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Year in review: Part 11

Looking back at August 2018

Coast Guard Captain/author alerts Thorold

A retired U.S. Coast Guard captain wants to warn Thorold residents.

While sailing through the Welland Canal in the past, WhiteHaven, Pennsylvania resident John Kearns spotted some “old abandoned warehouses” along Thorold’s canal banks, “which would be a target for terrorists to drop bombs.”

Kearns said he wrote Grey Wolf of Superior “To make people more aware, because since 9-11, people have lost sight of the terrorists and meanwhile, attacks are mounting worldwide.  I chose Thorold because of the strategic importance of the Canal and proximity to the power grids.”
In 2017, his book was published by Book Locker. 

“Then I was approached by Xlibris, who liked the story, but said it was too military for the average person.”

The book was rewritten so civilians could understand his fictitious tale of Thorold in the staging and nuclear attack on Niagara power grids. The premise is that a nuclear device is dropped from a large passing barge near Lock 7, and when a diversion is created by the water tower, the device is retrieved and assembled in the old warehouse area, then launched from Thorold in a beginning attack throughout the Great Lakes. 

Reflecting on his career, “By the time I turned 18, all the coal and steel mills closed,” in his hometown, Kearns said. “So I joined the U.S. Coast Guard.”

He also taught security law enforcement to college students becoming police officers, and during his 26 years in the military, Kearns did drug enforcement in South America. Wounded during a mission in Africa, he was sent to Germany for recovery, where “There was an old submarine from WWII, and that gave me the idea to start this story.” The term “Grey Wolf” refers to WWII submarines, which were painted grey and became camouflaged in Europe’s grey waters.
“I’ve searched barges before and I know how things can get in and prevent attacks at this vulnerable juncture. I studied this, and Thorold is an epicenter.”

The barges are huge, he said, and have a swing gate bottom that gets filled with grain and wheat.

“But in this book, they put a submarine inside the barge and goods can be transported through the canal. I wanted to create awareness of what could happen.”

Kearns spent two days recently at the Inn at Lock Seven and visited the Thorold Legion and Canadian Corps to ask veterans and other Thoroldites what they think of their town being “a ground zero in fiction.”
“When on active duty, I used to come through here on ships and with the next book coming out, I needed to come here and talk to the veterans,” he said. “I needed to get their response to being subjects of the book.” 
Now available on and through Barnes & Noble, “I was told it would make a good movie,” he stated. “I sold around 100,000 copies with the first release. Now the second one is coming out.”

His sequel, "Grey Wolf of Justice,” will include citizens’ thoughts following the original attack and scenes that take place in Thorold. 

In it, Kearns said, “The people take back the lakes and there’s a battle on Lake Superior. There are huge underground caverns that are big enough to tuck a small ship into that couldn’t be seen from the air.”

Following is an excerpt from the book:  “We will wait until midnight,” they all agreed as the sirens and helicopters could be heard in South Thorold responding to the bombing. No one would be watching there; they will all be busy with the bomb explosion in the town. The skipper on the barge knew it fired also. With the amount of weight and all that air being forced out at once, the dark canal water turned almost milk white for a few moments. Looking behind him, it was like nothing ever happened. Seeing a ship closing behind him, he remembered they slowed as he passed the torpedo launch area and he now increased back up to 10 knots. The explosion was near the canal, not in the canal. The waterway remained open, not obstructed, so ship traffic continued moving as usual. No need for the Coast Guard, except a caution broadcast in the immediate area and Canada’s jurisdiction. The water tower was damaged, but no one was hurt. Was it a bomb? The local officials did not know. The demolition’s expert did his job well. Right before the blast, ramps were taken from the van and extended against the water tower facing the canal.”

Community-wide garage sale

Scour your attics; search your basements. Clear your house of clutter and earn some cash in the process.

From downtown Thorold to the city’s rural edges, household treasures will fill yards and garages on Sept. 15, as Thorold hosts its 15th annual Community-Wide Garage Sale.

Fifteen years ago, Craig Finlay and his wife Lois started the popular event, which sees “Hundreds and hundreds of people come to town, from as far away as Toronto and Alliston, Ontario; from professional antique dealers to parents and their children looking for a $1 toy to play with. They come just because there are so many,” Finlay told the Thorold News.

Usually, from 75 to 100 homeowners participate by hosting yard sales, he said, depending on the weather, and it’s consistently held the second Saturday after Labour Day, so people know when to expect it.

