Excerpts from “Walk H” in “St. Catharines A-Z” by Junius, originally published in the St. Catharines Journal on June 26th, 1856.
Junius takes us on a journey through town in Walk H, where we learn all about the mills, manufacturers, and products made in St. Catharines, and there certainly were many. There were various types of mills operating in St. Catharines at the time, such as paper mills, flour and grist mills, sawmills and cement mills. They turned out products including flour, bran, cornmeal, buck-wheat flour, graham flour, wood for construction etc. and more. Many of the mills sat along the Welland Canal, the water being the source of power for the mills.
Junius goes through and lists at 16 flouring mills, their owners, their locations, how many stones the mill had and what sort of product they turned out. And he never forgets to wish his neighbours great success: “Success too, we say, to Mr. Moore, in his management of these noted mills. May his flour be sweet, his profits sweeter, and his success sweetest. … For when our farmers and millers thrive, the rest of the community generally do too.”
However, Junius also notes that with so many mills it would be assumed that bread could be purchased locally for a low price, however, this was not the case: “One too would think that inhabitants of St. Catharines particularly would have cheap bread; but it is a sad mistake indeed. Mechanics, laborers and others here have had to pay a higher price for their bread for the past year, than even the mechanics in Montreal or New York City! As produce is coming down now in price, we say give us “Cheap bread! Low taxes!! And plenty of cash for the laborer!!! Boys! We opine a good day is coming.” Cheer up my lads, cheer up!”
Junius continues along his walk to describe all sorts of different manufacturing establishments in the city. He lists companies and men who make pails, tubs, shingles, barrels, starch, furnaces, tin products, agricultural implements such as reapers, cultivators, rakes and straw cutters. There’s more! Car wheels, axletrees, steamboat engines, beer, cleavers, separators, packing machines, mowers, axes, hoes, shovels, forks, wagons, buggies, carriages, rubber, home building materials, flooring, pickets, siding, sheeting, leather harnesses and saddles, shoe soles…the list seems endless! He also lists all of the trades and areas of expertise covered by the people of the town. Junius describes how pretty much everything you would ever need built, manufactured, grown, ground, fixed, altered or crafted could be done by the able bodies of our citizens.
The main point Junius is trying to make in Walk H is that everything the citizens of St. Catharines needed, could be purchased right in their own home town rather than resorting to importing goods from other countries such as the United States and Mexico: “When any nation, country or community import more than they export, and particularly when they buy more than they sell, then indeed are they retrograding pecuniarily.” He goes on to say: “We always did content, and always shall, that it is the duty of every one who can to maintain, foster, cherish, support and protect home-trade, home mechanics and home manufactures as much as possible. … If we, as a people, wish to be prosperous, thriving and happy, we must buy at home; encourage our own mechanics, laborers, farmers, merchants and artisans. Leave our money and spend it among ourselves, and it will then stand a good chance to return into our pockets again, in the common course of business, trade and commerce. This we believe is the only true doctrine.
It never fails to amaze me, when reading Junius’ view of the world he lived in, how similar his concerns are to ours today, more than 150 years later!