Welland History .ca

Historic EVENTS in and around Welland


First Commercial Paris to London Airplane flight

International News

Jack Dempsey defeats J. Willard for heavyweight boxing crown

Lady Astor first woman elected to British Parliament.

Treaty of Versailles signed formerly ending World War One.

Benito Mussolini forms new Facsist Party in Italy.

Local News From the Welland Tribune for 1919

Jan 7 Seven masked men hold up a house at the corner of Lincoln and Burgar Sts.

Harold Lloyd was playing in “Komedy” at the Grand Theatre on East Main , Admission 10 cents.

Advertisements for neckties at 19 cents; men’s shirts for 87 cents.

Coffee .40 cents a pound, port wine 35 cents bottle; Ladies skirts $3.85; cornflakes 27 cents box, sugar .12 cents a pound; new McLaughlin Roadster for $1,925.

January 14 Tribune reports that robberies, hold ups, fires and violent deaths have been caused by illegal importing of liquor, due to prohibition under the Ontario Temperance Act.

April 6 The newly installed organ at Holy Trinity Church, Division St. was played for the first time.

April 24 “Veterans Desire cheaper Divorce”

Reed’s Electrical shop, east of Dexter Hotel suffers $5,000 fire loss.

Man fined $200 for having bottle of liquor in his pocket.

June 3  City to rebuild Niagara St. from Elm St. Employees of British American Ship building Company on King St. returned to work with an eight hour day.

City needs a full time industrial commissioner. Grand Theatre playing Charles Chaplin in “Police”

Tender for new fire hall let at $43,851. to Gardner Construction

Peach tree curl very bad here.

Woman grabs axe and chases Crowland police officer.

August 19 The towpath Road from Welland to Port Colborne will be 23 feet wide.

New home on Wilton Ave. destroyed by fire.

September 2 Welland Street Railway to run to Parkway Drive.

September 4 Council approves YWCA. Welland Club bowlers victorious.

October 21 Liberal Robert Cooper wins in election..


[Welland Tribune, 11 September 1919]

Dental Surgeon desires to announce that he has opened new dental parlours over Candyland. 18 South Main, side entrance. Phone 425.


Building carried only $2000 insurance, had been erected 60 years-

Whole street was threatened by flames owing to wind.

[People’s Press, 12 August 1919]

Fire totally destroyed the frame business block owned by Eugene Reeb, Port Colborne, early Friday morning, when about $15,000 damage was done before the untiring and praiseworthy efforts of the local fire brigade, aided by the Humberstone company, were successful in quelling the flames. A strong wind threatened the entire street and it was solely owing to the good work of the department that other buildings in the vicinity were saved.

The block comprised three stores on the ground floor, a drug store and ice cream parlor owned by Mr. H.J. M’Haffey, a grocery store owned by Mr. J. Shibley, and a fruit store owned by Sebastianio and Romeo. These premises and their contents were completely destroyed.

Insurance on the buildings amounted to $2000. The building was erected over sixty years ago, being one of the landmarks of the town. Mr. M’Haffey’s stock valued at about $15,000 and insurance to the amount of $7,500 was carried on it. Insurance on the Shibley stock, which was valued at $7000 was nil, the policy having lapsed only a short time ago, never having been renewed.

In addition to thee premises, a clothes-cleaning and pressing establishment also located in the block was also destroyed, along with a number of suits which had been left in over night. The block was located at the corner of West and Clarence streets.

The fire was first noticed by the night policeman about two o’clock in the morning. An alarm was immediately sounded by Mr. F. Boyer, a totally blind man who lived near by and who ran down the street ringing a bell and crying “Fire.” Boats on the canal took up the alarm and in a few moments a crowd of citizens had formed a volunteer brigade and commenced throwing water on the building, which was now a burning mass. The Humberstone fire engine and crew were soon on the job and helped pump seven streams of water from the canal. A freshening north wind seriously menaced all the buildings which were mostly frame, in the vicinity, but water was constantly applied to surrounding roofs with the result that a great deal of property was saved which otherwise would have been lost.

At six o’clock Friday evening the fire was still smouldering although all danger had been obviated by the through drenching given the ruins.


Presented With Mementoes

[Welland Tribune, 7 August 1919]

              The annual festivities of the birthday of one of the city’s well known and honored citizens, in the person of Mr. C.J. Page, was held on Tuesday, Aug. 5th, when a large number of his friends from his home city, Welland, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls participated in a picnic at Victoria Park. Thirty-six of his friends were seated around the festive board to partake of the many good eatables prepared by the ladies and which were heartily enjoyed. After dinner had been served, Mr. A. Griffiths, an esteemed companion of the host, was called to preside over the gathering, and in an appropriate speech on behalf of the guests, congratulated Mr. Page on his (?) birthday, and trusted he would live to enjoy many more of these social gatherings, after which the host of the day was presented with beautiful mementoes in the form of a gold headed cane and umbrella from his friends who wished for him many more years in which to enjoy the use of his gifts. The presentation was made on behalf of the guests by Miss Hewgil. The gifts were a pleasant surprise to the recipient and he thanked the donors for their kind remembrances.