“It’s a very green event. It’s an opportunity for people to recycle. It’s really part of our tourism initiative and a low-cost way to bring people to town and to bring people who have never been to Thorold before. Thorold is so central, which attracts people to the sale.”
Discovering deals, rare finds, and even historical artifacts is all part of the fun. And of course, there’s the haggling.

“It’s fun to see people come in and buy stuff. You never know what you’re going to find. There have been quite a few good antiques found, such as folk art, early blanket boxes, and cupboards,” he noted.

Enthusiastic antique collectors and garage sale advocates, the Finlays ran the event “informally before, but the city has helped us expand it by posting it on the city’s website. People can download the list,” he explained, before mapping their route for maximum efficiency on Sept. 15.

Most people register but not everyone does, he said, adding, “There’s a better chance for shoppers to come down your street if you register. We encourage people to team up. We really emphasize that people follow the parking procedures, especially in the old town where streets are typically narrower.”

Yard sale hosts can choose their own start time, but most addresses start selling at 8 a.m. and finish in the early afternoon.

The Finlays take part, hosting a sale at their house each year, and encourage Thorold’s churches and other charitable organizations to participate.

“Maybe some items have outlived their usefulness, but can be appreciated by someone else. It just gives a lot of joy to a lot of people of all ages. Kids can come, and for next to no money,” enjoy the event with their family, he stated.

“From the serious to the once-a-year shopper, we love them all.” 

How Hurricane Road got its name
Thorold Township and Town, 1786-1932
Published by John H. Thompson

The year 1792 was marked by another calamity, which, however, proved to be a blessing in the end. A violent hurricane passed over the southwestern portion of the township, levelling all the houses in its path, but at the same time uprooting the trees, thus effectually clearing the woods. A road was afterwards built through this storm-swept region from Fonthill to Port Robinson, and was appropriately named the “Hurricane Road.”

From this time until the outbreak of the war, progress was continuous, the greatest activity being shown in the neighbourhood of the Short Hills, or St. Johns. New and better houses were built as more of the Loyalists came over. About the close of the century, some English Quakers, who had waited to test the new Government of the United States, settled near the Pelham side of the township.

In 1791, the Constitutional Act had given the people greater security in the tenure of their land, and in 1792, when Newark (Niagara) was made the seat of Government for Upper Canada, the meeting of Parliament brought new interests into the lives of the Thorold settlers. All their trading was done at Newark, and all their first grain was ground there, so there was constant intercourse between the old lake town and the inland districts.

Gradually, as the farmers had more time left after their agricultural labours, they began to turn their other talents to account, and various articles were manufactured that proved to be more marketable commodities than farm produce, and these were taken to Niagara and exchanged for groceries.  Still, every member of the settlement worked hard; even the women helped in the fields and in the bush, and in one case the girls of the family dug the well.

From the very first, the Lutheran settlers worshipped together every Sunday in the different houses. They had all brought their German service books with them, and by means of public prayer and praise, they managed to keep together little congregations here and there throughout the peninsula. At a very early date, a log church was built for the use of the Lutherans from Thorold, Niagara and Stamford townships; the Hutts, Balls, Keefers and Lampmans being those chiefly interested in its erection.

Until late in the sixties, it stood in a corner of the old graveyard at the present town of Thorold. It seems to have been known by many names, for we find it spoken of us as the German, the Lutheran, and sometimes the Presbyterian church. 

Sunday was strictly observed among the old pioneers; even whistling on that day was considered extremely sinful. Yet the church services were also looked forward to as social gatherings, for long before the minister made his appearance, the people would meet at the old spring just outside the graveyard.

At the same time, there was built near the church a comfortable log house, which was intended for a manse. However, as not minister came, it was rented to Dr. Prendergast, who came here from Mayville, New York. When war was declared in 1812, he, with other aliens, was obliged to leave the country, but his daughter afterwards returned to Canada as the wife of the Hon. William Hamilton Merritt of St. Catharines.

The Lutherans had brought no pastor with them from the Mohawk valley, but the Church of England services being so like their own, they gratefully accepted the ministrations of the Rev. Robert Addison, who had been sent in 1792 by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Dr. Addison was the first Rector of old St. Mark’s at Niagara, but the parish of which he voluntarily assumed charge really extended throughout this district and as far as York (Toronto); and the careful entries in his register show how faithfully he administered the church’s rites for 37 years.

