Category Archives: Welland

04 Jan

An Adventure in Welland

Highlights from today’s bus-bike adventure to and from Welland:

1. Demolition work proceeding on the former Sears store at the Pen Center:

2. Passing a pair of joggers going up the escarpment on Glenridge, I instantly knew I wasn’t in Winnipeg because they were on the sidewalk and not on the road.

3. Two thumbs down to Virtue Signaling University, known to most as Brock, for flying the abhorrent UN flag near their main entrance.

4. At Turner’s Corners, the yellow light didn’t just mean “go faster” to the bus driver I had, it meant “go a lot faster.” Hopefully next time, he’ll learn from the experience and not approach a traffic light at such a high speed in order to allow himself the ability to stop safely before the intersection.

5. The new Niagara College stop on regional transit is certainly popular, but not so much for the others. This morning, I was the only one left on the bus after all the students got off.

6. Off-color scenes in Welland:

7. The level of misery and despair in much of Welland is hard to put into words or even capture digitally with a camera. You have to see it with your own eyes to appreciate it. Yet despite such glum economic prospects, they keep voting for the same socialist parties that put them in that ditch. As they say, when you’re in a hole, stop digging.

8. Somewhat related, I spotted a number of these signs throughout the Rose City. After raiding the pockets of their members to campaign for political parties hostile to job-creating businesses, Unifor suddenly feigns concern for the soon-to-be-unemployed people it helped put out of work.

9. All that’s missing in this shot is a yellow sticker that reads, “WIDE LOAD.” And no, she didn’t need the goodies she ordered from Tim Hortons.

10. Customers who left their mark on the window display:

11. While at the Tim Hortons, another cyclist came in, left his bike in the vestibule, went up to a table, pulled a can of Minute Maid orange juice out of his pocket, then grabbed a napkin from the counter before taking a seat in one of the comfy chairs by the television. Um, they like you to actually buy something for the privilege of using their facilities.

11a. Not only did he not lock up his bike, but he didn’t even employ Niagara Bike Security (turning it upside down). For sure, I knew I wasn’t in Winnipeg.

12. In both of my visits to the Welland Transit Terminal, I got quite the stare-down from onlookers, no doubt wondering who this stranger was in their midst. After all, everyone seems to know each other there and I’m not sure anyone is really outside the family.

13. The Express Donuts across the street really seems to be a hangout for the, shall we say, fringe elements of the community. I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to walk in, but I could probably get enough material for an entire book there.

14. Maybe this was juice in the sink. Or maybe it wasn’t.

15. While waiting for the St. Catharines-bound regional transit bus, a wide-bodied scruffy old guy with a long, straggly beard and a big, booming voice walked up to the counter and told the clerk how much he liked a woman bus driver named Angela. He said he thought she was really pretty, but real reason he liked her became clear when he mentioned she had given him a $20 bill once, then a $10 bill on another occasion. People with money do tend to be attractive to bums like him, regardless of looks. Then he told the clerk about the three Christmas presents he got: a 60 oz. of vodka from his neighbor, $20 from his sister and $10 from someone else. Before leaving, he asked the clerk to say hi to Christina for him. As I said, everyone seems to know each other there.

16. Also while waiting, another guy went up to the clerk and asked what the route number was. Apparently she was just supposed to know what bus he wanted.

17. At the Pen Center, a couple who were among those who think buses are mobile tourist information booths flagged down the bus and tied us up for several minutes as they asked the driver to do what they should have done online before leaving the house. Yes, that is one of my pet peeves.

15 Feb

Touring Welland and Port Colborne

Pictures and observations from yesterday’s tour of Welland and Port Colborne:

1. Believe it or not, you actually have to pay to park in downtown Welland. No disrespect to Welland, but it’s not exactly a high-traffic tourist destination like the Falls or NOTL. Given its relatively out-of-the-way location, they ought to consider paying you to park there.

2. Looking over the list of names inscribed atop the entrance to the Welland courthouse, it struck me that there was a very distinct gender imbalance. No doubt, once they discover it, the Liberals will be out there at once to cover up such a blasphemous public display.

3. Even more political incorrectness on display in downtown Welland with this “Indian Head Massage.” What is this world coming to?

