St. Catharines began its existence as a community in the late 18th century and our heritage fabric is strong evidence of the community's proud history. Heritage districts, historic sites, heritage walking tours, the Victoria Lawn Cemetery and the St. Catharines Museum offer ways to learn more about our community's past, enjoy the aesthetics and architecture of days gone by, discover a surprising artifact, relic, gravesite, or story, or just enjoy an enlightened stroll through our neighbourhood streets.
St. Catharines played a pivotal role in the Underground Railroad of the 19th century, housing hundreds of freedom seekers who escaped from slavery in the southern United States. The famed Harriet Tubman brought countless people to freedom here in St. Catharines and many of their descendants are a proud part of our community today. The British Methodist Episcopal Church-Salem Chapel is our featured Underground Railroad site and the gravesite of Reverend Anthony Burns is carefully protected at Victoria Lawn Cemetery.
Port Dalhousie and Downtown St. Catharines offer scenic and historic experiences to the casual visitor and the committed historic researcher. Augmenting the historic fabric of our community, the City of St. Catharines owns and maintains a collection of heritage properties, including our own City Hall, the Merritton Town Hall, the Folk Arts Council of St. Catharines Multicultural Centre (formerly Robertson School), the Lakeside Park Carousel, Morningstar Mill and more.
The four Welland Canals have been integral to St. Catharines life, both today and throughout our history. A visit to Lock 3 of the Welland Canal is a favourite local pastime. You can increase the pleasure and educational experience with a visit inside the St. Catharines Museum, handily located alongside the Welland Canal.
For history diehards, many remnants from the first three Welland Canals can be found in our City parks. Anchor bollards, canal walls, locks and more can be found by the adventurous and spirited walker. Jaycee Park, Mountain Locks Park, the Merritt Trail and Centennial Park are all wonderful sources of authentic historic remnants of the first three canals.