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History of Welland Industry
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Welland in the War Years
Then and Now

 

 

 

 

 

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Welland's Diversity | Chinese | Croatians | Dutch |English/Americans
French | Germans | Greeks | Hungarians | Irish | Italians | Koreans
Polish |Scottish | Slovaks | Ukrainians

 

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Welland's Diversity

From the middle of the nineteenth century emerging industries in Welland gradually began to change the social landscape of the community. The population grew many times over, from 250 in 1851 to almost 2,000 by the end of the century. Welland's population began to expand significantly at the turn of the century when many factories began production.

Many immigrants came seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Irish labourers arrived to work on the construction of the Welland Canal. French families came in great numbers to work in the textile mills. Italians, Hungarians and other Eastern Europeans came to work in the steel industry that developed in Welland and Crowland.

Many prosperous English merchants and landowners lived in the north and west areas of Welland while less well off immigrants settled in the east end near the factories where they worked. In this way, industry and ethnicity worked together to shape Welland's geography.

Immigrants influenced Welland's geography in other ways as well. Ethnic groups congregated together to share their own culture and languages. As a result, churches of different religious denominations were erected in close proximity to related ethnic groups. New arrivals often found shelter with relatives already settled in the area. Families frequently arranged employment prior to sending for friends and family, resulting in industry employing certain ethnic groups. These differences can be seen in the various skill sets specific to certain ethnic groups. Empire Cotton Mills, for example, employed a large number of French workers, even recruiting many from Quebec.

Welland did not have support groups for immigrants to learn English and so they were left to fend for themselves. This lack of support for new citizens prompted immigrants to create their own social networks. Clubs like The Hungarian Self Culture Society of Welland were established so Hungarians could socialize in their own language, celebrate their ethnic holidays and raise money to sponsor friends and family to come to Welland. These groups educated new citizens in the laws of Canada and promoted loyalty to their new country. This pattern was repeated by several immigrant groups and greatly contributed to the ethnic diversity that is still present in Welland today.

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Chinese Community

In 1917, the Plymouth Cordage Company negotiated an agreement with the British Government to allow three hundred Chinese men from Hong Kong to work at their Welland plant. These men had been in military training in British Columbia. The citizens of Welland were fearful of this large number of foreign workers and petitioned the city to keep them in barracks on company land enclosed with high chain link fences. They also requested that these workers be allowed downtown only a few at a time and wanted Plymouth Cordage to be fully responsible for their actions. In reality, the city of Welland could not restrict their employment. These Chinese workers left the plant in the late 1920s to seek employment in other parts of Canada.

 

 

During WWII, Atlas Steels in Welland, Ontario employed several Chinese men. The men, as young as twenty years old, lived in staff houses equipped for one hundred and fifty men. The men were able to cook their own meals and eat with chopsticks if they wished. Many of these men left Welland following WWII and found employment elsewhere. Welland's Chinese citizens made up 0.2% of the total population in 2001.

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Croatian Community

Croatians first settled in Canada in 1905. Not all Croatian immigrants came from Croatia, some arrived from the United States. They worked in local factories and later brought their families to Welland. The Croatian population established homes around Fifth and South Main Streets, including Fourth, Sixth, and Seventh Streets. Some Croatians, John Bubanko, Matthew Blazetich and John Domitrek, opened retail establishments. Others became farmers. From 1920 to 1930 a new wave of Croatians came to Welland. These new Canadians worked in large industries, and helped to build the Welland Canal and the railways. Immigration increased after WWII when Croatians fled communism in their native homeland. This wave of immigrants was mostly skilled workers who became actively involved in Welland's commercial, service and municipal government.

 

 

Early Croatian arrivals attended St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church. In 1967, Father Charles Petranovic offered the first Croatian Mass in Welland at St. Augustine's Church. In 1982, the Croatian Church of St. Anthony of Padova was established on River Road. This church is the only Croatian Church serving the Niagara Region.

