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Year in review: Part 13

Looking back at November 2018

Thorold helps halt human trafficking

Beneath the popular tourist sites and attractions of Niagara, lies a seedy underbelly that puts a price on human lives.

At malls, at schools, at bus stations, and on social media, people—overwhelmingly young women—are being targeted by traffickers to make them money in the sex trade.

The statistics are startling: 66 per cent of human trafficking in Canada happens in Ontario, and most of it goes through the Golden Horseshoe, said Krystal Snider.

As a program manager at the St. Catharines YWCA, Snider told the Thorold News she sees a pattern among these vulnerable young women, and she tries to help them. But it’s a complex process.

“At the strip clubs in the Falls, they sell sex and we have three border crossings, and higher numbers of unemployment,” she said, all factors that make it easier for traffickers to prey on people in Niagara.

“Niagara has the highest in the country, and there are no formal services for survivors, other than what we have pieced together through our office. We have no formal portion of our police force dedicated to combating it. Our police force has one person under the morality unit, which includes guns, drugs,” and other aspects associated with vice, she stated.

“Because we’re a tourist city, it happens at Air B & Bs. We have a housing crisis, so young girls sometimes find shelter with a trafficker appealing,” at first. Others “won’t come forward for fear of deportation. Those foster the perfect conditions. Anytime you have an extremely oppressed community, it leads to trafficking.”

Traffickers also prey on people at Alcoholics Anonymous groups “and any marginalized community members,” said Snider. “They are extremely at risk and targeted. A trafficker will make about $225,000 per year per girl. You can sell drugs and guns one time, but you can sell girls over and over.”

Girls are often targeted at colleges, and online dating sites, Snider added. “Teaching people about healthy relationships and red flags are very important.”

When people think of trafficking, the movie, Taken, comes to mind, she said, “where people are put in a truck and driven away. The reality is it’s a slow process in most cases,” in which traffickers make the girls become completely dependent upon them.

They find vulnerable women and “groom” them, “like a boyfriend relationship, where these guys will meet normally young girls, but also lots of adults, and they determine what’s missing from these girls’ lives—emotional needs and basic needs.”

Girls as young as 13, 14 and younger “already are unsure where they fit in the world, and are taking criticism much too hard and have problems with their parents. Traffickers use this technique on many women and girls and pick up on all these nuances. Isolation and violence start to happen and when they put them out to work, they say, ‘Can you just do this for me this one time,’ because they have provided everything for them.”

“Awareness is key,” said Snider. “A lot of people want to push preventative measures in school, but it’s difficult to have it as a long-term solution.”

Once sex slaves are found, according to Snider, “We need to support people—not save them. It’s really challenging. I am so cautious about asking the person if they are safe and if they are able to talk.”

“Listen to these girls and believe them, and offer them help. You can’t dash into a situation and take them out of it. It’s really damaging, and not safe. It’s not simple. Being able to give people language, so they know what it is, might relieve some of the ‘It’s my fault’ feelings. Especially in our region, even if you get them out, where do they go? Some of the best grooming happens at a shelter, because they are the most vulnerable. If we had a safe house with the security that it needs, it would be much more effective.”

Professionals tell the women they can help and leave info with them.

“We’re lucky enough to have a Youth and Transition worker, who will meet people where they are out in the community, to slowly develop that relationship” and trust.

“I’m able to connect the person with resources with 24-hour shelters or Victim Services helps sets them up in a safe place, and with clothing, phones,” or replacing broken glasses, as examples of various forms of assistance.

“Our shelters run at 110 per cent, but our protocol is we will put them wherever we have to until a room becomes available.” Police and other agencies work together, she said. “Then that person doesn’t have to navigate 30 referrals. It’s overwhelming for them to make all those calls.”

“A large role I play is I help develop the emergency response protocol for trafficking on the side. We can’t necessarily rely on more resources coming, so I act as a point of contact when people say, ‘I believe this person is being trafficked.’ With emergency services and fire, they are often doing compliance checks and are doing first response to suicides” and other emergencies, which makes them a natural response unit for spotting instances of trafficking as well, she said.

Thorold was among the Niagara municipalities who allocated funds for anti-trafficking measures earlier this year through a motion made at city council.

“The city of Thorold gave $5,000 to train Emergency Services (staff) and identify human trafficking,” she stated. “The $5,000 helps us to train their Emergency Responders. Eventually, we would like to get in to the libraries and train the bylaw officers.”

“Last year, I trained the firefighters and some were from Thorold and right afterwards, one of the firefighters said they found a local hotel where there was trafficking.”

Trafficking frequently accounts for missing people, Snider added.

“The high number of Indigenous women who are missing is a part of it. We are partnered with them, and call each other for support. It’s an incredibly large problem locally, and very complex, but very much needed” to make people aware of, she stated.

“There’s a difference between someone who is being exploited, and others who are engaging in sex work for money.”

Her first task is determining, “What does that person want? If it’s a youth, I will always refer them to the youth worker. Under the age of 16, it’s our duty to report to police, but adults may have their own desires. From the best intentions, we are reenacting the dynamics of their captors if we try to control them.”

While training various fire department staff, “Our protocol worker who escaped trafficking tells her story,” stated Snider. Victims “are incredibly resilient and when they leave, they shoot out into the world and do incredible things, so although this is an incredibly damaging circumstance, they know what they need.”

