History InSite 2016

History InSite originally appeared at the In the Soil Festival in April of 2016.

History InSite is a  site-specific photo retrospective using historic images from the Museum’s collection juxtaposed against their corresponding modern landscapes to highlight the dramatic physical and cultural shift in our urban environments.

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The Map

Use this map as a guide around down town. Keep your eyes open for our photographs, installed in place on white A-Frame signs.



The Exhibit

1 | The Sunshine Dairy at City Hall

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Sunshine Dairy LTD delivered pasteurized Jersey milk by horse-drawn wagon to the residents of the City. The wagon is pictured here in front of St. Catharines City Hall in 1940.

This image is from the St. Catharines Standard Collection, which includes 600,000 photographs from the St. Catharines Standard Newspaper from 1936 through 1990.

To the far left hand side of this image a house is visible, located along James Street where the Library and NRP office building are located today.

The new City Hall was built to replace an older building that stood on the same site. The current City Hall was completed in 1937.

This photo, from 1936, ran in the Standard with the title “Cornerstone of New Municipal building Laid Yesterday”. The large block letter sign of the Welland House Hotel are visible near the top of the photograph.

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2 | McArdle House


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McArdle House, built in 1869 served as the McArdle Family Bakery as well as a home for the family. The house was later occupied by a number of different business until it was demolished in 1980 to make room for the Carlisle Street extension.

To the left and in the far background of this photograph is another residential building, that is still standing, and is now the home of Hulse & English Funeral Home & Chapel, though many renovations have taken place.

3 | T.H. Critelli Furniture Store


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The “new” T.H. Critelli furniture store formally opened in 1940 at 48 James Street.

Today, the space now hosts Helen’s Delicatessen.

James Street hasn’t always looked like this. This photograph shows some local folks boarding one of the many street cars that operated on city streets up until the 1960s.

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4 | Wayward Pig

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We aren’t really sure on this one.

But this photo does reveal a lot about the hustle and bustle of the city back in 1945 including: street car tracks, the Welland House Hotel, a Buick/Pontiac/GMC dealership across the street from the Chevrolet/Oldsmobile dealership, next door to the National War Finance Commitee tasked with sales of war bonds during the Second World War. Looks like the pig is headed in that direction.

5 | Kennedy Assassination Announced at Standard Building, 1963

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Like many newspapers of the day, the Standard would update the bulletin boards as news arrived.

Here, a crowd gathers around the front window of the St. Catharines Standard offices, reading the announcement of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas in 1963.

The Standard had it’s offices at this location until it moved to One St. Paul Street (corner of Ontario St. and St. Paul Street) in 2014.

6 | Gilmer and Thomson Grocery Store

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As our down town reshapes and revitalises, different types of organizations and businesses will begin to return to the city core. We use the word ‘return’ because many of these businesses and services already have a long and storied history down town.

Gilmer and Thomson Grocery Store, located at 26 Queen Street, was just one of many long-standing service industry businesses that operated down town.

The Legacy

St. Catharines has such an interesting past. Many cities do, but there is something about our city that feels special – it’s a scrappy fighter, keen on surviving, and an elegant and urban regional hub of activity.

Examining our past and realizing the [overwhelming] changes that the city has experienced – both physical and psychological – is important to understanding not only what comes next, but who we are as we face the future.

Merely in it’s first year, we aren’t sure what the future of ‘History InSite’ holds, but we hope be back down town with more photographs to continue our efforts in sharing our local heritage with our fellow citizens, neighbours, and friends.



  1. I am an amateur “historian” and have a personal collection of photos from the Niagara Region, both in the US and Ontario. If possible, I would love to get a copy of your first photo on this History InSite page showing the horse and wagon with the Odd Fellow Hall in the background. If possible, I was hoping to get a copy without the banner across it for my collection. Would that be possible?

    • Hello, we can certainly help you out with a copy of that photo. You just need to contact the Museum at 905-984-8880 ext 5249. There is a fee for photo reproduction for images from our collection, depending on the format and the nature of the original photo.

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