Queenston: Worth the Visit – by Jane Calver with her photos

Laura Secord's house, Queenston
Laura Secord’s house, Queenston

Queenston resident Jane Calver shares her views of her village’s past, present and future.

Niagara-on-the-Lake is being invaded again. This time it is not by the British but by developers from the north of us, who have the mentality for building large homes on miniscule lots, all very similar in style or design. Judicious development is necessary for the healthy growth needed by a community to sustain itself. This is simply development inspired by greed.

South Landing Inn, said to predate 1806. This was a stopping point for people travelling to Niagara Falls.
South Landing Inn, said to predate 1806. This was a stopping point for people travelling to Niagara Falls.

However, nestled under the Escarpment, along the Niagara River is a unique village, Queenston. We are a part of the municipality of Niagara-on-the Lake, yet in some ways removed from it. It is a special community of both environmental and historical significance. It received its name, unofficially, in 1792 from Sir John Graves Simcoe. The Queens Rangers were stationed here, hence the name. At that time, it was a thriving centre with taverns, stores and warehouses. It was the northern terminus for goods, coming from the port of Montreal, to be transported by wagon along the Portage Road to Chippawa and Fort Erie and beyond.

Monument to General Sir Isaac Brock, on top of the Niagara Escarpment.
Monument to General Sir Isaac Brock, on top of the Niagara Escarpment.

During the War of 1812, a significant battle, considered the turning point, was fought and won on the heights here. The native peoples were instrumental in the outcome and a memorial, “The Landscape of Nations” is being constructed this fall in the park, which is dominated by the monument to Brock. Soon, steamships came bringing visitors, continuing by the railroad, to view the Falls.

St. Saviours Brock Memorial Church, an active Anglican Church with gorgeous stained windows.
St. Saviours Brock Memorial Church, an active Anglican Church with gorgeous stained windows.

Few vestiges remain of this time in our history. But, today there are many homes and buildings that were built in the early 19th century, some constructed on the foundations remaining after the destruction during the war. Some are now private homes, others are maintained by the Niagara Parks and open to the public. Willowbank, a beautiful stone neo-classical home has become a school for restoration arts. There is a wonderful museum, called Riverbrink featuring the collections of artwork, documents and books of Samuel Weir, Q.C.

Originally a Bright home, this Neo Classical structure is now Willowbank School for Restoration Arts.
Originally a Bright home, this Neo Classical structure is now Willowbank School for Restoration Arts.

Today, Queenston has an eclectic streetscape and access to the river. It is worth a visit to remind people of Niagara’s important part in our history. The residents here have a strong sense of community.

View of Niagara River from St. Saviours.
View of Niagara River from St. Saviours.

Those living in Queenston work hard to preserve the historical and environmental integrity of our village. Volunteers sponsor a sale of plants from our gardens in the spring. For 37 years, we have held an Art Show and Sale that features Niagara area artists. This fall it is being held over the Thanksgiving weekend. In early December, we hold a Bake Sale, featuring pre-ordered chicken casseroles and tourtieres. With funds raised, we give back to the community of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Our community events focus on our Community Centre, a restored stone Baptist church built in 1846.

The 1846 Baptist Church, now the Community Centre.
The 1846 Baptist Church, now the Community Centre.

Queenston, as one resident commented, tongue in cheek, is not “Brigadoon.” However, it appears to be a place that has kept in touch with its past. I encourage you to come and experience Queenston with us.

William Lyon Mackenzie's Printery, home of the Colonial Advocate.
William Lyon Mackenzie’s Printery, home of the Colonial Advocate.

9 Comments

  • Beautiful photos– we should all feel so lucky to live in this historic village. Thanks Jane.

    • Beautiful Photos! Thanks for doing whatII’ve only thought about but never did.

  • Beautiful photo’s Jane and wonderfully written…..another reminder of how fortunate we are to call Queenston ‘home’……….!!!!

  • Thank you Jane for a trip down memory lane. For someone that has lived there and left, it still tugs at my heart. How fortunate we were to have experienced everything you described. It does have a real sense of community and caring. Safe to say not many places like it.

  • Beautiful showcase of an amazing village..so privileged to have been raised in this community, thank you for the reminder just how lovely it is

  • Well done Jane !-such a special beautiful place
    Thanks for doing such a great job

  • Great article Jane with superb pictures

  • Beautiful collection of photographs about our special little village.
    I grew up in Queenston. It’s amazing beauty and history as depicted in your collection gave me goose bumps and many wonderful memories to ponder.
    Great work, you should feel very proud.
    Thank you for doing this.

    • Diane Journeau

      It’s Barbara Tranter. Just moved back to NOTL. Where are you?

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