A look at some of Niagara-on-the-Lake's past and present temporary residents including: Confederate refugees, Summer residents, and Temporary workers. 

Confederate Refugees
After the American Civil War, several senior government officials and high-ranking officers of the Confederate States of America, fearing prosecution as traitors, sought refuge in Niagara from 1865 to 1869. William Kirby, a known Confederate sympathizer, noted that the community was very welcoming and the Niagara Mail reported that it was a “subject of pride to Canadians that they can offer the hospitality…to so many worthy men who are proscribed and banished from their homes for no crime”.  However, many of the town's black residents might not have felt the same way. Some of these residents had escaped slavery; others may have fought against it or even assisted slaves escaping to Canada. Living among the Confederates who championed slavery would not have been easy. 

In 1866 Jubal Early boarded at “Barker Hall”. Jubal commanded the Army of Northern Virginia and was heavily involved in the Gettysburg campaigns.

John Porterfield, a Nashville banker who was a financial agent for the Confederacy, lived here.

From 1864-1865, Reverend Dr. William T. Leacock, lived at 244 King Street. Leacock was the rector of an Episcopal Church in New Orleans. During his brief stay in Niagara he officiated at St. Mark’s Anglican Church.

This house was rented by John C. Breckenridge, a politician who served as the 14th Vice President of the United States and was a Confederate General during the war.

83 Gage Street was occupied by James Mason who was a US Senator from Virginia.

Summer Residents
By the 1870s, Niagara experienced several economic setbacks. However, an economic resurgence began with the arrival of two hotels, the Queen’s Royal and Chautauqua, resulting in the emergence of a resort-like community.  The Queen's Royal was the destination of choice for wealthy individuals who wanted to escape city living. Many tourists came from Buffalo and upstate New York, and from the southern United States. 
While here they enjoyed a range of leisure activities like boating and swimming, as well as sports such as golfing, tennis, lawn bowling and cycling. These summer tourists also made the social scene quite lively with gatherings at their homes and at the Queen's Royal. They would return year after year, staying in hotels that were now opening up all over Niagara or in the summer homes they purchased. This boom lasted until the 1920s. 

The Queen's Royal Hotel no longer stands today, but the park bares its name.

Temporary Workers
The creation of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SWAP) in 1966 was a direct response by the Canadian government to help fill the labour shortage in the agricultural sector. Niagara’s local farms, orchards and vineyards have become dependant on an estimated 2,860 annual temporary workers who come from Mexico, Jamaica and the Caribbean islands, to help during the planting and harvesting seasons. 
These workers spend anywhere from 6 to 8 months of the year working excessively long work weeks to send as much money back home as possible. Several advocacy groups in Niagara strive to reduce as many barriers as possible. The Niagara Migrant Workers Interest Group assists with health care, transportation, nutrition, finances, employment, safety, language and education.  Over the years the community of Niagara has hosted an annual welcome event on the first Sunday in May. The event gives the community a chance to say thank you to all the temporary workers who contribute to the agricultural industry.
Niagara Historical Society & Museum
Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google
Home
Explore
Nearby
Profile