Built in response to the salt-spring tourism boom in 1856, the Welland House Hotel quickly gained an impressive reputation and welcomed visitors from all over the world.
The peak of St. Catharines’ spa tourism boom coincided with the influx of Black refugees migrating to the town on the Underground Railroad. For many Freedom Seekers, the Welland House provided their first paid wages as free persons. They worked as servers, cooks, cleaners, and drivers. It is said that Freedom Seekers were also hired
as labourers in constructing the Welland House.
Through its 165-year history, the Welland House became a central gathering place providing an early home to Canada’s first Girl Guide troop under founder Mary Malcolmson in 1910.
Beyond its role as a hotel and a central gathering place, the Welland House Hotel was one the tallest buildings in St. Catharines for much of its existence and in that way held witness to much of city life. The Welland House Hotel was destroyed by fire on July 12, 2021.
Remembering the Welland House Hotel
The Welland House was destroyed by fire on July 12, 2021. In response, we collected a great number of stories and memories to share in a blog post commemorating its history.
There’s More to the Story
Check out the entire History InSite installation across downtown St. Catharines and in Port Dalhousie.
About History InSite
A permanent, site specific installation, History InSite juxtaposes historical photographs with modern streetscapes by presenting the photo in, or close to, the place which it was taken.
St. Catharines has a rich photographic history and when compared to the changing streetscapes around the City, that history becomes much more meaningful, poignant, and relevant to our modern eyes.
The Downtown series was installed in July 2021. The Port Dalhousie series was installed in May 2022.
History InSite is presented by the St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre.
If you spot any graffiti on our purple History InSite signs, please send us a message and photo via email firstname.lastname@example.org.