Welland Museum

The history of Niagara's French-speaking population

Welland and its history

After the War of 1812 and the final settlement of the border between the U.S. and Canada, a few French settlers from Europe came to the Ontario Peninsula, including Welland.

During the First World War, and again around 1920, a major migratory movement between the Quebec City region and Welland consolidated the city's French-speaking presence. The industrial boom that followed the Second World War accelerated the presence of French-speaking migrants in the area.

Today, although Welland's French-speaking community remains in the minority, the legacy of a culture that originated with French-speaking Europeans and French-Canadians from Quebec and the Maritimes is still very much present (religious buildings, community centre, Maison de la Culture, shops, etc.).

With all these assets, Welland is part of the Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques.

Sacré-Coeur Catholic Church

As early as 1917, Welland's French-speaking families joined St Mary's Church, which was completed in 1927. The first parish priest in charge of the church didn't speak French, which obviously led to some communication problems...

The latter was replaced in 1919 by a young 34-year-old abbot, Father Rosario Tanguay, who was bilingual to the delight of his flock. 

Thanks to the hard work of the Abbé and the 250 or so French-Canadians in the community, the parish of Sacré-Cœur de Welland was founded in 1920. Father Rosario Tanguay was designated the founding parish priest. 

It wasn't until 1934 that the new Église du Sacré-Cœur was officially inaugurated and blessed.

Commemorative plaque

A commemorative plaque next to Sacré-Coeur Church pays tribute to Welland's French-speaking community. The plaque tells the story of the first Francophones to arrive in the region and become involved in the development of their community.

Text version of audio

Although the website is still in English only, the Welland Museum promotes the history of Francophones from the past to the present and organizes annual exhibitions on the subject.

Two employees speak French, and a new French-language video is available to visitors. 

In the case of a travelling exhibition, it is in both official languages, English and French. 

The museum's opening hours in 2023 are Monday to Friday between September and July (winter opening hours) and Tuesday to Saturday between July 1 and September 4 (summer opening hours).

Extract of
Niagara Region Sightseeing and Discovery Tour

Niagara Region Sightseeing and Discovery Tour image circuit

Presented by : Société économique de l’Ontario
Get There

Download the BaladoDiscovery app (for Android and iOS) and access the largest network of self-guided tour experiences in Canada.