| Ontario, Canada|
| Brock University, Niagara College, Ontario Street Site|
Lake Ontario, Montebello Park, Gatorade Garden City Complex, Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course, Lakeside Park Carousel
St. Catharines (2011 population 131,400; metropolitan population 392,184) is the largest city in Canadas Niagara Region and the sixth largest urban area in Ontario, with 96.11 square kilometres of land. It lies in Southern Ontario, 51 kilometres (32 mi) south of Toronto across Lake Ontario, and is 19 kilometres (12 mi) inland from the international boundary with the United States along the Niagara River. It is the northern entrance of the Welland Canal. Residents of St. Catharines are known as St. Cathariners.
St. Catharines carries the official nickname "The Garden City" due to its 1,000 acres (4 km2) of parks, gardens and trails.
St. Catharines is situated in an area for commerce and trade since it is located between the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the Fort Erie - US Border. Manufacturing is the citys dominant industry, as noted by the heraldic motto, "Industry and Liberality". General Motors of Canada, Ltd., the Canadian subsidiary of General Motors, was the citys largest employer, a distinction now held by the District School Board of Niagara. TRW Automotive operates a plant in the city, though in recent years employment there has shifted from heavy industry and manufacturing to services.
St. Catharines lies on one of the main telecommunications backbones between Canada and the United States, and as a result a number of call centres operate in the city.
The city was first settled by Loyalists in the 1780s. The Crown granted them land in compensation for their services and for losses in the United States. Early histories credit Serjeant Jacob Dittrick and Private John Hainer, formerly of Butlers Rangers, as among the first to come to the area. They took their Crown Patents where Dick’s Creek and 12 Mile Creek merge, now the city centre of St. Catharines. Although never documented, some local St. Catharines historians speculate that Dick’s Creek was named after Richard Pierpoint, a Black Loyalist and former American slave. Secondary to water routes, native trails provided transportation networks, resulting in the present-day radial road pattern from the City centre. The surrounding land was surveyed and Townships created between 1787 and 1789.
After the Butler’s Rangers disbanded in 1784 and settled the area, Duncan Murray as a former Quartermaster in the 84th Regiment of Foot (Royal Highland Emigrants) was appointed by the Crown to distribute free Government supplies (victuals) for 2 years to the resettled Loyalists. He did this from his mill, built on the 12 Mile Creek in Power Glen. After his death in 1786, his holdings were forfeited to merchant Robert Hamilton of Queenston.
Hamilton tried to operate for profit the already well-established Murray’s Distribution Centre and Mill under the management of his cousin. Among other ventures, Hamilton became land wealthy, expropriating lands from subsistence Loyalist settlers who were incapable of settling their debts. Murray’s distribution centre, later Hamilton’s warehouse, and its location have long been a mystery. Hamilton’s major profits were derived from transhipping supplies for the military and civic establishments from his Queenston enterprise, not from charitably supplying the subsistence Loyalist settlers. Hamilton lacked interest in social development and sold his business to Jesse Thompson before the turn of the 18th century.
The small settlement was known as “The Twelve” and as “Murray’s District” to military and civic officials, but the local residents in 1796 and earlier referred to it as St. Catharines. This is confirmed in St. Catharines’ first history, written by J.P. Merritt: “to be historically accurate the name St. Catharines preceded all of these….”
The Merritt family arrived after this time, among the later Loyalists to relocate following the American Revolution. They were from the Carolinas, New York state and New Brunswick. In 1796, Thomas Merritt arrived to build on his relationship with his former Commander and Queens Ranger, John Graves Simcoe, now the Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada.
At an unknown early date, an inn was built by Thomas Adams on the east side of what is now Ontario Street. It became a community meeting place, election centre, stagecoach stop, and mail delivery deposit. This was preceded by the church and a log school house completed before 1797, all located on the east bank of the 12 Mile Creek at the extreme west end of what was known at that time as Main Street. This was an extension of the old Iroquois Trail and was renamed St. Paul Street by the settlers and descendant by the mid-19th century. Several mills, salt works, numerous retail outlets, a ship building yard, distillery and various other businesses were developed next.
The first Welland Canal was constructed from 1824 to 1833 behind what is now known as St. Paul Street, using Twelve Mile and Dicks Creek. William Hamilton Merritt worked to promote the ambitious venture, both by raising funds and by enlisting government support. The canal established St. Catharines as the hub of commerce and industry for the Niagara Peninsula.
Merritt also played a role in making St. Catharines a center of abolitionist activity. In 1855, the British Methodist Episcopal Church, Salem Chapel was established at the corner of Geneva and North streets, on land granted to the congregation by Merritt in the early 1840s. The area became known to refugee slaves from the United States as a place of "refuge and rest"; it was a destination, one of the final stops in Canada on the Underground Railroad for refugee African-American slaves. By the mid-1850s the towns population was about 6000, 800 of whom were "of African descent". St. Catharines remains an important place in Black Canadian history.
The Town of St. Catharines was incorporated in 1845. St. Catharines was incorporated as a city in 1876.