             The years of the host’s birthday were not publicly announced, but according to ancient customs, in days of yore, lighted candles denoting the years of your birth were placed on the cake- in this case forty miniature lighted wax candles appeared on the birthday cake, denoting the number of years the host had seen the light of day-in this world of joys and sorrows.

             The cane was not presented to the host as a signal that his perambulators were weakening from declining years, nor the umbrella as a protection from the rays of sunshine or beatings of the storms to mar his beaming countenance, but tokens for him to remember, as the gifts of true friendship.

             The decorations on the host’s auto on the home voyage, although emblematical for a bride and groom, were only to designate that the host of the day was still in “youth sublime” and not nearing “father time.” Ex Mayor Vaughn, ex Mayor Best, Alderman Dawdy and Harry Moore (postmaster general) on behalf of the guests extended to the host congratulations on this his (?) birthday and hoped to enjoy with him many more of these happy gatherings.



[People’s Press, 12 August 1919]

             Ten were killed, the bodies of two of them not yet having been recovered, in the disastrous explosion of the Canadian government elevator at Port Colborne at 1.15 last Saturday afternoon. In addition to those killed three others are so seriously hurt that they may not recover and a number of others were hurt less seriously. As it was Saturday afternoon, the full works staff was not at work and for this reason the list of casualties is as light as it is. On Saturday morning a gang of thirty men had been engaged in chipping the outer walls of the elevator, working high on the building, preparing to re-coat the outer surface with cement. This gang went off duty for the week at noon. Had they been working when the explosion occurred, every man of them would have been killed.

             Port Colborne is a town of sad homes, practically all of the killed men having been old residents of the port town who were well and favorably known. In some instances the killed were life-long friends, and in one case two of them were brothers-in-law for whom a double funeral is being held. Following are the particulars concerning those dead and injured.


             Alfred Leslie of Port Colborne was killed instantly by falling concrete. He had been on the dock near the boat and his body was completely cut in two. He was a married man and leaves a wife and two children. He had been employed by the elevator as a rigger and was 32 years of age. He formerly resided at Lowbanks and his funeral will be held at that place on Wednesday afternoon at three o’clock.

             Lorenzo Dunham had lived in Port Colborne for many years. He was 65 years of age and leaves a wife and a family of nine, five boys and four girls. His home is at the corner of Ferris and Omar Street, Port Colborne. He was a member of the K.O.T.M. His funeral was held yesterday afternoon at 1.30 o’clock to the Port Colborne Cemetery. He met his death from falling debris and was also badly burned.

             Joseph Hanham, who was reported missing until Sunday morning, was found dead in a bin by the searchers about four a.m. He was the spouter at the elevator and was engaged in managing the loading spout in the bin when the disaster occurred. He was partially buried by the falling timbers and concrete and it was therefore difficult to locate his body. Mr. Hanham formerly resided in Welland having left here about twenty-four years ago to live in Port Colborne, where he operated for several years the Lakeview Mills. He was forty years of age and is survived by his widow and one child, a boy. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge under whose auspices the funeral will be held at 2 o’clock this afternoon to Overholt Cemetery. He was also a member of the Independent Order of Forresters. He resided on Clarence St., Port Colborne.

             Clarence Hart of Port Colborne was seriously injured and on Saturday taken to the Welland Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries Sunday morning. He was among the first of the injured to be taken from the ruins of the elevator.

             Joseph Latour, a French Canadian residing in Montreal and mate of the steel barge the Quebec, was instantly killed by falling debris. He was the son of the captain of the barge, the latter having sustained a broken nose in the accident. The dead son was 30 years of age and leaves a wife and three children at Montreal. The body was sent to Montreal yesterday afternoon at three o’clock.

             Elijah W. Michener was among those at first reported to have been missing, but his body was later found in the ruins. He was employed at the elevator as a sub-foreman in one of the departments. His home is at Gas Line and he is survived by his widow and three boys and one girl. He was 36 years of age.

             William Cook was weighmaster’s assistant and was killed instantly, his body having been found shortly after the wreck. He resided on Kent St., Port Colborne and is survived by his wife and two children, girls. He was aged thirty-eight and was a member of the Oddfellows, Beacon’s Lodge, Port Colborne. The funeral was held yesterday afternoon at four o’clock.

