Historic Niagara has many "firsts" to its credit Canadians should be very proud of the fact that the Parliament held at Newark (then the seat of Gov't of Upper Canada) on July 9, 1793 passed a law abolishing slavery in. Upper Canada. This was the first law that was passed anywhere in the world abolishing slavery.
Another first was the Chippawa and Queenston Railway. The following interesting account has come to light (author unknown).
"In the year 1835 a company was formed to build a railway from Queenston to Chippawa, a distance of nine miles. It took six years to complete the undertaking—the total cost being nineteen thousand pounds. This was the first railway in the Province of Upper Canada.
Ruins Still Visible
The road began at the dock on the north side of the M.C.R. station (Chippawa) and ran northward along the heights west of the present city of Niagara Falls, crossing the ravine near the present railway stone abutments of the bridge are yet seen. The tracks crossed Ferry St. and curved around the heights east of St. Davids, near the quarry, to Queenston.
At that time (1841) Chippawa was a prosperous place of over a thousand inhabitants, with shipbuilding yards, docks, many churches, grist and saw mills, three distilleries, tanneries, iron and brass foundries, a Bank of Upper Canada agency, fourteen stores, six taverns, and twenty-three ships carrying on various trades.
Within an area of the present city of Niagara Falls, only the small village of Drummondville then existed, having about 130 inhabitants with 2 stores, 2 taverns, 2 tailors, 2 shoe makers and one blacksmith, besides the Clifton House and the Pavilion Hotel. No great bridges spanned the river, nor had the town of Clifton been dreamed of.
Queenston had a population of over three hundred and was a place of considerable importance, being one of the principal depots for merchandise intended for the west. It had no less than eight taverns and dozen or more stores and tradesmen (In 1837 Queenston was so important that the Postoffice had six to eight regular clerks, and when the "English Mail" came in: several extra hands had to be called in.) Just at this time (1841) no monument dominated the heights as the notorious rebel Lett had blown up the first Brock's' monument in 1840. It was not until 1858 that the present monument was completed.
C. & Q. Railway Lake Link
The C. and Q. Railway formed a link to connect the traffic between the Upper and Lower lakes and had considerable passenger and freight business from Queenston to Chippawa, where the cars were met by the steamboat Emerald from Buffalo. For some years the line was operated by horse power which was later replaced by steam. The passenger cars had long seats and a tin horn was blown when approaching a stopping place. Many distinguished people patronized this picturesque route, perhaps the most beautiful on the continent.
The majesty and magnificence of the great river, and upper rapids, the Falls and the gorge are only fully comprehended when viewed from the "Falls View" heights, where the whole splendid scene bursts upon the beholders vision, o'er hung by rainbow stained spray and made doubly impressive by the "sound of many waters." From thence along the upper river with its broad water stretches an islands until Chippawa is reached, with its unique and beautiful scenery, and historic associations.
The Niagara Frontier has been marked by great changes, with railways, bridges, electric works, parks and other enterprises, since those peaceful days when the inspiring sounds of the old "C. & Q's." tin horn awakened the echoes on Queenston's famous heights or mingled with Niagara's ceaseless roar."
However, the "C & Q" proved not too successful and in 1852 the Company had its charter amended and
built the present road from Chippawa to Niagara-on-the-Lake, later being completed from Chippawa to Fort Erie and eventually absorbed by the M.C.R.
Perhaps one reason for the lack of success of the "C & Q" was the building of the first Welland Canal. The first sod was turned Nov 30, 1824, at Allanburg by Geo-Keiffer and the Canal completed from Port Dalhousie to Port Robinson in 1829. At Port Robinson the canal connected with Chippawa Creek and the village of Chippawa became the terminal until the Welland to Port Colborne canal was constructed. The first canal had wooden locks 110 ft. long, 22 ft. wide and 8 ft. deep.
The second canal was constructed from Welland to Port Colborne, started in 1845 and completed, in 1850. Horses tugged the boats through the canal.
The third canal was completed In 1885 with cut stone locks 270 feet long by 45 ft. wide by 14 ft. deep. Tugs were now used to help sailing craft-steam boats needed no help.
In 1873 the Niagara Township Council petitioned the Gov.-General of Canada, the Earl of Dufferin to consider a route for the canal ending at the Niagara River, but Niagara-on-the-Lake's dream of becoming a terminal of the canal, died a natural death.
Had Beginning In 1913
The fourth and present Welland Canal was begun in 1913, halted during the war of 1914-18 and finally opened to navigation Sept. 10, 1930. The locks are large enough for ocean-going ships, with locks 800 ft. long, 80 ft. wide and raise a vessel. 45 ft. The cost of the present canal was $125,000,000.
The first Queenston-Lewiston Bridge was formally opened March 18, 1951. It was a suspension bridge with 1245 ft. long cables and a 20 ft roadway.
During a severe tee jam in 1864, officials had loosened guy wires, designed to keep the bridge from swaying in the wind. There were overlooked and not refastened, resulting in the complete destruction of the bridge during a furious gale April 16, 1864.
It was rebuilt in 1898, largely to provide a belt line service for the electric railroad to the Falls. The original towers and cables were found in excellent condition and the upper suspension bridge was moved from below the Falls and used in the reconstruction. It is now the only suspension bridge over the Niagara.