Old Town Walking Tour
In 1796, the Crown granted 800 acres of land along the shore of Lake Ontario to Captain Peter Ten Broeck for his services during the American Revolution. In 1821, 300 of those acres were deeded to Squire Nathan Pawling and made up the first settlement in the area. Originally farmland, Port Dalhousie soon became a thriving maritime community, owing its existence to the First, Second, and Third Welland Canals and the shipping industry. By 1862, Port Dalhousie was incorporated into a village and in 1961 was amalgamated with the City of St. Catharines. Your tour begins and ends in Lakeside Park, where ample parking is provided.
- 1. Port Dalhousie Piers
- The piers were built as part of the construction of the Second Welland Canal in 1838, and provided a more direct entrance point to the locks than those serving the First Welland Canal which took an "L" shaped route under what is now Lakeside Park to the inner harbour. The piers have recently been reconstructed.
- 2. The Lighthouses
- The outer lighthouse (built circa 1879) and the inner lighthouse (constructed circa 1898, to replace an earlier one which was destroyed by lightning) are both local landmarks closely associated with the development of the Welland Canals.
- 3. Lakeside Park
- Originally this land was the marshy mouth of Twelve Mile Creek. As the canals were dredged, the fill was used to form what is now Lakeside Park. In the early part of the century until the 1950's, it served as a widely popular amusement park, complete with merry-go-round, baseball diamond, wooden water slide and dance pavilion. In the summer of 1929 alone, Lakeside Park welcomed nearly 300,000 visitors traveling aboard the long serving passenger ships "Dalhousie City" and "Northumberland."
- 4. Merry-Go-Round*
- This wooden merry-go-round was built in 1898 by the I.D. Looff Company of Riverside, Rhode Island. It is one of few of its kind still in use and was restored in the 1970's through the efforts of local residents. When the merry-go-round was turned over to the City of St. Catharines, it was on the understanding that a ride would cost a nickel in perpetuity.
- 5. Port Dalhousie Jail*
- Built in 1845, this former jail is one of the smallest and oldest structures of its kind remaining in Canada.
- 6. 12 Lakeport Road
- The former site of the Port Mansion which was constructed in 1860 by Bernard McGrath and Nathan Pawling. Many renovations and additions over the years enhanced its prominence at this corner until it was demolished in 2012. Always used as a hotel, it was also known as Houston's Hotel and the Union House.
- 7. 14 Lakeport Road
- This building was built in l880. A chandlery, telegraph office and pizza parlour are among former uses. The shingled projecting second storey is an interesting feature.
- 8. 18 Lakeport Road*
- This building was constructed around 1880 for E.F. Dwyer and served as Dwyer's Groceries, Stationeries and Tobacco Inc. for many years. It was designed in the Italianate Style which is typified by low roofs, overhanging eaves with decorative brackets, an entrance tower, round-headed windows, large front doors topped by round transom windows, arcaded porches and balustraded balconies (a balustrade is a short railing with vase-shaped supports). This style was popular at the time (a vernacular style).
- 9. 26 Lakeport Road
- Built in 1862, this is one of the oldest buildings in the core area. It once served as the Non-Such Hotel under the proprietorship of Joseph Wakerly and is reputed as being home to the first bowling alley in "Port".
- 10. 28 Lakeport Road
- Very little of the original facade of this building, constructed around 1892, remains. Tailor John Denton is thought to be the first of a number of merchants to operate a business here.
- 11. Murphy Building*
- After a series of fires on the site, Edward Murphy built this building located at the busiest corner of Port Dalhousie in 1885 and established a ship's chandlery. In the early 1900's the Back Club at Murphy's was a place where sportsmen, politicians and press people would come to discuss the news.
- 12. Lockhart Point Park
- This is Lock One of the Second Welland Canal constructed in 1842.
- 13. Royal Canadian Legion
- The original L-shaped structure (dating to the 1870's) has been completely renovated. It once served as a maintenance area for canal gates.
- 14. Lincoln Fabrics (63 Lakeport Road)
- This factory was built in 1900 by the Maple Leaf Rubber Company. There was originally another building of similar size across Lakeport Road which was connected to this one by an elevated annex.
- 15. Locktender's Shanty*
- This is the last remaining Locktender's Shanty of the Third Welland Canal (1887-1932). Constructed in 1887, it was used to record the number of ships passing through the canal and to collect fees.
- 16. Dalhousie House*
- This building was once part of Muir Brothers Dry Docks and Shipyard. It was built around 1850 by Alexander Muir and was a service building for the docks.
- 17. Royal Canadian Henley Regatta Course and Grandstand
- In 1903, the first Royal Canadian Henley Regatta was held on the present course. The grandstand was built in 1931 and can seat 2000 people. The course was the site of the World Rowing Championships in 1999.
- 18. 27 Canal Street
- This two storey home, built in 1840 by William Muir, displays elements of the vernacular Georgian design. This style was typified by giant pilasters (shallow piers attached to walls resembling columns), a centre pavilion (part of a building projecting from the rest) with more pilasters and a pediment (low-pitched gable above the facade, doors or windows), and geometric composition.
- 19. 30 Canal Street
- The prominent front verandah with its wooden trellis work and gingerbread trim is a prominent feature of this house built in 1875 by Johnson Gregory, Port Dalhousie's first postmaster.
