Grantham Township Abstracts
The following description of Grantham Township and its villages is quoted from the Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Lincoln and Welland, Ont. Toronto: H.R. Page & Co., 1876.
Township of Grantham
The Township of Grantham is bounded on the north by Lake Ontario, on the east by the Township of Niagara, on the south by a small portion of the Township of Stamford, and by the Township of Thorold (Welland County) and on the west by the Township of Louth. This Township has about 23,415 acres, and its soil is suitable for raising the usual crops; and apples, pears, peaches, and the various berries do unusually well, as they, in fact, do through the whole extent of the Counties of Lincoln and Welland.
The Township was first settled during the year 1784, when members of Butler’s Rangers who were discharged during that year, commenced to clear up land to make homes in the township. Many of those who received land from the Government considered it worth little, or nothing and bartered away their sites for mere trifles, and those who look over the map of Grantham which was made about 1784, or the year after, will notice the large tracts of land which some persons owned, and which, in many instances, were bought for sums almost too low to be called a price.
Grantham Township at the present is flourishing in every way, and its school system and churches are equal, and in many respects superior, to those of the other townships.
St. Catharines is the largest and most populous town on the Niagara Peninsula, and one of the most thriving business cities in Ontario. Most of the land on which the town is built was purchased in 1816 by the Hon. Wm. H. Merritt from the Hon. Robert Hamilton, of Queenston. The purchase consisted of about four hundred acres, on the south of which is the ridge commonly known as “the mountain.” At that time the amount of the assessment for the whole township (Grantham) was considerably under four hundred dollars, and the number of rateable inhabitants was only 164.
From the year 1784, when Butler’s Ranger’s were disbanded, until 1824, when work commenced on the Welland Canal, the increase of population was very slight in Lincoln and Welland. From this time forward there was a steady flow of new comers to this portion of the Province, and many of those who came settled in St. Catharines, which was known as “The Twelve.” It was afterwards called “Shipmans Corners,” and finally received its present name from Catharine, wife of Robert Hamilton.
The first store was opened in St. Catharines about 1810 by a Mr. Chisholm, who soon after had W. H. Merritt as a partner. The first tavern was built in 1797 by a Mr. Adams. It afterwards passed into the hands of Paul Shipman, from whom St. Paul street received its name. It was about the year 1796 that the first church was built in this part of the county, and which was, with the exception of the old Mohawk church at Brantford, the first in western Canada. This building served as a hospital for the Canadian army during the war of 1812-15, and remained standing until 1826, when it was destroyed by fire.
In the year 1816 was commenced what has since been the means of making St. Catharines a popular summer resort—we refer to the development of the salt and mineral springs, and William Hamilton Merritt was the first mover in what has since become so important a feature in the prosperity of the town. The mineral waters of St. Catharines are now known far and wide for their health giving virtues.
In 1826 the population of St. Catharines was about 600, and it contained quite a number of stores and workshops of various kinds. In 1827 measures were taken by some of the prominent inhabitants for the building of an academy at a cost of $4,000. This was successfully accomplished, and the institution, which was known as the Grantham academy, was opened on the 14th September, 1829. It flourished for a long time as a seat of superior education for the Niagara District, but subsequently becoming financially involved, it lost its use as an academy, and, at the present time, with additions which have been made to it, is used as one of the school buildings of St. Catharines.
In November, 1843, the population of the village, as taken by Mr. Gilleland, then assessor, was 2,354, and in 1845 it was incorporated as a town. In April 1846, the steady increase of population was still apparent, the number of inhabitants at that time being 3,462. During the same year the first water-works of the town were commenced; in 1853 the Port Dalhousie and St. Catharines Railroad was begun, and in the following year the streets of the town were, for the first time, lighted with gas.
St. Catharines owes a great deal of its prosperity to the fact of its possessing unsurpassed water power, the water being supplied from the Welland Canal through a race which begins at Merriton, and which gives power to scores of different manufacturing establishments, and employment to hundreds of workingmen. Some of the buildings used for manufacturing purposes will vie with, and many surpass any in the Dominion, in stability of structure, and superiority of improved labor saving machinery used in them. To her manufacturing interests St. Catharines owes a greater debt for her prosperity than can be estimated.