Croatians kept their traditions and customs alive in Welland by opening social clubs. The Croatian Fraternal Union Welland Lodge 617, "Croatian Sons' Club" was first located in Ontario in 1924 on Fifth Street in Welland. The Knev Brenimir Croatian Cultural Society is another example of the efforts of these immigrants to pass down traditions, culture and language.

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Dutch Community

In 1811, the first Dutch resident arrived in Crowland. All early Dutch immigrants were descendants of Dutch United Empire Loyalists. They found employment in business and local industry and were also involved in local government. VanWyck and Johnson Lumbar Yard was a prominent business in Welland at the time. The first councilor of Crowland Township, William VanAlstine, was Dutch. In the 1890s there was direct migration from the Netherlands. Most of Welland's Dutch population arrived after WWII. Many applied their agricultural skills and were significant contributors to the Welland's Farmers Market.

Most Dutch immigrants attended the Methodist Church. Eventually a Christian Reform Church was established in Welland.

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English/American Community

Most immigrants from Britain settled in the United States prior to settling in the Welland area. The American Revolution and lack of avaliable land drew these immigrants to Upper Canada. There were three waves of Americans who first settled in Welland. The first wave were the United Empire Loyalists before and during the American Revolution. The second wave included Quakers, Mennonites and Tunkers (late loyalists) that came to the area from the United States. In 1791, the third wave, Americans farmers, were lured to the area by an offer of land from Lieutenant Governor Simcoe to aid in populating the Niagara Peninsula.

At that time, English-speaking immigrants made up the majority of Welland's population. United Empire Loyalists were granted land in return for aiding the British in the American Revolution. In 1784, forty families, many of whom were associated with Butler's Rangers, settled in what would become Welland.

All the names given to the township of Welland and Lincoln Counties are British. In the 1850s there were several small English businesses in Welland County. The first Anglican Church in the area was Holy Trinity on Smith Street whose pastor was Reverend James Stannage.

Prior to WWII, the north end of Welland was predominantly an English-speaking area. Homes were more expensive and most of Welland's privileged lived there at that time. In 2001, english-speaking citizens made up 76.1% of Welland's population.

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French Community

The main draw toward Welland for french immigrants was the availability of jobs. Textile companies traditionally attracted French Canadian and Italian workers. Welland's textile companies, Welland Cotton Mill (which became Dominion Fabric Company in 1926) and Empire Cotton, were actively recruiting workers from Quebec. Later, Atlas Steels recruited workers from Quebec to work in their Welland plants. Both Atlas and Empire Cotton were on opposite ends of Empire Street allowing for the formation of an isolated community around the factories.

Beginning in 1914, an area known as Frenchtown began to develop. Schools, banks, churches and clubs were all located within five city blocks. This situation created a political and economic force in Welland since both Wards 4 and 5 had francophone aldermen.

The French developed social, cultural, educational, financial, business and religious organizations in Welland due in large part to their significant numbers. Welland has the highest French population in Southern Ontario. At one time, the majority of the French population resided in the east side of Welland, where they attended schools and churches in the area.

During WWI, the French came to Welland from Quebec and New Brunswick. They were drawn to job opportunities provided by industrial growth. These immigrants were mostly Roman Catholic and attended the Church of the Japanese Martyrs (north Ward), Saints Peter and Paul (south Ward) and St. Mary's on Hellems Avenue. In 1920, Father Rosario Tanguay founded the Sacre-Coeur church.

 

 

The French population grew at a steady rate. In 1946, it stood at 3,000, almost double that of 1940 when it was 1,015. By the 1960s, the French were the third largest ethnic group in Welland. In the 1970s and 1980s the French population continued to grow and, by 1976, it represented 4% of the total population of the Niagara Peninsula. In 2001, the French-speaking population in Welland reached 12.1% of the total population of 47,005. This percentage is the fourth highest in Ontario. Sudbury's French-speaking population is 27.9% of it population, Cornwall's is 26.3% and 14.9% of Ottawa total popualtion is French-speaking.

In 1978, the Social Club began in an old converted garage. The club raised $225,000 to purchase a farm on the outskirts of Welland to hold recreational programs.