- 20. 48 Main Street
- In 1915, this building was constructed as a residence for female workers at the Maple Leaf Rubber Company.
- 21. 50 Main Street
- Constructed around 1894 in Italianate styling, Birell Merritt and other members of his family would continue to operate businesses here until 1944. Local residents remember it as Mrs. Thompson's Confectionary.
- 22. 54 Main Street
- This is possibly one of the oldest remaining buildings in Port Dalhousie. It was built around 1838 by Captain John Reid who was one of the first 13 settlers recorded to have lived in Port Dalhousie.
- 23. St. John's Anglican Church
- Built in 1868, this is the oldest church in Port Dalhousie. The church's cemetery, located at 320 Main Street, contains the graves of many of Port Dalhousie's prominent families (Pawlings, Reids, Corbetts). There is a memorial plaque for Captain George R. Woods, who perished in the mysterious disappearance of the "Bannockburn".
- 24. St. Andrew's United Church
- This church was built in 1894, displaying vernacular Gothic Revival style influences in the windows on the front facade. This elaborate style is associated with the pointed arches combined with towers, steep gabled roofs, and large circular "rose" windows in stained glass. The cemetery associated with the church is located at the foot of Johnson Street and contains the graves of the Muirs, Abbeys, Martindales, and Lawrie families.
- 25. St. Mary's Star of the Sea, Roman Catholic Church
- This Gothic styled church was constructed between 1872 end 1875 from stones brought from Kingston as ballast on ships. The original steeple, which was tall enough to be seen by ships on the lake, blew over during a storm on Easter morning, 1928. The current cross lights up as a remembrance to the sailors who lost their lives on the seas.
- 26. 31-35 Elgin Street
- Originally located at 116 Dalhousie Avenue, this building, constructed around 1870, was Port Dalhousie's second school.
- 27. 27 Bayview Drive
- Built in 1867, this is one portion of the original St John's Rectory (see also 82 Dalhousie Avenue).
- 28. 43 Ann Street
- This house was built around 1865 by William Muir, one of the founders of Muir Brothers Dry Dock and Shipyards. It was originally a small frame building but has undergone many additions and renovations over the years.
- 29. 88 Dalhousie Avenue
- This two storey brick home was built around 1865 by David Muir, another one of the part owners and operators of Muir Brothers Dry Docks and Shipyards.
- 30. 82 Dalhousie Avenue*
- This is another portion of St. John's Rectory (see also 27 Bayview Drive), also built in 1867. The prominent lantern that tops the structure is known as a "widow's walk", a place where the wives of sailors would look out into the lake waiting for the return of their husbands.
- 31. 75 Dalhousie Avenue
- This "Saltbox" style home built around 1860, was originally a tailor shop on Main Street. Built by John Denton, it was moved to its present location in 1880.
- 32. Port Dalhousie Public Library (23 Brock Street)
- This structure was built by the Good Templars in 1863. The Good Templars tended to the general welfare of the community. The one storey clapboard building with a distinct cupola also served as a Town Hall for Port Dalhousie until its amalgamation with the City of St. Catharines in l961.
- 33. 43 Dalhousie Avenue
- This Saltbox style house was built in 1841 by Alexander Muir, generally considered as one of the most successful ship builders and dry docks owners on the Welland Canal. Changes to the home have been minimal over the years. Of particular interest is the foundation, built from stone brought as ballast from Kingston on ships returning to Port Dalhousie.
- 34. 27 Simcoe Street
- The original inhabitants of this house (in 1860) were the Tench family, who owned most of the lands on the north side of Dalhousie Avenue and all of the property on Simcoe Street.
- 35. 30 Dalhousie Avenue
- Known as "The Breakers", this Italianate style home was built in the 1880's for R.F. Foote, general manager of the Maple Leaf Rubber Factory. Molded architectural detailing can be found throughout the building.
- 36. 10 Dalhousie Avenue
- This home was built in 1870 by William Hutchinson, who owned the coal docks and lumber yard on the east or "Michigan" side of Port Dalhousie Harbour. Note the old coach step near the curb.
- 37. 36 Lock Street
- This building was constructed in 1845 as the Customs House for the Dominion Government of Canada. It was the harbour master's home. All ships passing through the canal had to stop and pay fines/duties here, day or night.
- 38. Lakeside Hotel*
- Originally known as the Austin House, this Italianate influenced building was constructed in the 1890's. Of interest on the facade are the four recessed bays which are each of different dimensions.
- 39. 15 Lock Street
- Built around 1877, this building was originally known as the Wellington House, and as with the Lakeside Hotel across the street, displays strong Italianate influences seen in the window shapes and cornice features.
- 40. 12 Lock Street
- In 1896, James Stanton constructed this building which served as a combined post office/grocery store.
- 41. 9 Lock Street
- This Neo-Classical influenced structure was built in 1907, and was used as a bank until the early 1990's.
- 42. Hogan's Alley
- This alleyway served the shops and stores on Lakeport Road for many years. In the 1800's it was home to local roustabouts, and later it was a popular tobogganing hill for local children. More recently, it was a popular tourist area with cafes and restaurants.
Structures with an "*" are designated as important heritage buildings under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Printed pamphlets can be obtained from:
St. Catharines Heritage Committee
c/o Planning and Development Department
City Hall, P.O. Box 3012
Phone: 905-688-5600 ext. 1719