We find him preaching in private houses in Thorold township and baptizing at the Twelve Mile Creek, as St. Catharines was then called; but the more important services were usually held at Niagara, a church having been built there in 1804. The old register of St. Mark’s contains several items referring to Thorold, among others, the following entries:

  • Weddings, Niagara, 1809, May 4: Jacob H. Ball, Bachelor and Catherine Clement, Spinster.
  • Burials, Niagara, 1810:  Old Anna Meisner.
  • Baptisms at Twelve Mile Creek, 1815, May 14: Mary Ann Larraway of Jonas and Mary. Caroline Bowman of Adam and Hannah. Jane Jemima Larraway of Harmonene and Phoebe. Agnes, Nancy, George Adam Bowman of Adam and Hannah. 
  • Weddings, Niagara, 1815, June 8: George Keefer, Widower, and Jane Emory, Widow.
  • Weddings, Niagara, 1816, Nov. 7: Jacob A. Ball, Bachelor, and Elizabeth Hostetter, Spinster (of Grantham).
  • Baptisms, 1817, Jan’y 21: Emily Browne of riper years. John Browne of Richard and Emily.
  • Baptisms, 1818, May 27: Amelia Keefer of George Keefer Esq. and Jane.
  • Weddings, Niagara, 1823, December 25: Thomas Creen, Bachelor, and Anna D. Ball (Thorold), Spinster.

Mr. Creen afterwards succeeded Mr. Addison as Rector of St. Mark’s.

In the Misener, Carl and Ball burying ground, near Port Robinson, some of the earliest settlers are buried, but the oldest stones have been stolen. That erected to the memory of Leonard Misener and his wife bears this inscription:
Leonard Misener, Died Sept. 3, 1806. 62 years. Barbara Misener, Widow of Leonard Misener, Died 23rd Apl., 1821.
Then follows a quaint verse of the old-time elegiac order. In the graveyard at Beaverdams, one of the oldest in the township; the earliest date that is at all decipherable is 1801. These are the oldest inscriptions:
Here lieth the Body of Peter Weaver
Who departed this life, the 7th day of March,
In the year of Our Lord, 1801.
He was aged 52 years, 7 months and 10 days.
Here lies the Body of _____ Shaver
Who departed this life Sept. 5th
In the year of Our Lord, 1805.

Gifted teens boosting Beaverdams Church 

Four award-winning young musicians are lending their musical talents to a local landmark.

The four have been friends since elementary school, and after hosting a successful similar concert last May, the talented teens are tuning up for another mixture of classical, theatrical and Celtic music at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church this Saturday, Aug. 11.

Called Music for a Summer’s Evening, the concert starts at 7 p.m. and features special guest Gail Poulsen, a member of the first violin section of the Niagara Symphony, and Robert Watson, organist of St Andrew's Church.

According to Sheila Flavel, mother of Quinn Flavel—who’s one of the four performers—“This one promises to be even more uplifting because of the inclusion of Gail Poulsen and her music.”

She added that they’ll be blending their voices and instruments—which include piano, organ, classical guitar, and violin because, “The performers feel that the restoration of the historical  Beaverdams church is a worthy fundraising cause. We are affiliated with St. Andrews because it is Quinn's and my regular church. Many members of the Friends of Beaverdams attend the church.”

Poulsen also writes songs, some of which have been arranged for choir by Brock University professor Harris Loewen, and are published. Her band, Dawn, features professional musicians from Jubilee Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines.
Fifteen-year-old singer Sydney Cornett, who recently reached a second place standing in the Ontario Registered Teachers Association Provincials held in Ottawa; will join her friends:  15-year-old Quinn Flavel; 16-year-old Elizabeth Chernyak and 13-year-old Daniele Chernyak.

Both passionate about the arts, Daniele has been playing classical guitar for seven years; Elizabeth for 10 years. A few years ago, they both began taking singing lessons and through their musical gifts, quickly became friends with Quinn and Sheila, the organizer, who asked them to participate.

The concert will be “joyous,” said Sheila, and feature “many wonderful pieces and songs that might cause the audience to jump in their seats or feel their heart throb. They can expect a wide variety of pieces and songs, from dazzling chords to sweet melodies, that are sure to keep everyone entertained.”

The cost will be by freewill offering, with proceeds earmarked for the Beaverdams Church restoration.

Refreshments will be provided.

St. Andrew’s Church is located at 24 Clairmont Street in Thorold.

For more information, visit

Open House at The Ass Menagerie

Attempting to tame Satan is part of her daily ritual.

