Memories of Niagara

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


The Niagara Region has a strong history of immigration dating back to the original immigrants to the area who were British settlers and United Empire Loyalists from the United States.  During the American Revolution, Fort Niagara was an important British staging post, and many Loyalists took refuge in the region surrounding the Fort.  In 1780, negotiations between the British and the Mississauga First Nations began to purchase the strip of land extending “from the River to Four Mile Creek and from thence in a straight line to strike 4 miles west of Fort Erie”, which encompasses present-day Niagara-on-the-Lake.  This purchase allowed the United Empire Loyalists to officially settle across the Niagara River, though many had done so prematurely. Other large groups of immigrants arrived from Ireland and Germany taking advantage of large tracts of farm land available from the Canadian Government in the mid to late 1800s.

Modern immigration to the Niagara region followed  the end of the First World War. About 20 000 Mennonites arrived in Canada in the 1920s first settling in the prairies and eventually many moved to Ontario. One of them, Peter Wall, bought land in Niagara which he later sold as smaller lots to other Mennonites resulting in a large Mennonite community around Virgil. After World War II, another  wave of immigration brought Mennonites from Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina as well as many other people escaping war torn Europe.

Alexander Wall – Immigration (Audio Only)

Cosmo Condina – Immigration (Audio Only)

Richard Andres – Immigration (Audio Only)

Doug Hunter – Coming To Canada After the War (Audio Only)

Henry Wiens – Immigration (Audio Only)

Paul Bosc Sr. and Paul Bosc Jr. – Immigration (Audio Only)

Klaus Reimers – Immigration and the Canning Factory (Audio Only)


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