The Kristen French Advocacy Centre website offers resources about Human Trafficking and combating it at

For additional information, visit, or call Snider at 905-988-3528, ext. 3237.


Prince of Wales School welcomes 28 new Canadians

They flee from war-torn, poverty-stricken places, to build a better life for themselves and their families.

And 28 of them, from 16 different countries, officially became Canadians at Prince of Wales Street School Friday morning, as the Thorold students witnessed the life-changing event while clutching Canadian flags in their hands.

Alfredo Gomez began his journey from Mexico 11 years ago, and was joined by his smiling wife, daughter and granddaughter as he was officially sworn in as a Canadian citizen in Thorold.

“It’s the best dream come true,” he told the Thorold News.

Donning bright red apparel, the school choir performed We Belong to welcome the 28 refugees.

Residing official Michael Scott reflected on the significant role played by First Nations people in Canada’s past and future, addressing the crowd of refugees, families and spectators who filled the school gym.

“I served in the army and recognize that we live in a country where rights are respected. Today is the final step in the journey that began when you decided to come to Canada to make a new life. I am happy that you have chosen to be citizens of this wonderful country.”

“Being a Canadian means a lot more than having a piece of paper,” he added, urging the new citizens to vote and “get involved in your community by becoming a volunteer.”

The cherished Canadian values of freedom and prosperity “belong to all of us,” Scott stated. “Take the words of the oath to heart.”

Hailing from Taiwan, Brazil, India and Mexico—and many other countries—all 28 refugees repeated an Oath of Citizenship before signing and swearing to uphold the responsibilities of becoming a Canadian.

Sergeant Doug Lawrence, who served for 35 years in the Canadian Armed Forces and on U.S. peacekeeping duties in the Middle East, told them, “Thank you for choosing Canada, as your presence enriches us in great ways.”

Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey congratulated and welcomed the new citizens. “You are now part of a family that is extremely proud of where we came from and where we are now and where we are going.”

Jeff Burch said that as the Folk Arts Festival director for eight years before being elected as Niagara Centre MPP, he “helped hundreds of refugees settle here,” which gave him firsthand insight into the bravery required in moving to a foreign country.

“I really admire your courage, learning a new language, getting a new job, and adjusting to your surroundings,” said Burch. “For those of us who lived here all our lives, it’s easy to take for granted, but many countries are oppressed by war and grinding poverty. You have said goodbye to family, friends and familiar surroundings and now you are united in your new country.”

He invited them to “celebrate Canada by making it an even better country than it was when you came here. Canada is the best country the world has come up with yet, but it’s not perfect. We still have discrimination, people who aren’t so friendly to newcomers. My challenge is to stick up for those people and continue to make Canada the most welcoming on earth.”

Thorold Mayor Ted Luciani echoed Burch’s sentiments, saying, “I welcome you all and I know you will be as happy here as I am.” Calling Canada “the greatest country in the world,” Luciani said, “My Canada is inclusive to everyone.”

Susan Lawrence, Principal of Prince of Wales School, said that when asked to host the ceremony, “I didn’t hesitate. I thought it would give our staff and students an opportunity to witness a pivotal moment in people’s lives and see some very honourable guests, representatives of government from every level.”

Speaking on the subject of inclusiveness in the school curriculum, “For staff and students, it means we play fair,” she stated. “We use kind words and take responsibility for our actions. We include each other, every single moment, every single day. It’s a very important moment, about gaining a sense of belonging, and I hope it remains a favourite memory of yours for years to come. It has been such a rewarding experience to host such a special gathering.”

She then urged the students to “Wave those flags high and proud,” before Scott made his closing remarks to them.

“I never dreamed that I would be up here swearing in Canadians at your age. I had an amazing life. I have got to go all over the world, all because I live in a country that you live in as well. You are the future of our country. Dare to dream. Dare to reach your goals,” he said, just like the refugees. “I hope some day we will be able to thank you for the wonderful things you do for Canada. Very few of us share the same paths, but as Canadians, we share the same future. What we accomplish together is limitless.”

Students led the crowd in singing the national anthem, and refreshments were served.

Following the ceremony, Sgt. Lawrence and RCMP Corporal Stacy Anderson stayed to speak to a class of students on a more personal level.


Thorold After the War, 1815

Thorold Township and Town, 1786-1932

Published by John H. Thompson

The war had more than one effect upon the township. Until its close, the people lived in constant terror. Nearly all the men were away fighting in the service of their country, with the exception of the few who were released from time to time to attend to the crops. The old town of Niagara was sacked and burnt, while the village of St. Davids, only two miles east of the township line, suffered destruction in the same way at the hands of the American soldiers.

Fighting was going on all along the frontier, and no one knew how soon the enemy might again make a raid upon Thorold. On the other hand, never since their exodus from the United States had the material wealth of the farmers been greater. The highest prices were paid for provisions, and there was a constant demand for all kinds of farm produce.

For many years after peace was declared, this part of the country still felt the effects of the struggle; for scarcely any new immigrants came from the United States, and no great progress was made. The Americans who did make their appearance in Canada at this time were chiefly bent upon securing plunder.

Thorold, not being a wealthy place, was rather free from these marauders, although one alien family made their home here for a time. They were looked upon with the greatest suspicion, and the simple Canadians considered it very significant that they kept a naked sword hanging over the fireplace and frequently boasted of its sharpness.