Satan, who has two harems of chickens, acts as a self-appointed “guard rooster,” crowing to let Leisa Miller know when visitors arrive at her sprawling haven for unwanted animals.

Here, donkeys think they are dogs, and chickens and pigs lie down and expect a belly rub.

“It blows my mind, the stuff I do,” says Miller. “One day, I was putting sun screen on the chicken because she was moulting.” She adds: “We keep chickens, even when they stop laying eggs.”

Growing up on a grape farm in Winona, Miller recalled the classic title, The Glass Menagerie, from her childhood.

“And I said, ‘I’m going to get a donkey, and call this place The Ass Menagerie’.”

Laura, her “donkey diva,” is named after the daughter in the Glass Menagerie, and thinks she’s a dog, as well as Eligh’s brother, says Miller.

Eligh, the enormous white Great Pyrenees Mountain dog, was found tied to a tree and starving, while Laura was rescued from a backyard mini donkey mill by Whispering Hearts Horse Rescue in Haldimand.

Both animals are about two years old and they are “best friends,” according to Miller. “They run around and chase each other and they wrestle.”

This marks the second summer since Miller and her husband John moved into the sprawling Wainfleet property, and began “collecting” animals, such as Faye, the horse.

“Faye came from a really rough situation. She would be bucking and bolting and was really high-strung. She’s a calm old soul and was just abused. She was afraid of people.”

Bringing Bud, the pig, from Beaver Creek Farm Sanctuary, “This is their forever home,” she said. “They are all rescues. Even the chickens. Most have been adopted and we have a few that people asked us to take.”

Ernie and Bert, two abandoned pigs, bonded with Bud, and volunteers come and play with the rescued mini goats, who “love to climb picnic tables. We’re going to build a picnic table pyramid. I’d take picnic tables anytime,” says Miller, if people wish to donate old or unused ones for the kids.

Many of the animals cuddle with Miller, while some aren’t quite so good-natured.

There’s Winston, the 200-pound goat, AKA “Master of Destruction,” who “has mental health issues, but loves affection. He’s the only one who doesn’t go free-range because he’s so bad,” she smiles. “The barn stood for 100 years and Winston almost took it down.”

While the farm is not normally open to the public, the Millers will host a fundraising Open House on Saturday, Sept. 1, to coincide with Wainfleet’s annual nearby Marshville Heritage Festival.

The event will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and include free admission, with cash donations accepted, as well as a massive yard sale, 50/50 draw, kids’ activities, penny raffle, barbecue, and self-guided tours.

All funds raised will help cover the cost of feeding and maintaining the rescued animals, including damages caused by Winston, as well as the cost of coyote screens needed to protect the chickens.

“We’re a registered charity and not-for-profit. There’s no way to make enough money to feed them since we don’t sell anything here.”
Her goal is to “spruce up” the property and “make it more shabby chic,” including the ancient three-storey former dairy barn, which has 5,000 square feet of space.

Located at 12550 Daley Ditch Road, the farm can be accessed on Sept. 1 by following Hwy. 3 from Port Colborne, turning left on Concession Road #1, then left on Daley Ditch Road.

Protest calls for investigation into the Region and NPCA

Calls to investigate the operations at the Niagara Region are mounting. Most of the turmoil surrounds Regional Chair Regional Chair Alan Caslin and the hiring, and subsequent contract extension of Regional CAO Carmen D'Angelo.

On August 23, before the Regional Council meeting, one of several protests took place outside Regional Headquarters. A strong turnout included individuals with placards reading "NPCA Board Shame on You," "MR. CAO You're Fired," Corruption," "Taxpayers Demand Ombudsman," and many more.

In an interview with the Thorold News, David Honey, President of the Niagara Landowners Association (NLA), explained the purpose of the protest.

"We’ve got an issue with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) and the Niagara Region. The past CAO of the NPCA is now the CAO at the Region and we’ve been asking how he made this jump. And, furthermore, how is it that none of the Regional Councillors seem to know how he got there or how he got an extension on his contract."

Honey believes there’s corruption at the Regional level.  “I honestly think that the NPCA is simply a tool being used by the Region for development issues. Everybody that sits on board is pro development," he charged. "There are no conservationists on the board." 

"This has to get out of the hands of the Niagara Region and into the hands of the people who are concerned about the environment. All the Regional Government wants to do is develop and that’s got to stop."