             Charles Aston, chief weighmaster at the elevator died on Sunday morning about four o’clock as a result of his injuries and he was buried yesterday at four o’clock with Mr. Cook his assistant, who was his brother-in-law. He was 42 years of age and is survived by his wife and one child who reside in Port Colborne. Mr. Aston was born in England. The double interment took place at Oakwood Cemetery at Port.


             The bodies of Alex Beck and Sidmont Dunlop have not yet been recovered although they are known to be dead.

             Sidmont Dunlop was a young man of 22 years who despite his youth had spent over four years overseas and had won the Military Medal at Amiens on August the 8th last year. He served with the 13th Canadian Battalion and was twice wounded in action. He was an assistant spouter at the elevator and is survived by his mother and two sisters and one brother of Port Colborne. He was not married.

             Alex Beck was an assistant shipper at the elevator and was engaged in assisting the loading of the Quebec when the explosion occurred. His body is believed to be in the canal. He was a man 45 years of age and is survived by his widow and family who reside on Welland St., Port Colborne.


             On Saturday night Coronor Mckenzie of Port Colborne empannelled a jury which after viewing the bodies that had been recovered adjourned until August the 29th at seven in the evening when an inquest will be held in the Police Court Building at Port Colborne.


             D.S. Harvey, the general foreman of the elevator is so seriously injured that he is not expected to recover. He is suffering from severe burns which he sustained in the explosion. He and his family live in Port Colborne.

             S. Mouck was also hurt so badly that he is not expected to recover. His injuries are chiefly from falling debris. His house is in Port Colborne.

             William Rambeau, a French Canadian whose home is in Montreal, was employed on the barge Quebec and is also seriously injured, his physicians stating that his recovery is doubtful.


             Harold Armstong, a young man whose house is in Port Colborne, and who served overseas during the war, was badly hurt in the arm, shoulder and face, and sustained no less that 14 wounds from falling pieces of concrete. After having his wounds dressed he was able to be about however.


             Of all those who escaped injury perhaps the most miraculous and inexplicable escape was that of Mr. Ellery Neff who was working on the dock at the vessel’s side directly beside Alfred Leslie who was killed. His hair was slightly singed by the heat from the explosion but otherwise he did not have a scratch.

             Geo. Aitins was burned about the hands and face but his injuries are not serious.

             John Glenn, William Roach, George Upper and Robert Blackall, the remainder of the men who were in the elevator when the accident occurred, escaped without the slightest injury although some of them were in the midst of falling debris.

             The office staff, consisting of W.F. Fawcett, superintent of the elevator, Miss Ada Catherwood, stenographer, and Jno. McKie, accountant, had not returned from lunch when the disaster occurred.


[People’s Press, 12 August 1919]

              Sunday was a sad day in Port Colborne. The above scene where the disaster of the day previous occurred, represented to but very few Port Colborne citizens a monetary loss of over two million dollars. The ten men who were killed in the explosion leave sixty mourners of their immediate families bereaved. To these, the sympathy of the entire town and district went out. The human side of the disaster gripped the people. The property loss was forgotten for the day.

             Scenes of indescribable pathos were witnessed as one went from home to home on Sunday afternoon. The two sisters who were bereaved when their husbands were killed side by side; the relatives of the young winner of the Military Medal who had left the war but lately to help in handling grain destined to feed hungry Europe; the widow and family of nine left by another victim; the relatives of the two men still missing; the father of the young man whose body was lacerated almost beyond recognition, how can the sorrow of these be described?

             Even at the piers about the elevator, shown in the postcard above, with the ruins standing, a charred and tangled mass, fringed around the tops of the shattered walls with twisted steel work, with huge slabs of fallen concrete lying about under foot and an odor of burnt grain filling the air, the crowds of citizens and visitors from all over the Niagara Peninsula were almost oblivious to the material losses incurred. Two of the bodies were still missing and a tug maneuvered in the slip between the elevator and the Maple leaf Mill searching for one of the corpses believed to be in the water. This scene was the centre of interest.


Burst of flame shot into sky 600 feet-Steel barge “Quebec” wrecked by falling debris


Quarter million bushels grain in elevator-Grain trade to coast paralyzed-Two years to rebuild elevator-Explosion of dust


[People’s Press, 12 August 1919]

              A loss approximating two million dollars is estimated as a result of the disastrous explosion which last Saturday afternoon at 1.15 demolished the Canadian Government elevator at Port Colborne. The elevator has a capacity of two and a half million bushels and is one of the largest in America. It will take two years to rebuild the elevator and in the meantime the shipping of grain in Canada will be paralyzed for the season, so far as water transportation is concerned. Practically all of the grain coming from the Canadian Northwest has been brought to Port Colborne in large vessels which unloaded there, the government elevator re-shipping it to Montreal and foreign ports. At the present time a million bushels of grain is in harbor at Port Colborne waiting to be unloaded, most of it having come down the lake after the occurrence of the accident. The Westmount, carrying 450,000 bushels of wheat arrived at the port Saturday night and a number of vessels with wheat from Chicago have also arrived. Two vessels, the Windsor and the Arabian and half a dozen barges were waiting their turn to load at the elevator when the explosion took place.