One very dark night, the man came to Andrew Hanseler’s house, asking for help to extricate his horse, which he stated was mired in the mud. The Hanselers were known to have considerable wealth, and the old people were alone on this night; but the old man was anxious to help anyone in distress, so he went out with the American, and followed him as far as the crossroads at the Beechlands. At this point the moon suddenly shone out, and revealed the naked sword hanging at the man’s side. Without any thoughts of valour, Hanseler turned and ran, and shortly afterwards the strange family moved away.

Naturally, since those with whom the Canadians came in contact at this time were not representative people of the United States, it took a long time to heal the differences between the two nations.

In 1817, Robert Gourlay, the young Scotch editor living at Niagara, and afterwards well-known as a partisan of the Patriots in the Rebellion, collected a number of statistics, from which we can gather a great deal of information regarding the state of affairs in the country.

In that year, in the 25,765 acres that make up Thorold township, there were only 830 inhabitants. One grist mill and four sawmills were then in operation. In 1788, wild land was sold for 8d. an acre, while in 1817 cleared farms were valued at 50 shillings an acre.

Better farming was done as more of the land became cleared. The first crops were chiefly corn, grass, and a little wheat, which were sown after the ground had been merely raked over among the stumps. Wooden ploughs were used, and the work was very hard, for it took a dozen men to harvest the grain that two could do with modern machinery. All the grain was cut and bound by hand, and threshed with flails.

Better clothes were now worn, and more luxuries were acquired. The hot Canadian summers made it desirable to weave a cooler material than flannel. Calico then cost $1.00 and $1.25 a yard, so it was worn only on rare occasions, for silk was nearly as cheap. A great deal of flax was raised in the township, and consequently, a great deal of linen was made. That it was of good quality is testified by the pieces still in existence, woven by the pioneer women before sunrise. Another material in common use was the cloth called “linsey-woolsey,” made by using the warp of linen and the woof of wool.

The table was no longer ill supplied; but one of the greatest luxuries was tea, which still sold for two dollars a pound at Niagara. Yet on state occasions it must have been considered a necessary drink, for every housewife of any means at all seems to have possessed a silver teapot and caddy. Of fermented drinks, a common one was metheglin, made of honey and water boiled and then fermented, and often highly spiced.

The grey and red limestone with which the Thorold quarries abound was already used for building purposes, one of the earliest of the stone houses being that built by by Capt. DeCou before the war.

In 1819, several large bush fires raged in this district. A few houses were burnt, and many fields of grain were destroyed.

Badawey boosted by Foreign Affairs Minister

Niagara Centre MP Badawey celebrated his unopposed nomination as a candidate for the 2019 federal election by hosting a community dinner in Welland last Thursday.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, who was in Niagara to tour the JTL factory in Welland, attended the dinner as a special guest. A former journalist, she was educated at Harvard and Oxford Universities, was a Rhodes Scholar, and held many posts at various news agencies, including deputy editor of the Globe and Mail and managing editor of the Financial Times. A mother of three, she is also a New York Times bestselling author, and speaks English, French, Russian, Ukrainian and Italian.”

BIA launches festive season this week

Follow the trail of wooden stand-up Christmas trees for Black Friday sales in Thorold this weekend.

Merchants will offer special sales and goodies, starting mid-week and running throughout this busy weekend.

Using wooden pallets donated by Big Red Markets and transformed into trees by Thorold Secondary students, the five-foot tall Christmas tree signs will be placed outside participating businesses, to help merchants announce their specials.

“We’re going to reach out to some user groups and kick it off Nov. 15 and include the seniors’ choir,” said BIA president Marsha Coppola.

Ladies’ night—the regular monthly downtown shopping feature—takes place this Friday night, Nov. 16. On Saturday, Nov. 17 the Thorold Seniors Centre and Cobblestone Gardens Retirement Residence are both hosting festive bazaars, and the annual Thorold Christmas Craft Show also takes place that Saturday and Sunday—from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.—at Thorold Secondary School.

According to Diana Diana D’Intino, co-chair of the BIA marketing committee, businesses will be decking their halls for the downtown window display contest, with judging taking place at 7 p.m. Nov. 23.

“Decorate your store or business, inside and out,” she urged, using music and animation, in addition to more traditional decorating techniques. “The goal is to be creative and everyone is invited to be as festive as possible.” Gift cards will be given to the best decorated business and the top three decorated homes along the parade route.

Thorold South Fire Hall filled with Halloween spirit

Angels and demons, human hamsters, a crazy cat lady, and kids dressed as bubblegum machines, and bowls of cereal— filled the Thorold South Fire Hall on Halloween last Wednesday night.

The throng of characters descended on Station 2 for the firefighters’ annual party and costume contest.

A team of volunteer firefighters handed out hot dogs, chocolate milk and bags of treats to swarms of children and their families, along with colouring books and plastic fire helmets—in standard red for boys and pink for girls.

“We plan for 300 (people) every year” at Halloween, said eight-year volunteer Tom Churney. As a second-generation firefighter, “This event has been running for years and years,” he recalled. “Ever since I was a child, trick-or-treating is over at 7:00 in Thorold South because everybody comes here.”

“When we have our pig roast and turkey raffle, all these events generate funds for the community, for our Family Day pancake breakfast and annual fishing derby,” he explained.

“This is a great event and the turnout is outstanding,” said Mayor-Elect Terry Ugulini. “They (firefighters) are not only there when you need them; they are great in the community.”