4. Dude on a scooter whose beard is as thick as his gut:

5. Chapters 641 and 642 of “You think they use enough salt in this part of the world?”

6. Other scenes in downtown Welland:

7. Given the surroundings, this bit of graffiti is rather redundant:

8. Call it a hunch, but I think this architect might get a little more scrutiny than the average Joe when he goes over the river:

9. A place for passing children to rest:

10. Sadly, too many did and continue to “vote for evil”:

11. Take advantage of their buy-back “progam”:

12. Goats welcome. Or maybe just one.

13. Icicles on the side of a house:

14. One house that has had at least one visit from the Welland Fire Department:

15. A proud client of Budget Windows and Blinds:

16. Faux fox on a porch:

17. One humble domicile in a particularly bad state of disrepair:

18. If for some reason you need to boil gas …

19. Just dispose of your unwanted bakery products on the street …

20. Scenes from Guerrilla Park:

21. Someone in this house on Netherby Road must be getting nagged a lot and loving it …

22. Just like Niagara Falls, Port Colborne also has a zipline now. Based on the list of rules, I’m guessing their clientele is not quite as upscale as the touristy crowd they draw at the Falls:

23. Other scenes around snowy Sugarloaf Harbor:

24. There was a posted sign indicating a $300 fine for parking in a handicapped spot, yet the fine can be as high as $5,000 if you dare to bring a skateboard to the pavilion. It should be the other way around if you ask me, but who am I to judge the powers that be in Port Colborne?

25. Another $5,000-worthy fine if you ask me …

26. The CSL Welland mired in ice …

27. Do they only catch tiny fish? Or just not very many fish?

28. As I’ve said before, people in this part of the world have no idea what real cold weather is all about. And aren’t they lucky. For the record, it was +4 when I was there.

29. If the church is messy, why don’t they clean it up?

30. Any guesses as to how long that chimney will stay up?

 

12 Sep

Two Days With Stephen Harper

This past week, as those who follow me on Twitter are aware, I had the honor of seeing Prime Minister Stephen Harper in person twice in as many days.

Tuesday night, I was part of a standing-room-only crowd at the Holiday Inn here in St. Catharines. I arrived more than an hour ahead of time, yet there was a lineup of people outside the door waiting to register. As I said to someone who I met there, so much for Canadians being apathetic about politics and “hating” Harper.

Of course, there were a handful of protesters on Ontario Street within shouting distance of those of us in line waiting to get in. They were screaming “Harper must go,” one was playing the bagpipes and I later heard one was waving the Palestinian flag.

I continually hear people repeating the same old tired line, “We’ve got to get rid of Stephen Harper,” but I have yet to hear a single intelligent argument as to why. As Harper said during the event the following day in Welland, “During the global financial crisis, where else would you rather have been?” As I suggested to someone behind me in line, we should have chipped in to buy those protesters plane tickets to Greece.

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Once finally inside, we had to wait in another room before being allowed inside the main hall.

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Being at the head of the line gave me a distinct advantage, and I was able to grab a seat only two rows away from where the prime minister would be speaking. To say the least, he was among friends here.

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Here, St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra chats with the woman who sang O Canada. Unfortunately, part of her rendition included some Quebecese, but it was thankfully drowned out by the gentleman behind me who was singing loudly in the Canadian language.

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MPs Rob Nicholson and Rick Dykstra pose for a fellow Conservative supporter. Many of Nicholson’s team made the trip from Niagara Falls to hear the prime minister.

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One woman holds up a campaign T-shirt.

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As he would do the following day in Welland, Nicholson introduced the prime minster.

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Harper then spoke for about 45 minutes. I had not seen him in person before and he came across as more of a down to earth person than I would have expected for someone in his position. As you can see from the pictures, he walked around the room a little while speaking and just used the podium to hold his notes. Not unexpectedly, I found him to be a good public speaker, but he was guilty of using the word “friends” too much.

After his speech, in a moment I won’t soon forget, both he and his wife came and shook hands with me and everyone in my row. It was an honor that ranked right up there with the evening I spent with a number of former WHA players in Calgary two years ago.

Though I hardly got any sleep overnight, first thing the next morning, my bike and I were on a Niagara Regional Transit bus headed for Welland to see Harper once again. After pedaling from the Welland transit terminal to the Canadian Tire Financial Services office on East Main Street, I waited outside with another large crowd.

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We were packed inside the small room like sardines in a tin can and I was one of the many who had to stand alongside the wall. As I said to someone behind me, I would hate to think what would happen if a fire alarm were to have gone off.

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Here, Dykstra chats with one of the attendees.

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Nicholson once again introduced the prime minister.

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Unlike the event in St. Catharines, this was not a party rally, but a roundtable discussion with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. On Harper’s right was Allan O’Dette, the OCC’s president and CEO, who had a number of questions for the prime minister. The OCC had invited each of the party leaders to such a discussion and the Conservatives were the only party to take them up on their offer.

As an ardent conservative, I didn’t need to be sold, but I came away very impressed with Harper’s detailed knowledge of the economy. It’s nice to know the country is in such good hands. As he pointed out, it would be a disaster for Canada if the Marijuana Party and its teenage leader or the Non Democratic Party were to form a government.

In front of the pro-business audience, Harper made sure to point out the Marijuana Party leader’s most recent childish statement, where he called most small businesses tax shelters for the wealthy.

