Ask Alicia – Curious about 211 Queenston Street

Dear Alicia,

I am interested in learning more about the property at the corner of Queenston and Eastchester Streets in St. Catharines. I believe it is a housing facility of some sort. Is it true that it used to be a children’s shelter?

From,

Curious

queenchester terrace-1
Photo Attribution: Google Streetview 2016/4/5

 


 

Dear Curious,

You are right, there used to be a children’s shelter on this property, however there is so much more history that I can share with you.

In the late 1840’s a large brick home was built at the corner of Queenston Street and what

7819-N
Photo Attribution: St. Catharines Museum, N7819

was then called Westchester Avenue, by Moses Cook (b. 1804, d. 1882).  Cook was a builder and mill owner who was married with three daughters; Annie Isabella, Amelia and Julia.  Because one side of the house faced Westchester Avenue, the Cook family named the home “Westchester Place.”  The home retained the name long after the street was divided into Eastchester and Westchester.  The brick, two-storey home was constructed on 16 acres of land.  It, along with the Merritt house, was one of the first homes in St. Catharines to have indoor plumbing.

In 1867, ownership of the home was passed down to Cook’s daughter Annie and her husband William Gilleland. William Gilleland was a lawyer and served as the Mayor of St. Catharines from 1897-1898.  The Gilleland family lived in the home until 1906 when they moved to Lakeshore road, a location that provided them the opportunity to run a fruit farm.

2005-11-1B
Photo Attribution: Audrey Cline, St. Catharines Museum, 2005.11.1

In 1916 the City of St. Catharines and the Lincoln County purchased the property and remodeled the home. The remodeling included an addition and changes to the interior. A set of blueprints in the St. Catharines Museum archive indicates that various modifications were made in order for the home to function as a children’s shelter. The plans indicate that the building had a basement and two storeys.  The basement had a fruit cellar, two laundry facilities, two coal rooms, a play room and a boy’s lavatory.  The ground floor consisted of a boy’s dormitory, nurse’s room, kitchen, children’s dining room, matron’s dining room, infant’s play room and a waiting room.  The second floor housed the girl’s dormitory, nurse’s room, sun room, lavatory, isolation ward, detention room, bathroom, dormitory, matron’s sitting room, matron’s bedroom and the senior girl’s dormitory. The remodeling was completed in 1917 and Westchester Place remained a children’s shelter until 1936.

In the 1940’s the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) purchased the property.  There is conflicting documentation on when the house was demolished, however it is most likely that the house stood on the land until approximately 1947-1948 when it was demolished and a new building constructed for the CNIB called “Linwell Hall” which was a residence for the blind. It was named Linwell Hall after the first portion of the names of the counties which it served: Lincoln, Welland and Haldimand. This was the first residence and service centre in Canada that specifically served blind individuals. Later the home also became a residence for senior citizens and in the 1980’s it operated solely as a retirement home renamed Queenchester Terrace.

Currently, Queenchester Terrace is a lodging home for individuals with mental health issues. The facility provides small apartments, housekeeping, laundry service, 24 hour staff, personal support workers, on-call nurses, personal care, medication, themed activities, meals and snacks to all of its residents.

This is just another location in St. Catharines that bears a very rich history.

Thank you for your inquiry,

Alicia Floyd

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