Library Use

In 27 branch locations across the 12 library systems in Niagara, residents can access a wide variety of information services, reading material, technology, and programming.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport releases statistics from every municipal public library system on an annual basis. The following table illustrates the total number of active library cardholders in Niagara. In 2015, 175,124 people in Niagara were active library cardholders.

Active Library Cardholders by Municipality, 2015

Source: Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Ontario Public Library Statistics.
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The table below compares total library usage from 2013 to 2015, across each of the 12 municipal public library systems in Niagara. “Total library usage” includes electronic uses (workstation, electronic database use, electronic reference transactions, and visits to the library website) as well as non-electronic uses (circulation, program attendance, in-library use of materials, standard reference transactions, and in-person visits).

Total Library Usage, 2013-2015

Source: Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Ontario Public Library Statistics.
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Arts, Culture and Heritage Activities and Groups in Niagara

Doors Open Ontario: Grimsby, Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines participated in the Doors Open Ontario program in 2017. Every year, this program attracts large crowds across the province. From April to October, residents and visitors are invited to discover first-hand Ontario’s hidden heritage treasures, some of which have never been open to the public. Since the program was launched in 2002, nearly seven million visits have been made to heritage sites participating in this exciting initiative.

For St. Catharines, Doors Open was a new one-day event on June 24, 2017 that attracted 5,636 residents and visitors to explore a total of 24 sites. Government buildings, local businesses, heritage sites and places of worship were open for tours. Many sites reported being very pleased with participation numbers. The event attracted a mix of both local people and visitors from beyond Niagara. The city gives credit to all participating organizations, their staff and volunteers; Doors Open Ontario and the Ontario Heritage Trust; and participants for making the first Doors Open St. Catharines event possible

Doors Open St. Catharines – June 24, 2017 – Participation across 24 sites
Organization Location & Description Number of Visitors
Bill Wiley Memorial and Mountain Locks Park 343 Glendale Street (Glendale and Mountain Streets: Northwest Corner)

Hosted by Canadian Canal Society and Niagara Bruce Trail Club to highlight Welland canals from 1825 to today

BME Church – Salem Chapel 92 Geneva Street

Salem Chapel was an important centre of abolitionist and civil rights activity, and was the cornerstone of a growing community of African-American refugees. Harriet Tubman, who attended the church, led many fugitives to St. Catharines. The chapel, built in 1855, has an auditory-hall design which is typical of churches associated with the Underground Railroad movement, and displays many original artifacts.

Brown Homestead 1317 Pelham Road

Learn from heritage professionals about the ongoing conservation and adaptive reuse of this oldest house in St. Catharines. Watch a traditional demonstration from a Master Heritage Carpenter or explore new digital tools and their applications in heritage sites. Brown Homestead is building a vibrant community space celebrating our agri-food heritage and forging a path to the future.

Downtown Walking Tour – Historical Society of St. Catharines 12 Yates Street (at St. Paul Street)

Hosting walking tours of the City’s historic downtown, to highlight buildings and businesses that had important roles in town life in 1867. Tours begin and end at the Merritt house (Oak Hill) and highlight the New Brunswick anchor, St. Paul Street, the original Town Hall, various churches, Alexandra Hall and the Welland House.

FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) 250 St. Paul Street

The PAC (2015) is a 95,000-square-foot cultural complex comprised of four unique performance venues that host signature presentations of international and local artists. The Centre plays a vital role in the renaissance of downtown St. Catharines, serving as the catalyst in modernizing the area and reinforcing the brilliance of Niagara’s diverse cultural cluster

Knox Presbyterian Church 53 Church Street

Knox Presbyterian Church celebrates its 176th Anniversary in 2017. The church offers tours highlighting its history and the Memorial Stained Glass Windows, dedicated to many local leaders including Lake Captains, Lake Ship Owners and builders, teachers, and businessmen. Knox is part of the ‘Out of the Cold’ program that provides meals and overnight accommodation for the homeless. 