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Following the discussion, Harper took a few questions from the assembled contingent from the Media Party in the back of the room. Concerned more with Syria than their own country, they grilled him about the refugees, but Harper stood his ground against his political rivals masquerading as journalists.

One so-called “reporter” from the Red Star chided Harper for his legitimate security concerns in regards to the refugees. After she made the ridiculous comparison to the Ukrainians who settled in Canada more than 100 years ago, I don’t know how Harper resisted the urge to point out that the Ukrainians were not fleeing a country largely held by barbarians threatening to destroy Western civilization.

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With the proceedings over, Harper left the stage and I turned to leave the building and return home, but not before seeing more misguided protesters outside waiting for Harper’s bus. I’m glad I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to see our prime minister and it certainly qualified as a thrill of a lifetime.

30 Aug

Getting Around

As I begin my fifth week in my new home, as many of you might suspect, I continue to get around and discover the area.

Earlier this week, I headed south for my first visit to Welland, the city whose name adorns the canal that bisects the peninsula. One of these days, I need to look into why it’s called the Welland Canal and not the Thorold Canal, Port Colborne Canal or the St. Catharines Canal.

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Upon reaching the Welland Canals Recreational Trail, I did a double take when I noticed the name of this ship. When I lived in Winnipeg, my home was backing the sewage lagoon otherwise known as the Assiniboine River.

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I continued down the trail, up the escarpment through Thorold.

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Between Thorold and Welland, the terrain mercifully Saskatchewanizes and, for the benefit of my friends reading from the SPRM, it very much reminded me of the area around Whiteshell Provincial Park, located at the western tip of the Canadian Shield.

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On the way, I took a side trip across Bridge 11 to Allanburg.

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As those of you who know me would expect, picking up more highway pictures was the motivating factor behind this particular diversion.

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I then retraced my steps, got back on the trail and was soon in Welland.

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The Main Street Bridge, under construction.

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Canal Terrace, a nice little place to stop and look out at the Welland Recreational Waterway. Again, I kept expecting to find bums staggering around a morass of broken beer bottles, condom wrappers and other assorted presents left on the sidewalk. Old habits from Winnipeg die hard. Instead, the area was clean and perfectly well civilized.

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I made my way to Main Street and the roundabout where King’s Highway 406 ends. Standing on the sidewalk, I was able to understand the instructions on this mammoth sign, but I can imagine how motorists not familiar with the area might throw their hands up in despair trying to decipher its meaning. It is thorough, but I think someone at MTO outsmarted themselves on this one. They might have been better off applying the K.I.S.S. principle. Winnipeg has a famous intersection informally known as Confusion Corner and I think Welland just got one of its own.

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The Main Street Tunnel. I will save my first trip through it for a future visit.

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I returned through downtown and stopped for a break at the Welland Transit Terminal.

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Like Winnipeg Transit, Welland Transit also operates a “Sorry” route.

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Continuing on, I passed Welland City Hall.

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Elsewhere in downtown Welland.

As I have noticed ever since I set foot on the peninsula, the people have been very friendly and Welland proved to be no exception. However, I must have stood out as an unfamiliar sight as I got a lot of “you’re not from around here, are you” kind of looks. Which is true. Sort of.

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I returned to the trail and headed north back towards St. Catharines.

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Crossing under both spans of the 406.

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This frog was in the middle of the trail and I luckily avoided him.

All in all, I enjoyed my visit and I look forward to returning when I have a little more energy to look around more. Because of the side trips I made along the way and being an experienced cyclist well aware of my limits, I knew I was at the end of my tether. I will have to make a point of studying the Welland Visitors Guide to see what other attractions the city offers.

Later in the week, I went to the Seymour-Hannah Complex to check out the training camp of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, likely soon to be my new favorite team.

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It was an impressive facility and had four rinks. For those reading from the SPRM, it was like the ChipmanPlex. Without Chipman.

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Before heading for Rink 1, where the IceDogs were working out, I stopped at the display for the City of St. Catharines Sports Wall of Fame. Of particular note for me was the name of Rudy Pilous, who was listed in the inaugural class. A Winnipeg native who had spent many years in St. Catharines, Pilous was once the coach and, later, the general manager of the Winnipeg Jets during their years in the WHA. His biography at scshof.com incorrectly states that he had coached the team in 1973-1974, but he did coach the Jets the following year and subsequently served as the team’s general manager until John Ferguson dismissed him on December 15, 1978.

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Stepping inside, my nose immediately told me that much hockey had been played in this rink as the stench of decades worth of fermented sweat shot right up my nostrils. However, the rink looked very well maintained and I was stunned to see clean, padded seats on both sides of the ice. I had expected instead to see rows of bench-style seating consisting of little more than roughly chipped plywood that had not had contact with the end of a paint brush in the last quarter century. Again, that was the cynic in me that many decades of living in Winnipeg brings to the surface.