The French community has contributed to Welland in many ways. Welland has four French elementary schools, one French high school and a weekly newspaper, the L'Ecluse (The Lock). A regional french newspaper, le Regional, has a Niagara bureau in Welland, Ontario. This newspaper covers the area from Oakville to Port Colborne and is still in publication today. In 1982, a French daycare center, la Boite de Soleil (The Sunshine Box), was opened. The Niagara Region's only college, Niagara College, was encouraged by the French community to become a bilingual institution. In 1965, the first bilingual school was built in Welland. In1968, Ecole Secondaire Confederation was the first French language public secondary school in Ontario.

A driving force behind these bilingual services in Welland is Club Richelieu. This club is the only international social services club that is exclusively French. It acts as an important binding force in the community. At first the club focused on assisting people, especially children, with dental care and other uninsurable services. The club's philosophy is to promote peace and fraternity and its mandate is to preserve French culture.

In 1957, Club Richelieu was founded when the Auberge Richelieu Community Center was built. The facility is free to all seniors and students. The club contributes to the non-French community through their senior homes, Residence Richelieu and Foyer Richelieu. It also makes financial contributions to non-French institutions such as the Welland Hospital, Help a Child Smile, Handi-Trans, United Way, Niagara Peninsula Children's Centre and the Lung Association. Other French organizations in Welland include: Les Chatelaines, Les Oiseaux Bleus, La Caisse Populaires, Les Artisans, Le Club de Croquet, Club Champlain, L'age d'or, Le Club d'Artisanat.

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German Community

In 1776, the first Germans came to the area as United Empire Loyalists. They settled in Crowland Township. In the 1830s and 1840s Germans arrived from Alsace and, after 1848, refugees came to Canada to escape the German Revolution. Many fled Germany again in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War.

Germans living in Welland are mostly Protestant and are members of the Lutheran Church, Methodist Church, Mennonite Church, United Brethren Church or the Brethren in Christ Church. The first Lutheran church in Welland was established in 1876 on Griffith and Kent Streets. In 1928, a new church was erected on the original site.

 

 

After WWII, Germans flooded into Canada, a country that offered economic opportunity to professional and highly skilled workers. By 2001, 0.7% of Welland's population was German.

The German community in Welland established their own club to preserve cultural traditions. Club Rheingold celebrates German culture through music, dance and by contributing to various folk art festivals.

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Greek Community

In 1913, the first Greeks came to Welland. The 1900s saw sporadic migration of Greeks to the area. Most Greek immigrants arrived in Canada by ships that landed in Halifax. In Greece, they were mostly farmers or served in the army or navy. They left their native land for economic reasons and usually arrived as single men who found wives in Canada. Many Greeks who settled in Welland came from Brantford, London and Toronto. Most Greeks were self-employed. They owned restaurants, hotels, wholesale houses, bowling alleys and theatres. This situation allowed for the employment of their families and friends and provided them with a social safety net. It also fulfilled their desire for independence and a sense of personal achievement.

Canadian Greeks became well integrated into English dominated Welland, but retained their Greek identity. They were able to keep their customs and traditions. They preserved the Greek language by speaking it at home and teaching it to their children. For two hours a week, Greek children attended Greek language schools. The first generation of Greek immigrants learned English on their own in their places of employment. Greeks living in Welland travel to St. Catharines to attend the Greek Orthodox Church.

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Hungarian Community

There were three major waves of Hungarian immigration into Canada. Between WWI and the Depression rural workers arrived searching for work and a better future for their children. After WWII, the largest wave of immigrants and displaced persons found their way to Canada. Following the Hungarian Uprising in 1956, many Hungarians fled their homeland to gain political freedom. By 1961, Hungarians made up 20% of Welland's population.

