Members of Historical Society of St. Catharines may be available to assist with historical research requests within reason. In depth genealogical queries are better answered by a local genealogical group. If you have a question, please submit it to this page. Please ensure that your questions are very clearly stated, that you provide us with any supporting information possible and that you leave us with some contact information.

Time of response depends on the complexity of the question and the member’s time to conduct the research.

Any answers will be sent directly to the person asking the question.  If time and space allows, some answers will be posted to the website.  Be sure that we consider all questions and respond to those that we are able to accommodate.

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351 thoughts on “Queries

  1. Rev. Alexander Helmsley died in St. Catherine’s in 1855. He had escaped slavery in Maryland and lived in New Jersey until a court case made him flee. He had a wife Nancy, and was involved with the AME Church. He was interviewed by Benjamin Drew which is helpful.

    Can you find out more about his life? Was he a farmer or own farm land? What happened to his wife and family? Was he active in St. Catherine’s community? Where is he buried? Does he have Descendants? Did he leave any letters or other papers?

    Anything you find out would be helpful? Thank you.

    1. Rochelle Bush(very nice lady)knows a lot about the people you mentioned. She is associated with the Salem BME Church ion Geneva St., St.Catharines. She could answer your questions, as she is like a living encyclopedia of that period of history. Hope that helps!

  2. Hi there! Looking for any information/stories relating to 62 Welland Ave, St. Catharines. I recently purchased the building and would like to put some history/stories together about the property to have displayed. Much appreciated.

    1. I have pulled together some things that are responsive to your request for information about the building at 62 Welland Avenue that you now own.

      I am sending some items to you directly off-line:

      —- two photos that are directly responsive in so far as they offer photos of the exterior and interior of the building when it was occupied by the Karn grocery store.

      —— two photos that offer peripheral views of 62 Welland Avenue. One shows a Grape and Wine Festival parade passing the building perhaps 30 or 40 years ago, when it was occupied by Hansa Imports; the other shows that same street corner when an IGA Super Market was there.

      (One problem about the exterior photo mentioned above: it is a scan of that photo when it was printed in one of my newspaper articles, so it lacks the sharpness of the original.)

      I am also inserting below the text of the article that I wrote about 62 Welland Avenue back in 2005. It gives some basic information about the history of the building.

      Best wishes with your new property!


      2005 newspaper article about 62 Welland Avenue:

      “The building in the photo above stands at one of the more unusual intersections in town. The building is at 62 Welland Ave., and it stands at the unique three-way intersection of Welland Avenue with Lake and James streets.

      One curent occupant of the building believes it was constructed about 1872, and that sounds about right when you consider the building’s architectural style.

      For most of the 125-plus years, 62 Welland Ave. has housed a serires of grocery stoes, and for almost half of that time it was occupied by one firm, the Karn Brothers’ Grocery, run by Henry G. Karn and his brother Charles W. Karn.

      The brothers came to St. Catharines about 1906 and for the first few years pursued separae careers. However, by 1911, they joined to establish a grocery store at the Welland/James/Lake intersection. Karns’ Grocery remained there for the next 55 years. The photo above left was probably taken shortly after it opened, perhaps sometime during World War I.

      After the Karns Brothers Grocery closed in the mid-1960s, other merchants have occupied the building. Hansa Imports was there for a while, then a sub shop, and for the past decade, 62 Welland Ave. has been occupied by Forget Me Knot Antiques and Alice’s Antiques (photo above right).

      The building has been somewhat modified over the years. The second entrance that was formerly on the left side has been removed, large plate glass display windows have been installed across the front, and the original round-topped windows on the second floor have been squared off. Sadly the building has also lost those leafy trees that surrounded it so nicely in the old days.

      But customers can still look down as they enter and see the number 62 laid in mosaic tiles in front of the shop entrance, just as it was probably laid out early in the last century by the Karn family.”

