|Welland Vale, as seen from Welland Ave overpass.
Of all the locations I've identified, Welland Vale will be the smallest and possibly the most obscure. In fact, it took a small search just to find the place. Welland Vale is a small valley on 12-mile creek near downtown St. Catharines. The location's best identifier is Welland Vale Rd. a small road that still crosses through the valley.
Welland Vale was a significant location on both the First and Second Welland Canals and was also the site of William Hamilton Merritt's original milling operation. Because of this, Welland Vale is regularly referred to in most histories of the Old Welland Canals.
As far as remnants go there still are couple of things to see here; a long section of the First Welland Canal remains as well as parts of Lock 2 of the second canal.
The history of the Welland Canal in Welland Vale breaks down into 2 periods of development. The building and operation of the First Welland Canal 1825-1845 and that of the Second Welland Canal 1842-1915.
The First Welland Canal: To understand what Welland Vale looked like during the first Welland Canal it's probably best to forget what it looks like today. The initial land surveys indicated little in the area except a meandering 12-mile creek running through various landholders properties. An exception to this of course was Merritt's mill that stood on the bank near some rapids on 12 mile creek. Surveys concluded that just upstream from the mill would be an ideal spot for Lock 3 of the First Welland Canal.
The Second Welland Canal: When the second canal was built in 1842-45, engineers decided to straighten out this section by digging a channel northeast of the first channel. They built lock 2 of the second canal there and continued using the original channel as a weir around the lock. Their effort meanwhile made most of Welland Vale into an island.
Maps of Welland Vale shortly after the Second Welland Canal was built, generally show increased development. A road, the continuation of Welland Ave., came down into the valley and crossed 12 mile creek at Welland Vale. Homes including a lock tenders house was also built. A towpath used to tow boats through the canal was built on the southwest side of the canal requiring several floating bridges to cross the weir channels.
As Welland Vale continued to develop beside the Second Welland Canal a larger factory complex was also built there. Several of these buildings remain today and make up part of a factory that's still there. By the early 1900's shipping had mostly ceased on the Second Welland Canal and Welland Vale's significance continued to dwindle.
Today Welland Vale Rd. still crosses 12 mile creek at Welland Vale. The route is really seldom used making Welland Vale despite it's history a somewhat deserted area. Today main traffic uses the Welland Ave bridge that crosses right over the valley.
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