He believes part of the long term plans of the Region include squeezing out smaller communities by expanding urban boundaries until they are joined as bigger centres. He says the increased population in Niagara would be more attractive to the transportation initiatives like GO Train expansion.

Honey charges that developers have a direct influence on the direction set at the Region. "They’re the ones who created Biodiversity Offsetting in Niagara. But it’s going on all over the world." 

Biodiversity Offsetting is where the Conservation Authority can sell a protected property, wetland, and try to create it somewhere else. 

But according to the Dan Kraus National Conservation Biologist, Nature Conservancy of Canada "Misusing biodiversity offsets creates the illusion of sustainability." 

He said that although the Business and Biodiversity Offset Program (BBOP) principles provide the foundation for an effective offset program, "They fall short on one key standard: no net loss. This is because, despite best intentions, attempts at no net loss have failed, and ultimately result in degraded habitats and declines of species. The consequences of these losses are significant because the development project and offset are often occurring in landscapes that already have experienced significant ecological declines."

"Developers have strongly influenced the NPCA and the Niagara Region," Honey cautioned. 

He pointed to the Thundering Waters development (a proposed biodiversity swap site) and warned, "That’s only the beginning."

He also noted that no developers are currently working alongside the NLA.

"We’ve been trying to protect farmers, landowners, and property owners. Our protest stems back to what the conservation authorities were doing before this biodiversity offsetting came in.
Private owners were trying to beautify or make a living on their own property and the Conservation Authority would come in and say, 'We’re charging you because this is a wetland and you can’t do anything with it.'

"There’s going to be a lot of retribution. If they go through with this Biodiversity Offsetting, then we want full compensation for all the people they have taken to court over the past 14 years," Honey warned.

Later that evening, Niagara Regional Council voted unanimously to call on the Ontario Ombudsman's office to investigate the hiring of chief administrative officer Carmen D'Angelo.

Thorold Seniors Centre welcomes 21 new Canadians 

Smiles were wide and the spirit of patriotism filled the Thorold Seniors Centre last week, as 21 people spoke and signed the Oath of Citizenship, officially making them new Canadians.

Madame Martine Rioux of Thorold acted as Residing Official of the special citizenship ceremony held Aug. 16 to welcome the new Canadian citizens, hosted by Clerk Vijesh Randowar on behalf of the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Among them was a beaming Subhaka Reddy Orampati, who came from India in 2012, and began his career in the hotel business in Ottawa before moving to Niagara Falls.

“It’s very surprising and wonderful,” he said, of the privilege of becoming a Canadian. “I’m really enjoying the day. My brother and I planned it. It’s a long wish come true for my brother and me.”

Following two opening numbers by The Young at Heart Seniors’ choir, Thorold Town Crier Tony Vandermaas announced that the new Canadians “would join the family of our beloved citizens,” and stated, “Historically, this nation has benefited greatly from all who contribute to the rich fabric of our society. We celebrate these new Canadian citizens.”

Piped in by Thorold piper Gary Cooper, the dignitaries were accompanied by Constable Elise Boisclair of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and joined by John MacPherson of the Veteran Canadian Forces, Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey, Thorold Mayor Ted Luciani, and Kathleen Collini of the Thorold Seniors Centre executive.

“This is a proud moment for you,” Rioux told the new citizens; “that you and your family will always cherish. I am happy that you have chosen to be citizens of this wonderful country. You are following in the footsteps of many, including John A. MacDonald, our first prime minister, who came here from Scotland at age five.”

Rioux said she’s a descendant of immigrants who came to Canada from Normandy, France, and also has First Nations roots.

“Being Canadian is more than having a piece of paper,” she continued. “It includes rights and responsibilities to obey Canada’s laws. Thousands of Canadians have fought and died for these rights and freedoms. They should never be forgotten.”

Rioux advised them to research all candidates running for office in various elections, and vote, and to get involved in their communities by becoming volunteers.

“Our liberty, our prosperity, depends on it,” she stated. “Take the words of the oath to heart.”

With right hands raised, the new citizens repeated the oath to “faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

A rousing round of applause followed from the crowd, consisting of the citizens’ family members and Thoroldites, as the choir burst into They All Call it Canada, But I Call it Home.

“I’m extremely honoured to be here today,” said Luciani. “I feel very privileged that Thorold will have a place in your special memories. I welcome you and know you will love this country as much as I do. My Canada accepts diversity. My Canada is inclusive to everyone.”