Lock Street Brewing Company (formerly Wellington House Hotel) 15 Lock Street

The Wellington House Hotel opened in 1877. Since then, the building has served as a saloon, hotel, ice-cream parlour and now, a brewery. The site features original brick work, chalk signatures that have been written on the walls over the years, rare Douglas Fir support beams which have been preserved, and some of the oldest horse-shoe pits in Canada.

Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts  15 Artists’ Common

Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts opened in 2015 and is an architectural triumph of adaptive re-use of a 19th-century industrial site. This setting creates a compelling education environment and features a 235-seat theatre, digital media studios, photo darkrooms, instrumental music rooms and other specialized facilities that support students in dramatic arts, music and visual arts

Meridian Centre, St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame 1 IceDogs Way

The St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of athletes and builders who have significantly contributed to the development of sport in St. Catharines. The current exhibit highlights the accomplishments of the city’s rowing community for the last 100 years. The Hall of Fame, which overlooks the ice arena, showcases historic sports-related artifacts and memorabilia.

Morningstar Mill 2714 Decew Road

Morningstar Mill is one of the few mills in Ontario that houses all its original equipment, and operates its millstones using the original water source. It features a working grist mill rebuilt in 1872, and the home Wilson Morningstar had built for his family in about 1895.  The Friends of Morningstar Mill will be demonstrating the stone ground flour-making process and offering tours of the historic mill and home.

Niagara Region Decew Water Treatment 2700 Decew Road

Decew Falls Water Treatment Plant (WTP) has been processing drinking water for local residents since 1875. The Region’s largest water treatment facility is designed to treat 227 million litres of water per day. The site is unique compared to other water treatment plants in Ontario due to its gravity fed distribution system. 

OPG Decew Generating Station 1 DeCew Generating Station No. 1,

Bottom/east end of Trail Race Road (off Power Glen)

Built in 1898, DeCew Generating Station 1(GS1) is one of the oldest continually running hydroelectric power generating station in Canada. Nearly 120 years after it was built, GS1 continues to help OPG generate safe, clean, reliable, low cost power for Ontario. Today, the plant is a working piece of Canada’s hydroelectric heritage.

Power Glen Walking Tour Bottom/East end of Trail Race Road

(off Power Glen)

Local residents will be providing walking tours of the Power Glen Valley from the OPG station to the Laura Secord Bridge. The history of the power and early industry in St. Catharines will be discussed during the hike. Children must be accompanied by adults and good footwear for hiking is advised.

Rodman Hall 109 St. Paul Crescent

Rodman Hall Art Centre is a contemporary art gallery in the historic Thomas Rodman Merritt House which overlooks the Walker Botanical Garden that descends to the Twelve Mile Creek. Year-round, programming connects the community with art through innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions, events, and art classes for all ages.

Ridley College Chapel and Dining Hall 2 Ridley Road

Established in 1889, Ridley College is an acclaimed co-educational boarding and day school (JK-Gr.12) with some of the richest history in St. Catharines. Explore the architectural beauty of Memorial Chapel (1923) with its intricate pediment, stained glass, grand alter with organ, vaulted ceiling; and the Great Hall (1950) with its stately beams and 110-ft clock tower.

St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre 1932 Welland Canals Parkway

St. Catharines has a rich and diverse history. The St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre tells the stories that shaped our community from Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad to life in St. Catharines during the First World War and more. The City’s C150 Task Force and St. Lawrence Seaway Corporation will also be onsite with information tents.

St. Barnabas Anglican Church 33 Queenston Street

St. Barnabas Anglican Church was designed by Toronto architect Charles T. Gibson.  The foundation stone was laid in 1893.  The exterior features local red-brown sandstone and a slate roof and the interior features solid wooden beams with turned drop finials, intricately carved paneling and stained-glass windows dedicated to local citizens. St. Barnabas’ collection of vestments and candelabra will also be on display.

St. George’s Anglican Church 83 Church Street

St. George’s is the first established church in St. Catharines and is celebrating its 225th anniversary in 2017.  Built in 1840, the Gothic-revival church with carved stone, beautiful stained glass, memorials to those who fought in both World Wars and magnificent pipe organ provides the background for prayer and worship steeped in tradition and alive to the need and concerns of today.  St. George’s serves hot breakfast 365 days of the year and is an ‘Out of the Cold’ host.