Ugulini and Station 2 District Chief Kelly Saunders, along with Dave Thompson, Captain of the T.S. Volunteer Firefighters Association, took on the task of judging the dozens of costumed children who paraded around them, awarding cash prizes to all the winners.

Next up, the firefighters will host their annual turkey raffle at the hall on Allanburg Road on Dec. 7.


Thorold’s Remembrance Day extremely memorable

The sights and sounds of war and peace echoed throughout Thorold, making it an especially emotional Remembrance Day for many this past Sunday.

Ron and Debbie Critchley heard the distinctive whirring of Lancaster Bomber planes flying overhead and when they looked up, saw the same type of aircraft that Ron’s father, Vincent, flew in World War II.

The former veteran pilot and long-time Thorold resident passed away in November of 2007.

“It was very emotional,” said Debbie. “It seems they flew right over our house.”

Melanie Battell said she was also moved by the sound of the Lancasters swooping over her Thorold residence.

“That was the sound my mother would have heard in England,” she said, during World War II, from her home on the outskirts of London.

“With all the awfulness (of ongoing mass shootings) in the U.S., I think it makes us mindful of the fragility of our peace.”

At 11 a.m., a large crowd gathered at the Thorold cenotaph to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice, which marked the end of World War I.

“It’s great to see such a great response,” said Thorold Legion Branch 17 President, Eric Cuthbert.

“I hope you remember those who made the supreme sacrifice and those who were left at home.”

Mayor Ted Luciani reflected on Canada’s continuing contributions to fighting tyranny and keeping peace.

“Like many of you, my family suffered losses also.”

As the number of veterans becomes smaller every year, remarked Regional councillor Henry D’Angela, “We need to respect the past and never forget the sacrifices of our Canadian soldiers. It’s more important that these stories of the past are not forgotten.”

Residing Chaplain Rev. Keith Pidduck made mention of “those who were left with scars, visible and invisible.”

“One hundred years ago today,” he added, “the church bells of our country and those of our allies” rang jubilantly, signifying an end to the First World War.

“Today at sunset, many churches will do the same thing.”

At sunset Sunday, church bells pealed from the belfry of St. John’s Anglican and other Thorold churches, as they did across Canada and Europe a century ago, ending the war which sent 61,000 Canadians to their death, and left many more thousands wounded.

“It’s the time of year when people get emotional about people who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey told a gathering at the annual Legion Branch 17 Remembrance Day Dinner held at the Thorold Legion Saturday night.

“We are celebrating those who gave us that honour, that privilege, of living in the greatest country in the world.”

Mayor-Elect Terry Ugulini explained that the Thorold cenotaph was built through the efforts of the Thorold Reed Band. Unveiled in 1921, it lists the names of the 55 Thorold men who died in World War I, with an additional column added later in honour of those who perished in World War II, and in Korea.

Construction Activity Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site – Site will remain open

​Construction activity will be taking place at the Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site in Thorold starting on Nov. 19 and continuing until the end of January. The work involves drilling, excavation and removal of buried infrastructure which is no longer required. This will cause a temporary disruption to various areas of the site while work is being completed, said Peter Kryger of the Niagara Region.

Visitors to the site should expect the following during the months of November, December and January: Six to eight weeks of trail/path closures throughout the site. Closed trails/paths will be clearly identified and access will be restricted; noise; and heavy truck/drilling equipment.

Those visiting the site during the construction period are asked to obey all signs and barriers. If your pet is sensitive to noise or traffic, it is advised that you not visit the site with your pet while this work is taking place.​


The Bee Whisperer bringing wee bee houses to craft show

He has been called “The Bee Whisperer.”

Ever since Joe Prytula started building his bee-friendly habitats, people have been buzzing about them.

Stacked in rows in his Thorold workshop to keep up with the constant demand, he’ll be selling his popular “wee bee houses” at the Thorold Craft Show this weekend, Saturday and Sunday Nov. 17 & 18 at Thorold Secondary School.

“I make them in batches of 40 and they have slight variations,” said the crafty nature-lover. Some are “chalets,” some are “villas,” and some resemble a barn, but all his designs “have a roof overhang so the nesting blocks stay dry.”

Prytula has swept a wide swath of craft shows, educating the public about bees and selling houses as far as Hamilton, Georgetown and Acton, as well as at Frog Pond Winery, Chapel Street Designs on Front Street, and at the Country Christmas Store in Pelham.

“I think it will be over 100 houses sold this year,” he said, several of which were bought as Christmas gifts at last year’s Thorold craft show. After studying the subject intently, Prytula builds his wee bee houses specifically to attract Mason bees and Leaf Cutter bees.

“I have really done my homework so people have an understanding. The public’s understanding of the bee problem is pretty limited. The reason for the houses is it’s providing a predator-free environment. They like a cavity, like holes in trees, but the woodpeckers eat the bees’ eggs.”

Mason bees and Leaf cutter bees have a very short season (April-May and July-August, respectively), he stated, “then they die off. There is no queen in either species. They are not colony bees. They are not a nuisance; not aggressive. The females do have a stinger but there is no venom, no risk of anaphylactic shock. These bees stay within the flowers, so you might get stung if you touch one by mistake with your hands in your flower bed. They are only concerned about collecting nectar and pollination as a food source for the egg. They are very single-minded in their very short lifetime—making sure enough eggs are produced for the next year.”

His bee homes protect both species by allowing the bees to lay more female eggs, in rectangular blocks with multiple holes that slide inside.

