Irish, Mennonite and Recent Settlement 

Niagara Historical Society & Museum

The Irish
 Irish settlers also settled in Niagara during times of war. Several of the Irish soldiers, who had been stationed in Niagara during their military careers, chose to settle here once they were discharged.  This included many of the veterans of the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment who had their headquarters at Butler’s Barracks for several years.
Irish Town
The new Irish immigrants settled in the least expensive part of town, an area that became known as Irish Town. This area was located at the south end of Old Town, in the Rye, Niagara, Green, and Flynn Street area
Irish Soldiers
 Irish settlers also settled in Niagara during times of war. Several of the Irish soldiers, who had been stationed in Niagara during their military careers, chose to settle here once they were discharged.  This included many of the veterans of the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment who had their headquarters at Butler’s Barracks for several years.
Mennonites 
Seeking religious freedom, Mennonites from Russia/Ukraine immigrated to Canada from 1923-1930. In 1934, Peter Wall, a Mennonite entrepreneur, purchased several acres of land in the Virgil area of Niagara-on-the-Lake. He then offered the land, in 10-12 acre lots, to other Mennonite families at an affordable price. The Goerz, Enns, Friesen and Andres families were the very first to settle. When another influx of Mennonites immigrated to Canada after World War II, several of the established families subdivided their land for the new immigrants. Today, the Mennonite community continues to be a vibrant part of Niagara. 
With a long fruit-growing season, annual rainfalls and proximity to markets, Niagara was an ideal location for fruit farming. Through intense cultivation, hard labour and frugal living, the Mennonite community contributed to Niagara becoming one of the most productive fruit farming areas in Ontario. 
Each year the Mennonite community would find themselves with a surplus of fruit that ripened too quickly. To address this issue, Peter Wall created the “Niagara Canning Company Limited” in 1940. During the canning season, women from the community and others recruited from the West worked long hours in the cannery. 

Virgil, Ontario

Syrian Refugees 
The current civil war in Syria has displaced millions of people internally and has forced millions more to seek refuge in neighbouring countries like Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. The suffering witnessed in the media by many Canadians incited outrage and prompted the federal government to commit to resettle 25,000 refugees.  Canada is a nation that has a long history of welcoming refugees. Loyalists, Mennonites, Blacks, Irish and Confederate Soldiers have all, at one time, sought refuge here in Niagara-on-the-Lake. So, it is no wonder that when the federal government put out the call to action to help the people of Syria, the community of Niagara-on-the-lake answered.  Grace United Church and St. Mark’s Anglican Church have each raised funds to privately sponsor two Syrian families, and they have provided each family with the resources that they need for their first year in Canada. As well, Saint Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church has sponsored a third family, who live in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and they continue to raise funds to provide this family with the resources that they need. 
Toronto Residents
Visiting wineries, wandering through Old Town or going on scenic drives in the countryside make Niagara-on-the-Lake an appealing place to live. These are just a few of the reasons why there has been an influx of Torontonians migrating to the area in the last few decades. These transplants are largely from the baby-boom generation and are nearing retirement or in the process of retiring.  Many of Niagara’s new residents have become active members in the community, joining clubs, participating in local festivals, and even volunteering and supporting their local community Museum! They are what make Niagara-on-the-Lake a great place to live today! 
Niagara Historical Society & Museum
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