The advantages which can be had here and in the immediate vicinity for manufacturing purposes are unsurpassed in the Dominion, and with a water power which never fails, it has rare facilities for shipping goods by rail all directions and by vessels to all ports of the lakes or to foreign parts. The shipping interest of St. Catharines is much larger than is generally supposed; upwards of seventy vessels give their port of hail as St. Catharines, and the several ship yards in and around the city are at all times the scenes of stirring activity.
Of Masonic, Odd-Fellows, Orange Lodges, Temperance, and other societies of various kinds, St. Catharines has its full quota, and all of them are at the present time are in a most flourishing condition.
For fine church edifices and school buildings, St. Catharines enjoys a most enviable, but well merited reputation. Where ever the eye may be turned a church spire can be seen, or the neat and commodious building devoted to the education of the youth. Recently St. Catharines has been elevated to the dignity of a city, its population at the present time being upwards of 12,000—and there is little doubt that it will ultimately develop into one of the most successful and prosperous cities of the Dominion.
The Protestant Home in St. Catharines, was established in Jan. 1875, by the “Ladies’ Christian Association,” who in the distribution of their charity found the need for a “Home” to enable them to shelter aged persons and children, otherwise left to the mercy of the world. From this association the officers and Board of Directresses are chosen, and the “Protestant Home” is under the care of a matron. This institution is sustained by Public subscription and was incorporated under the “Charity Aid Act,” on the 14th Jan. 1876.
St. Catharines Public Schools
Prior to 1853 the Common Schools of St. Catharines were in a very incipient condition; the trustees having no school houses in their own right, were obliged to hire buildings for the purpose as best they could. In the above named year progressive steps were made in the erection of two brick school houses, at a cost of $4,000 each—not including furniture—and the employment of an efficient staff of teachers. These two schools were known as the St. Thomas and St. George’s ward schools. For a time these new institutions afforded greater facilities for education than the town ever possessed before, the teachers employed being always of a superior order.
As the population of the town increased, however, the accommodation became too limited, and the two ward schools had to be enlarged, and additional teachers employed in each. The names of the Local Superintendents in their order from 1855, to the appointment of the present incumbent, Dr. Comfort in 1867, are as follows: The Rev. Robert Robinson, Rev. R. F. Burns, Rev. T. T. Roberts and Rev. Dr. Cooney. On Dr. Comfort’s appointment to the office he at once took decided steps for increasing the school accommodation. New ward school houses were supplied from time to time as they were needed, and at the present time there is a fine central school and five ward schools in different parts of the city, sufficient to accommodate all the children of school age.
In the north-west part of the Township of Grantham and at the entrance of the Welland Ship Canal from Lake Ontario, has a population of about 200 people. From the fact of Port Dalhousie being a port of entry, and that it has a fine farming country in its vicinity, it is growing very fast, and in time will undoubtedly take rank as a much larger place than at the present day. The place was named after Lord Dalhousie in gratitude for his exertions in behalf of the Welland Canal. There are several churches in the place and ample school accommodations. The Canal gives good facilities to manufacturers, who utilize its power in various establishments. The place also has two ship yards and one or two grain elevators. The harbour of Port Dalhouse is safe, and vessels can find refuge here in all seasons. The place contains a number of fine residences and many comfortable houses, and the citizens are enterprising and progressive in everything which tends to build up the village. Port Dalhousie is the northern terminus of the Welland Railway, and during the summer months a steamer runs between the place and Toronto, which is 31 miles distant.
Merritton—named after the Hon. William Hamilton Merritt—like most of the other towns situated along the canal, has the best of facilities for manufacturing purposes, and these advantages have been taken hold of by different parties, who have erected various manufacturing establishments, which employ hundreds of men. Amongst these may be mentioned the cotton and woollen goods manufactory, also the carriage-bent-stuff works and saw mill of the Messers. Phelps. There are also flour mills, leather, refined oil, knife and other works, and a very large paper mill here. Merritton is a station on the Great Western and Welland Railways; those with the canal offer good means for shipping manufactured articles to all parts of the country.
Homer is in the Township of Grantham, about three miles from St. Catharines, on the Queenston and Grimsby road. This is a small post village. It has a common school, a hotel or two, and two or three stores, with a population of 200 people.