Niagara Township Abstracts
The following description of Niagara 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 Niagara
The township is bounded on the north by Lake Ontario, on the east by Niagara River, on the south by the township of Stamford of the county of Welland, and on the west by the township of Grantham of the county of Lincoln.
The township of Niagara was the first township in the counties of Lincoln and Welland to receive settlers. During the war of the Revolution the vicinity at the mouth of the Niagara River was for many years a sort of rendezvous for troops, and from this point a number of expeditions were fitted out against those who took up arms against their Sovereign. In 1784, at the close of the American Revolution, Col. John Butler’s Rangers, consisting of about 450 men were disbanded, at Fort Niagara, and many of them settled upon land in this township and, with Loyalists who threaded their way through the almost impassable forests to Canada, were the pioneer settlers.
Newark, afterwards Niagara, was for many years the principal business place of the peninsula, and the settlers of the various townships and of the interior made that the point from which they procured supplies of provisions and articles necessary to till the soil with.
During the war of 1812-15 the township was the scene of conflict between the contending troops, which made life and property insecure, and the inhabitants probably suffered more aversely from the effects of the war than the settlers of the other townships. Niagara Village, also St. Davids, were burned by the enemy, and from the fact that the enemy’s troops were in this part in greater numbers than elsewhere, the settlers suffered more than they did in any other township.
The soil of this township is well watered by several small creeks and is well adapted for raising good crops, and the many fine residences and well cultivated farms which are to be seen in all parts of the township are proofs that the people do not lack that energy and thrift which bring success.
The township has good schooling facilities, which are by wise and liberal management rapidly extending and promise to be ere long superior in some respects to most of the other townships in the counties of Lincoln and Welland. Several fine church edifices belonging to various religious denominations are to be found in the villages of this township, and it may be truthfully said the people are at all times ready to further any object which tends to the public good.
Village of Niagara
See the separate heading for the Niagara Town
Village of Queenston
The village of Queenston, in the south east part of the Township of Niagara, is at the head of navigation on the Niagara River, and is a station on the Canada Southern line of railway. Queenston was first surveyed by the Hon. Robert Hamilton, whose name appears quite often in the early history of the Niagara peninsula. Being at the head of navigation on the Niagara River the place in an early day was, as well as Niagara, a point from which the boats that came from below unshipped their goods, which were transhipped by teams above the Falls, where they were reshipped for their destination on the upper lakes.
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On the 13th day of October, 1812, the battle of Queenston Heights, in which the Americans were defeated with a loss of about ninety men killed and nine hundred taken prisoners, occurred at this place, but the Canadians lost their leader Major General Brock, whose monument stands on the height at the foot of which Queenston is situated. During the summer months many sight-seers visit the monument. Toiling up the winding and rocky road shaded on either side by the fragrant red cedar, we come on the right to the neat lodge of the guide at the entrance of the monument grounds. We enter the grounds by a wide iron gate whose piers are surmounted by the family arms of the brave Brock. We take our way along the gravelled path to the monument and pass through a door at its base on the east side; to the right is the tomb of General Brock and on the left the tomb of the brave McDonell; an engraved plate on the tomb of each states the full name and date of death of the one who lies within. We ascend the spiral stairway leading upwards. We count the stone steps, and the two hundred and thirty-fifth brings us to a small seat at the top, where weary with stepping upwards, we are glad to rest. We gain our breath, and standing look from the circular windows, which from the ground look to be but two or three inches in diameter but which are really nearly a good in diameter.
The whole country for many miles away is spread before us as fair as nature with most lavish hands could make it. Before us, winding its way to Ontario’s waters, rolls the Niagara River, its deep blue waters eddying and foaming against the rocky shores just as they did more than three score years ago when the Americans in the gray light of an October morning launched their boats from the opposite shore, and with strong armies attempted to land their soldiers on Canada’s soil, and which was so bravely resisted by the brave Captain Dennis and Williams.
Seven miles away at the mouth of the Niagara River, the dwellings in the beautiful town of Niagara are to be seen; to the left of Niagara, Fort Mississauga, now dismantled, and on the right the ruins of Fort George appear, reminders of the days when our forefathers fought against invasion. Across the river from Niagara on the American side is Fort Niagara, whose white walls glistening under the noon-day sun can be seen from our position, and beyond Niagara the blue waters of Lake Ontario meeting the horizon in the far distance greets the eye. The city of Toronto on clear days, although upwards of thirty miles away, may be seen from the top of the monument.
Over hill and dale covered with waving grain and green woods ten miles to the west the church spires of St. Catharines are to be seen, and beyond the ribbon of water that marks the course of the Welland canal.
Almost under us as we look north and at the foot of the height on which the monument stands, overlooking the river and half hidden in the foliage of weeping willows and thorny locusts, is the little hamlet of Queenston, its stoney streets and general quietness amply redeemed by the kindliness of its people.
Across the river from Queenston is Lewiston and at our right a road leads to the former entrance of the first Suspension bridge across the Niagara River. The bridge which gave way to the more convenient one at Clifton, had its cable wire stays broken by the ice gorges in the river it spanned , and today all that is left of the bridge which excited the wonder of all when finished,, are several twisted wire cables that span the river, still securely fastened to massive stone towers on either side. The bridge was supported by ten wire cables which were each 1245 feet in length, and carried over stone towers on either side of the river. The bridge was only designed for foot and carriage passengers, and the roadway was 849 feet long, the width of which was 20 feet, and the bridge when completed was supposed to bear a weight of 335 tons without breaking. The cost of the structure was upwards of £14,000, and it was owned by a company of Canadians and Americans.
Village of St. Davids
St. Davids, in the southern part of the Township of Niagara is a small place, numbering about two hundred inhabitants. During the war of 1812-15, it being near the frontier ti was the scene of military operatins by both Canadians and Americans, and was burnt during the war. Mr. Richard Woodruff made the first settlement of this place in the year 1800. It has a church and public school and enjoys the advantage of daily mail.