“The female is always looking for more nesting sites so when you put this close to the flowers, the female will get curious and find that the houses are perfect for nesting. Both species will only go a short distance so it’s important to have native perennials to supply them with enough pollen. If you have a good food source, they will come, and they are more efficient planters because of their size and can go further into the flower.”

“The Mason bees come out when the temperature tells them to, with early spring flowers like crocuses, and over the course of the summer, this unit acts like an incubator. They develop over the summer and by late fall they are full-grown adults and go into hibernation when the temperature drops. They spin a cocoon around themselves. Mason bees are about the size of a house fly, with a bluish-green abdomen, and it shimmers when the sunlight hits it.”

In March and April, they emerge. “The furthest one at the back wakes up, eats his way through the mud partition chambers and wakes up the next bee beside him. It’s like a conga line coming out.”

Leaf Cutter bees were brought over in the 1960s from Europe to the U.S., he said, “to help with alfalfa, because the honeybees were not good pollinators for them. It’s even smaller than a Mason bee, and resembles a yellow jacket, but is non-obtrusive. When it pollinates fruit trees, they have better fruit.”

They were named for the way they cut a crescent-shaped section from a leaf, using mandibles, hold it under their abdomen and push it into the hole, folding the edges over to make mini leaf nests.

Prytula is one of several diverse artists who will appear at the annual Craft Show, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday.


Craft Show a huge success

One-year-old Aubree Gretzinger, decked out in holiday attire, enjoyed a sweet ride around the Thorold Craft Show last weekend.

Shoppers were lined up to get into Thorold Secondary School for the 25th Annual Art & Craft Show this weekend. Hundreds of people left with handmade gifts, created by dozens of juried artisans.

Beverly Interisano sewed 30 Sherpa bean bag bears and is donating the proceeds of their sale to the Boards for Beaverdams siding replacement fundraiser at historic Beaverdams Church. The Ontario Paper Company Foundation will match the funds raised from the sale of the bears, said Melanie Battell, one of the many Friends of Beaverdams, who was selling the bears at the Thorold Craft Show.

“I don’t have a lot of money, but I can create,” said Interisano, “and I was very appreciative of what they are doing” to restore and renovate the church. Interisano has participated in many Thorold craft shows, selling her vintage purses, clothing, stuffed animals and other accessories.



Thorold gets railway and telephone lines

Thorold Township and Town, 1786-1932

Published by John H. Thompson

In 1853, the Welland Railway was built. It connected Port Dalhousie and Port Colborne, and had stations within the township, at Thorold, Allanburgh, and Port Robinson. It was built chiefly for the purpose of carrying grain for the vessels that required to be “lightened” in order to enable them to pass through the canal. Most of its revenue, accordingly, was gained during the summer months. It was always declared that the government should buy this railway, since it operated in connection with the Canal. The Air Line branch of the Grand Trunk connected Allanburgh with Niagara Falls.

In 1885, the Town of Thorold passed a bylaw granting a bonus to the St. Catharines & Niagara Central Railway. This road, a great deal of which was built on trestles, had a station at Thorold, from which it ran in a south-easterly direction to Niagara Falls.

Thorold was one of the earliest points to be reached by the electric telegraph, on account of its importance as a shipping and milling centre. In 1884, the telephone was introduced, Thorold being made a portion of the St. Catharines exchange. The line also passed northward through the township, connecting with Port Robinson and other places.

At the Desjardins canal accident near Hamilton, on the 12th of March, 1857, John Morley of Thorold was among the large number of persons who lost their lives in that catastrophe. At the May session of the Welland County Council, an address of condolence was drawn up and sent “to the bereaved families, relatives and friends of the late Samuel Zimmerman of Clifton, Esquire, and of Mr. John Morley of Thorold.”

In 1858, the decimal currency was substituted for the old Halifax system of pounds, shillings and pence; but for a great many years previous to this, both methods had been commonly used.

In 1860, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales made a tour through Canada, visiting many towns in the Niagara District. Although Thorold was not honoured by a visit, many Thorold persons had an opportunity to show their respect for Her Majesty’s representative. Mrs. James Munro sent some verse to the Prince, composed in honour of this visit. A quaint notice that appeared in the Thorold Chronicle at this time showed how the Negroes testified their loyalty. The notice is here given its original wording:

The Colored Men’s Demonstration.

The Prince of Wales.

The Colored Ladies and Gentlemen of Thorold, Port Robinson and Cayuga, are hereby notified to assemble at Clifton, and form in procession, well uniformed, on the day of His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, our future King, at 10 o’clock a.m. All who do not answer this call will be surely fined in the penal sum of $2.00 for non-attendance.

By order of the Colored Committee.

Thorold, Aug. 8, 1860.


Thorold—Where everybody knows your name

Back in the day when our Thorold News office was on Front Street, our friend Mike White used to design our ads and graphics. Mike, or “Spike,” as he is known in some circles, was quite creative.

And sometimes kooky.

One week, just for fun, as we were “putting the paper to bed” late Thursday evening (I think it may have been around April Fool’s Day), Mike decided to distort his buddy’s head.

For years, our friend Dave Dekker ran his financial advisor business card size ad in our business directory section of the paper. That one week, thanks to Mike, he had an abnormally large head.

“I just want to see if he notices,” I recall Mike saying, rubbing his hands together and cackling maniacally.