Rioux concluded the ceremony by saying, “Very few of us have the same past, but as Canadians, all of us can share the same future. What we can accomplish together is unlimited. Congratulations and welcome to the Canadian family.”

The Hungry Years 
Thorold Township and Town, 1786-1932
Published by John H. Thompson

Good results were showing from the four years of patient work, and the hopeful pioneers were just becoming encouraged by the bountiful harvests, when, in 1788, a famine fell upon the land. During the spring and summer of that year, several successive frosts destroyed the crops. No grain was brought to maturity, and the poor settlers suffered terribly, for they had not yet been able to provide for such a contingency. Those living near the lake or river were able to procure fish, but those on inland farms had very few resources.

By the King’s bounty, as it was called, provision was again made for serving grain and food from the government store to those in need, but ill-fed men and women could not walk any great distance to procure these rations. Of course, there were as yet very few horses or oxen in the township. Niagara and Queenston were the nearest store-houses, the supplies at the latter place being given out by the Secords.

Very pathetically, this was named the “Hungry year,” and as such, it has since been known. Drawn nearer together by the brotherhood of suffering, the poor settlers helped one another as much as possible. Those who had cows kept their poorer neighbours supplied with milk and curds.

One farmer, who felt that his cow must be sacrificed rather than his family, went out to kill the animal, but found himself too tender-hearted to act as his own butcher; however, just as he returned to his cabin, his children discovered and pried out some grains of maize that had got between the cracks of the loft. These, bruised and boiled, helped to ward off starvation for a short time.

Then some Indians came to beg, but when they saw the state of want to which the poor white colonists were reduced, they gave food—bread, made from bean flour—instead of taking it. Also, they told the poor settlers of the pork and beans that were being given out from the military stores.

The wheat, which had to be cut while still unripe, was dried in the sun, and when shelled between stones was used for food; mixed with water, or with milk when the latter was procurable, the grain made a palatable and nourishing dish. The leaves of the beech tree when cooked took the place of vegetables for that summer, and in the fall the nuts were eagerly welcomed. In the winter the settlers fared less badly, for they could then shoot game; but in the spring of 1789, the suffering was very great.

There is very little to be found in official documents relating to the “Hungry year.” The first notice of the scarcity of provisions to be found in state papers is in a report sent on the 14th of February, 1789 by Lord Dorchester to Lord Sydney, stating that on account of want of food, he had allowed the free importation of provisions. On the 14th of March, Lord Dorchester reported that in addition to opening trade by Lake Champlain for importing provisions, applications had been made for permission to import by sea.

On the 25th of January, 1789, Bishop Hubert sent a circular to the clergy of the province of Quebec, saying: “The scarcity (disette) of this year, having multiplied the poor in a great number of the parishes, we must endeavour to multiply resources in their favour and to show more than ever sentiments of compassion for so many of the unfortunates.”

The Bishop also urged them to obtain grain for the spring sowing. One month later, the Bishop wrote that the efforts at relief were insufficient, and that in spite of every measure, “Misery is felt more keenly than ever in a great number of parishes.” He desired the priests to enquire as to the best methods of relieving the distress.

With the help of the King’s stores, the spring was tided over, and altogether only a very few lives were lost. The summers immediately following yielded splendid harvests, and there was great cause for the heartfelt rejoicing so generally shown. However, the “Hungry year” was not without its effect upon the founders of Upper Canada, for a people whose lot had included rude labour, warfare and famine were not the men to shrink from smaller dangers or to be daunted by any common reverses.

Enbridge stuffs backpacks for United Way

Everyone knows it takes a village to raise a child and no one understands that better than the United Way. And when the village is as large as the Niagara Region, the need and the efforts are huge.

As school is about to begin, agencies from around Niagara put out a call for help and the response to help is equally widespread.The Enbridge warehouse on Schmon Parkway once again hosted the Backpacks for Kids efforts organized by United Way each year.

Backpacks for Kids provides new backpacks filled with school supplies to children and youth from low-income families. 

The program began at Enbridge in 2002 in order to help kids agencies who have requested help for those who need it.

“A lot of people come together here and they work. There’s a lot of need out there, kids don’w want to feel left out when they go back to school," Ashleigh Doyle Manager, Marketing & Communications at United Way told the Thorold News.

Doyle said that some of the agencies they help include Community Care, Project Share, Port Care, the Salvation Army, Women's Place as well as a variety of churches and schools. The backpacks are filled with age appropriate school items to fill the needs requested by each of the agencies.

