — wood frame, stone, and brick — were joined by poured concrete homes.