Welland is situated midway between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie in Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula. Its location, 26 kilometres southeast of Niagara Falls, is convenient for folks who flock to see one of North America’s most scenic wonders, but Welland’s own tourist attractions are well worth a visit. Welland is nicknamed the “Rose City.” Its abundant rose gardens are known throughout Canada, and a yellow-colored hybrid tea rose is named after the city.
Established in 1858, Welland shares a name with its most famous nearby attraction, the Welland Canal. The old village was originally called Aqueduct after canal builders constructed a wooden one there in 1829 to carry the canal over the Welland River.
The Welland Canal guides cargo ships and lake vessels along a 43.4-kilometre man-made river through a series of seven locks. The locks gradually lift or lower boats almost 100 meters, the difference in sea level from Lake Ontario on the high side to Lake Erie below. An eighth lock serves as a guard station. The canal is a vital link in the St. Lawrence Seaway that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes regions of Canada and the United States.
The canal was the brainchild of William Hamilton Merritt, and was first completed in November 1829. It has since undergone several modifications in both its route and number of locks. The first canal had more than 40 locks and originated in Port Dalhousie, Ontario, weaving its way through creeks and rivers to Port Colborne on Lake Erie. The present-day canal, completed in 1932, runs a straighter and deeper course, which passes through Welland about 3 kilometres east of downtown.
The former channel, now called Welland Recreational Canal, draws tourists along its banks and to beautiful Merritt Island Park for fishing and boating and. You can hike or ride a bicycle along the Canal Trails, part of the 140-kilometre Greater Niagara Circle Route.
Summertime visitors to Welland will not want to miss its Rose Festival in June. Activities include a 5K Run for the Roses, a street dance and a fishing derby for kids. Art lovers can take in a juried show at the Seaway Mall on Niagara Street just north of downtown, and foodies should not miss two weeks of International Luncheons held at Welland’s Farmer’s Market. Also in June, an exciting Dragon Boat Festival features teak boats carrying crews of 20 paddlers, a steersperson and a drummer that glide along the waterway in friendly competition.
The community boasts a rich ethnic heritage and Ontario’s third-largest French-speaking population. Explore aspects of various local cultures in August at the Welland Folklore Festival. Take advantage of Welland’s location in Niagara’s agricultural belt by visiting in September, during the Niagara Food Festival, which spotlights celebrity chefs, tastes of local restaurant fare and live entertainment. The same month, Niagara Regional Exhibition, one of Southern Ontario’s oldest agricultural fairs, also comes to town. The fair’s horticultural displays are one more reason to visit the Rose City.