Historic & Heritage Sites
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Goose Island is one of St. Catharines' secret places. Once considered part of the Second Welland Canal, this small area of land at the east end of Mountain Locks Park is now home to a small community of St. Catharines residents.
The popular history of Goose Island sounds very much like an urban legend. When the First Welland Canal was built just to the north in 1824-1829, followed by the Second Welland Canal to the south 15 years later, water channels were often dug between these two waterways to control water levels and to harness it for use in mills and factories. Later when a map was drawn, people soon realized that the largest Island created by these channels bore a certain resemblance to the head of a goose. However, the origin of this name is only an assumption. The City of St. Catharines Planning Services Department (905-688-5601 ext. 1719) has requested further information from anyone knowing the documented history behind the name.
Over the years, many of the streams have been filled in, and Goose Island has long ceased to be an island. It has become a small residential area. Regardless, Goose Island has retained much of the distinct and isolated atmosphere you would expect from an island. Access by car on Ball Avenue W. still requires crossing a concrete bridge over what remains of the first Welland Canal, and a small foot bridge still crosses the Second Welland Canal in the south.
Above: Contemporary aerial view of Goose Island, showing the channels (light blue) of the First Welland Canal (top) and Second Welland Canal (bottom) which define it, and the Ball Avenue West access point (yellow highlight). Can you make out anything gooselike in its outlines? Perhaps earlier residents had better imaginations than we do today... (Image: Niagara Navigator / Regional Municipality of Niagara)
Above: 1850s map of the area that is now known as Mountain Locks Park, including Goose Island. Water-filled channels of the era are rendered in blue. The six locks of Neptune's Staircase are clearly visible in the foreground, as is the turning basin between Locks 15 and 16.
From Hwy 406
Exit Hwy 406 at Glendale Ave. Travel east on Glendale approximately 600 meters. Turn right onto Merritt St and continue for approximately 600 meters. Turn right onto Ball Avenue West. Continue across a small concrete bridge and park at the end of the street.
Tour St. Catharines. http://www.tourstcatharines.com/tours-mountainlocks.shtml.
Text and photographs on this page were graciously contributed by Matthew Jantz.