Welland Commemorative Bricks

Antique handmade bricks from the 1800’s stenciled to commemorate the date Welland became a town.

One of Welland’s earliest industries was brick making. The most famous of these factories is the Hooker Brickworks which was run by the Hooker family on the west side of the canal near the Welland Tennis Club. I do not know whether these bricks were produced by the Hooker Brickworks, however, I can give a bit of their history. Our house address first showed up in a Welland phone directory in 1916. This was a time when phone directories were organized by streets rather than alphabetically by names. These directories also listed the occupant’s profession. The first occupant of our house was a blacksmith, a sign that this was a humble working class neighbourhood.  A bricklayer by the name of Roach who lived on the street built a number of houses on our street, including ours, using recycled brick. Our elderly neighbour who had grown up on the street told us of seeing Mr. Roach cleaning mortar off bricks in his backyard. When we added a family room to our house the double brick wall  below the original rear window became structurally unnecessary. For quite a few years we used the old window opening as a pass through. However, when I updated our kitchen with new cabinets, I removed the bulky brick wall so I could install  cabinets over that space thereby enlarging the kitchen.

It was evident as I removed brick that they had done duty in other locations earlier.  There was a variety of bricks and they clearly had marks of their past life on them. Some were simple handmade bricks like those seen on historic Welland houses known to be made of Hooker Brick. These are the bricks I have been using to stencil our commemorative bricks.  I wonder where the farmhouse they came from was located. None of the bricks show signs of fire. Was the house they came from torn down for some new development?  These questions will never be answered, however, the bricks remain a tangible link to Welland’s past.


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