~ St. Catharines' Wartime Neighbourhoods

The Woodnutts – 54 Doncaster St.

My Parents Reg & Elizabeth “Woody” purchased the house in 1943. The house is located on the corner of Carlton & Doncaster and faced out towards Carlton Street.   My eldest sister Jean was already born, and my parents went on to have 3 more children, my sister Norma, myself and my youngest sister Anne.  They raised the 4 of us in a 2 bedroom home.  My father worked for Kelsey Hayes and my mother was a nurse at the Hotel Dieu Hospital.  Growing up it was a great place, lots of neighbour kids to hang out with.  Some memories that stick in my mind were the big ditches out front of the house and the roads were tar and stone.  In the summer the roads would get so hot the tar would melt so you couldn’t get to the other side.  We had to put tall weeps across the road to make a path to get across so that we wouldn’t burn our feet.  The other side of the road now known as Lancaster Park and the Fairview Mall was called Grantham Township and was basically a big open field that went all the way to Lake Street.    In this area there were lots of ponds and waterfowl.  There was also the black bridge that had train tracks that ran all the way to Port Dalhousie.  Also parts of the old canal locks were still visible.  We spent a lot of time playing here.  Skating on the ponds in the winter.

At the end of Grote Street was Levers Potato Factory were we would stop and they would give all the kids free chips.  I still have an original bag.   On the other side of the field was a large garage, that is still standing today, where people took their cars to be fixed.  He had 2 Ford Model A’s which he would drive up and down Carlton Street.  I loved these cars and would drool thinking that I was going to buy ones of those one day!

Shamaskis  Grocery store was located on the corner of Wood Street and Carlton right at the end of Sandown.  My parents would get their groceries there on credit.  I remember my mom would send me down with this little black book that would say what we owed and at the end each week they would pay the bill.

On the other side of Doncaster across the street from me was the Bells.  Out the back of their house was a creek that ran under Carlton Street through a culvert that had a big steel cage in front of it so that we couldn’t get through.  We would plug the cage up with branches or anything we could us to plug it up so that the water would back up into the creek.  We would get it has high as the road and then tie a rope from one of the trees near the creek swing over the water and drop in.  It was probably on 4ft high but it seemed like 8.

In the mid 50s I was the paper boy for the Standard in the area.  The papers were much thicker then than they are now.  I had 132 customers and basically seemed to know everybody in the area.  Christmas time was great for tips!!!

These memories had a great impact on me especially the waterfowl and the old cars.  I ended up carving decoys competitively as well as restoring old cars, especially that Model A.

~ Len Woodnutt