St. Ignatius of Antioch 332 Carlton Street (at 75 Rolls Avenue)

In 2013, St Ignatius Mission purchased the Queen of Angels Oratory built in the 1950’s for Lithuanian Catholics.  The rebuilt chancel and solea include an
iconostasis with early 20th century Russian-style icons of Christ and of his Mother, flanked Archangels Michael and Gabriel, which came from St George Church, Niagara Falls, NY.  Many other icons grace the nave walls

St. John’s Anglican Church 80 Main Street

St. John’s Anglican is a historic church in Port Dalhousie. A pillar of the community since 1841, St. John’s today offers a place of prayer and respite, with beautiful stained glass and hand-carved wooden ambience. Take a break from the world’s rush and enjoy this timeless sacred space.

St. Thomas’ Anglican Church 99 Ontario Street

St. Thomas’ Anglican Church has been a landmark in St. Catharines since 1879. Designed by Buffalo architect, Milton Earle Beebe, this Richardson Romanesque church is notable for its magnificent turret and elaborate stained glass windows.  The church is also well known for its long-standing Daycare Centre and Annual Civic Carol Sing which showcases the wonderful acoustics under its expansive domed roof

Sts. Cyril and Methodius 14 Rolls Avenue

The Ukrainian community in St. Catharines begins in about 1912.  In 1943, the property for Sts. Cyril and Methodius was purchased for $600. The Byzantine-style church was designed by well-known architect, Rev. Philip Ruh in 1944. The church is decorated with a full three-level iconostasis (a carved screen containing icons), altars, stained glass windows and chandeliers – it is a jewel inside and out.

Star of the Sea 34 Elgin Street

Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church was dedicated in July, 1871.  It was built as a result of a promise made by local St. Catharines’ sailors whose lives had been saved through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea, during a rough storm which threatened to capsize them. The
church was enlarged in 1993 to accommodate a growing congregation.

THK Rhythm Automotive Canada 230 Louth Street

THK is thrilled to open its site to our community. Tours begin in Plant #2 (1954) where you will see the machining and assembly of in-house forged parts, then you will walk under Louth Street via an underground tunnel to Plant #1 or ‘The Forge’ (1929) to see how various auto parts are manufactured for our international clients.

Total Visitors 5,636

Source: City of St. Catharines, 2017
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Culture Days:  During the 2017 pan-Canadian Culture Days event, a total of 61 Activities were offered across Niagara, held September 29 to October 01, 2017.

Culture Days Ontario provides the following description:

Since its inaugural year in 2010, Ontario Culture Days has featured over 10,800 free arts and cultural heritage activities in all disciplines in Ontario as a part of the national Culture Days celebration, the largest public participation campaign undertaken by the Canadian arts and cultural community.  Beginning the last Friday of September, the annual Culture Days weekend features hand’s-on, behind-the-scenes, community-engaged activities inviting the public to contribute to arts and culture across Canada.

Contributing $44.5 million to Ontario’s tourism economy since 2010 ($8.0 million in 2016), each year Ontario Culture Days draws over 500,000 attendees, and 135,000 artists, workers and volunteers in 165+ cities and towns across the province. Generating 61.4 million marketing impressions and 62 million media impressions in 2016, Ontario Culture Days’ contributions to the public profile and awareness of arts and culture across Ontario are unprecedented.

Source:  Ontario Culture Days
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Reclaiming Cultural Identity is a program offered by Niagara Falls History Museum in partnership with the Niagara Regional Native Centre. Workshops and talks on Wampum Belts, Indigenous Beadwork in Niagara and Creation Stories are offered, for Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants. Education is seen as the key to facing the truths of history and forging a path together.

Source: Niagara Falls History Museum
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Niagara Artists Centre (NAC) is a not-for-profit, charitably registered, member-driven collective formed by and dedicated to serving the working artists and community of Niagara. Founded in 1969, NAC is one of the oldest artist-run organizations in Canada.