And while I honestly don’t remember if Dave or anyone else even noticed, he’s been affectionately referred to as “Big-Headed Dave,” or occasionally, “He of the Large Cranium,” ever since.

Flash forward a few decades. My brother moves back to Niagara. My husband Bob introduces him to Dave. They end up working/volunteering together. Danny, the king of nicknames himself, shortens Dave’s handle to “Big Head,” and one day—for some reason—he happens to mention that Bob loves fried bologna.

A couple weeks ago when we went to Danny’s, he took a package of bologna out of the fridge and tossed it to Bob. Apparently, Big Head had texted Danny, “Tell Fried Bologna Lover Foodland has a sale,” with a picture of the deli meat rack to prove it.

So now, my husband is known not only as Jackass—and sometimes Yenta—but also Fried Bologna Lover.

I found it extremely interesting and funny when emcee Bob Elliott remarked at the Runway of Recognition last week that “Nicknames in Thorold are hereditary.”

He cited the well-known Barry “Peachy” Burkholder—whose father was the original Peachy—as one example, then my Bob glanced around the room and said that there were also two “Fudgie” Motchkas in Thorold’s all-star athlete elite.

When we worked for the City of Thorold, we were surrounded by friends with names like Bumpy, Mudder and Puzzy, AKA Mike Petrychanko, whose dad was previously called Puzzy, too.

From the moment I sat down behind her in Mr. Sandorfi’s grade nine French class at Thorold High, Peggy Winstanley proclaimed I was “Pit Jr.,” since my brother Danny was Pit Sr.

Still to this day, when I see someone from high school, they call me Pit, or sometimes Pitsie, since a few of my friends thought Pit was a bit too butch and decided to dress it up.

When we were kids, Danny had a friend named Doug, who he called “Fir,” from the Douglas fir tree.

This still makes me smile.

And all this nicknamery reminds me how glad I am to have grown up in a place where everybody knows your name.

Or invents one that they like better.


Parade marching full steam ahead this Saturday

Earlier this fall, it seemed like Thorold’s Santa Claus Parade was not to be.

When last year’s parade committee announced they wouldn’t be able to organize the annual event, Beaverdams resident James Symons stepped in and decided to tackle the task of securing sponsors and entries.

“For the first few weeks, it was on life support,” said Symons, describing the state of the parade. “It was very bleak at one point,” with only three groups committed to participating at the outset. “We were very nervous.”

But gradually, with the help of his volunteer committee, Symons and his team gained steam and have managed to come up with 60 entries for this Saturday’s 28th annual holiday event. Last year’s parade had 62.

“Some of the bands are not cheap,” he told the Thorold News, “so we sent out sponsor letters and really pushed that and soon, we were able to get sponsors. We started to receive entries. The committee has been absolutely awesome. We stepped up to save it for the children.”

This year’s volunteer parade committee includes Danielle Ervin, Bianca DeSantis, Jeramy Egerter, Sebastian Soccio-Marandola, Daryl Keller, Jeannie Soper, Tanya Kornelsen, and Tony Vandermaas.

Vandermaas is responsible for starting the first Santa Claus Parade in Thorold.

“We were very thankful because he guided us, which was what we needed,” said Symons. “Terry Ugulini and the Thorold Lions came on board to help us with registration.”

The Protection Hose Company will be back after a two-year absence, he added.

“There will be something for everyone.”

Along with ponies and Therapy Tails dogs, Thorold’s downtown will come alive with colourful marching bands, including performances by the Niagara Militaries Alumni, the PK Hummingbird Steel Orchestra, the E.L. Crossley Marching Band, Ryerson Music, Thorold Secondary School, Denis Morris Catholic High School, Gator Nation—Lakeshore Catholic Drumline, and Downbeats Percussion.

And of course, there will be Santa Claus.

Letters to Santa will be collected by some of his special helpers along the parade route, and the Thorold Community Activities Group will team up with the Thorold Blackhawks to collect non-perishable food items, as well mittens, hats, scarves and new socks, all for Community Care.

Volunteers from the Toolbox Foundation will be collecting toiletries, winter clothing accessories, books, playing cards, and snacks to fill holiday shoeboxes for homeless men, another charitable endeavour that’s spearheaded by Symons.

“My friend Jordan Clark will try to fill his Malibu with the Toolbox items,” he stated.

In addition, Toolbox volunteers will be collecting toonies and other coins on behalf of Socks for Change, a program which provides socks for those in need. Founded by entrepreneur Salvatore Balo, who secured the services of a knitter who used to make socks for the army, Socks for Change is donating 500 pairs of socks to the cause, said Symons.

Todd Marr of Thorold Foodland will donate prizes to the three best decorated homes along the parade route, which starts at the corner of Sullivan and Collier Road at 4 p.m., continues down Sullivan and turns onto Front Street for the finale.

The streets will be closed off from 1 to 4 p.m.

Symons said the committee could still use volunteers to help with setup on parade day. Anyone wishing to lend a hand can contact Symons by emailing him at


28th Annual Santa Claus Parade marches on

Under damp, drizzly skies, Thoroldites of all ages lined up last Saturday, to see 60 floats, bands, and community groups spread Christmas cheer in the 28th annual parade.

As Town Crier Tony Vandermaas proclaimed loudly, at the corner of Front and Sullivan Street, in the words of Mark Twain, “The report of this parade’s death has been greatly exaggerated.”

The parade that almost didn’t happen, happened, due to the efforts of a hard-working group of volunteers who rallied to save it at the 11th hour.