Thorold’s pioneers
From Thorold—Township and Town, 1786-1932
Published by John H. Thompson 

Niagara’s first patents of land were given when the district had been thoroughly surveyed, with townships known at first by number, Thorold being the ninth. The townships were nearly all called after the subdivisions of old Lincolnshire, the chief exceptions being Niagara, which has perpetuated the name of the old Indian village, Onghiarra, and Thorold, which was called after Sir John Thorold, at that time and for several years previous Member for Lincolnshire. The Sir John Thorold who was head of the house in 1775 was greatly interested in colonial questions, and voted against the war with America, and it is fitting that his name should be perpetuated in a colonial township.

Many of the Thorold patentees were not residents of the township. The Hon. Robert Hamilton lived at Queenston, and took an active part in the early politics of the country. Isaac Swayze, who made his home at Niagara, was a member of the first Parliament of Upper Canada. Samuel Street’s name was associated with Niagara Falls; he was known as the wealthiest man in Canada, and was a sort of banking institution for all the settlers in the district.

Among the actual residents of the township, the Miseners were among the first comers. They were of Dutch extraction, the original spelling of the name being Miznardt, afterwards corrupted to Muisener. The brothers, Leonard and Peter, came from Pennsylvania near the Virginia border; they brought their goods and chattels in a wagon that had carried supplies for the King’s party in 1776.

Leonard Misener first took up 500 acres of land near Drummondville, but as he could raise only buckwheat there, he exchanged for land in Thorold near the present village of Port Robinson.

The DeCous were another family whose name appears in various forms; found in documents as DeCue, DeCau, and DeCow, while the present spelling is DeCew. The family had originally fled from France as Huguenots, and after several generations had lived in England, some of the name emigrated to Vermont, where Capt. John DeCou was born in 1766. At the close of the American Revolution, his father’s family removed to Upper Canada, crossing the river at Queenston. Capt. DeCou selected a property to his liking in the townships of Thorold and Grantham, including what is now DeCew Falls on the Beaverdams Creek. He purchased one man’s right to 100 acres for an axe and an Indian blanket, and another 100 acres for a gold doubloon.

George Bowman, or Boman, was a Dutch Loyalist, who came with his son in 1783 from the Schuylkill Mountains near the Hudson. They travelled on foot for about 500 miles through an almost unbroken wilderness. After securing a title to a large block of land in Thorold, they returned to their old home, where Bowman settled his affairs, and then, with his wife and five children, he started on the long journey to the scene of his future labours.

The Swayzes (or Sweezys) were of Welsh descent, and came to Canada from New Jersey. Israel Swayze was the chief founder of the old settlement at Beaverdams.

In 1790, George Keefer, a youth of 18, and his brother Jacob, two years younger, left the U.S. to seek a home under British rule. Their father had come from the vicinity of Strasbourg, and settled in New Jersey, but the Republican government had confiscated all his property.

The brothers walked all the way from New Jersey to Canada, following an Indian trail through a dense forest. When they reached the site of Buffalo, they found only a few fishing huts. Crossing the Niagara River at Fort Erie, they continued their way until on the site of the town of Thorold, they found a lone squatter who had cut down a few trees and built a log hut. He gladly sold his claim to the young men, who stayed for two years clearing the land and making a home for their mother and family. In 1792, the brothers walked back for them, and several other families returned with them to Canada.

John Brown came from Schobary in Albany County, New York State he was a German by birth and a Lutheran by religion, although in the matter of war, his views were decidedly Quakerish. He first made his home in Niagara, where his son was born in 1784, but before Thorold was surveyed, he took up land in the township, where he lived until his death in 1804. 

The Cohoes had originally emigrated from the north of Ireland to New Jersey, and from the latter place they came to Canada in 1787. The children received grants of land in Thorold, in acknowledgment of a petition sent by them to the governor in 1789, stating that their father had been the only Tory member of a large family, and that his politics had brought him to this province, and that after suffering many privations because of his loyalty, he had died in the “starving year.” 

Hartzel Road—from Merritton to St. Catharines—was called after a Thorold settler, George Hartsell.

John Carl’s grant included the present village of Port Robinson.

The Uppers came from New Jersey, crossing the Niagara River at Fort Erie. They brought a small herd of cattle with them, and stopped at a spring just north of Allanburgh. Here, they decided to make their home, and the first log building was very near the site of the present large stone house owned by one of their descendants.