Source: Niagara Artists Centre. About
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South Niagara Artists is an independent group of artists promoting art and culture in the South Niagara area. They offer information about local artists and offer studio tours.

Source: South Niagara Artists
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The Arts and Culture Alliance of Fort Erie (ACAFE) is a communication network for arts and cultural groups in Fort Erie. ACAFE aims to open up paths of communication to help the arts and cultural community realize its potential and positively impact the social fabric and economy of the community.

Source: Arts and Culture Alliance of Fort Erie. About
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cNiagara is an online event listing and information site for arts, heritage and festivals in Niagara. Launched in 2012, through the “Marketing the Arts of St. Catharines-Niagara” project, was developed by a partnership of: Carousel Players; the Centre for the Arts at Brock University; and the City of St. Catharines. Financial support came from the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Cultural Capitals of Canada program, the Province of Ontario’s Cultural Strategic Investment Fund, the Region of Niagara and the City of St. Catharines.

Source: cNiagara. About cNiagara
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The FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC) is a cultural complex located in downtown St. Catharines. Since the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre opened in 2015, there have been over 1,100 ticketed events, over 150,000 tickets sold, and over 200,000 patrons through the door.

Source: FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, with files from correspondence with staff
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The Foster Festival, which launched in 2016, is the resident summer theatre festival at the new Performing Arts Centre (PAC) in St. Catharines.  The festival showcases the work of internationally renowned Canadian playwright Norm Foster. In its first season, the festival sold 5,000 tickets, worked with 125 drama club participants, and was supported by 1,500 volunteer hours.  In 2016, 79% of festival audiences came from Niagara; 19% from Ontario; and 2% came from outside Ontario.

The festival’s Drama Club for Kids partnered in 2016 with Boys and Girls Club of Niagara, the Niagara Children’s Centre, and the Kristen French Child Advocacy Centre, to deliver free of charge arts enrichment programs to these agencies’ young clients. Qualified arts instructors from Niagara delivered these programs, with funding support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Source:  Foster Festival Annual Report 2016
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The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts is the home of Brock University’s Department of Dramatic Arts, Department of Music, Department of Visual Arts, and Studies in Arts and Culture. The school was formed in 2002 as an interdisciplinary centre for creative and scholarly activities. In 2008, a $15-million gift from Marilyn I. Walker was key to securing the historic Canada Hair Cloth Building in downtown St. Catharines for adaptation as a state-of-the-art learning facility, which opened in 2015.

Source: Brock University. Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
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The Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake is a theatre company inspired by the work of George Bernard Shaw. The Festival produces plays from and about Shaw’s era and contemporary plays that share Shaw’s provocative exploration of society and celebration of humanity.

Local audience members are joined each season by patrons from every state in the United States and every province in Canada. Patrons come together to enjoy world-class live theatre on four stages in the historic setting of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Shaw Festival’s economic impact is estimated to be $74.5 million.

Source: Shaw Festival. The Shaw Festival Story
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Niagara Parks maintains several heritage sites across Niagara, including sites related to First Nations history, the War of 1812, and the Underground Railway.

Source: Niagara Parks. Heritage
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The HEART (Health and Equity through Advocacy, Research, and Theatre) participatory action research project was completed in 2016.  The project was led by medical students at McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine Niagara Campus. It articulates the views of homeless individuals in Niagara, regarding the significant healthcare challenges they face around: access and discharge from hospitals; adequate and comprehensive psychiatric and mental health services across service providers; and availability and continuity of care from family doctors.

With funding support from the Niagara Community Foundation, the students worked with Toronto-based Branch Out Theatre to create a ‘legislative theatre’ play to engage community stakeholders in a conversation based on the voices of homeless people regarding their interactions with the local healthcare system.  Three performances of the play were staged in the Robertson Theatre of the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre (PAC), for audiences that included medical and nursing students; health care professionals; and people living in extreme poverty. Performances were followed by panel discussions that included leaders in regional government, the local health system, social services and other community groups.

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