Thorold, located on the brow of the Niagara Escarpment, soon became the dominant community on the new canal and was incorporated as a village in 1850 and as a town in 1870. When the Regional Municipality of Niagara was formed in 1970, the Town of Thorold expanded to include the former Thorold Township. In 1975 the town became incorporated as the City of Thorold.
Decew House, on DeCew Road, was constructed in the late 18th century as a home for British Captain John B. DeCou. It served as the area's British headquarters during the War of 1812. On June 22, 1813, Laura Secord journeyed from Queenston to DeCew House to warn Lieutenant James FitzGibbon of an impending American attack. FitzGibbon and his men were able to capture the American force and help turn the tide of the war. The house was destroyed by fire in 1950 but the site is commemorated by the rebuilt foundation and a plaque. This Landmark is around the corner from popular hangout spot for young teens confederation park. The Old Fire Hall, at 12 Albert Street West, was constructed next to the Second Welland Canal in 1878. This building once housed Thorold's police force and, to this day, contains a jail in the basement. For many years, the fire bell tolled for the town's strictly enforced nine o'clock curfew. The Old Firehall was designed by the architect John Latshaw and built for $2,483. It has a combination bell tower and hose tower, yellow and red brickwork, semi-circular wood windows, and a circular wood window in the gable end at the tower. Decorative yellow brick arches frame each window. The bell which hung in its tower remained in use until 1964, when the fire department moved into its new hall on nearby Towpath Street. In 1967 the old bell was installed outside the new firehall. The "Old Hall" was used as the Thorold YMCA for several years thereafter.
Chestnut Hall, at 14 Ormond Street North, is a carefully restored 1862 building that was once home to John McDonagh, a lumber merchant and mayor of the Town of Thorold from 1881–1884. Chestnut Hall currently houses the Thorold & Beaverdams Historical Society, in addition to the Thorold Museum and part of the Thorold Public Library.
St. Johns School House, on Hollow Road, is a single-room wooden school house located in the west portion of Thorold. Opening in 1804, it was the first free school in Upper Canada. The first teacher at the school was Samuel Birdsall. The enrolment in 1826 was recorded as 29 students. The building was fully restored in 1974.
Maplehurst, at 14 Saint David's Road West, is a Thorold landmark and the former home of Jacob Keefer. The mansion sits on the highest rise in the city offering a commanding view of the community below. Built by Hugh Keefer in 1885, this red stone structure with elaborate gables and dormers has been variously used in the past as a residence, a hospital, and a private nursing home. Maplehurst was recently restored to its original condition and is currently known as the Keefer Mansion, a 10 room inn noted for its fine dining.
Welland Mills, at 20 Pine Street North, was constructed in 1846 on the bank of the second Welland Canal by Jacob Keefer and, at that time, it contained the largest watermill in Canada. The Keefers were entrepreneurs and are considered one of Thorold's founding families. At its height, the mill was capable of manufacturing 300 barrels (89 tonnes) of flour per day and storing 70,000 bushels (1,900 tonnes) of wheat and 5,000 barrels (440 tonnes) of flour. Today, the Welland Mills building is being restored to offer commercial space on the ground floor and residential apartments above.
Beaverdams Methodist Church and Burying Ground, on Marlatt's Road, was constructed in 1832. Beaverdams Church is the oldest Methodist Church still standing in Ontario. The first minister to preach in the chapel was Reverend Egerton Ryerson, who is largely responsible for founding the province of Ontario's education system.
Soldiers' Monument is a war memorial monument that commemorates World War I (1914–1919), World War II (1939–1945) and the Korean War (1950–1953). Located in Memorial Park, at the corner of Albert and Chapel streets, it was unveiled on Sunday, October 30, 1921 and was erected by the citizens of Thorold to: "Honour the Memory of the Men of Thorold, who gave their lives for the cause of freedom in the great war, and in grateful remembrance of those who shared its dangers."
The Old Public Library, at 1 Ormond Street South, is one of 156 Carnegie libraries to have been funded in Canada. The building, designed by architect A.E. Nicholson, was opened in 1912. The library moved from here to its present home in Chestnut Hall in 1983. The building now serves as the Thorold Seniors' Centre.
The primary source for basic documents (vital statistics, land records, wills) for people who lived in the Province of Ontario is the Archives of Ontario, 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M7A 2C5.
Civil registration did not begin in the province until 1869. Before then there may be church records of baptisms and burials. For the most part these are still held by the denomination who recorded them. Copies of marriage records made pre-1869 had to be sent by individual clergymen to the registrar of the county in which the marriage took place. These marriage records are available through Ontario Archives, on micorfilm through LDS libraries, and on paid and unpaid websites, but because they were copied at the registrars' offices, they cannot be considered a primary source.
Vital Records after 1869
Birth, marriage and death registrations are not open to the public until a specific number of years after the event occurred. Births to 1915 are now available [October 2014]; dates for marriages and deaths are later. Birth and death registration was not universally carried out in the early years after its adoption. Deaths were more apt to be reported than births for several years. The more rural the area, the less likely it would be that these happenings were reported to the authorities.
Land Records and Wills
Information on how to access land records and wills is best sought on the Archives of Ontario website. An ancestor's land holding might be found on Canadian County Atlas Digital Project if he was in occupancy circa 1878.
Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents (APOLROD). A list of Land Registry Offices for all Counties of Ontario.
The original censuses are in the hands of Library and Archives Canada, known to Canadians as "LAC". Copies of original microfilms are online at the LAC website for all censuses up to 1911. Each census database is preceded with an explanation of the geographical area covered, the amount of material retained (some census division material has been lost), the questions on the census form, and whether there is a name index. Census divisions were redrawn as the population increased and more land was inhabited. The 1921 census is only available through Ancestry.ca, but it is free-to-view.
E-books and Books
Some websites with more local information on Welland County