The Hoovers came to Canada from Morris County, New Jersey, travelling on foot most of the way, and crossing the Niagara River at Queenston. They brought only a cow and a horse with them, and therefore, were particularly careful to spare the poor animals as much as possible on the long journey from New Jersey.

John Vanderburgh (or Van der Berg, as the name appears in old papers), came from the Mohawk Valley in New York State in 1784, accompanied by his wife and three children, Jacob, Elizabeth and Harmonius. His grant from the crown included the site of the present village of Allanburg, where his descendants still live.

The Wilkersons were English Loyalists who proved their allegiance to the King again in 1812. They received a crown grant of land between Thorold and Allanburg.

The grants of land and names of patentees for 1796 include:  The Hon. Robert Hamilton, Jacob Ball, Jacob Ball Jr., Andrew Heron, James Jones, William Dickson, Israel Swayze, Edmund Frost, Andrew Whitsell, Abraham Overholt and Captain Thomas Welsh.

In 1797, grants were given to: Andrew Jones, Esea Waterhouse, Isaac Swayze, John Brown, John Vandenberg, Harmon Vanderbarack, John Lutes, Blackly Robins, Peter Misener, James Berger and Agnes Brown.

The allotments for 1798 were particularly large, designated to:  George Keefer, George Miller, Jacob Upper, George Couke, Robert Wilkinson, John Kelly, Ezekiel Younglove, John Stoffle, Christian Ninger, William Vanevery, Isaac Haney, Obadiah Hopkins, Ephraim Hopkins, Christian Bouck, Joshua Robins, Thomas Haraghan, George Hartsell, Leonard Misener, James Park, Samuel Street, John Carl, Emanuel Stinehuff, James Crawford, Andrew Heron, and John Camp.

Only two patents were issued in 1799, to: George Bowman and Leonard Misener.

In 1801, the next date of issue, grants were made to:  Abraham Larraway, George Upper, John Decue, Anthony Upper, Adam Dennis, Benajah Williams, Eleanor Ostrander, Isaac Ostrander, George Lutes, George Hoover, John Dennis, Frederick Buck and John Castleman.

The following patents bear the date 1802:  George Miller, John Wilson, John Brown, Benjamin Canby, John McAlwain, the Hon. Robert Hamilton, James Gregor, John Williams and Jonathan Silverthorn.

Toronto Marlies coming to Thorold

The Toronto Marlies have chosen Thorold’s Frank Doherty Arena to play an exhibition game on Sept. 29.

Partnering with the City of Thorold, the Marlies will vie against the Rochester Americans that Saturday, starting at 4 p.m. 

The event will kick off with a pre-game festival in the arena parking lot, and include food trucks, inflatables, and face painters, all of which will be open to the public as well as non-ticket holders. Marlies merchandise will be available for purchase.

The intention, according to Thorold’s community services manager, Curtis Dray, is “To bring an event to the city for fans and residents, to bring team-building in a community environment. That’s our new focus—to bring events the city can get behind.”

An affiliate team of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Marlies have played in Toronto for 13 years. Previous Calder Cup champions, “The Marlies were hot last year and will continue again,” said Marc Lira, Marlies director of business operations.

“Curt and I have worked in numerous events and being able to provide a platform for our players to perform in front of our fans” is the reason they chose Thorold’s recently renovated arena, Lira added.

The Sept. 29 game will mark “One of the first ones we’ve done in a community since Cobourg in 2012. We’re really excited about this opportunity. Those who have followed the Marlies know how great American hockey is and we have seen them develop under the Marlies.”

Commenting on Thorold’s rich hockey past, which includes a championship Junior B team, “It oozes with history,” Lira stated. “It’s just tremendous, and we’re excited to be here. Owen Nolan grew up here. We pride ourselves on providing those memorable experiences for kids; providing an opportunity to dream about their future. Our dream is that one day they stand on professional ice for the first time, and then they come to play for us.”

While making the game announcement at the arena Tuesday, Lira and Duke, the team mascot, presented Mayor Ted Luciani with a custom Marlies jersey.

Calling himself “A diehard Leafs fan, I could name every player on that team in 1967,” said Luciani.

Tickets cost $35, and include general admission to the Thorold game, as well as a second game in Toronto’s Coca Cola Coliseum on Sat. Oct. 20, which will be “a Thorold community hockey night,” stated Lira.

Cathy Pelletier

About the Author: Cathy Pelletier

Cathy Pelletier is an award-winning newspaper journalist/editor who writes for
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