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Action between the red and black teams. I was a little curious as to why they were sporting jerseys with the OHL logo rather than that of the IceDogs. Perhaps that’s one of those things I’ll learn as my fandom builds. While watching, I really didn’t know who many of the players were, but again, I’ll learn.

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The IceDogs braintrust, I presume.

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I noticed this ad on the boards and it was another pleasant reminder that I no longer live in Winnipeg. According to the Winnipeg police, if you are walking down a street and are hit and nearly killed by a car pulling out of a driveway, it is not a reportable offense. You can imagine how they would react to something as comparatively trivial as graffiti.

In my first real foray into the world of junior hockey, I was surprised to see so few young, female admirers fawning over their favorite players/would-be boyfriends. When I followed the Manitoba Fighting Moose during their years in the AHL, watching the fanatical behavior of these groupies/puck bunnies proved almost as entertaining as the games themselves. Perhaps that will come when the puck drops for real.

I didn’t stay all that long, but I am eagerly anticipating the junior hockey experience. Unlike the case in Winnipeg, where junior hockey barely registered on the radar even when they had a team, smaller communities such as St. Catharines really seem to rally around their team. This new fan experience intrigues me as much as any future action on the ice and the seeds of a future novel have already been planted. Our MP seems to have dibs on “Hockey Night in St. Catharines,” so I’ll probably call it something else.

A couple of days later, I rode out to Niagara-on-the-Lake. On the way there, I went out of my way to take Niagara Stone Road. It isn’t a route I would normally choose or recommend due to the high volume of traffic, but the opportunity to get some shots of the former King’s Highway 55 was the reason I went that way. There was at least a paved shoulder to keep me a reasonable distance away from passing cars and trucks.

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I know it’s a lousy picture, but this particular sign on Queenston Street struck me, one that obviously dates back to when Niagara Stone Road was King’s Highway 55. After the route was downloaded to the region, they must have simply stuck a regional marker over the provincial marker, leaving the rest of the sign intact. Even though it has clearly seen better days, the sign still serves its purpose and common sense dictated that it did not need to be replaced entirely.

In the SPRM, they adopt a much different approach. Evidently flush with cash, the province has been on a search-and-destroy mission over the past few years to replace signs such as this at a dizzying pace and for no apparent reason. In a case like this, crews would be out either repainting or replacing the entire sign, most likely on a Sunday or holiday to rack up overtime. Click here for a glaring example of how this practice works in the SPRM.

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Entering the Greenbelt. Oddly, the sign is in blue. Perhaps it should be the Bluebelt.

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The Great Mountain Center, one of the places along the route that offers grape and wine tours. This one also offers locally-grown ginseng and tea.

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I soon reached the community of Virgil.

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Crossing Four Mile Creek.

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At East and West Line, cyclists like me can take advantage of a shared pathway and get off the road.

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Picard’s Country Store, where you can buy Ontario-grown peanuts.

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I had to pull off the road and get this shot. On this specific day, on the occasion of the four-week anniversary of my defection from the SPRM and arrival in St. Catharines, I spotted an SPRM flag and a New Brunswick flag on the same pole. Immediately to my right as I took this shot was a Beemer.

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Not far from this spot was Anne Street.

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Later in the outing, I would spot this “C” on the ground near the spot where I took a particularly nice picture.

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During a break, I would also spot this Whirlpool Jet. Number 5.

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Across the river was the number 5 on this communication tower.

As always, I knew I was not alone. Some of you will understand. Most of you will not.

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I continued on into the Historic Old Town, a place I am quickly becoming very fond of.

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A clever sign.

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One of the many fashionable dwellings along the lake.

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Scenes in Ryerson Park.

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Niagara Boulevard.

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I got another shot of the floral display honoring the United Empire Loyalists. When I got there, there were two women taking turns snapping pictures of each other, so I offered to take a shot of the two of them together. Sadly, the only words of English they spoke were, “I’m sorry, we don’t speak English.” Nonetheless, through the use of some clever charades, I got my point across and they gratefully accepted my offer. I hope the shots I took worked.

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The post office. As I understand, this is the correct spelling of the town’s name, yet I would later find this sign that has a capital “O” and capital “T” in the “on” and “the,” respectively:

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I know I’m being a little petty here, but the town ought to spell its own name correctly.

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One of the many bed and breakfasts in town. It seems like there’s one on every street corner.

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Overlooking New York State as I stop for a break. I know you’ve heard this before, but I could get used to this.

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Visitors from Wisconsin. Or as they say, “Wiscahnsin,” in their catchy accent. If you haven’t recognized the symbol, the picture I use on both my Facebook and Twitter profiles is a Wisconsin state trunk highway sign.

These are just the latest in a series of adventures over the course of the more than 300 miles I’ve racked up on two wheels during my first month here. No doubt, there’s more on the way. Stay tuned.