The Quebec Wrecked

             When the tons of concrete and steel from the demolished elevator fell upon the Quebec, a large steel barge which was loading, it almost completely destroyed the vessel. The decks were stove in and the greatest loss of life occurred on the boat where a number of men were engaged in loading. The Quebec was soon towed across the slip and the bodies were removed from it. Captain LaTour escaped, as did also his wife and family of small children who were making the trip with him. The captain sustained, however, a broken nose and other slight  injuries.

             The weight of concrete on the boat and the injuries she received from the fallen debris soon caused her to spring a leak and as she was about to sink in the slip a tug towed  her out to deep water to go down. Considerable grain had been stowed in her holds.

A Terrific Explosion

             The explosion that caused the damage was simply terrific. The writer was standing in front of the three burned stores which had been wiped out the night before, when the roar of the explosion was heard. Immediately obtaining a car, a dash was made for the elevator. A shot of flame burst above the ruined building to the height of 500 or 600 feet, which was almost immediately smothered in a dense cloud of heavy black smoke which continued to pour out for some minutes. Meanwhile an apparently continuous series of explosions could be heard, and mingled with this was the crash of rending steel and heavier noises of falling concrete. It was like a bad thunder bolt, which after the first roar continues to rumble for some moments. While still several hundreds of yards from the elevator, charred grain began falling from the air where it had been blown by the force of the explosion and carried towards the centre of the town by the wind.

Elevator Wrecked

             The elevator is an entire wreck although the outer walls which are solidly built of heavy concrete are still standing with the exception of the upper portions. Eyewitnesses of the explosion state that the entire roof was blown almost in a solid mass fifty to one hundred feet into the air before it fell apart and crashed down through the interior of the immense structure, carrying all of the machinery and inner works to the ground with it. The upper portions of the walls were blown out, and large chunks of concrete are to be found many yards from the building where they fell. The elevator was valued roughly at one million dollars and will have to be rebuilt entirely.

Office Destroyed

             A big steel girder from the elevator was blown by the force of the explosion fully one hundred feet. It fell partly upon the roof of  the office building which is separated from the main building, and completely demolished it. The roof fell in upon the inside and debris crashed through the ground floor and practically filled the basement under the building. By a peculiar trick of fate, however, the safe and filing cabinets were left intact, although concrete and twisted steel are piled high all around them. All of the windows in the Maple Leaf Mill across the slip facing the elevator were broken by the concussion, as were all the windows in the vicinity.

Grain Destroyed

             A quarter of a million bushels of grain were in the elevator at the time, and it is not known if any of it can be salvaged. As practically all of the grain from the head of the lakes was stored for er-shipment in this elevator the accident means paralysis of grain shipments to the seaboard. Most of the grain was handled by the Montreal Transportation Company to whom the steel barge Quebec, which was destroyed, belonged.

Caused by Dust Explosion

             The cause of the tremendous disaster is said to have been the explosion of dust which had accumulated on the girders, floors and other portions of the interior of the building. This grain dust when mixed with certain proportions of air and exposed to a spark of intense heat explodes violently and according to the United States Department of Agriculture, the destruction of four of the largest grain and cereal plants in the States which occurred between March 1916 and October 1917 were caused in this manner. Twenty four lives and a monetary loss of $6,000,000 were incurred.

Destruction Unimaginable

             “I was just stepping off my verandah to return to the office when the explosion occurred,” said General Manager Fawcett. “First there was a warning roar and then a fearful crash. I did not suppose for a minute it was the elevator, but thought it was the Maple Leaf mill which adjoins the elevator. I never thought such vast destruction possible. The loss of many our best men is a terrible thing and then again there is the great setback to the grain trade at this most vital time. We were just getting ready for big business from now on till navigation closes, and the result of this cannot be estimated. Ninety per cent of the grain shipped to Montreal went through this elevator.”

Rescuers Took Chances

             The debris had not stopped falling and the dust was still obscuring the building when the rescuers went into the ruins in an endeavor to locate the stricken men. Chas. Aston and Wm. Cook, spouters, were quickly discovered but died later of their injuries. For several hours loose debris continued to fall imperilling the lives of the rescuers who continued however to search for the missing men.


[People's Press, 24 June 1919]

              NOTICE is hereby given that the law partnership existing between German & Morwood is dissolved on and after the 30th day of June, inst., after which date all accounts owing the said partnership will be paid to Mr. W.M. German who will continue his present office in partnership with Mr. A.L. Brooks of Toronto.