 

A number of Hungarians found work on tobacco and fruit farms in Southern Ontario. In 1906, sixty Hungarian families moved from Saskatchewan to Welland's south side. Many immigrants arriving in Welland were employed in the Joseph Stokes Rubber factory and Electro Metals. Some opened merchant stores to serve fellow immigrants in their own language. Between 1924 and 1930 a large number of Hungarian immigrants arrived in Welland. They were attracted by jobs in construction on the Welland Canal and in local industries. A number of Hungarians came to Welland from Western Canada in the 1930s when they lost their farms during the dust bowl period. New immigrants who moved here found support from family and friends already established. Immigrants who owned homes took in boarders and new immigrants to supplement their income.

The majority of the Hungarian population in Welland lived in the King, Regent, Burgar and Lincoln Streets areas.

 

 

Hungarians contributed to Welland's religious and social identity. Welland's Hungarian immigrants established the Hungarian Baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic churches here. The Hungarian Presbyterian Church had a hall on Seventh Street and later on Hellems Avenue. In the 1950s, Presbyterians and Greek Catholics built a church near the core of the Hungarian population. Societies were established to aid Hungarian immigrants and Welland citizens to adjust to their new homeland and maintain their cultural traditions. The Hungarian Christian Society and the Hungarian Self Culture Society were two such clubs. The Hungarian Self Culture Society was instituted to integrate Hungarians into society, preserve their language and culture, provide assistance to immigrants, assist with illnesses and bereavement, and teach Canadian laws to immigrants. The Welland branch, with a clubhouse on Hellems Avenue, was established in 1921 and incorporated in 1924. The Hungarian Self Culture Society is the largest and financially strongest club in Canada. In 1936, the Independent Mutual Benefit Federation, Kossuth Branch ("the Workers Hall") was built on Park Street. Five acres of land were purchased on the shore of Lake Erie for a health and recreation park. This park was named Kossuth Park.

Hungarians were the first to join labour unions. During strikes, both men and women joined picket lines to support loved ones. The Hungarian clubs helped those on strike financially.

In 1939, Hungarian-Canadians joined the anti-fascist movement and called for the defeat of Hungarian fascist leaders. That same year, Hungarian immigrants in Welland joined the armed forces, worked in factories and supported the war effort. They were politically conscious workers. Sixty-two members of the Hungarian Self Culture Society volunteered for armed forces duty. Seven lost their lives. All of these efforts demonstrated their loyalty to their new homeland and enabled immigrants to overcome discrimination after WWII.

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Irish Community

The Irish first came to the Welland area with the United Empire Loyalists in the late 1780s and 1790s. Lieutenant John Brown arrived in 1788 and was the first to settle on land that would become Welland.

In 1827, and again in 1849, Irish immigrants flooded into Canada to escape poverty and the Potato Famine. Approximately 428,000 came from Ireland, mostly from the counties of Cork and Connaught. Many Irish workers were attracted to Welland because of the construction of the Welland Canal.

In 1841, a large number of unemployed and unskilled labourers were brought, both from the United States and Ireland, to work on the feeder canal. Many Irish workers found jobs maintaining and operating the Welland Canal once it was completed. In 1881, Matthew Beatty, an Irishman, started the first waterworks system in Welland.

Most Irish, prior to 1839, were protestant. They found employment as Canal workers or hotel operators. The Irish were among the most discriminated groups, especially during the construction of the Welland Canal.

There was no particular area of settlement for Irish immigrants in Welland. They lived mainly in the older, more established neighborhoods in Central Welland, on the western side of the Welland Canal.

Early arrivals from Ireland and Scotland, unlike other ethnic groups, did not express loyalty to their homelands. They had no desire to maintain links with their mother countries due to their struggle against poverty, disease and, what they considered to be, political persecution. Irish and Scottish immigrants rarely held the same kinds of jobs in Canada as in their mother country. The employment they found in Welland ranged from labouring to managerial. Many worked in factories. Many foremen and factory supervisors would hire workers based on their Irish and Scottish background.

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Italian Community

Italian immigration to Welland began in 1890. Two major periods of immigration were 1900 to 1929 and 1946 to 1970. This pattern of immigration was due to unsettled economic and political conditions in Italy, the policy of Italian conscription and the availability of construction jobs on the Welland Canal and in local industries such as the Plymouth Cordage Company and the Canada Steel Company. Many Italians arrived from New York, attracted by the availability of jobs for skilled and unskilled workers.

