Memories of Niagara

A joint Oral History Project from the Niagara Historical Society & Museum and the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library

Churches, Schools and Hospitals

At the centre of every town are the community institutions that support the health and well-being of the individuals who live there.


Niagara-on-the-Lake  is home to two of the first churches built in Upper Canada: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, completed in 1796, and St. Mark’s Anglican, completed in 1810 (although the parish dates from 1792). The invading forces set fire to both churches during the War of 1812 but they were reconstructed over the decade following peace, and still stand today. The Anglican diocese has two other churches in the area – St. George’s in St. David’s and Christ Church  in McNab.  These two churches now combine congregations in a single parish. In the Old Town, besides St. Andrew’s and St. Mark’s, Grace United Church and St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church are long-established. As well, there are five Mennonite churches in the greater Niagara area serving the Mennonite community. There is a Bahai Centre, a Lutheran Church (Trinity on the Stone Road), and several other non-denominational places of worship.

Helen Dawson – St. Andrew’s Church Niagara-on-the-Lake (Audio Only)

Peter Stokes – St. Vincent De Paul Church and St. Marks Church (Audio Only)


Each of the villages comprising Niagara-on-the-Lake has long had a public elementary school to serve the local families. Many started as one room school houses and  grew with their respective communities. The “Niagara High School” opened in the early 1800s in a building at Castlereagh and Davy Streets with a maximum enrollment of 80 students. It operated continuously until 1946 and the building was subsequently incorporated into the Niagara Historical Museum. A decade after the old high school had closed, Niagara District Secondary School, located on several acres of land on the Stone Road at East-West Line, opened under the auspices of the government of Ontario. NDSS underwent five expansions but was finally closed by the Niagara Board of Education in 2010. The town no longer has a secondary school for local students.

Marsha Howe – Schools in Niagara-on-the-Lake (Audio Only)

Mike Dietsch – Schools in Niagara-on-the-Lake (Audio Only)

Pat and Fred Connolly – Schools in Niagara-on-the-Lake (Audio Only)

Ruth Boulton – Grade School (Audio Only)

Ruth Boulton – High School (Audio Only)

The Hospital

Niagara-on-the-Lake has been fortunate to have had a circle of dedicated citizens who have worked hard to establish and support a cottage hospital. The hospital opened in 1919 on Gate Street but moved the following year to a site on Queen Street where it remained for thirty years. The need for a larger, newer hospital led to the 1950 sod-turning for the present hospital building at the corner of Wellington and Picton Streets. The building has been well-maintained over its life, and still serves the community with several long-term or convalescent care beds for local residents, labs, doctors’ offices, and a drop-in clinic. Niagara -on-the-Lake citizens are sent to St. Catharines or Niagara Falls for emergencies, surgeries, births, therapies, and specialized practices.

Hope Bradley – The Niagara Cottage Hospital 


3 thoughts on “Churches, Schools and Hospitals

  1. Marsha – I remember the typing teacher – Miss Wilcox! Also, remember that shrill bell she rang at the end of the typing tests!
    Sandy Wilson

  2. I was born in the cottage hospital on August 7, 1942. My parents were living on Niagara Stone Road in Virgil next to the Mennonite Church.

    Victor E. Bura

  3. I was born in the Niagara Cottage Hospital on May 31, 1942. My parents were living with my Grandparents on East and West Line. When they moved to King Street my father went to war. My brother was also born in the Niagara Cottage Hospital. My aunt took me to wave at my mother who was looking out of the top right hand window. My parents moved to St. Catharines when I was five years old. When I was married we bought a small home in Niagara and two of my children were born in the newer Niagara Cottage Hospital. My sadness was moving to Chippawa the closest that I could get any resemblance to Niagara. I missed the stately chestnut trees, the heavenly scent of honeysuckle on a summer night. Most of all I missed the people, some of them characters. I have the old trumpet vine that my grandfather had dug up for my grandmother. It had grown on the East and West Line, to King Street to the Water Works and I took it to my home in Chippawa. I told the young man who had purchased our home in Chippawa about the Trumpet Vine’s journey and how much it meant to me. About a week after he moved into our former home he came to my Niagara Falls home with the Trumpet Vine that he tried to get as many roots as possible. My elderly Trumpet Vine is still trying to survive. My little part of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

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