Exploring Great Destinations in the Niagara Region, Ontario, Canada

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Home | All About Niagara | The History of Niagara | Niagara Townships

Gainsborough Township

Gainsborough or Gainsboro Township, bordered by Pelham Township to the east, Caistor Township to the west, Grimsby and Clinton Townships to the north and the Welland River to the south was settled as early as 1790.

Within Gainsborough Township are the villages of St. Ann's, Bismark and Wellandport. Many of the first settlers arrived in small boats or canoes and ventured into the forests of Upper Canada along the Chippawa (Welland) River.

Other rivers flowed through the township. To the north was the Twenty Mile Creek, with North's Creek emptying into it. Ash Creek, Beaver Creek, and Sucker Creek emptied into the Welland River. The Fifteen, Sixteen and the Twenty Mile Creek all passed through Gainsborough Township on their way to Lake Ontario.

John Dochstader was one of the first settlers in Gainsborough Township, arriving in 1783. Shortly thereafter he was followed by more families; Heaslip, Henry, Hodges, Dils, McDonald, Parker, Robins, Reese and Thayer.

The families of Comfort, Dean Felker, Gee, Fisher, Hutt, Hitchcock, Kennedy, Lane, McCollum, Mingle, Roy, Roszell, Wrong and Snyder settled to the north along the Twenty Mile Creek.

Gainsborough Township, although somewhat removed from the fighting taking place along the Niagara frontier during the War of 1812, still played a significant role.

Many of the inhabitants of Gainsborough Township took up arms for the British, their well established farms provided much needed supplies such as beef, pork, rye and wheat to the troops stationed at Niagara.

As early as 1800 a small schoolhouse was located at St. Ann's (Snyder's Mills). The first teacher was John Kennedy, who also served as Reeve of the Township for many years.

In 1799 a Presbyterian Church was built on Lot 13, Concession VI, while a Methodist Church was built in 1818. In 1816 Adam Mingle built an Inn at St. Ann's which was also used as a stage coach stop. The village of Bismark held the Gainsborough Township Hall and it was from here where all meetings were held for many years.