  3. Are there assessment or land records or some other city records for 1840’s, 1850’s. Unfortunately the 1851 census for St. Catharines is missing. Specifically prior to 1846, I’m looking for records pertaining to Samuel Stinson, builder of the Russell Hotel who died by poisoning in 1846. His wife Ann, and gentleman friend, Henry Byron, aka William Henry Holmes were acquitted of murder. So after 1846, any record of her, of Henry/Wm. or the 7 children. I’ve only identified 6. I’m also looking for any mention of Samuel’s father Thomas who also testified in the trial. I recently discovered (through a DNA connection) that I’m descended from them, through Thomas Jr. who was 10 yrs old when he testified at the trial. Any help appreciated. ljstinson@hotmail.com

  4. Looking for information on the history of Homestead Donuts (especially in the 60s&70s and while on lake street). My dad has always told me little bits and pieces about it and my grandfather’s involvement in it but I’m looking for more knowledge. Thanks!

    1. I’m pretty sure that in the late 60’s to early 70’s, Homestead Donuts had a factory located on the south service road between Lake and Ontario Streets.

  5. I am researching Reason Williams and Mirinda Brady Williams in London and St Catharine Ontario Canada. 1825-1861. The had many children, Moses, Walter Hamilton, a daughter, Anna, etc. Any information valuable to me. I have a history on Walter H. Williams. He came to the U S in 1865-1868.

  6. I’m looking for the Names and pictures of flea markets that have closed down in the St.Catharines area over the past 50 years.
    It’s just a family reminiscing moment we are doing.
    If you could please send me some names I can do the research.
    Thank you so much.

    1. I won’t have a fully comprehensive list by any stretch. And I’m fresh out of pictures. But when we went out on our flea market trips, we went to:

      * The Pen Centre (it was otherwise CLOSED on Sundays!)
      * The Fairview Mall (ditto)
      * Paul’s Auctions (Vansickle Road I believe?)
      * Jordan Hollow Flea Market (and Butterballs!)

      All of these pre-dated the now-biggest flea market on Turner Crescent.

      I remember going to a flea market in Welland a couple of times, but cannot for the life of me recall its location.

      A more recent closure was one on Ontario Street, at the location where Epic Gaming recently closed down.

  7. Hi, I am looking to see if anyone has come across any old photos of Imperial Iron Corp, later Anthes-Imperial from 1930-1960 in St. Catharines.

    Also, trying to track down my great, grand-uncle Frederick Arthur Rolston (born May 05, 1896) who was living in St. Catharines up until about 1964 (and working at Anthes-Imperial), not sure where he ended up and hope to find his final resting place…

    Thanks for any help!
    Bob Rolston

  8. Hi there,

    I’m working with the Fitzgerald Neighbours neighbourhood association on compiling a history of the neighbourhood. I’m hoping someone can offer some insight into the Fitzgerald name.

    Who or what is the neighbourhood named after? I’ve found some information on a local 19th-century merchant named Richard Fitzgerald but am unsure if he’s the namesake. I’m hoping someone can confirm or deny this, but any other information is also greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, my ancestor, Henry Ormonde Fitzgerald was a well known farmer living in this neighbourhood as of 1898. He fell through the ice and drowned in the Welland Canal on Feb. 2, 1898, so guessing the street and neighbourhood may have been named after him, as he would have owned the land. I can send you his obit from the Hamilton Spectator, if you like. But this is just a guess as this is early days in my research.

      1. Hi Bill,

        I’ve already come across this file, but thank you kindly for sharing. I’ve been unable to confirm whether the merchant Fitzgerald or the 1850s school-operator Fitzgerald are the neighbourhood’s namesake.

        If anyone else has more information, please let me know!

  9. Hi there around 1952 for a year my mother Irene Olive York and her 2 children and husband Gerald York lived in an appartment above 62 Welland avenue on the corner of Lake st St Catherines . My step father was accused of murdering his sister in law and my mother returned to England with us two boys. Do you have any information on this event or the shop there that sold ice cream my older brother was 3 at the time thank you gerry poulton

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