The St. Catharines Armoury is a recognized Federal Heritage building, #1991 on the Register of the Government of Canada Heritage Buildings.
St. Catharines climate is humid continental (Koppen borderline Dfa/Dfb). It can be considered a unique micro-climate because of the moderating influence of Lake Ontario/Lake Erie and the sheltering effect of the Niagara Escarpment to the south; these allow wineries to flourish. As a result, the city records numerous frost-free days and frequent thaws in the winter, although it sometimes receives heavy lake-effect snow during certain wind conditions, and micro-cooling lakeside on some spring afternoons. The summer season is predominantly warm, sometimes hot, with an average high temperature of 27 °C (81 °F) in July, and humidity is often high. Summer thunderstorms are commonplace but generally less prevalent and less severe than further west in southern Ontario due to the diminishing effect of the surrounding lakes.
The complex and extensive glacial history of the Niagara Peninsula has resulted in similarly complex soil stratigraphy in the area occupied by the city today. St. Catharines was once at the base of a glacial lake known as Glacial Lake Iroquois, which deposited thick layers of clay between the Escarpment and Lake Ontario. As a result of these factors, the citys soil is particularly conducive to fruit growing and is capable of producing grapes that are used to make award-winning wines. Three wineries operate in the citys west-end: Henry of Pelham Winery, Hernder Estates and Harvest Estates.
Since the opening of the first Welland Canal in 1829, the city has had four different canal systems, whether modified or newly constructed, carved into its geographical landscape. The fourth and present-day canal forms the majority of the citys eastern boundary. The first three of the citys canals have largely been buried, portions of it beneath the present-day Highway 406 and Queen Elizabeth Way. Other remnants of the original canals can still be seen in various locations throughout the city; many remains are hidden within forested areas designated as city parks. Some residents in the region are interested in restoring the original routing of the Welland Canal through the city. They intend that the restored waterway and locks would be open to pleasure craft and create a new tourist attraction within the city.
The St. Catharines and Area Arts Council was a not-for-profit organization working to facilitate communication, collaboration and programs among artists, arts organizations and the community with the goal of enhancing cultural life.
The Folk Arts Festival was first presented to the city by representatives from the ethno cultural communities of Niagara over 35 years ago. From that first festival was created the Folk Arts Council of St. Catharines, which continues to run its festival each year throughout the month of May and concludes with "Folk Arts in the Park", which takes place in Montebello Park in the citys downtown.
The Art of Peace Festival is now in its fifth year, the Festival seeks to increase community engagement in art as a tool for reflecting on peace issues. Montebello Park fills with performing arts events, Speak Your Peace! open mic program, community art workshops, an elementary school art exhibition, vendors, and Peace Through Art Stations at which peace groups make information available and offer arts activities. Presented by St. Catharines and Area Arts Council and Project Ploughshares Niagara.
The Niagara Grape & Wine Festival is a non-profit organization that presents three popular wine festivals in St. Catharines and Niagara during the year. The Niagara Icewine Festival (Winter), the Niagara New Vintage Festival (Summer), and the Niagara Wine Festival (Fall), which is the largest of the festivals, attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region each year. This event known by most locals simply as "Grape and Wine" attracts young and old varying from partiers to wine connoisseurs.
The SCENE Music Festival is one-day event held in various clubs and pubs downtown. Rock, indie, pop, singer-songwriter, ska, punk, metal, and many other genres are represented by bands such as Alexisonfire, Bedouin Soundclash, Moneen, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, Damn 13, Shad, Sick Boys, Raising the Fawn, Supergarage, Sailboats Are White, Revenge of the Egg People, IllScarlett, Silverstein, Bang Theory, Dead and Divine, Teenage Head, Cancer Bats, The New Cities, Lights, Madball, Billy Talent and Down with Webster who have played at the festival. Traditionally, a compact disc of select performers is included with admission prices — although in recent years the CD has been expanded to a 2-disc compilation — representative of the growth of the festival. SCENE 2008 and SCENE 2009 included a card with a PIN enabling 50 MP3 downloads, instead of CDs.
The International Chicken Chucking Championships takes place every January in the St. Catharines neighbourhood of Port Dalhousie and attracts hundreds of participants and observers. Chicken Chucking consists of pitching or sliding frozen chickens along the ice-covered Martindale Pond, similar to curling and shuffleboard. The bird-brained fundraiser began in 2000 by patrons of the Kilt and Clover after realizing that there was not much to do in Port Dalhousie in the middle of winter. The Kilt and Clover hosts the event, and the money raised is given to local charities, including the food bank.
The St. Catharines Museum is located at Lock 3 on the Welland Canal, off the Welland Canals Parkway. An elevated viewing platform at the museum allows visitors to get a close-up look at ships from around the world as they climb this major section of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Along with its exhibits dedicated to the citys history and the canals, the museum is home to the Ontario Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum.
Morningstar Mill, perched atop the Niagara Escarpment, is one of Ontarios oldest mills on an original site, and is fully powered by water. The picturesque park provides a glimpse into the innovative and pioneering spirit of the 19th Century.