The majority of Welland's Italian population settled here between 1905 and 1909. Most of these immigrants intended to return to Italy. Welland's Italian community can be traced back to the United States. In 1880, Italians came to the United States seeking employment. Many worked at the Plymouth Cordage Company in Massachusetts for ten years prior to moving to the Welland plant. The Plymouth Cordage Company sent Italians to Welland to begin operations. These workers were guaranteed benefits and housing in Welland with minimal rent deducted from their paycheques every week. Italians from Northern Italy often continued their employment with the Plymouth Cordage Company.

Italians from Southern Italy often operated their own businesses such as bakeries and grocery stores. These shopkeepers often served as interpreters and legal advisors to new immigrants and illiterate Italians. The relocation of some of these shops drew Italians out of the Plymouth Cordage area.

Italian immigrants faced considerable discrimination in employment. For example, only English and Irish or ex-servicemen worked in police services in Welland at the time. Union Carbide would not hire Italian girls in their offices until 1967. Plymouth Cordage was one of the few plants that employed workers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Professionals from Italy were not permitted to practice in Canada and had to take jobs doing manual labour. This perpetuated the stereotype that Italians were suitable only for labouring jobs. Such prejudices caused many to change their names to English sounding ones. Both fellow students and teachers often ridiculed Italian children for being immigrants. This situation caused second generation Italians to separate themselves from their Italian heritage.

Italians created their own organizations to protect themselves and their culture from discrimination. They started the "Black Hands", with headquarters on King Street. This organization followed the Italian tradition of providing their own protection.

By 1910, the size of the immigrant community in Welland was large enough to support two priests, one of whom was Italian. The majority of Italians were Roman Catholic.

 

In 1912, another Italian community emerged in the Fifth and Sixth Street area when Page-Hersey opened a branch plant in Welland. More Italians migrated from Italy and Guelph, Ontario to work at the factory. At first these new employees boarded in Cordage homes. Page-Hersey moved houses from Ontario Street to Sixth and Seventh Streets and sold them to their workers. Some Croatian, Yugoslavian and Polish lived in this area as well due to its proximity to Page-Hersey. The concentration of Italian homes was now located along Lincoln Street (new Cordage homes), Kent Street, Park Street and Albert Street.

By 1913, there were fifty Italian families in Welland. These immigrants were mostly from Southern Italy. For the most part, they were poorly educated people who found shelter in boarding houses. They worked in fruit markets, as grocers, bakers and barbers. The majority of immigrants from Northern Italy were employed at Page-Hersey and Electro Metals. Learning English was difficult because immigrants lived in areas where there were few who knew a word of English. Occupational and residential segregation of Italians also offered little need to learn the English language. Their agricultural and rural background presented problems in finding good jobs and contributed to the creation of many stereotypes.

Welland's Italian community lived mostly on the east side of the Welland Canal in the Plymouth Cordage area. In 1927, Italians were concentrated along King Street, Lincoln Street, Albert Street, Kent Street and Fifth and Sixth Streets. This concentration occurred for several reason: illiterate foreigners could seek aid, Italian foodstuffs could be purchased, Italian immigrants could be close to family, friends and work, and the Italian language could be spoken openly.

Many became comfortable in a community that began to offer services in Italian, English language courses and where Italian food was readily available. In the late 1920s an Italian hall was built on Park Street for meetings and dances. An Italian school opened on King and Lincoln Streets. These facilities and services kept the Italian heritage strong.

Social lives were carried out in peoples' houses, halls and stores. Italian traditions were able to continue in Welland due to a strong community bond. Italian past-times and hobbies such as gardening, wine making, card playing, music and bocce helped pass down Italian customs to children. There were stores that catered to Italians by importing Italian foodstuffs. Such stores were able to survive due to their proximity to a large population of Italians. The majority of Italians lived in the Park Street and King Street areas. All Italian businesses were located on King Street. Immigrants from Northern Italy maintained a hall on Garner Avenue called the Italian-Canadian Club that closed during WWII.