Volunteer Danielle Ervine told the Thorold News, “We had a group of people who none of us knew each other, and we figured it out. We were a little nervous in the beginning, and we had to cut off the entry deadline and put the lineup together” with not nearly as many entries as they would have liked.

“And then people started emailing us and we said, ‘We’ll make them fit’ in the parade, she stated.

“I’m really impressed with what we did,” said Sebastian Soccio-Marandola, another volunteer.

“I was kind of scared about two weeks ago; we only had 40 or so entries. It really is fantastic. This is our parade. We worked hard to keep it. Everyone (on the volunteer committee) had their strengths.”

Beechwood Golf Club donated four golf carts for organizers to use for the day, he added.

As always, the parade provided an opportunity for Thoroldites to pitch in and help Community Care, with the Thorold Blackhawks team helping the TCAG collect food and winter clothing accessories for those in need, while postal workers collected letters to Santa.

Todd Marr of Foodland sponsored prizes for the best decorated homes along the parade route contest.

Winners were: 1st place—60 Tupper Drive, 2nd place—68 Albert West, and 3rd place—19 Sullivan Ave.


Christmas in the country


The festive season has landed in Thorold’s outlying communities, with a slew of events slated for the month leading up to Christmas.

On Thursday, Nov 29, Port Robinson Proud will host “A Bedtime Story with Santa” from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Darlene Ryan Community Centre in Port Robinson, at 40 Cross St.

Port Robinson resident Kathy Felice, who’s also the Coordinator of the Lend A Hand Puppet Project at Heartland Forest, will perform ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas with a Port Robinson twist, along with her team of volunteer puppeteers, said organizers.

“This family-friendly show will make the introduction to Santa himself. All children are encouraged to bring along a blanket and ‘stuffy’ and wear their PJs. They can help us decorate our tree and everyone will have a chance to visit with Santa. Of course, cookies and milk will be served.”

While this is a free event to thank contributors for their support throughout the year, donations would be appreciated, added organizers.

“We will have a donation jar if you would like to support the project as they are providing their services and volunteering their time to help with this awesome event. All donations are directed to Heartland Forest, which provides services for individuals with special needs and the community at large.”

On Monday, Dec 3, Port Robinson Proud will welcome bakers to their 3rd Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Community Centre.

Participants are asked to RSVP to, and bring six dozen of one kind of square, cookie, or candy. In return, they will take home an assortment of six dozen different types. Refreshments and snacks will be provided.

“Each year, this event grows in popularity and last year’s event was awesome! We anticipate another well-attended evening. We ask that you bring a non-perishable food that we will deliver to Thorold Community Care to help them with their food drive efforts during the holiday season.”

Port Robinson Proud is asking residents to turn on their holiday lights and displays on Thursday, Dec. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m., then “wait for our knock on your door” when winners will be awarded in the 5th annual Holiday Lights Contest. According to organizers, “Many wonderful prizes” were donated by local businesses and residents this year.

A New Years Eve Gala will be held at Club Castropignano, 1311 Egerter Road, on Monday, Dec. 31, starting at 6 p.m. Cost of the Dinner and Dance is $75/person. More information is available by contacting the club at 905-384-9292.

Meanwhile, in the village of Beaverdams, the many Friends of Beaverdams Church will host an old-fashioned Christmas at the historic Marlatts Road church at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1. The event will feature carol singing, wreath-hanging, and a cash raffle draw in support of the church’s ongoing restoration efforts. A food drive will also be held for Community Care, with all attendees asked to bring non-perishable items.

In Thorold South, the volunteer firefighters will celebrate the season with their annual Turkey and Ham Raffle on Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. The licensed 19+ event will take place at Thorold Fire Station #2, 701 Allanburg Rd. The first 100 women will receive a free poinsettia, and beef on a bun will be available. Donations for non-perishable food will be accepted.


Toolbox Project launches Saturday

Once again, James Symons is hoping to make the holiday season brighter for homeless men.

The compassionate community builder and lifelong Beaverdams resident founded the Tool Box Project in 2017. Setting out to fill 25 shoe boxes with essentials for men in need during the Christmas season in Niagara—since that’s a demographic that often gets overlooked—his campaign garnered tremendous support. In a little more than a month, various churches, community groups, sports teams, businesses and individuals jumped on board, rallying to help Symons fill and wrap more than 300 tool boxes.

With a goal of surpassing last year’s total, Symons will build on a super successful first year, and launch the Tool Box Project this Saturday, Nov. 17 at St. Louis Bar and Grill, 300 Fourth Ave., across the street from the St. Catharines Hospital, from 6 to 9 p.m.

In support of the Toolbox Project Niagara, the restaurant staff is offering a free half-pound of wings for anyone who brings in a donation. A raffle table will be set up with 100 per cent of the money raised donated back to the Toolbox Project.

Warm socks, gloves, scarves, hygiene products—such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant and soap—and small hand-held games, decks of cards, books, and snacks are all appreciated by the men.

Ideally, all items are small enough to fit into a shoe box.


Thorold supports forces on the frontier

Thorold Township and Town, 1786-1932

Published by John H. Thompson

Before the War of 1812, complaints had been made that Parliament was not responsible to the people, as the Upper House, through having no control of the supplies, was independent of the Assembly, which was elected by the people. When a common danger threatened the country, these grievances were dropped. Afterwards, the political abuses became so great that they were once again a cause of dissension among the people.

