Drummondville was the first of the Stamford Township communities to incorporate, in 1831. The cluster of houses and businesses located around the Portage Road, Ferry Road and Lundy’s Lane intersection took its name in honour of the British general who led the battle fought there seventeen years before. Present-day boundaries of the village were North Street, Stanley Avenue, Dixon Street and Drummond Road and the population was about 150 persons.
In 1844, William Russell built his brewery in Drummondville, the community’s largest industry until it was destroyed in a spectacular fire in 1886. By 1850, Drummondville had a population of five hundred. It boasted a brewery, a hotel, a tannery, eight taverns and five churches: Church of England, Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian and British Methodist Episcopalian.
In 1849 Drummondville was the residence of Lord Elgin, Governor General of Canada. He came here with his wife and new-born son to escape mob violence raging in Montreal, stemming from his signing of the Rebellion Losses Bill. While here, he lived the Forsyth House on Main Street (in the approximate current location of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church) and conducted business affairs and cabinet meetings from the Prospect House, where Mints Nightclub is now.
By 1880, when Drummondville boasted a population of about 850, certain notable members of the citizenry thought it would be a good idea to change the name of Drummondville to Niagara Falls to better attract its tourism prospects. A petition was struck by William Russell, contractor and brewery owner, and 126 others, requesting County Council to grant the incorporation of Drummondville into the Village of Niagara Falls.
A second petition soon followed. This was a counter petition presented by Mr Coulsen, Reeve of the Town of Clifton. (The Town of Clifton at this time was also agitating the County to be renamed the Town of Niagara Falls). Petition No. 2 was signed by John Orchard and 50 others, requesting County Council to refuse incorporation on the grounds that it would be a mistake for the village. It stated taxes were low and they wanted it kept that way. Incorporation would increase taxation because the village would have to pay taxes on the new Stamford Township Hall (erected in 1874) and the new Barker Street School, an extra teacher’s salary, etc., and this they did not want.
Petition No. 3 was called the “Backsliders’ petition”, signed by twelve distinguished men, stating they had signed the original petition for incorporation but regretted having done so and asked that their names be removed. Further, it requested Council to refuse incorporation. Their petition was signed by many leading citizens of Drummondville attesting to the decision of the above men.
Finally, Petition No. 4, called the “Reclaimed Backsliders’ petition”, stated that its signers had signed previous petitions, both for and against incorporation, that they were under misapprehension of the facts and now requested their names be left on the original petition!
After much discussion, Welland County Council approved incorporation, so on March 13, 1882, the Village of Niagara Falls (South) came into being.
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