Few Italians returned to Italy after finding a home in Welland. By 1971, Statistics Canada reported that Italians made up 11.5% of Welland's population. In 2001, Italians represented 4.1% of Welland's total population.

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Korean Community

Korean immigrants began coming to Canada in the late 1800s after the first Canadian Missionaries went to Korea. The missionaries sent a group of scholarship students to universities and colleges in Canada. Most Koreans returned home when they completed their education. Koreans do not constitute a large group in Welland.

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Polish Community

In the early part of the twentieth century a Federal Government recruitment program encouraged Polish settlement in Canada. The Government of Canada wanted to increase the population to prevent any attempts by Americans to take Canadian land. The program encouraged immigrants from central and Eastern Europe to come to Canada.

This promotion was further aided by the rapid industrial growth in Welland. The first wave of Polish immigrants came here between 1890 and 1928. Catholic clergymen brought these landless peasants, labourers and small tradesmen to Canada. These new Polish immigrants found many hardships after they arrived. Their values and norms were not accepted and they were politically marginalized. They faced poverty and discrimination. Working class immigrants arrived from Poland and found jobs as canal labourers, farm hands, and industrial and railway workers. The attraction of employment created a Polish settlement in Crowland (south Welland) close to the larger factories.

Between 1946 and 1949, the second wave of Polish immigrants came to Welland. This group consisted mostly of disbanded soldiers and released prisoners of war. These individuals immigrated to escape communist regimes at home as compared to earlier immigrants who came to Canada because of poverty, overpopulation and famine. Language classes and community services were available and the stigma of ethnicity disappeared allowing for easier transition into Canadian society. This wave makes up half of the Polish-Canadian population.

The Polish population in Welland found employment at General Tire, Newman Steel, Atlas Steels, Electro Metals (Union Carbide) and Page-Hersey. Others had contracts at Wabasso, Morrison Steel and worked on local farms. Page-Hersey employed the largest number of Polish workers in Welland.

 

The Crowland area around Southworth, Harriet, Wright, Deere, Chaffey and Alberta Streets, was where the majority of the Polish population chose to live. In 1914, Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church was established. The Polish Hall, located within this area, was the centre for the community. Most of Welland's Polish population were devote Catholics who attended church frequently. This was due to the fact that most Polish customs were religious based. The majority of Saints Peter and Paul Church parishioners were Polish. The proximity to factories in this area allowed employees to walk to work. This area permitted immigrants to use their own language, follow their own customs and promoted ethnic toleration.

Following WWI, the Polish population in Crowland began to open grocery stores, upholstery businesses and butcher shops in Welland.

The Canadian Polish Society sponsored families from Poland to immigrate to Welland during and after WWII. The majority of the immigrants who came during this period were well educated, ex-servicemen who found jobs in Welland's major industries. By 2001, the Polish Community represented 0.7% of Welland's population.

Polish immigrants in Welland have been able to preserve their culture while serving the community at large. This has been accomplished through organizations such as the Polish Hall, founded in 1930, and the Polish Canadian Society, established in 1927. A strong Polish cultural heritage is still evident today in Welland's annual Folklore Festival.

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Scottish Community

Welland’s Scottish community can be traced from both the United States and Scotland. The earliest Scottish immigrants arrived in Welland as United Empire Loyalists in the 1700s. These immigrants were well educated and had entrepreneurial outlooks. Early immigrants were involved in farming and dairy farming, supplying Welland with staple goods. Grist and lumber mills were built and maintained by Scottish immigrants in the Welland area. By the 1800s, this group worked in canning factories and blacksmith shops.

Their education and business sense contributed to Welland. Many Scottish families opened successful businesses in Welland. These include: Mc Alpine, Cruickshank, Bald,Goodwillie, Mc Kenny, Thompson, Henderson, Gilchriese, Glasgow, Rose and Ross.