Pelham Township warmly sympathized with William Lyon Mackenzie and his followers. Thorold, being fully occupied with the Canal work, was too self-concentrated to take any very active interest in the affairs of the government; nevertheless, the loyalty of the inhabitants did not prevent them from being anxious for a better rule than that of the Family Compact.

But the best reforms have never yet been brought about by revolution, and the Thorold men were willing to wait for legislation to do the work.

When Mackenzie took up arms against the government, he lost hundreds of his best supporters. Sir Francis Bond Head, with too firm a faith in the loyalty of the disaffected, had very foolishly sent all the regular troops to Lower Canada. Then, when the attack on Toronto was threatened, Reformers and Conservatives alike offered their services to the country.

Later on, when Mackenzie took up his position on Navy Island in the Niagara River, this peninsula was well prepared for war, as it was feared that the rebels were receiving considerable assistance from sympathizers in the United States.

At Port Robinson, Duncan McFarland organized a cavalry company, which performed a good service in carrying despatches, and Major Anthony Upper of Allanburgh was instrumental in organizing a corps that did active work on the frontier.

The rebel force was supposed to be very strong, but Dr. Dillenbaugh, a Buffalo surgeon well-known in Canada, confidently affirmed at the time that Mackenzie never had more than 100 men with him on Navy Island. However, his United States friends, including Dr. Chapin of Buffalo and Rensselaer Van Rensselaer of Albany, prepared to invade Canada.

The American steamer Caroline, which as a passenger boat had been well-known on the Welland Canal, was chartered to carry supplies for the rebels. On the 29th of December, the Caroline could be seen from the Canadian shore bringing armed men from Fort Schlosser to Navy Island.

Some Mohawk Indians from the Grand River, and a body of Negro slaves who had escaped from the U.S., and who had now joined the ranks of the Canadian Loyalists, were anxious to lead in an attack on the Island.

Col. Allan NcNab obtained permission from Sir Francis Head to destroy the Caroline. Commander Drew, a retired naval officer, volunteered to undertake the work. At Fort Schlosser, he climbed up one side of the steamer with his cutlass between his teeth. After some hard fighting, the Canadians obtained possession of the vessel, and sent its crew on shore. The Caroline was then set on fire and sent over the Niagara Falls. This act aroused violent indignation among the Americans, but the Canadians felt no remorse, as is evident from this piece of doggerel verse, which was freely sung throughout the country to the tune of Yankee Doodle:

When first Mackenzie’s rebel band

Was beat at Gallows Hill, sir,

To Buffalo they did retreat,

And said we used him ill, sir.

CHORUS: Yankee-doodle, boys, huzzah,

Down outside and up the middle,

Yankee-doodle, boys, huzzah,

Trumpet, drum and fiddle.


The Buffalonians sympathized,

And kicked up such a roar, sir,

And kicked up such a windy noise

It reached the British shore, sir.


The steamer, bound for Navy Isle,

Left Buffalo one morning,

For to assist Mackenzie’s band,

Britannia’s thunder scorning.


But when the lion shook his mane,

And looked a little grim, sir,

He said ‘twas not a Texas game

That they could play with him, sir.


A party left the British shore,

Led on by gallant Drew, sir,

To set the Caroline on fire,

And beat her pirate crew sir.


The Yankees say they did invent

The steamboat first of all, sir,

But Britons taught their Yankee boats

To navigate the Falls, sir.


The spirit of our Wolfe and Brock

Doth still around us hover,

And still we stand on Queenston’s rock

To drive the Yankees over.


No slave shall ever breathe our air,

No tyrant’s law shall bind us,

So keep your Yankee mob at home,

For Britons still you’ll find us.


The Canadians felt perfectly well able to manage their own affairs without foreign interference, and it was that sentiment expressed in these verses which made them so popular, in spite of their faulty rhyme and rhythm.

In June, 1838, several of the rebels, with their American sympathizers, crossed over to Niagara and made their way to Pelham Township. James Morrow and Benjamin Wait were in command of the party. As soon as the Loyalist soldiers who were patrolling the Niagara River heard of this rebel gathering, they sent a detachment of lancers to St. Johns as an outpost, billeting 14 of the men at Overholt’s tavern. On the 18th of June, the insurgents made an attack upon this detachment. The wooden building in which the lancers were stationed was completely riddled by bullets, but the men escaped injury by lying flat on the floor while the shot went whizzing over their heads.

Many of the rebels were wounded, but they compelled the Loyalists to yield by threatening to set fire to the tavern. A reinforcement of lancers from Niagara and a cavalry troop from St. Catharines soon released the prisoners and put the rebels to flight. More than 50 of the insurgents were captured by the Loyalists, Morrow was hanged at Niagara, and one Chandler was sent to Van Diemen’s Land.

For some years after the exile of Mackenzie, the frontiers were still guarded for fear his supporters might make a second attempt to invade Canada. Compensation was afterwards made to the Loyalists who suffered by the struggle. Very little had been lost by the Thorold people except a scow or two that had been pressed into service on the Canal by our own men.

The terms of the Union Act of 1841 gave the Canadians nearly all the reforms they had wished for, as by it the Legislative Assembly was made directly responsible to the people.

With the exception of the Fenian raids, the 60 years of Her Majesty’s reign have been peaceful ones for the Niagara District.



Cathy Pelletier

About the Author: Cathy Pelletier

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