Scottish immigrants were mostly Presbyterian. The first Presbyterian church in Welland was built through the efforts of Scottish immigrants in 1864. By 1890 a second church, St. Andrew’s Church, was established on Bald Street. This group enriched Welland with their customs, which are visible today in the annual Welland Folklore Festival.

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Slovak Community

The first Slovaks came to Welland between 1923 and 1939. They were experienced labourers and farmers. Welland provided an ideal place for this group to find jobs quickly. They lived near the factories where they worked and attended services at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church.

Between 1948 and 1953 there was a second wave of Slovak migration into Canada. These immigrants were considered religious and political refugees. Mostly priests and skilled craftsmen escaping communist regimes, they arrived under assistance from international refugee organizations. The third wave of Slovak immigration occurred in 1968 following the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia.

 

 

In the 1930s Slovaks created a fraternal, self-support system to aid in their survival, keep their Christian Slovac culture and develop into Canada citizens. In 1935, the Slovac Mutual Benefit Society Branch 14 was established and in 1940, the Canadian Slovak League Branch 25 was founded.

The Welland-based Slovak Radio Club broadcasted weekly from 1939 to 1965 with a reception area covering southern Ontario and western New York. The Slovaks aided the war effort through fundraising and charitable contributions.

Following WWII, Slovak immigrants found employment in canning factories, restaurants, and hotels and worked as real estate brokers. They contributed to the Welland Farmer's Market. Slovaks were instrumental in the establishment of St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church and the Holy Ghost Slovak Byzantine Catholic Parish Centre in Welland.

In 2004, The Candian Slovak League sold their hall on Hagar Street to Home Style Catering. The hall was located there for over fifty years. Although the hall is closed the Canadian Slovak League remains a club. Programs such as the Bratislava Dancers are still offered. The reasons for the closure of the hall was threefold. The first two reasons were legal: the smoking bylaws and legislation about bingo proceeds. The third reason was the trend of Welland's youth moving away for jobs. Although their membership is still 300 memebers, their is not enough interest from the younger generation.

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Ukrainian Community

The first Ukrainians came to Welland before 1910. They were strongly socialist due to unsettled political conditions in their homeland. There was no social support for this group when they arrived. They faced language barriers and discrimination. In 1917, the first Ukrainian Labour Temple constructed in Canada was built in Welland at 18 Sixth Street. This became the centre for social, cultural and political activity.

There was another wave of Ukrainian immigration between the World Wars. Craftsmen, professionals, politicians and intellectuals were among these immigrants. A Ukrainian community developed around Industrial Park and the Maple Park subdivisions. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress was created in 1940 to bring together Ukrainians from a variety of political, social and religious backgrounds to represent the interests of Ukrainian Canadians.

In 1914, the first congregation started by Ukrainians was the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church at 46 Fourth Street. The land on which it was built was donated by the Plymouth Cordage Company. In 1924, a second Ukrainian Church was established in Welland, St. Michael's Ukrainian Catholic Church, on the corner of Harriet and McCabe. Its parishioners constructed both of these churches.

Two Ukrainian groups were established in Welland to aid its immigrant population. The United Canadian Ukrainians, begun in 1917, was later renamed the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association. The Ukrainian Culture Centre was also started as a place to gain information on available work and housing. Ukrainians new to Welland were often borders in other people's homes until they were financially secure enough to purchase homes of their own.

The experiences of the first Ukrainian immigrants prompted the need for a Ukrainian support group. In 1917, the first Ukrainian hall, The Ukrainian Workers Hall, was built on Sixth Street. After the war and during the Depression, the Ukrainian Workers Hall became a popular place for non-Ukrainians to take classes and join in events. Activities included physical education, dancing, orchestra, gymnastics, youth and children's associations and a Ukrainian school. No other halls in Welland gave people something to do in times of high unemployment. This was also a time when cultures in Welland began to mix. The Ukrainian Workers Hall became the centre of the Workers Benevolent Association. This association provided injured men with medical attention and widows were given financial aid. During WWII, concerts were held to raise money to aid in the war effort.

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